Avoid The Nice Guy Trap

One of the complaints I hear all the time from men (and that I used to make all the time) is that women, and in our case Christian women, always seem to choose the bad guy over the good guy.  If you are a consistent reader hear then you know that I would say that is the wrong view of a real issue.

Here is what women do – they choose the guy they are attracted to over the one they aren’t.

There are a lot of men who say that women should date them because they can be a great husband, are trying to be godly etc, even though they are not, for whatever reason attractive to women.  I would ask that guy, are you asking out women you know to be godly that you are not attracted to?  I’m guessing no.

So rather than sit around and complain, maybe we should think about what is attractive and work on it.

This leads us right back into something that I’ve written about before but I want to address in a different way.  If “nice” guys are not attractive, why do we continue to be nice and how do we keep getting into that spot.

If we are the nice guy, chances are that we will keep getting friend zoned by women.  Maybe eventually a woman, after being with enough “not nice guys” will decide to choose the nice guy, but usually that leads to a marriage that isn’t super successful either.

Today I want to talk about why we think we should be or need to be nice.  Later I want to talk about how to get out of it.

There are lots of reasons that men, especially Christian men, fall into the “nice” trap.  Here are a few.

We think that if we are nice, that it will be reciprocated.  

This of course isn’t actually being nice for niceness sake.  It’s being a player in it’s own way.  In other words I like the girl so I’ll be really nice.  I’ll meet her needs.  I’ll buy here stuff.  I’ll listen to her problems and “minister” to her.  And if I help her enough, surely she will want to be with me.  Except that she won’t.  And if she does it won’t be because you did those things.  Forgetting the fact that this is just as manipulative as any other “game” move, it is not typically effective.

The Church has taught men that if they are nice (or Godly or servants or . . .), women will be attracted.

Making matters worse is the fact that most in the church teach their men this.  They say, serve the woman, protect the woman, rescue the woman, listen to the woman.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do those things.  But what I am saying is that those things will not make you attractive to her.  And getting mad about it won’t change that.

You cannot serve your way to attraction.  You cannot buy your way to attraction.

I know you’ve seen the romantic movies (made for women) where the guy buys the flowers or rescues the damsel.  But go back and re-watch those movies.  When was the girl attracted?  Seriously.  Think about it.

Often we think that we can “save” the girl and if we do then she will want to be with us.  I know I thought this a lot.  But it just doesn’t work that way.  Look, the hero isn’t attractive because he is nice – he’s attractive because he is strong, brave, and doesn’t need anything back from the person he’s saving.

We equate being nice with being good.

This is a false dichotomy.  Nice does not always equal good.  You see someone doing something wrong.  What’s the nice get along thing to do?  What’s the right thing to do?

Jesus was not nice . . . at all really.  He was for sure good.  He called out stuff.  He was fully confident in who He was.  He didn’t need anything from anyone other than God. Remember in The Chronicles of Narnia? Aslan (the Jesus character) was a lion for heaven’s sake.  Not safe, but good.  There’s a difference.

We are scared.

Finally the reason a lot of guys are nice is because they are afraid.  Afraid of rejection.  Afraid of not being liked.  Afraid of conflict.  Afraid of tension.

This fear causes many men to not approach women at all.  It causes others to do it extremely poorly.  It also causes husbands to not lead their wives.  Avoiding conflict and tension with women is a terrible plan.  I had a mentor who said that most men are afraid of their wives.  Look around you and tell me it’s not true.  Happy wife, happy life right?  Really what we mean is don’t deal with crap and then we won’t fight.

I’m not saying be an a-hole.  What I’m saying is that being nice while expecting reciprocation is not really nice.  Being nice to get the girl is horrible plan.  Being nice and being good are not the same and being nice to avoid “trouble” is not healthy.

Gentlemen I get it.  I really do.  I was the nice guy to the women I liked for almost two decades.  What’s funny is that I’m not really that nice.  But I was nice to them.  You know what that did for me?  Nothing.  I honestly don’t think it served those women.  It for sure didn’t help me get married.

