Are You Addicted To The Search?

In my early 30’s I had kind of a “come to Jesus” time when it comes to dating and the search for a spouse.  I had done pretty much everything wrong up until that point and worse, I had not really dealt with a lot of my own insecurities, sin, and woundedness. But thankfully the Lord (directly and through others in my life) met me in that and I was able to work through a lot of stuff.

That led me to actually be able to succeed. Here’s what I realized right away.  As a friend of mine said, “When you’re a guy in his 30s who has himself figured out – it’s a buyers market.”  What he meant was there are a lot of available women looking for that.

Now to be clear, I was kind of relearning how to date but even then I began to realize he was right.  And once I figured it out it was even a little overwhelming.  I went on a lot of dates which taught me an important thing that I talked about last week.  There is always someone else. Always.

Now it is important for us to know that but it can also lead to other traps.  I floated on the edge of some of these but I’ve seen some of my friends and other guys really fall into them.

We live in a consumer culture.  We want exactly what meets our needs and we are always looking for the next thing that will do that.  This is bad for the spouse search.  It can lead to us bailing every time that someone doesn’t meet our needs.  When we see imperfections in the person we can think there is someone better.  Why commit if there could be someone better?  This is a huge contributor to divorce.  If I’m married and it isn’t going well, that must mean that I didn’t marry the right ONE and there must be someone else.

After all there will always be someone else.  Always.

It doesn’t matter how hot someone is, there will be someone hotter. There will also be someone smarter, more fun, more adventurous, funnier, more understanding of my flaws, etc.  Always.  Even if you are married there will be other people you are attracted to.  That isn’t going to stop.

To be honest, at some level it’s always fun to meet a new person.  I mean there is this new hope that they could be the one you’ve dreamed of – who is “perfect” for you.  Some can even become basically obsessed with dating.

Online dating is a great way to see this.  There is always another profile (usually far away geographically – I swear it’s a conspiracy by the online dating sites to keep you there).  I mean you could stay online and meet people for the next ten years. If you are always dating and it never goes anywhere, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that might be partly you. Ha.

It’s easy to become addicted to the search.  Some of us have been searching for a long time. Its what we know. We’ve also been told by our married friends, cocky single friends, and even the Church that we should never settle.  While that’s true on some level it can be a standard that practically guarantees singleness.  We get so comfortable looking for the ONE that we become completely uncomfortable being with even the right one.  It makes it hard to commit if there could be someone better.

We need to understand that marriage is a choice and a covenant.  It is a decision to love another person the rest of their life regardless of what happens.  It means being all in.

We need to change the question.  We need to stop looking for the perfect person and start looking for the right person.  Now the right person may feel perfect and probably should a lot of the time, but no one will feel that way all of the time and if we expect that, then we will never actually commit to anyone.

We need to know that there can always be someone else.  It gives us the freedom to pursue without fear.  But at the same time it doesn’t mean that we have to always pursue the next person.

So where are you at with all of this?  Are you addicted to the search?  Are you looking for the perfect one or the right one?

How To Online Date

Let’s talk about online dating.  This can can be one great tool to meet people. It can be a good confidence booster and it’s a good way to just get out there.  It’s a way to stay in the game so to speak.  Ladies this is a great way to make yourself available without pursuing. But there are some key things to keep in mind.  Please remember I’m talking mainly to guys (because I am one) but I’ll try to help the ladies some too.

Lets get practical.

First off you have to choose a site.  Now there are all sorts of different ones. Singleroots.com has the best evaluation I’ve ever seen.  I think you can work a couple of sites at a time – but not more than that.  Then every six months or so rotate out of one and into another.

Now you need to make a profile.  I’ll be honest and say this is probably not my strong suit. But here are a few things I know for sure.

  • Use current photos – and more than one
  • Have a photo that shows your face and one that shows the rest of you.
  • Do not under any circumstances use photos with you shirt off – I promise you girls laugh at this – no matter how “ripped” you are.
  • Put things in your profile that are important to you – again no reason to hide this.  If Jesus is important put it out there.
  • Be interesting.  List things that interest you and that you like doing. If you don’t have anything interesting in your life, it’s time to find some – and then come back to online dating later
  • Do not lie about anything.  This is a dead end.  Do not lie!

Next comes the communication phase. Guys, you should always be the initiator on this. You need to understand that when you email an attractive girl that she gets a lot of emails from a lot of guys. DO NOT EVER WINK AT A GIRL – THAT IS TOTAL WUSS – SEND AN EMAIL.  That sounds obvious but it is kind of hard.  You can’t just say, “Hi let’s talk”. You need something different.

