When the character of a man is not clear to you. Look at his noodles. *
I was fairly late to the dating game. For a long time I believed that my future husband would just pitch up at the right moment, without much action needed from me. Not much action that is, apart from focusing on being faithful and good, and waiting patiently for Mr Right, without complaining too much. I wasn’t hung up on it, but if I’m honest, deep down that’s what I believed.
After years of Not Much on the man front, apart from a few flirtations and a bit of heartbreak, something in me snapped. I was totally disillusioned, mostly with God, who I thought should have brought someone along by now. I’d been good, I’d made sacrifices! And He’d let me down! I felt disempowered. I hadn’t felt permission to try, fail, and then do it better next time. I wasn’t a complete rooky, but I’d never learnt how to make confident decisions in this area of life, and I wanted to get experience. I wanted dating to feel more ‘normal’.
So in protest I rebelled – against waiting, and against being faithful and good. It was a bit messy at first, but I got something out of my system. Then I became more intentional with my dating. And so I went online. I filled out my profile, then held my breath and watched to see what would happen.
I got in touch with a guy who’d sent me a great first message: a bit forward perhaps, but I liked his honesty. After a couple of failed attempts to meet up, we arranged a date for after work the next week.
I was on holiday with a big group of friends at the time, and mentioned my date with this guy, let’s call him ‘Jonny’. He even lived round the corner from my office – fancy that?!
Later that evening, a woman I’d only met that week on the holiday drew me away for a chat.
“This guy you’ve got a date with next week, he wouldn’t happen to be called Jonny Smith, would he?”
Um, yes. Why do you ask?
“Um well, I’ve been dating him for the last two months.”
The small size of the Christian dating pool had exposed this guy’s two-timing. So what to do now?
I texted him the next day, and after a lot of excuses and wriggling I received an grovelling apology written in excellent ‘Christianese’. Words like ‘sacrifice’, ‘integrity’ and ‘altar’ featured heavily. Needless to say, I didn’t go on that date with Jonny. But he did contact me a few months later to say that he’d now broken up with the other girl, and would I meet him after all? Not a chance.
There are more stories I could tell; but after my first foray into online dating, I’ve definitely learnt a few things and gained valuable experience. Here are a few things I’ve figured out:
- Although it’s important to get experience, dating for experience-only is not a good idea. You’re likely to make compromises with who you date, and what you expect from them. Date people who you genuinely fancy and could see a future with.
- If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. It’s important to listen to your ‘gut’. How we feel about things is valid, and can even be a warning sign. Listen to yourself and trust your instincts.
- Involve your friends. We need community – one of the catches I found with online dating is that although you get to meet a wider group of people and create more opportunities, it’s as if this takes place in a vacuum. You often only have a profile, some photos, and your limited experience of someone to go on.
- Even though someone ticks the ‘Christian’ box, and plays guitar in the worship band, and says grace before a meal, they can still lack one major thing. Character. When it comes down to the way someone behaves towards you, how much they value you, and what you can expect from them, it takes character to set someone apart from the rest. It really is as important as they say it is. Oh, and a whole lot of chemistry.
- There’s a lot of good Christian teaching on this subject, but some of our understanding isn’t always 100 per cent biblical. We may have absorbed a mixture of Christian culture, interpretation and Church rhetoric as well, which has shaped our values. It’s always worth questioning things, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, weighing them against the Bible.
- I’m struck by the stories of women in the Bible, and how Jesus empowered them, even if their culture didn’t. There are lots of stories of women being audacious – for their culture and their time – in their boldness. If you feel disempowered, and find yourself obligated to take a passive role in dating look again at those biblical stories.
*Advertisement for Kabuto noodles.