Read this before you say 'All men in church are passive daters.'
I’ve heard both men and women say that men are quite passive in Christian circles when it comes to dating. “They just need to ‘man up’ and ask her out”. As you can probably guess, I think the reality is a bit more complex than this, and this ‘belief’ doesn't get to the heart of the issue or enable us to engage with dating and building the relationship we want.
Obviously, I’m writing this post as a guy with a male perspective. However, I do believe all of us, male and female, need to examine the belief that ‘all men are passive daters’. I say this because it’s something that surfaces in various ways in the work I do.
I remember praying and chatting to a guy after one of my talks who wanted to start dating but just didn’t know where to begin. He was also deeply fearful of rejection. He was being passive but wanted to change. However, he said no one ever spoke about how to start dating at his church or offered practical help. So he felt stuck.
I remember some women saying to me after one of my talks that they have actually been treated much better by the non-christian guys they have dated. In their church their experience was that the guys are passive and unintentional, and it leads to heartache.
I also have a friend who plucked up the courage to ask a girl out and she basically told him that she needed to go away and chat to her friends about it first. He said it was confusing, intimidating and left him in limbo about the whole thing.
I constantly have both guys and girls telling me that they’re afraid to go out with each other because they feel the pressure to make the ‘right choice’. Meaning everyone is being passive.
Let’s be honest, there are some people who are being passive and dating unintentionally in our churches.
It may be for a bad reason, and they’re just being selfish and using others. Or it may be for a ‘good’ reason, like they’ve been hurt before and want to be more cautious, or they’re scared of rejection.
There are lots of reasons and not one common reason that applies in every situation.
People are complicated, we all have different hopes and fears and baggage. But I find the perception is that ‘men need to try harder’. It’s the guys who need to be the initiators and take control, or ‘man-up’.
Guys and Girls
I remember a woman asking during my Q&A -
‘Where are all the men and why aren’t they asking women out?’
To which a couple of guys basically said we are here, and willing, but it isn’t working out for us. It was clear they were hurt by the perception that they weren’t trying.
In my experience, the problem isn’t really a guy issue or a girl issue, but actually dating is complicated, and many people get no guidance or teaching on it.
Add this to the unfortunate general unspoken rule that Christians should ‘just know’, and ‘never break up’, and ‘get married straight away and skip dating’. Dating then becomes the result of two people being ‘made for each other’, rather than it being a time to see if you’re compatible, getting to know each other more, and seeing if you enjoy each other’s company.
What Can We Do?
Activeness and intentionality, no matter what our gender, personality, or past experiences are, will help us to transform the way we date.
Here are 5 questions I get asked a lot, that can help us to check our own blind spots and think a bit more about how we foster activeness and intentionality in our dating context:
•‘Some people are just better at dating, right?’ - Wrong. People need to learn how to have a good date. It doesn’t just happen, at least not consistently. Anyone can learn what to do to make it a better experience (Read I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do and What Should We Do On A First Date? Part 1)
•‘How do I talk to someone I like?’ - Many people struggle with this. For some strange reason, we feel like we should just be able to do it naturally. Even the most confident person can worry about this. But remember things like eye contact and really listening can go a long way. (Read 5 Rules To Follow When Talking To Someone You Like)
•‘Am I the only one with dating fears?’ - No. Many people I speak to have dating fears. I meet people who are overwhelmed by the pressure, fear of rejection, and others gossiping that they end up doing nothing. But confronting these fears can help us to approach dating in the right way, whilst respecting those we date (Read 4 Strategies For Overcoming Our Biggest Dating Fears)
•‘Will God bring me ‘the One’?’ - I think the one myth robs us of God’s better plan for romantic relationships. I think God wants us to get involved in Making the One. Instead of sitting on the bench ‘waiting’ be picked, God wants us to get involved in the game, learning to bring discipleship into dating. (Read Why Believing In ‘The One’ Is Very Overrated).
Whether you’re a guy or a girl, if you want to start dating or doing it better, we need to all be more active. We need to remember that dating is complicated, cut each other some slack, and realise we all need some practical help in this area.
Imagine if we remembered that replacing assumptions or perceptions with helpful advice and intentionality, could help transform our dating lives and the dating culture around us.
André Adefope is the Head of Relationship Development at Naked Truth Project, the co-author of Dating Dilemma, and oversees the Naked Truth Relationships project. He is based in Manchester, and has years of experience teaching and supporting people in the area of building God-centred relationships, and is passionate about seeing relationships thrive. Check out their site and all the blogs mentioned above - https://ntrelationships.com/