Wednesday, February 9, 2011

the beat goes on

i thought i'd make a posting of the comments jadon left and my response to them... which i think he's going to add to later... but i think which shed some more light on the situation of which i was just writing about... the male/female dynamic. these are good discussions to have, if not somewhat awkward and uncomfortable. but that's life! better to have those convos that make us think, make us pursue the lord on things we might not have before, and humble us in knowing we don't have it all figured out. and i appreciate jadon for being a brother and challenging me on what i'm saying as well! :)

i'd also like to put this DISCLAIMER out there for all my single guy friends - this is blog was written to NO ONE in particular! so boys, please don't wonder if i'm secretly hinting at you and hoping you'll somehow stumble upon my blog and read this, i'm just doing what us in the blog-o-sphere do -> share opinion. so you can take what i'm saying, or send it right back. but please know though, that there is NOTHING personal in any of this!!

Below is a section written by JADON:

Hmm, I see where you are coming from, and there is for sure some validity to this. And this is probably going to come out completely wrong, but I think I have some thoughts to share!
This may be a bit hard for me to verbalize through typing here, instead of talking in person, but, I think this is taken a bit too much to the extreme here. There is some counter stuff that needs to be said.
I think the word, and I have said this about so many topics, is balance. There has to be a balance and I think where you are coming from is a reaction to the other side of the pendulum, and going completely the opposite way does not make things any better.
I think we have hyped up Christian relationships a bit too much, and put way too much pressure on both the guy and the gal.
I have never had a girlfriend and am really hesitant to even ask a Christian woman out for coffee, because I am worried that I will lead her on. I don't think this is right! Back in the day it was okay for men to ask different girls to go for coffee or a shake, just to get to know them and figure out if they were compatible at all, no pressure. Now we can't do that in the Christian culture without it being blown out of proportion and the girl either thinking she is being led on or else running away because she thinks that the guy wants to marry her and she isn't interested!
I know that I can start to like a woman through seeing her in group get together's and stuff, but one can only go so deep in that. Sometimes that won't work at all, for instance they might run in different circles and not interact at all unless they intentionally go for coffee to chat a bit and get to know each other. Even if they do run in the same circles, one can often only get to know someone so deep in those big groups, sometimes not even getting to go past a wave across the room for weeks at a time, unless you are somewhat intentional!
I know that men need to be men, but I don't think it is fair that this pressure is put on a man that he can only be intentional with a woman if he is interested in courting her! That puts too much pressure on the relationship. I think it is important for a man to have the freedom to be intentional about getting to know a woman to determine if they are suitable for each other. Or can't a man "just be friends" with a woman EVER? Is that not allowed?
I have enough trouble initiating relationships with women due to fear that I will scare them away, let alone having to worry that initiating friendship means that I need to be courting her for marriage! That is a ton of pressure!
And I do not think that the initiating should be completely in the guys court. I think that the guy needs to initiate the relationship going from just friends to a courtship, but the woman does need to take some initiative here. I have seen women take this "non-initiative" to the extreme with me in the past. I had a girl that liked me, but I had no idea whatsoever that she was interested in me because she barely said a word to me, essentially she ignored me. I thought that she had no use for me, and would have never thought about pursuing her even as friends. We ended up at a table together and the conversation went to this topic and we debated about who is supposed to take initiative, and that is when I figured out that she didn't hate me, but in fact was just trying not to initiate anything, because she had been told that the guy was to take all of the initiative! It is more than okay for a girl to initiate friendship, how else is a guy supposed to know that you are interested in being in the same room with him, let alone potentially courting or marriage!
Lots more I could say, but I really do think that it is all about balance! Maybe we should chat about this over skype sometime... oh shoot, is that taking too much initiative and leading you on? :-)
Relationships are difficult!

08 February, 2011 07:49

and ME (chelsa):

hey jadon... i agree that it's about balance. and there's a ton of pressure from our culture, from that strange thing called christian sub-culture, from families, notions of what biblical dating looks like, etc. it's a jumbled up mess.

i think the purpose of my "rant", shall we call it that, was just to make both guys and girls think. i'm not saying guys and girls can't be friends, definitely not. but there is a certain danger to them spending a lot of time alone. i don't think it's healthy or profitable. why is it necessary?

we often talk about girls being sensitive to guys... not causing them to stumble with how you dress, carry yourself, flirt, etc. because they're such visual creatures. so, being a sister, i wouldn't want to do those things and cause someone to stumble in their faith.

but do guys know that their actions often cause girls to stumble? is it "not legit" because it seems extreme? is it infringing on the rights of people to just be friends? paul talks about us giving up our rights to not cause others to stumble. girls' hearts are SO easily mislead, just like guys are easily influenced by the visual. i'm not saying there isn't anything either or guys or girls can do on their own to help safeguard their hearts against that, but i know my actions can cause someone to stumble, why, out of christianly love, wouldn't i do my best NOT to do that very action?