Now this is where I kind of invented my own system.  I’m not giving that to you here but here are some keys about the first couple of emails

  • Have fun.  Smile when you type.  Dead serious, women can tell.
  • Say something about her profile – act like you’ve actually read it. But don’t go over the top with compliments.  Be interested but not nice.
  • Ask fun non-threatening questions.  Always, always ask questions.  Give her something to respond to.  Don’t just say “let’s talk”.  Fun easy questions are best – don’t go deep early – go a little deep in a couple of emails.  Never go super deep – save that for offline
  • Remember that this is a person you do not know and might never meet – so for the love don’t write to her like she might be “THE ONE”.  In fact send an initial email to lots of women.

Once you’ve got some communication going here is your goal – within 5 emails you want to take this offline.  This is critical.  You’re not looking for a pen-pal.  Invite her to talk on the phone – ask if she’d be up for it.  Now this whole online thing is much scarier for girls than for us.  I would always state that I would love to call her first, but when I invited her to talk I would leave my number in case she didn’t want to give me her’s online.  If she doesn’t want to talk live after 3-5 emails – walk.  Do it!  Walk away.

On the phone call be fun and interesting.  Don’t talk forever.  Relax.  Smile (seriously trust me here). On that first phone call say you want to meet in person.  Offer to meet for a drink or coffee.  This is not a date – this is a meeting to see if you want to go on a date. (Ladies- when you go meet any kind with stranger – someone should know you are doing it – and guys keep this thought in mind).

Again it is ok (good in fact) to have several of these going on at once.  You want to get from the first email to the actual meeting as fast you can without being pushy.  Online is about meeting potential people.  Don’t make it more than that. There will be another profile.

I’ve met a lot of women for this first meeting.  Most won’t go anywhere.  It can be overwhelming. It can lead to dating fatigue (future post).  But the good news is I’ve met mostly quality people (although I’ve had some wild, hilarious meetings as well – but really that can be part of the fun if you let it),  and, full disclosure – I met the woman I’m going marry online.

So what has been your online experience?  What advice would you offer the people reading this?  I would love your comments on this.

Don’t Be Friends First

So as I’ve mentioned before I’ve read a whole lot of online profiles.  I mean a lot.  One thing that always makes me laugh is when the woman says something to the effect of, “I want to marry my best friend” or, “I want to be friends first.”

Gentlemen, don’t believe this.  Here is what that means in reality.  The whole friends first thing is just a safety measure.  It means essentially, “I want to lessen the pressure on this situation.” It can also mean, “I not attracted to you but I’m not good at saying no to people so I’ll say this instead.”  It does not mean they want to be “just friends” for a while and will be attracted to you later.

When a woman says she wants to marry her best friend, it means that she wants to be best friends with the person she is already attracted to and wants to marry.  That is not a bad thing by the way.  But it doesn’t mean that she wants to become friends and then marry someone even though she isn’t attracted to them.

Friendship in a relationship is extremely important.  In the book, The Mystery Method, “Mystery” (you can search this guy out on your own – I don’t condone all that he says but there is some good stuff) offers this equation: Attraction + Comfort = Seduction.  Read that again.  Here’s the idea.  If you create attraction with a woman but aren’t friend material (read comfort) eventually it won’t work.  But if you create friendship without attraction – that is all it will ever be.  You are stuck in the friendzone.

The point is that people, male and female, date people they are attracted to period.  End of story.  We’ll talk about how to get out of/avoid the friendzone later, but that is not the point of this post.  Today I want to talk about pursuing women under the guise of friendship.

This is especially important in the “Christian” dating (or courting or whatever you call it) culture.  Just because we are not going to have sex on the first date does not make us “friends”.  It means we have morals.  But this idea of being her friend so she will eventually like me is weak.  If I’m interested in pursuing a girl I should not approach it as a friendship. Why?  Because that is not what I actually want and that makes it shady.

It drives me crazy when guys do this.  This isn’t legitimate friendship.  It’s false.  It’s a strategy.  There are all sorts of reasons for this strategy.  Maybe, I don’t have the guts to ask this girl out so instead I will become “friends” with her.  Or I know she doesn’t like me but I like her so I’ll hang around her as much as I can and hope that eventually somehow she will “like” me.

Maybe I’ll join her small group, join her cause (something she is passionate about) or worst of all, I “minister” to her, thinking that eventually she will like me. If I do all of this with the hope/intention of turning it into more, then I’m not really being her friend. I’m using friendship as a way to pursue her.

