One of the amazing things about Jesus is that no matter where we are, what we are doing, what our story is, He loves us. In the famous hymn’s words he loves me Just As I Am. I can come to know Him just as I am, receive His grace as I am and start to follow Him right from where I am now. I don’t earn it. In fact I can’t earn it. God loves you and me right now, no matter what.
The truth is that we all long for that. We long to be fully known and fully loved. We look for it everywhere. As a believer we realize at least intellectually and theologically that God is really the only person who can fulfill that in our lives. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to experience that with another person or people. It also doesn’t stop us from feeling hurt when we don’t experience it with other people even though again, we know intellectually that no one else can do that perfectly.
What’s really interesting is how this gets twisted up when we think about looking for a spouse and frankly later in marriage itself if we get married.
One way that it gets twisted is with the idea that people of the opposite sex should just like me. If they don’t like me then it’s God’s fault of their fault. In other words if I ask out twenty people and they all say no, there still is no reason to look at myself. Women should like me for me after all. Isn’t true love about loving the person no matter what?
Here is where we really fail our people in the church a lot. We forget that getting a date is different than being in a dating relationship is different than being married. They are three almost completely different skill sets. We confuse attraction and love which really aren’t the same at all.
This is where the nice guy who is intimidated of girls he is attracted to says, “but they should like me for me.” or the person who is overweight or doesn’t dress up says, “I just want someone who will love me regardless of what I look like.”
But when it comes to getting a date, attraction matters. There’s just no way around it. For most of history there were no dates. Attraction still mattered obviously. But in most cultures marriages were at least somewhat arranged. But that’s not where we are now. And I don’t really hear very many people clamoring to go back to that. So if we don’t want to back to that . . . maybe we need to think about what we can do to actually get a date.
It’s sort of like when you need a job. You have to apply. And most of the time you need to interview well. Not always to be sure. But typically. So what do you do when you interview? Study up. Dress up. Speak up. Show desire for the job without acting desperate for the job. Now obviously you could interview well, get the job and then be terrible at it. No doubt this happens all the time. The same is true of marriage. People get married and then have no clue how to be married. But this doesn’t change the fact that you have to pass the interview stage to get the job, you have to get a date to get married.
But here’s the good thing about all of this. Most of the things (not all) that help you get a date are pretty good for you to consider anyway. I shouldn’t be desperate for a girl. I shouldn’t be insecure just because I like someone or I’m afraid of rejection. I should get in shape physically anyway. The list could go on. Why not improve?
Now a couple of caveats that should be obvious. I’m not suggesting that you have to be perfect or a perfect 10. Not at all. I’m not suggesting beating yourself up. I’m not suggesting that if you do “everything right” that it will happen for you. Heck I’m not even suggesting that you should marry someone that you think doesn’t love you for you. No way!!
What I’m saying is that you can’t expect the person who doesn’t know you yet to do that. And if we’re honest here, you’re probably not doing that for anyone else either. You’re not thinking, “I’ll marry someone that I’m not attracted to” or “I’ll marry the first guy that asks me out no matter who it is.” Basically our message is typically, “You should love me for me – even though I won’t do that for you.”
I’m also saying, why not work on this stuff. Why not look at the things that hold me back and deal with them. What I’m saying is that if you “stay as you are” then you most likely will keep having the same results. What I’m saying is it’s a good thing to actually grow and develop – even if that means growing and developing in relating to the opposite sex.
The thing about Jesus is that while He loves each of us just as we are, He loves us too much to leave us there. He’s constantly moving us forward, not because He loves us more if we move forward but because He loves us enough to want us to be free of our sin, fears, insecurities, and wounds.