Should I Give That Guy One More Date?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about chasing vs. pursuing.  I’ve already decided we need some new language to make all of that more clear, but that is not the topic for today.

I received a note from one of my female leaders asking a good question in response to that post.  In actuality she asks a much more important question, perhaps without knowing it.  I don’t typically write specifically to women here because, well I’m not one, and I don’t come from that experience.  But I think this is important and merits an post.

Her question

In follow up to the post on chasing vs pursing, may you write a refresher on how women should appropriately response to being chased or pursed? I think that for the well liked, popular Christian single lady, it may be easier to differentiate the two and act accordingly, perhaps due to exposure or experience. For other women, especially when requests and invitations are few and far in between, or even non existent, it can be hard to tell what is a good and noble pursuit versus what is simply a chase because we are a woman. Sadly, I have fallen for this one, and I would appreciate insight on how a woman should respond to such encounters in the future.

This question brings up a few very important points that we need to consider.  So let me take a crack at them here, while hopefully helping answer the intent of her question.

I think what she is really asking is not so much how to understand the difference between knowing when guy is chasing vs pursuing, but instead how to know who to respond to. How do you know who is noble regardless of their approach?

This is a vitally important thing for women to get a hold of.  Because here is a gigantic truth.  Ok ready?  Both noble and ignoble men can be chasers and both noble and ignoble men can be pursuers.

This is what I’ve been telling men here for four years.  Being a good Christian guy or even being a guy who would make a great Christian husband does not necessarily help you attract the girl you want.  It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not typically what causes or doesn’t cause attraction.  It doesn’t get you in the door – it should help you seal the deal.  It’s the difference between marketing and managing.   Two totally different skill sets.

In the Church we only teach one skill set – that’s being a married person. It’s killing us.

So let me actually answer the question as best I can for the ladies that are interested out there.

First, you need to understand that initial attraction, while nice should always be checked with some qualifiers.  Now that doesn’t mean you have to figure out all the qualifiers before you go on a date.  But it does mean you are looking for some things. And you are looking for them quickly.

I say quickly because if you let attraction grow with someone who isn’t qualified you can end up in a bad spot in a hurry.  Pretty soon you are saying things like, “I know he’s not a Christian but I can’t help what I feel“.  Bad.

What you need to have clear in your head is that for most women, what is attractive about a guy initially is how he carries himself, how he talks to you, how he “makes you feel”. Again there is nothing wrong with feeling attracted, even to the “wrong” person.  But that attraction does not make the guy noble or not.

There are a lot of guys who would make great husbands who come off less attractive at first.  But if you want a good marriage, then you need to think about not just how you feel, but what kind of man this guy is.  Is he deep?  Does he lead others?  Is anyone following him?  Do people respect him?  How does he treat people?  What does he do with his time and money?  Is he a hard worker?  These are all good questions that show you more about him.

A great example happened recently to a gal I know pretty well.  She came to me after being on a few online dates. She said that one of the guys seemed like a really good guy, with a really good background.  She “wanted to like him” but she didn’t “feel” that attraction.  Now realize this is after one, maybe two dates.  She asked me what I thought.

I said, if you want to get married then I would maybe give this guy another couple of dates.  The truth is that a lot of Christian guys aren’t super comfortable and confident right out of the box.  There are many reasons for this (which we’ve talked about ad nauseam here) but if you think he is a high quality guy, then I’d give it another go.

She did and they are well on their way to marriage.  As they dated more, he got more comfortable and therefore she grew more attracted.

Now that won’t happen every time.  I’m not suggesting here that you marry someone you aren’t attracted to – although you could.  What I’m saying is that how someone pursues you has to do with attraction, not how noble they are.

