Sunday, January 25, 2009

on dating (or the lack of it)

So, I'm single. (You don't have to read this blog for very long to find that out). And I'm thinking I'd quite like to do something about that. And I haven't got a clue what to do. In yesterday's Guardian, there was a guide to dating (which, cynically viewed, is an extended advert for their Soulmates site) which made some interesting reading. I've never done 'dating'. Well, I've never really had a love life which existed outside my head. No, that's a bit harsh. But there's been a lot of unrequited longing and the occasional attempt to do something about it, all of which ended in disappointment of one sort or another.

I tried speed dating in October 2007. It was an experience. Not necessarily one I wanted to repeat. I'm glad I did it, but it's not exactly fun, trying to make a decision on a bloke in 3 minutes and knowing he's doing exactly the same with you. It probably didn't help that I was among the youngest there and most of the guys were a good 10 years older than me. Not that's necessarily a problem. I just didn't hit it off with any of the guys I met.

Last year, I wasn't terribly sociable. Being single was one of the many things that bothered me, but I knew I wasn't really in a fit state to do anything about it. Now, I'm feeling better. Mostly. A bit more confident on a good day, at least, and wanting to do something. Yes, the fact that both of my sisters are attached probably has something to do with that. And the fact that I'm not terribly good at waiting and want to make things happen. But, what can I do?

I feel like I have no idea. It's the eternal cry of the single Christian woman that there are no single Christian men, but I don't think that's entirely true. My main problem is not so much finding a man, but what to do if and when I do find someone I'm interested in. I have no idea how to go from being friendly and smiley to making it clear I'm interested in seeing if there's something more between us. I suppose I could say it in English with words, but I'm so expectant of rejection that that feels too scary. (Yes, I know that attitude's wrong, I'm working on it with God's help.) I can do friendships with guys (mostly. Occasionally there's had to be some negotiation of the boundaries. Mostly when I'm interested and they're not. (I can't think of a single successful friendship where it's been the other way round. I can, though, think of some guys I wasn't interested in who I put down pretty ungraciously. If any of them are reading, I apologise. Hmm, I think I've got a lot to learn from some of my lovely Christian brothers)). Anyway, you can't survive as a female physicist without learning to be friends with men. But I don't know how to go from friend to potential girlfriend. I think the idea of being attractive scares me.

So, right, where does that leave me? With no idea of what to do. Any suggestions? Any single male Christian friends you can set me up with? (Preferably local, rather than say, across the Atlantic). Anyone out there want to say hello?

7 comments:

RobHu said...

Hello there :-)

I'm not really sure what to say here because I can see that you've poured out a lot of yourself in the last four years on your blog, and as I've only read a small part of it so far I feel a bit like I'm jumping in at the deep end by commenting. If I make a comment that it out of turn, that causes offence, shows insensitivity, or is just plain stupid - then please understand that this is because of the limited perspective I'm coming from.

I want to say that as a 28 (29 in march!) year old Evangelical Christian man, I also find singleness to be a very hard thing to cope with. I know that in the beginning God created man and woman together because it was not good for man to be alone. God's intent is (generally) not that we're single, those feelings of loneliness and the desire to be held and loved that we feel (well I say we, I certainly feel like that a lot of the time - but then I'm quite a touchy feely person (although few people would realise that)) are normal. They're not a reflection of failings in us.

I often wonder if the reason I am alone at 'such a ripe old age of 28' is because there is something wrong with me, but (while that's going to be true to some extent) it's because we live in a fallen world where things are not as God intends for them to be. I know there are more women in church than men, but even so it can be hard for men who do not seem to be desired by the women in the church, or do not find someone who they think they would complement well.

