I recently have received a couple of notes from readers asking for more on the difference between pursuing and chasing. In other words, we are taught, especially in Christian circles, that we should pursue a woman we are interested in. But as I have stated here many times, we should never chase a woman that we are interested in because it pretty much ensures failure.
But in our culture and language this can be a really fine line. Let’s face it, from a purely linguistic standpoint they are very similar and we should probably find other words. But when I think of these two words in the context of trying to find a spouse, I think they are worlds a part.
So what is the difference? How do we pursue and not chase? What does it look like?
Let me take a stab at it.
Let’s sort of start with some basic characteristics of each because most of this has to do with keeping our mindset right.
Chasing has the feel of desperation. Dogs chase cars. How does that turn out? It’s hasty. It’s a feeling of trying to attain the woman. It’s needing the woman to like us, respond to us or give us acceptance, approval, or validation. Getting the woman is the goal. Rejection means the end of the world because our worth gets wrapped up in it.
Pursuit doesn’t feel desperate. I pursue a degree. There is a methodicalness to it. While consistent, it isn’t hurried. The feeling is getting to know the woman. You’re not even sure where it will go but you are willing to find out. It’s wanting to be with the woman but not needing to be. It comes from a place of already being acceptable, and validated. I like her, but I don’t in any way need her to like me.
Chasing means being nice. All.the.time. It means trying to earn the woman by doing things that try to win her affections. It can come from being afraid of rejection or failing. It means being afraid to make her mad. Chasing means trying to be who we think she wants us be and focusing on what we think she wants us to do for her.
Pursuing means being kind. It means coming from a place of strength and honor. It means working on being attractive, not seeking her approval. It means that rejection won’t really matter that much. It means being able to stand up to her. It means being the type of man that she wants to be with, not that does everything she wants.
Chasing conveys I can’t live without you, while pursuit conveys that while you could, you don’t want to. Chasing says, “I sure hope you could like me”. Pursuit says simply, “I’m interested in you.” Chasing means trying to convince her to be with you. Pursuit means trying to get to know her and then inviting her to be with you. Chasing means following her around and doing everything she wants. Pursuit means going somewhere and inviting her to come with you.
Now all of this sounds great. But what does it look like practically?
First of all, we need to get in our heads that our culture and most often even the church has taught us wrong. The movies all seem to show guys who do these huge romantic gestures to women who then fall for them. Or they show guys who rescue the girl and then she falls for them. But what gets left out here is that the guy in the movie is already attractive to the woman. In fact usually at first they don’t get along so to speak. Most often there is tension. When they finally get together it’s usually painted as the guy finally comes around. But really the woman was always attracted.
In evangelical culture we are taught to be nice. We should tame our desire for sex, man up and be nice. If we are Godly enough then that will be attractive. Two problems here. First the definition of a Godly man is off (more later) and second, being a Godly man doesn’t necessarily make us attractive. Being confident it Christ is helpful, but just being a good Christian is not necessarily that helpful. (It is helpful in a relationship, but not so much in getting into one).
So here are a few practical examples of what this might look like.
Pursuit means asking a woman about her favorite book. Chasing means going out the next day and buying the book. Pursuit is a well timed gift without any strings attached. Chasing is buying a gift to get her to like you or to win her (or to placate her anger). Chasing is calling her because you’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t. Pursuit means calling her just because you want to talk to her. Chasing means rearranging your whole life around her. Pursuit means carving out space in your plans to include her.
Chasing comes from a need to be loved Pursuit comes from not needing her love but offering yours and she can take it or leave it.