Bottom line, if a good guy seems awkward at first, I’d give him another chance.  See if after a couple of dates you feel different. If he stays weird then yeah, maybe you bolt.  And if a guy charms you and you are paying attention and figure out that he isn’t a good guy, forget what you “feel” and bolt.  In a dream world, you are instantly attracted to a good guy.  But we live in the real world.

 

 

Chasing Vs. Pursuing

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.  The 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.

The Ever Important Second Date

If you are not called to celibacy and you desire and feel called to marry, as I see it we often struggle in at least one of three ways.  Some can’t get a date, some can’t get from a date to more, and some can’t make a commitment to marriage.  I’ve been all three of those guys at one time or another in my 20+ years of singleness.

Here at this blog we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the first one.  We’ve talked about attraction,  what do we do when we are attracted and how do we approach women etc.  We’ve talked a little about the third group.  The idea that men can’t make a commitment is sort of an overblown sentiment. True there are some fears, habits, and various other things that can create that situation. But it’s not as many men as people make it out to be.  At least not men that are following Jesus and living purely.  I’ll have some more to say about this group later.

But today I want to focus on the second group.  In one way or another, I think there are a lot of people stuck here.

One of the problems we need to address is the second (third, fourth) date.  I know for me, there were many times where I could get the first date.  Not only that, but I could do a great first date.  And I don’t just mean put on a show for the night.  I mean be me, and create chemistry.

But after the first date is where things always seemed to get stuck.  There are several different reasons for this.  Let me address a few.

First of all, in our evangelical dating world there is a misplaced pressure that says essentially that if you start “dating” then you need to be pretty sure this is going toward marriage.  I mean we want to be sure to not lead anyone on and of course guard their heart.  As completely insane as this idea is, I for sure often fell victim to it.  If I wasn’t sure that I wanted it to go a long way, I would be hesitant to take it to the next step.  My encouragement would be to almost reverse it.  I think you can go out several times without knowing anything about where it is going.  Now I’m not saying string her along.  And for sure don’t tell her how you feel or even promise exclusivity until you’re ready. But you don’t have to figure it all out right away.  That’s unrealistic.

Ok with that out of the way, let’s get practical.  One of the problems is that anyone can come up with a great first date or two.  Good chemistry is often easy to create on the front end.  Especially if you keep it somewhat brief.  Things are new and you’re getting to know about each other.  You’re both somewhat attracted or you wouldn’t be there.

But the next couple of dates are key.  Let me offer a couple of helpful ideas.  Perhaps our commenters will have others.

For starters I think it’s a good idea, when possible to not make the first few dates super long.  In other words early on, less can often be more.  Secondly, and I often failed here, I think you are better off early on figuring out something to go do, not just talking.  You need to create some shared experience.  You don’t have as much to talk about if you don’t know each other yet.  Just go spend time together.

You go out for a drink or dinner on the first date that’s fine.  You get the initial questions out of the way and see if there is connection.  But doing that on date two and heaven forbid date three begins to get tedious because you don’t have enough to talk about yet. Go play together or go to a play together.  Something.  This does several things.  It creates an “us” because you are doing it together.  If you lead well here, it also shows that you are a person that does things and you are inviting her along rather than just sitting there at the third restaurant in as many weeks.

In other words as simple as this sounds, go have fun together.  Don’t turn every date into an interview or theological conversation.  Do what you do and invite her.  Then as you find out more about what she likes to do, work that in as well.  The goal here is to turn down the pressure and turn up the fun.  Then figure out after a few times together if you both want to move into an exclusive relationship.

I want to say something to the ladies here as well.  I was recently talking with a friend who had gone out with a guy who she knew was a good Christian guy.  It’s not that she didn’t have a good time, but she wasn’t blown away or excited.  She sort of wanted to like him, but didn’t feel instant attraction.  I asked her if she thought he was a good man and potentially a good husband.  She said yes.  I then told her that there are a lot of guys who don’t quite know how to create attraction or aren’t so sure of themselves early on in dating, but once they get going, they actually are really good leaders and will be good husbands.  She said she’d give him another date or two.  That was several months ago.  She is now super into him and they are in a relationship.  Bottom line, if you see a guy who is a good leader at work, church, and other such things, has good character and is a solid man, give him an extra date or two before you jump ship.