From the sound of your post you've had quite a lot more success with relationships (or what one party hoped would be a relationship) than I have. I've only had the one relationship (which didn't end terribly well). So I doubt there is much I can say on that score that would be helpful to you (so please take all of this with a pinch of salt). For some reason though I seem to have the kind of personality (perhaps because I was raised by my mother, as my father was absent) where my female church friends confide in me a lot. One of the things I've noticed is that they seem to think that guys will realise that they like them if they do something *obvious* like talk to them, or smile at them. You may already know this, but men just don't see this level of subtlety, all this 'obviousness' is entirely invisible to us, we just don't see it at all - it is my suspicion (and it's only a suspicion as none of my female friends are brave enough to try it out) that if you want to make a play for a guy you have to be pretty up front about it, suggest having coffee with them or invite them over for dinner. I know it transgresses certain 'church social traditions', but I don't see that those traditions are really worth maintaining (especially if the alternative is being alone). With men, generally, I think directness is the key.

You say in your post that you're worried about rejection. I think that's a reasonable fear. My friends are eagerly trying to get me involved in meeting single Christian girls at the moment, but I'm reticent to do so because I worry that they will reject me, and if they reject me, what does that say about me? Maybe I'm a rubbish person not worthy of love. Taking a step back for a moment though to think about it more rationally two things are clear, first of all my value as a person is not dependent on whether girls reject romantic advances from me, my value as a person is based on the fact that I am made in the image of the eternal and perfect God, and that he sees me as so valuable that he sent his only begotten son to die in my place. Secondly, yes, I am going to get rejected - probably quite a few times. There are a lot of women out there, and I'm not going to be an ideal fit for most of them, if I didn't get rejected ever I'd end up with the first girl I came across who probably wouldn't be a good fit for me and I probably wouldn't be a good fit for her. Rejection therefore is not a reflection of my inadequacy as a person, but rather how people express that they don't think the two of you would make a good match.

Have you thought of adding yourself to any of these Christian dating websites? My friends are encouraging me to do that, but so far I haven't done so. I have heard of friends of friends who did meet their husband through these sites.

Don't think poorly of yourself. It's clear from your posts that you're an articulate woman with various skills (you seem to be quite good at photography for instance). I'm sure there are men out there that you would be a good match for and who would be a good match for you. Finding them is probably going to take some grit and determination, but in the end it will be worth it.

This is all a bit rambly, and perhaps isn't very helpful. Sorry if that's how it's come across. It's quite late, but I wanted to say something.

If you think I can be of any help to you in unlocking the male psyche or answering questions from a mans perspective then please reply here (if that results in me automatically getting an email, I'm not sure if it does as I've never blogged on blogspot before), or email me directly rob@robhulme.com.

Oh - and one other thing (this is just a bit of a hobby of mine), I notice that in another post you quoted the Bible from the ESV. I was wondering why you chose the ESV. In the UK (I get the impression you're in the UK) relatively few people tend to use the ESV (I do, but as you know, most churches use the NIV).

Your brother in Christ,
-Rob

RobHu said...

Oh - and just to add (as you're no doubt wondering who this strange random internet person is) I'm a close friend of Alex and Rachael Churchill from CCC.

Jen said...

Hi, my friend Rob was telling me about you and told me about this post, so I had a quick look and just thought I'd say you're not alone! I can identify with you entirely, and also have no idea what to do, or, as you say, how to go from friend to potential girlfriend.

Currently I'm trying to not get stressed about the singleness thing and treat it as an opportunity rather than a threat. I attended a really good singleness seminar once that looked at the positives. (yes, there are some!) It was a few years ago now, but I seem to remember it went along the lines of using your time wisely while you have some (ie it's not all taken up by your other half/kids), maybe getting involved with Church and other stuff whilst no ties. Possibly also going abroad (something I'm currently looking at). Also when involved with other stuff you're more likely to meet similar minded people, always a good start! As for Christian dating websites, I've never tried them myself, (although one of my friends did try and get me to sign up once) but I do have friends who have met and married that way.

The other really good thing I think we can do is concentrate on becoming the kind of person someone would want to go out with/ potentially marry. There was a really good talk on this at Momentum last summer (Soul Survivor's conference for students and twenty-somethings) by a lady called Ness Wilson. I think you can probably download the talk at www.soulsurvivor.com/uk for about £1, or order a CD for ?£3. I reckon it's worth listening to.

