I was talking to my married, younger sister (who knows infinitely more than I do) recently, and we talked about how many of her friends are unmarried and growing tired of waiting for guys to show interest. She told me about one friend in particular: “I feel sorry for her. She said she’s 25 and never been on a real date. She doesn’t know what it’s like to have someone like her back.”
Now I know that there are lots of girls out there with a similar story, and on behalf of all the video–game–playin, porn-addicted mama’s boys out there, I’m sorry. Guys do need to grow up and learn how to date. But don’t sit there and have a pity party about it. Here are some tips (that have been properly put through the ringer over many beers and coffees with female friends) on how to make the best of your situation while waiting for Prince Charming to come along.
1. Be patient
I know it’s hard to be told to wait. But unfortunately, many, if not most guys don’t grow up ’til they’re 30–ish. Like Edward Norton said in Fight Club, “I’m a 30 year old boy.” It takes time to figure out what kind of life we want, how to be a spiritual leader, how to be disciplined, to decide on a career, to start making a decent living, let alone figure out how to pursue and win a woman’s heart. Girls don’t demand that we have these things figured out, but women do — and that’s scary to us. Going on a date with a real woman often isn’t just a casual hang: it’s a barometer to test if you’ve got your life figured out. At least, that’s how lots of guys see dating. And if you’ve figured all those things out by 30, you’re actually doing pretty well. So girls/women out there, don’t expect that 24 year old you’ve got your eye on to have it all figured out — you may need to wait a couple years. Or ten. During that time, enjoy your life! Enjoy the freedom of having no one to answer to and be responsible for but yourself. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have (i.e. a man/babies) focus on what you do have: many friendships, opportunities and freedoms that will quickly evaporate after taking ‘the plunge.’ And learn the difference between being a girl and a woman. The rest of these tips might help with that.
2. Love Jesus
I know its cliché, but there’s probably nothing more attractive than a woman who’s really got her faith figured out, who relies on Jesus to make her happy and secure, and is overflowing with life because of it. Unfortunately, there are too many girls who think they have it figured out, but haven’t really tested their faith through wrestling with doubt, service to others, or difficult life experiences. They haven’t experienced the depths of sin and grace in their lives. So while they may seem really spiritual at church, we men are wary of what will happen when the rubber hits the road, and times get hard. Will she flake? Or will she look for her strength in God and fight through? Maturity in faith is a very important quality, and takes time to develop. But it is the key to a lasting marriage — so do the work, and hope and pray your future husband is doing it, too.
3. Be passionate
Ok, so guys are suckers for pretty girls. However, prettiness only holds our attention for so long. I don’t want to marry someone who doesn’t have her own (amazing) life goals and passions, who isn’t telling a cool story with her life. Instead of waiting around to find someone to make you feel complete, go on your own adventure: find a battle worth fighting, or a hill worth climbing. Become well read and cultured, because this makes for interesting conversation, which may be hard to manufacture after a few years of marriage. Find your voice and learn to use it, because a girl who can speak her mind with an educated perspective is really cool. Get a mentor, and mentor someone else. Above all, challenge yourself to be a better you everyday, and again, hope that your future husband is doing the same.
4. Know what you want…
… in life, and in love. This starts with being realistic about what you expect out of a relationship. Have some conversations with your dating/married friends about the difference between their RomCom inspired dreams and actual love so you are prepared for the bumps along the way. Dudes may seem pretty great, but trust me, we’ve got our issues, and the path to maturity may be a long and rocky one. On the subject of life, figure out what you are passionate about, and learn to be ambitious in chasing those dreams. A huge part of love is supporting the other person’s ambitions and dreams: if you don’t have any, how can the person you’re with be a part of your story? Initial attraction and infatuation fades, but real love comes from investing in another person. It’s only fair to give a guy a clear picture of goals and priorities you are asking him to invest in. And try to find a guy who’s goals are higher than beating the latest Assassins Creed.
5. Be the man
This is the tough one, and may deserve a disclaimer that this is just a generalization. I know, men are supposed to be men, and do the pursuing, blah blah…
But guys need a kick in the pants once in a while, and we need women to get the ball rolling. Be friendly (even a little flirty– just a little), go to events and parties, invite that guy to group hangs, and pursue conversation with him. If you find you have a shared passion, asking him out for coffee to talk about it isn’t that weird. And when you first start dating, it’s easy to put off the tough talks about values, priorities, kids and so on because its just so much fun hanging out together. Often a man (or rather, boy) will be too chicken to initiate these discussions, so it may be up to you, ladies to be the man and ask the hard questions. After this point, you should have a good idea of whether he’s a really good guy, or just pretending to be, and you may need to be the man and shut it down if he doesn’t share your vision for life. Even though it will be hard (because dating is fun), it will save everybody a lot of pain later, trust me.
Flickr photo (cc) by Pink Sherbet Photography