Here are a few questions to think about.  Where do you get stuck?  First date?  Second or third?  What have you found to be helpful here?

You Are Not Her Spiritual Leader

I want to continue to try to answer a question that reader Stephen asked me a few weeks ago. Here is the question.

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. 

I tackled the general nice guy question previously, but I think Stephen raises a very interesting question when it comes to leadership.

First of all, let’s clear a couple of things up.  Nowhere in the bible is the phrase spiritual leader used.  It’s kind of inferred in several places but we’ve sort of created this phrase so that we don’t have to use words like headship.  But regardless of all of that, and no matter what you call it, when you are dating someone, you are not her spiritual leader or head of anything. You are not saddled with that and you don’t have to love her as Christ loved the church (any more or less than you would any other person) and she is not called to submit to your leadership.  Ephesians 5 is not about dating.

At the same time you can show leadership.  You’re not her “leader” but that doesn’t mean you can’t lead.  In the restaurant example from above (a great simple example) I’d say on the fist date you should just have a plan and do it.  Just lead.  This is where I’m taking you tonight.  Go someplace that you like that you think she might also enjoy. Don’t show up and say, “where do you want to go?”

Now once you are dating, I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking her what she’d prefer, but I’d ask her that before you show up.  Leadership is more about an attitude.  It’s more about the conversation that night than the menu.  (A note to the ladies here – for the love of all things, if the guy asks you if you prefer mexican or italian and says he is great with either, and you have a preference, express it.  Don’t make him guess and then say, “well I really wanted mexican”.  Men like food.  We don’t care.)

While the above is sort of a practical answer to the fist couple of dates, I think this question begs a deeper one.  What is leadership and what does it look like in a dating relationship.

Leadership is sort of a funny word in our culture. It seems that everyone wants to be one, but very few are seen as one.

Which brings me to the first important point – in order to be a leader, you have to actually be going somewhere.

If as a guy, you know who you are, and remain confident in that, you can look for someone who will come with you.  In terms of attractiveness, knowing what you want, and passionately pursuing it aren’t going to hurt you.  Frankly it’s also often more effective when first asking someone out to invite them to go with you versus a general ask.  “Will you go out with me sometime?” is a lot more pressure than, “I’m going to the game this weekend, come with me.”  I get that isn’t always the preferred method, but the general idea of having a plan and inviting her to it is good.

But here’s another funny thing about leadership.  It require followers.  If no one is following you, you’re not actually a leader.  Also, just because someone has followers doesn’t mean they are leading the right way – just that they have leadership ability.  Hitler had followers.

I say all of this because it’s hard to have a conversation about men leading, be it in marriage or dating, if we don’t sort of have that down.

So here are a few thoughts on how to lead in dating.

  • Be going somewhere yourself.  What are you about?  Where are you heading – big picture and tomorrow.
  • Invite her to that – the simple small stuff at first (go with me to the game?) the bigger vision later (where do we want to be in life).
  • You set the boundaries – physical and otherwise – and honor them – even when she doesn’t want to.
  • Don’t follow her around.  Pursue her, get to know her (which is leadership), but don’t chase her.
  • Make decisions about things you do together.  (Again to clarify, the more your in the relationship the more that becomes joint – but you can still lead the conversation).
  • Lead in reconciliation and forgiveness, but not out of fear – instead out of concern for her and the relationship.

These are just a few examples.  Maybe some commenters will have more.  Keep in mind that no one leads well all of the time (I for sure don’t) and over thinking it and crushing yourself when you feel you don’t lead is totally counterproductive.  Every guy screws this up.  But we need a target.

One final thought here – if you lead and the woman never follows – reconsider that relationship.  Especially when it comes to following Jesus.

