I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these words from a wonderful college-aged woman in a dating relationship:
“He’s just so lazy.”
“He’s not motivated and doesn’t have any goals.”
“I’m just not sure I respect him.”
Now, granted, I love strong, motivated women such as these ladies who vented such frustrated statements to me across the Starbucks table, but for Pete’s sake, why would any man want to date you if you don’t have a nice thing to say about him?
If the statements about these men had been totally true, then I would have encouraged the females to end the relationship. Sometimes I did. But in many cases, I actually knew the boyfriend quite well and admired many of his qualities. Sure, they were not necessarily the best dressers, the most eloquent speakers, or the most goal-oriented guys in town. However, quite often they were prayerful, quiet leaders and very obviously devoted to the women who made such claims about them.
What Informs Our Dating Relationships?
It breaks my heart to see this kind of negative language about our brothers in Christ. When a godly woman dates a godly man, there should be an intentional turning away from the standards we see in magazines and romantic comedies.
I can’t say that I have always been good at this. Prior to dating my husband, I tried to avoid dates with some guys who were interested in me by giving them the cold shoulder. Then I learned from reading Robbie Castleman’s True Love in a World of False Hopethat Christian dating needs to be put in the same perspective that we use for all other relationships—perspective like Philippians 2:3-4, which certainly challenges our cultural view of dating:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
After watching a steady diet of romantic movies in high school, I had (wrongly) assumed that dating should be all about me being wooed by some guy who fit my dream list of characteristics. I never really considered that guys were people who needed to be treated with the same dignity and respect I expected.
What’s Most Important?
I still believe, of course, that it’s important to have very high standards for the person you choose to date and, hopefully, marry. But I also believe women need to have some grace for men. What is more important to you, ladies? The way he dresses or the way he treats you? The number of zeroes after his future salary or the amount of time he spends cultivating a close relationship with Jesus? Do you respect him for his career ambitions or his willingness to be led by Jesus?
In my experience, the latter is more important on all counts. Look for someone who loves Jesus and has a track record of following him, and it’s likely you’ll grow in respect of the person God has made him to be.
Image by twentyonehundred productions team member Laura Li-Barbour.
I’ve met more than my share of singles who are sitting around, waiting for their soul mate—as though one day, there will be a magical knock on the door and “poof,” their soul mate will be standing on the other side. But I think this philosophy of a “soul mate” has done far more harm than good in our society.