let me pose you this questions. if you are taking a girl to coffee to see if you are compatible, why not call it a date? why not tell her you want to take her out and get to know her (are your intentions not to see if something could be there?). what if you weren't interested? is that okay? YES. of course. but this is the part we don't like - someone has to SAY that to the other person. OUCH. isn't that mean? doesn't that hurt their feelings? well, maybe. but isn't it better to speak the truth in love and grace than to allow the other person to stumble because it makes you uncomfortable to have to say something? if you and the girl are meant to be friends, your friendship will survive the discomfort of establishing that there's nothing going on between you. if you hate having to have that conversation, but it's going to help out a sister, why are you holding back? i don't think the answer is never spending time with the opposite sex, but rather communicating about what's going on. if you just want to be friends, why not just say that? "hey, i'd love to get caught up, can we go for coffee? and just so you know, i'm pursuing your friendship." maybe that sound weird, but it would save a lot of girls' hearts.

when my bro in law decided he wanted to see how compatible he and my sis might be, they had hung out in groups for a while, he had begun texting her a bit, but soon after he called and asked her to hang out. and he said, just so you know, it's a date. so she knew going in what his intentions were. after their first date, which obviously went well, he asked her out again and again and she said yes again and again. fair enough. now they're married.

i think where two people have been friends for awhile, and they go for coffee every once in a while to get caught up, that might be different. but it's situational and depends on the people, kind of like you said before - balance.

what i'm talking about is communicating intentions. being careful with a girl's heart as you spend time with her. taking the risk of putting it out there if your intentions are to go on a date with her, and then communicating to her that you're interested, or not, and then being friends or going your separate ways after that.

a girl will hold on for months, years, if the guy keeps giving her even the slightest indication that he's interested, even if his intentions are never to go beyond. even though that sounds completely ridiculous. it is ridiculous. it's flawed and sinful, and girls need to guard against letting themselves go there. but what about guys? if they knew that's what their actions said to girls might they become more aware of how they affect girls and therefore guard their hearts by being more forthright with them? guys' typically hate the DTR. girls need it. we're too fallible and apt to go in the direction of misconstruing what guys intentions really are.

and i do believe girls need to respond to initiative and give the guy a response. it shouldn't be one-way. no guy is going to keep pursuing a girl if she never gives him any indication that she's reciprocating his feeling.

so if my entry sounded a little extreme, it's cause it's that big of a deal and it's that important. and there's not much talk about it. so if there's some discussion stirring up, i'm glad. and i'd love to skype sometime, jadon. i'm pretty sure i know where we stand in our friendship. ;) we can definitely talk about this more.



Mark Bennon said...

My two cents:

Though I think that girls can most definitely lead guys on (girls that flirt with everyone and anyone regardless of having any attraction or intentions on pursuing relationship with them), I find it much more common to see guys leading girls on.

I speak out of experience when I say that guy-girl friendships can easily become stumbling blocks that can be very harmful. Even if you remove flirting completely out of the equation, if you invest yourself on a personal level consistently with someone of the opposite sex, emotional connections are made which can lead to struggles.

To Jadon: I think that you are right in a lot of what you are saying. I resonated with you on the girls going so far in the "guard your heart" business that you think they hate you. I've even seen girls that will go on dates and commit to a relationship, but then, because they want to guard their hearts, don't interact comfortably or offer up any of their affections or emotions. In these situations, the girl needs to be called out and encouraged to progressively and intentionally give of themselves in relationship while guarding against completely entrusting themselves to a man outside of marriage (easier said than done...I know...prayer is useful...accountability is cool too).

I also think it's good that you point out that it's not all about the dudes. you said "I have enough trouble initiating relationships with women due to fear that I will scare them away, let alone having to worry that initiating friendship means that I need to be courting her for marriage! That is a ton of pressure!" I can relate to that as well. I think it's very healthy to have a godly fear of becoming a stumbling block in the way of a sisters relationships with Christ. However, this fear should not be debilitating to the point that we fear to ever initiate with a girl until we KNOW that we will marry them. Though maybe God will call you miraculously to a specific girl and command you to marry them (Hosea style), more often than not, we are called to pursue a woman who we have seen evidences of godly characteristics but don't fully know that it's going to work out. So there IS risk on the line that you will not be together forever and there IS risk that the girl is going to experience pain in the process, but that's where we have to call the ladies to guard their hearts so they can endure this kind of suffering and come out in the end w/out deep wounds.

Mark Bennon said...

