He’s Nice But. . .

It’s been a while as work (as in my real job) has sort of taken over of late.  But I wanted to get back to Stephen’s great questions.  You can see the first part of his three part question right here.

Today, I want to tackle Stephen’s second question, which actually is much easier and more clear than the first.  Stephen asks,

Everyone talks about women wanting guys who “lead”, who “aren’t pushovers,” who “aren’t nice guys,” etc. Question: what does this mean in the context of DATING. NOT MARRIAGE. Its fairly obvious what this means for married men. But when I’m asking a woman out for the first, second, or third time, the only things we’re going to disagree over, or have to decide together, are whether we’re going to Chipotle or Olive Garden. What if I really don’t give a darn? How am I supposed to “lead” while I’m casually dating a girl? I’m not an integral part of her life, I’m not her primary counselor, I’m not even likely to be *informed* about serious decisions that she has to make. How, given that we all spend the first 14 years of our lives being taught to be courteous and considerate – that is, NICE – am I supposed to demonstrate that I’m not “just a nice guy” in that context?

There is so much great stuff here.  I probably can’t do this in one post.  These questions are so crucial.  So let’s go.

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Managing Attraction – I Can’t Help What I Feel

Do you remember who you were attracted to back in your high school days.  Even maybe middle school?  I sure do remember.  I even had a list in middle school – a top ten list. Haha and all ten were so out of my league so to speak.  I didn’t understand how anything worked.  I just knew who I was attracted to and that I wished they were attracted to me.  I spent most of early to mid adolescence in that place.

But here’s an interesting thing.  When you are all “into” someone, they become even more attractive.  It’s as if our attraction scale slides based on how bad we want someone.  This leads to the feeling of “the one” or of “one that I can’t live without”.  I have a post coming soon to talk more about that idea, but for today I want to focus on a different side of attraction.

As I’ve stated, and fully believe, the feeling of attraction is not a choice.  You either feel attraction or you don’t.  It’s not a conscious in the moment decision.  It just is.  I believe we can do things to be more or less attractive in a moment to someone else (more coming here as well) but I don’t think I will myself to feeling attraction for someone.

However, we can manage what we do with attraction.  Attraction does not require a particular action.  And just because we don’t feel attraction (especially 100% attraction) doesn’t require inaction.

Today I want to talk about the first part, because honestly it’s maybe more important.  Just because you are attracted doesn’t mean you have to act on it.

I’ve had a lot of people (probably more women) tell me something to the affect of, “I can’t help what I feel.”  In other words, I’m attracted to this person and therefore I am going to be with them.  This is a very immature way of handling it.  An adolescent way really.  (No offense to our many fine adolescents 🙂 ).  It is not how you make a mature decision on who to marry – which as a Christian adult (read 18 and over) should be the goal of dating.

This is dangerous on so many levels.  First we should not be controlled by our feelings and desires.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t count.  They do.  But I put my feelings and desires up against the Truth of the scriptures and teachings of the Bible and Church.  I don’t just act because I feel.  This is a part of what it means to be mature.

Paul speaks to this when he says in 1 Corinthians 6 when he says that he will not be mastered by anything.  He is talking about sexual immorality but it’s true for all things. The idea is that while I might feel something or desire something, I don’t HAVE to act on that.

This is where the list of qualifiers I mentioned a couple of weeks ago comes into play. Attraction (whether its creating it or being attracted) opens the door.  It means it’s time to find some stuff out.  If I’m attracted that means I need to find out more.  That’s all it means.

If we don’t bring the feeling of attraction under our control and under the Lordship of God we are setting ourselves up to fail in all sorts of different ways.

  • We can end up dating/marrying someone we know we shouldn’t.  I lost count a long time ago of the people I’ve watched date people they said they never would, simply because they “can’t help what they feel.”
  • We can waist our time pursuing someone we know we wouldn’t marry.  Hard to find the right person while dating the wrong one knowingly.
  • We can set ourselves up to consumer date.  In other words, “I’m not as attracted today so I break up” or “I met someone more attractive so I moved on”.
  • If we do get married we set ourselves up for an affair.  If I “can’t help what I feel” then  what happens when after being married for a while I meet someone else that I’m attracted to?  That will happen you realize.  There are a lot of attractive people.

Attraction matters.  It matters for sure in our context that we live in.  I don’t think we can pretend that it doesn’t.  I think a bunch of verses about beauty fading probably aren’t going to change that.  We aren’t going back to arranged marriages. But while attraction is the starting point its not the ending point.  It’s probably going to be part of the process, but it’s not the end goal.

I want to say more about managing attraction.  Things like how much attraction do you have to have, how do we help ourselves be more attractive so to speak, more on how to flee when you are attracted but shouldn’t be, and some ways to quit comparing everyone to the mystical 15 that I talked about last time.  I’m even going to give a couple of new “qualifiers” that you should look for in someone’s character when considering marriage.

But for today, how driven by attraction are you?  Are you and adult about it, or an adolescent?  Do you control what you do with it, or are you controlled by it?