This probably doesn't help at all, but God knows and I reckon He's either got someone special for us or a very good reason why we have to be single! And if I get to heaven without knowing it, I'll be asking asap. Oh another thought - pray for your future husband (as long as it's not detrimental to your thought life) - that God would be drawing him into a deeper relationship with Himself and equipping you both for the work He has for you to do.

Well I wish you all the best with your man hunt, and pray the perfect person will appear really soon. If you want to get in touch, that's great, ask Rob for my details, cos I don't have a blog or any such thing. God Bless,
Jen.

RobHu said...

Hey Bekki -

I hope you don't mind that I mentioned you to Jen and pointed her at your blog. She was asking me today what's been happening in my life and why I was up so late so I thought I'd tell her!

So you know - Jen is a good friend of mine, we're in small group together at church.

Another good idea (that Jen originally suggested to me) is to go on one of these 'Christian holidays'. It'd probably not be very helpful to think of them purely as dating opportunities (otherwise I know I'd get upset if no one that was there liked me!), but the truth is (as far as I can tell) that most of the people who go on these things are single, and do so because they know that most of the other people there are going to be single too :-)

I'm no expert on this (I've never been on a Christian holiday as such - although I've been to Spring Harvest and Word Alive), but one of the popular companies for these things is Oak Hall (which I have heard of some amusingly refer to as Bloke Hall !).

Jen: Thanks for mentioning that talk by Ness Williams. I've looked it up on the site, and you can get to it from this page. I'm going to buy it now and give it a listen. ... Momentum looks interesting, maybe I should think about going to that this year? (are there still spaces?) I'm planning to go to Keswick, New Word Alive, and Spring Harvest (which are in some kind of order of 'reformedness there I suppose), but I'd also like to go to something more on the charismatic end of things (which theoretically I am). I was originally a child of Message 2000 afterall ! I'm also very aware of how my view of the church, and theology (within evangelical boundaries) is very skewed to one side - I'd like to be broader (at least in my understanding and appreciation).

Bekki: Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, and reading your reply to my email (if you have the time!).

As Jen said - if you'd like her contact details just email me to ask and I'll pass them on. I assume she didn't want to list her email address (or full name) publicly on the internet.

-Rob

Lauren said...

ok, as someone on the other side of the Atlantic, I won't set you up with any of my friends. and as someone newly engaged, don't be too mad at me for commenting here. But just 7 months ago, I thought I was bound for a single life. I made all sorts of plans. I was going to move to China and teach English. And then I was going to work on a cruise ship. Then I was going to be a nurse...and the list goes on. well then a man interrupted my life and I changed my plans. But that is one of the down-sides of a relationship - change of plans. but I know it's a change you'd gladly make.

but my point in commenting is to say that I used to hole these dinners. In my mind these dinners were pro-longed interviews. I'd invite roughly the same number of men as women and I would cook for them. We'd have an appetizer, a salad, a main dish with sides, and a dessert. I'd set the table to look like a 5-star dining hall and ask everyone to dress the part. Then we'd watch an old black-and-white murder mystery movie and before it ended I would pause and make everyone write their guess about who do it. Whoever was right at the end of the movie would get a prize. -anyway, I did get a date out of it. I'm still friends with the guy, but I couldn't see it going anywhere (and now I'm engaged to someone else, so it's good).

sooo, It was A LOT of fun. lots of people were invited at various times, some repeats, most not. It was a great way to socialize even without a date. And Bekki, you'd be good at it too.

Pig wot flies said...

Jen, hi! Thanks for dropping by. Thanks for the advice, I'll look up some of those talks. It's good to know we're not alone.

Rob, of course I don't mind. Hmm, the traffic on my blog has gone up somewhat this week. I wonder why that is? :o)

Lauren: I like your dinner idea. And that's definitely something I could do. Thanks!

RobHu said...

@Jen: I've just finished listening to Ness' talk (I'm just listening to it again). I'm really quite impressed by it, so very practical, relevant, helpful and biblical. She's a really good communicator.