Now I’m not talking about someone who is a friend and later becomes someone of interest. That can sometimes happen.  I’m also not saying don’t have female friends.  What I’m talking about here is using the friendship angle when you don’t mean it.  It’s bad because it’s intellectually dishonest.  Frankly it’s also a waste of time.  Once you are in the friendzone you are done.  Why go there on purpose?  You will never turn that into more as long as that is how she views you.

Honestly there are some guys who are lacking self confidence and think this is literally the only way to get to hang out with women they like.  I feel legitimate pain in my heart for you if that is where you are at.  But you are worth more than that. Stop subjecting yourself to this.

Finally there are guys who are “friends” first because they aren’t sure they want to actually date a particular person or they want to be “friends” with multiple people.  So they “hang out” (read date but without any kind of responsibility) with their “friend”.  Maybe it’s a girl who you think you should be attracted to or who your friends want you to be attracted to. It doesn’t matter. You already know you aren’t attracted to this person – or you’d ask her out.  Don’t drag it out and lead her on.

Look, at one point or another in the last 25 years I’ve done all of the above.  How many times did this work out?  Zero.

So have you ever used the “friend’s first” strategy?  Did it actually protect you?  Have you ever seen it work?

Get In The Game

From about the age of 27 to 31 I went on zero dates.  I know, hard to believe.  I would have told you that I had no good options and that I was focussed on ministry but really that would have been a load of crap.  Now to be fair I was working really hard in my job and I did live in a smaller community but truthfully, while I would have said that I wanted to be married (believe me I would have emphatically declared my overwhelming desire for that), I just wasn’t doing very much about it.

But then I decided I was going to get into the game as it were.  One way or another I was going to meet people and go on dates.  Now I did a lot wrong and frankly by this point I was pretty messed up in this area of my life and God had to basically teach me how to pursue women again but I was not going to sit around and wait.

I think one of the reasons we have more single Christians is that there is an over spiritualization of the whole thing.

There is this idea that God will send me someone and I won’t have to do anything about it.  This, in my view is ridiculous, ineffective, hurtful, and completely inconsistent with everything else we do in life.

While I do think that God sends people into our life, we have to act.  If I pray for God to get me a job, for example, do I now not have to complete a resume?  Do I not have to go on a job interview?  Does a job just appear?  Of course not!  I ask God to help me find a job, to guide my search, to help me discern between options etc.  But then you know what, I hit the pavement.  I go out and apply.  If I don’t, chances are I will remain jobless.

The same is true for finding a spouse.  I’m not going to get married if I don’t ever go on a date.  The number one way to guarantee singleness is to not pursue marriage.  And pursuing marriage means getting out there.

To some extent it’s a numbers game.  I’m not saying date just anybody but I am saying that dating nobody will result in staying single.

Back in the day most marriages were arranged in one form or another.  But we are not back in the day.  We are here living in this culture.  I mean if you want your parents to pick someone for you go for it but most of us, and especially if you are 25 and older, don’t really see this as a viable option.

Gentlemen, this mostly falls on us.  We are the initiators.  But most of us are not initiating well.  We look at women, but we don’t approach them.  We angle our way into “friendships” but don’t ask people out.  We see a woman across the room that we want to talk to but we let the moment pass (Ladies – it is ok to initiate contact by the way – that is not the same as asking a guy out).

We have all sorts of excuses.  “I’m not sure I like her yet” – well how will you know if you don’t spend time with her.  “I don’t want to lead her on” – it’s one date – and get over yourself already.  We are scared of rejection and we are scared of success.  Some of us flat don’t know how to talk to women and have no confidence in this area.  Some of us are just lazy.

If you want to get married you have to get past all of this.  I’m not suggesting serial dating (I keep promising to get to this group and I will – because I’ve been there too), but I would argue that for most of the guys I know this is not the issue.

Here are some ways to get in the game.

  • Let your friends know you are looking.  Getting set up by people that know you can be good.  Remember it’s just one date
  • Talk to women.  I know this sounds simple but start doing it more – get to know women.  Work on being comfortable around them.  Even those you aren’t interested in.  They might have a friend.
  • Do online dating.  This is part of our culture and it works.  Seriously.  This will help keep you engaged.  Here is a great breakdown of different sites.  I’d suggest one site at a time – trust me (more on this soon).
  • Do ministry – serve
  • Don’t hesitate.  If you want to ask someone out – do it – right then.

Dating is risky.  It can be hard, frustrating and you could even get hurt.  You could also get married.