In the Pick UP Artist camp (PUA), and from various women over the decades I have been told frequently enough “attraction isn’t a choice” and “we girls just can’t help who we fall for”
I have even heard you speak about this as well dear friend…..and then in this post I hear ‘attraction matters’ and I have also heard countless women (Christian and not) say that a “spark of attraction *has* to be there for a date to happen”
I thought it wasn’t a “choice”
PUA speaks about how you can be an average looking guy and “nail a perfect 10” and “get hot women….looks and attraction have nothing to do with it”
Then they will tell you to dress better, work out, change your appearance and be funny (usually the insulting and arrogant funny you hear on the stand-up-comedy circuit)
Its very confusing, and though I am off the market for good…..men today still find this “word” confusing. I still find it confusing. This word, “love” and “confidence” seem to be contorted to mean what they mean for the moment in the latest dating trend or fashion….and what single Christian men and women overall have been dealing with the for the past few decades now……has left them both more confused. Frustrated. Upset. Sad. Hurt……and finally the choice many have *forced* upon them is: “Well, you may not get married…but read Corinthians 7……..see, Jesus still loves you……” (true statement but really out of context considering the person has been told to ‘wait on God’ and ‘pray’ and be Holy for decades).
The problem like you said in a previous post about a “people problem” rings true. If we are called to be “not of this world” and a “family” why then when it comes to dating in this very dangerous world and realm we seem to throw everyone to the lions and “just expect them to know what and how to do” and it’s a problem that has really manifested itself
These words DO cause confusion. There doesn’t seem to be a clear meaning of them or how to apply them. take the following phrases:
“Be yourself around women / men!” and then with the same slight of hand “You have to be the person God needs you to be first! Men / women notice a man who is set apart and they find that VERY attractive”
We know that is not always true. Some of the best people have been passed up for work, by women / men and society because of their profession of Christ and living it.
“Focus on your confidence in Christ, service and your calling and then women / men will notice you” and then the twist of “You have to put yourself out there, dating is hard work. It’s a job, and if you want it, you have to make time and effort to go and get it!”
This makes most men become a creep, or ‘that guy” in church or run into trouble with the busy-bodies in the church for doing exactly what they said. With women they are not cherishing their godly womanhood of ‘waiting on God’ by behaving in this manner.
“Don’t ever change or settle for something less than Christ has promised! Stand on His promises” and then “You have to settle, you are too picky!”
This leads to the “there are no good men / women in church” and many who are wavering on their hurts with little or no support from the flock either “accept” the reluctant call to celibacy or decide to marry a non-believer. I am not a Casanova, nor a ladies man but I have been flirted with, chatted up and actually talked to by more women who are not Christian. Plenty of Christian women can say the same about secular guys.
We are paralyzed in the church in general. Satan is winning here. He wants this. The only thing I see to help fix this is prayer. Lots of corporate prayer. A FRANK conversation with all bodies about what happened. Why, and what can we do to at least change the direction. It will take a lot of time to change the direction.
I know this has rambled a bit (destructive results of drug addiction sadly) but it’s such a multi-faceted problem that cannot be fixed by another book, or just a sermon.
The word “attraction” is loaded in the dating world and it needs a clear definition
I agree with everything you say here Justin. I also agree that maybe we can solve some of our problems if we can get more corporate prayers into the church for single people.
I think the word attraction is loaded because it means different things to different people, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If I had to choose between a very physically attractive man with little confidence and a moderately attractive man with a lot of confidence, I’d choose the latter. The second man would just be more attractive to me even if I think the other man is better looking or whatever.
People in general give really bad dating advice I think in part because they think it reflects on their own relationships. Someone who settled (happily or unhappily) is more likely to think that people who refuse to settle are too picky or they’re going to question their own choices and insist that it’s really the best way to go. On the other hand, ‘be yourself’ is incomplete advice. I think ‘be yourself’ means to embrace whoever you are and that is confident. If you’re a geek, be a geek, don’t be ashamed of being a geek and maybe you’ll find someone who is also a geek or charmed by geeks.
I think another problem is we think in terms of all or nothing – like the woman who thinks men only want models when it’s obvious that women of all shapes and sizes can be happily married. She has to ask herself if this is really true (it’s not). Perhaps she only interested in super good looking men herself or is subconsciously protecting herself by making this assertion.
To your last point, Justin, I think that while absolutely true, improving yourself does place you out of some populations as you get older. A younger person is looking for potential while an older person is looking for someone who has actually done something with his or her life. I feel like I’ve worked on myself and want someone who has done the same. I don’t care how nice or good looking he is if he hasn’t.
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