If Only Christian Men Would Ask Us Out

One of the things I’ve heard over and over in recent years in the Christian circle of singles is, “Why don’t Christian guys ask the Christian girls out?”  This can be said several ways but the message is essentially that guys should “man up” and ask out all the Christian girls regardless of who the women are.  Some even go so far as to say essentially, “This is why Christian women end up dating non-Chrisitan men.”  According to these folks, if all the Christian guys would just ask women on dates then everything would work out.

There is so much here.  It’s a mess.

The Christian dating culture has made this so complicated and confusing.  And as a guy it’s really hard to navigate that culture.  In the secular culture its much more cut and dry when it comes to asking people out (or hooking up as the case may be).

Not so for us. On the one hand we are supposed to only ask people out that we think we can marry because marriage is the goal.  Now some women and Christian leaders say you should basically not ask anyone on a date without knowing this and of course, be sure to guard her heart.  Of course this is fairly impossible.

Then there are those that say, we can causally date at first.  How else can we get to know each other.  But here’s the thing, if you casually date more than one person in your church or community it can cause all sorts of problems.  It only takes one person to feel scorned to mess up your whole standing as a guy.

So we’ve got two constantly conflicting messages.  One side says nothing casual is ok and the other side says, just date around, it’s all good – as long as it’s “Christian”.  How do we know which girl you are?*

All of this makes men hesitant, both because they are confused about what is right** and by what is expected.  I know it did me.  When I was dating I pretty much took my chances anywhere other than my own church. I’m not saying that was right, but that’s how it felt.

The second factor at play here is that a lot of guys have never been taught how to be effective in talking with women.  The church likes to say man up and ask girls out, but they are short on help on how to do that in any sort of effective way.

So what happens is “nice” Christian guys go about it all wrong, it doesn’t work and then they get frustrated, quit trying or keep failing.  We need to teach men the truth about attraction, how to handle it, and how to approach women.  Not doing this in our current environment puts them at a disadvantage.

This leads to point three.  This is the idea that these poor Christian women just never get asked out by Christian men.  The women are of course more spiritual, out number the men and are frankly just the victims of our Christian guys not being man enough.  The general idea is that if Christian men were better men then all of these women would date them.

Look, there are some women who aren’t asked out at all. Some women need to think about how they present themselves and their own social skills.  Some really are a victim of sorts because they are choosing to modest and chaste and want to be a good Christian wife and are losing out to others.  Fair enough.

However, when a lot of Christian women (read most) say, “No one asks me out” what they mean is, “no one I’m attracted to asks me out.”  You see women don’t want to be asked out by just any guy. They can say that they want a “good Christian guy” but what they mean is that they want a guy that they are attracted to, who also is a good Christian guy. Now I’m not necessarily saying anything is wrong with that.  But the truth is that we do a terrible job of dealing with women and how attraction works for them.  We don’t teach guys the truth of how it works and we aren’t honest with what women really mean.  We rarely challenge women in this.

Finally, this idea that Christian men not asking out Christian women as the reason that Christian women date non-Christians is a complete joke. We are constantly rescuing women from responsibility. How heroic.  Here’s the bottom line.  People typically date who they are attracted to.  At that point they either use Christian as qualifier of not.  That is why it is important to manage attraction and desire, not just give into it.

I have no problem saying that a lot of Christian men need to take initiative, quit worrying about it and make a move, if you want to ask someone out, I’d do it.  I get that there are men who are hesitant, but I think it has more to do with confidence than courage, more to do with effectiveness than effort.

But we must stop blaming men alone for the problem.  We are all part of the mess and it is not a quick fix.  We keep dealing with about 1/10th of the picture and that isn’t going to cut it.

 

 

* The best plan is to ignore all of this and focus on what works.  More soon

**As a simple example of recent “Christian messages” – This guy says, just go out causally, while this one says we need to stop being casual – why would be confused?