That being said, there is one thing that I want to challenge us men on (and i think Chelsa is saying the same thing): while I don't want to set-up a list of legalistic rules, I do want to guard against men claiming license when it comes to dating and pursuing women. I've met with a guy several times now who basically stands at the position that he can ask any girl out to coffee/dinner or whatever; he can pursue friendships, seek to go study with, pray with, go deep into their relationship w/ Christ and family with; and if he determines at any point that he doesn't want to continue doing this or if he doesn't like her, then he should receive no blame if the girl is hurt or upset with him. Basically, he will say that the girl should have guarded her heart more and that they were never "dating". To this guy, I respond with "you're right. she should have. and if she wasn't a sinner, she probably would have. but we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves and to, like Paul, seek to remove any hindrances in the way of the gospel. your actions and your friendship have made it REALLY hard for this sinful girl to guard her heart. You have not stated your intentions, you have not helped her by pacing yourself in the way you get to know her and invest in her. you were not aware of potential damage, but just claimed that regardless of what you do, it's her job to be able to emotionally disengage with you." That is a selfish boy who needs to be called out. he is not a shepherd but a wolf and the sheep need to be warned and protected.

so, in summary, i think we as men need to be hesitant to demand women to guard their hearts, and instead be quick to accept responsibility (very manly thing to do) and take command in how we pursue women in such a way to help them defend against crazy thoughts. this may mean abstaining from some liberties (specifically in how/when we interact w/ our female friends) in order to help our ladies out.

I could ramble on forever, but i'm going to stop.

and to clarify on how I asked Jody out for the first time: it was exactly as Chelsa put it, but even more awkward than she made it sound. I was pretty nervous at the time, so basically it went:

Me: "if you are free saturday, would you like to go out to dinner with me?"
Jody: "sure"
Me: "and i mean not as friends"
Jody: "umm...okay"
Me: "i mean, like a date."
Jody: "okay sure." (while thinking "oh wow...this ones a gem")


Anonymous said...

To start off I will clarify that I am 29 and I myself am coming to grips with these facts as well. So I definitely don’t have this all figured out. But from how I have been challenged in the past is as follows.

As far as initiating goes it is the guys’ responsibility to initiate this is clear in Genesis 3 and Ephesians 5. And then you could also take the principle from Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD.” To be able to “find” a wife leads me to believe that searching and pursuing has initially been done by the man. It is a tough position to be in as men, but it is equally hard to be in the position where you are told to patiently wait.

The next thing comes down to what entails initiating all those things you mentioned Chelsa in your “warning” if they are not accompanied by clear communication of your intentions. All that boils down to is selfishness by the guy, it is testing the girl without commitment, in hopes that she reveals something to you so that the “risk” of rejection isn’t as hard a blow, should you finally decide to initiate and reveal your intentions. So if you are upfront and honest from the outset that I want to go out for coffee as friends communicate this, but why can’t you develop your friendship with her in the company of other friends? I firmly believe that you can have great opposite sex friendships, but you put a lot of pressure on the friendship, when you spend a lot of time alone. Communication and boundaries are the keys to any great relationship, whether it is friendship, courtship, dating, or marriage!

Now I am not one to squabble over terminology whether to call it dating or courtship, what it comes down to is your perspective. Because I fall into the category that says pursuing someone should not be out of selfishness, it should be out of a wanting to sacrificially serve the other person. Therefore we shouldn’t be looking for a laundry list of characteristics in a woman that will fulfill our every desire. We should be searching and pursuing a godly women as defined in scripture, because women who are set apart for Christ are radiant. We want a woman that we can love, and be attracted to, but also one we can lovingly serve. We as men should also be set apart and find our fulfillment in Christ, because when we are set apart, our perspective is altered significantly.

When our perspective or goal in dating or courtship, whatever you want to call it is aligned properly, that will lessen the fear of rejection. Because really then you are asking the girl if she wants to join you in a relationship where you want to love and serve her, and where she will then be comfortable knowing that your motives are not selfish. Where if you decide through the process that she is not someone you want to marry or vice versa you know that you have left her/him in a better place then when the relationship began, because instead of having taken from the other person you have given to the other person. Will there be times where selfishness will creep its ugly head in? Yes! But if the foundation is right then chances are the relationship will be more successful! No dating/courtship/friendship will bring the fulfillment that we are often seeking; we must find our sense of worth and fulfillment in the only person that will never let us down, Jesus Christ!

In summary , relationships are difficult yes because it involves two fallible beings trying to get to know each other. It takes initiative from the guys to pursue, and patience from the girls to wait both go against our fleshly nature. Clear and honest communication from both sides will make any relationship easier. Finally what is our motivation in all this, is it out of selfish motives, or seeking fulfillment in someone other than Christ, well it should be out of sacrificial love and humility considering others better than ourselves. So I guess I reiterated a lot of stuff already mentioned…but I love having conversations such as these even if they are only on a blog!