We All Need Touch

About 15 years ago my brother and I went to a Rick Springfield concert.  I can’t believe I just typed that.  You have to understand that I was a child of the 80’s and Rick, was well, sort of awesome.  He had 17 top 20 hits.  He was smooth with the lines and the ladies.  So anyway in 2000 or so, long after he was cool, he was in concert to promote a new album that of course no one actually bought.

At any rate there we were at Station Casino and it’s packed (meaning there were like a thousand people there. . . maybe).  Rick steps up on stage, and forgets the words to his opening song.  Haha. Then he says, “I sort of forgot the words there, but it’s ok.  I feel I’m among friends tonight.”  The “crowd” roared.  From then he was on fire.  Flawless as he belted out the tunes as we sang along.

At one point, he starts to sing one of those top 20 hits called The Human Touch.  “We all need the human touch.  We all need it. . . I need it too”.  Then he went out into the crowd and began hugging people and giving high fives.  My brother and I died laughing as we watched a 40 year old woman run screaming to a friend, “He touched me! He touched me!.”

I know at this point you are wondering why I’m sharing this story, but I share it because I think we actually do need human touch and as a single person it can be hard to come by.

Touch is a powerful thing.  It starts when we are young.  As infants we need to be held, rocked, and physically moved.  If we don’t get those things our development goes bad in a hurry.

Growing up we test out our strength against our parents, siblings and eventually our friends.  Did you know that your family is supposed to be the safe place to test all of that? The family is where you first learn about being touched and touching, what is ok and what isn’t, and about the warmth of embrace that makes you feel safe.

And that is just the first place.  We next take it to our peers be it at school or in the athletic contest.  We test our strength and begin to find out what our bodies can do.  This is all before (or hopefully before) we even get to any sort of “romantic” touch.

It’s of course a whole new ball game when it comes to the opposite sex and our first touch experiences with them.  The first embrace, the first kiss, the first. . .

You can see how many ways this can, and often does, get messed up along the way. There are all sorts of good touch and all sorts of bad touch.

As a single person, the older you get, the less places there are for the right kind of touch.

We live in a culture that is more and more individualized and isolated.  50% of America is unmarried.  50% of those people live alone.  That’s not a recipe for good touch.

But it gets even tricker as a follower of Jesus because you are of course trying to avoid sexual immorality.  So we are told don’t look, and of course don’t touch.  In truth, there are a lot of people living in so much fear of bad touch that they don’t have good touch.

But we need it.  There’s a new study out for example that says people that sleep in a bed with someone else sleep better and actually live longer.  Touch has all sorts of therapeutic benefits, not to mention that it’s one of the five love languages.

Somehow we need to fight for this in the church.  Jesus is constantly touching people. Almost always when he heals someone he touches them.  How do we do this right?

For starters we need to own it.  We need to re-establish good, kingdom touch.  We can’t live in fear of bad touch to the point of not offering this kingdom touch.  What does it look like?  Should we run around touching people?  Should we hug every stranger?  Should we drop all of our boundaries when dating someone?  Should we cuddle with random people? Um, no.

Here are a few thoughts on what we should do (I’m talking here non-romantically – I’ll come back to romantic touch in a different post).

We need to recognize our touch history.  Where there has been bad touch in our lives we need to recognize it and seek healing.  Where we have been the one initiate wrong touch we need to repent.

We also need to think about our present touch situation. What physical touch is in my life? How do I react to touch?  Why?

Finally, we need to learn to both receive and initiate the right touch.  I’m talking about the quick hand on the shoulder of the friend you know is hurting. It might be the arm around the crying friend. It’s the hug of a good buddy.  The high five with the opposite sex friend. Heck even the fist bump would be a step for some of us.

Our culture offers a lot of the two extremes – inappropriate touch and isolation.  Neither of those represent the Kingdom.  But we have the chance with how we handle touch to be different, to stand out, to offer the ministry of the right kind of touch.

So, what do you do with the lack of touch?  When is a time when the right kind of touch has ministered to you?