Talking in Code and Cognitive Dissonance

Ok. It’s been awhile. (Last post February of 2018!) I hadn’t been writing because life brought me to a place in which I didn’t have much to say. As things have started stirring up in me again, I want to be just as thoughtful about what I say now as I was in the past. I want every post to be as relevant, funny, and honest as the previous ones.

I’ve noticed some things. Things that are coming up as I get older, know myself better, and seek to be in a relationship with someone who is actually a good fit. I think these issues are so interesting because I might have expected them in my teenaged years, or even with 20-somethings, but they are apparent now (in my 30’s).

I debated several names for the following list I created. The first was Tricks to Watch Out For – but I can acknowledge it’s probably less that I’ve been “tricked” in the past and more that I can still be overly optimistic, unassuming, or even naïve at times. The second was How to Tell the Difference Between Boys and Men – but that seemed a bit harsh. A third was Um…What? – because that’s what usually what I say in my head when these issues come up. In the end, I just left it as Things I’ve Noticed… because it’s simple, true, and I figure I can add to it or edit it as I notice more.

Thankfully, with each relationship I am getting wiser and more comfortable with myself. I don’t expect to get “tricked” in the same ways going forward and can move on with understanding, forgiveness, and laughter when things don’t work out. Most of this list are things related to what I’ve heard men say versus the things they do. In psychology when there is a discrepancy between the two, we call it “cognitive dissonance.” Dissonance can occur all the time around us and within us. When it does, we typically get a signal something needs to change. It may be anxiety, sadness, feeling a need to avoid someone or something, irritability, feeling confused, withdrawing, etc. The point is, we will continue to feel poorly until we get rid of the dissonance by either a) changing what we say (or believe) to match our behavior OR b) changing the behavior to match what we say (or believe).

{As always, I’m not saying all men are like this and I’m sure the list could be applied to females}

Things I’ve Noticed:

1. Men can speak in code. Example: “I don’t want to put that we’re dating on (insert name of social media platform) because I don’t want people in our business.” That is code for: If we break up, I don’t want to answer questions or be held accountable.

A related one for us church goers is: “I don’t want to tell anyone in leadership we’re dating because they’ll start scrutinizing everything we do.” That’s also code for: If we break up, I don’t want to answer questions or be held accountable.

“I’m not looking for a relationship, but if one happens, I’m open to it.” Code for: I am not at all willing to put any effort into a relationship right now, but if the semblance of one is convenient, I’ll act like I am.

My perspective: In life we should understand that sometimes things don’t work out and sometimes you have to have hard conversations and be held accountable. It’s part of being an adult. We’ll live. If someone doesn’t want to be held accountable to anyone else, and/or is just waiting for a relationship to “happen,” it’s usually a bad thing.

2. Men may say they want someone who will be there for them in hard times, but when hard times come, they say, “I think I need to work on myself…. alone.” (and if you’re REALLY lucky they’ll add) “It’s so I can be better for you. You deserve someone better than this.” Um…What? So you leaving is for me? Even though I’m saying I want you and accept you in this ugly time? Right.

My perspective: Hard times are going to come. Adults who want to be in a relationship accept that and work through them, together. If you don’t know what you look like in bad times that’s fine, and if you really feel like you need to weather them alone, that’s fine too. Just don’t say one thing but then do another (that’s dissonance). If you have someone who’s sticking with you in hard times, and that’s what you said you wanted, it’s lame to change your mind and breakup.

3. Speaking of breakups: It’s interesting the things that are initially appealing to a man may become exactly why he says he wants to break up. Examples:

 “I like how smart you are” becomes, “I think you need someone smarter than me.” Code for: I’m insecure about my education level/occupation.

 “I love your style” becomes, “I think you need someone more put together than me.” Code for: I’m insecure about how we look together.

 “I like your maturity” becomes, “I think you need someone more ready for a relationship than I am.” Code for: I’m not willing to grow with you at this time.

 “I love that you’re successful at work” becomes, “I need to be more successful at work.” (No decoding needed for this one).

“You’re so talented,” becomes, “I’m not good enough for you.” Code for: I’m generally insecure and don’t know what I want.

My perspective: What’s particularly dissonance creating/crazy making about these breakup reasons is that men typically say they want smart, stylish, mature, successful, talented women. I believe a lot of us are around, but they don’t know what to do with us.

I’m in my 30’s – we ALL have insecurities – but at this point we should know what they are, be able to discuss them honestly, and be working on them. A relationship does pull out many things in us, some ugly that perhaps we did not know were there, but I’m tired of being the one that makes men realize how much they need to “work on” themselves.

4. Men may say they need to work on themselves (alone), too be better (for you), but start dating someone else like a week after you (or they were already dating them).

My perspective: Working on ourselves is hard – harder than dating someone else.

5. It appears some men are willing to go through great lengths to be with some women. They’ll move across the country, they’ll change jobs, they rearrange their schedules, they may even change their diets, hair, hobbies, etc. But my roommate found this HILARIOUS meme that summed up what most men we’ve dated would say in response to even the smallest request from us:

“Uh…. It’s like daylight savings time, and I need to fill my car up with gas after work…and it might rain so, I just don’t think I can commit to you.” (Insert eyeroll and an um…what?)

Summary: Like almost every other female ten years ago, I read “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Perhaps everything I’ve written above is simply the 2019 version of that idea? No matter what someone says, if they leave you, “they’re just not that into you”?

We don’t need to talk in codes. We can be honest (while being kind) with ourselves and others. The more we do this, the less dissonance in our lives and the better we feel. The better we feel, the more kind and honest we can be, and the cycle continues. Yes, it’s harder to be honest than to tell half-truths and (white) lies – and yes, the full truth may sting more, but at least it will make sense and persons can move on. The more it makes sense, the less time needed ruminating on it trying to figure it out.

A big THANK YOU to those who have said they’d like me to keep writing. I will, and I am always excited to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please take a look back at older posts and let’s continue these dialogues.

And to those who would say: “Dr. J, you just need to date better men.” I would ask, Do you know where they are? (see post from October 2017). 😉

Online Dating

HAPPY (belated) VALENTINE’S DAY! Let’s continue to talk about love/relationships by considering one of the most popular ways to meet someone these days, online.

I started online dating pretty late to the game. It had already been around for years, but because meeting guys “offline” wasn’t getting anywhere, I decided to try it. I’ll admit that back then, which was 10+ years ago, my dad offering to pay for the eHarmony subscription aided me in giving it a shot – I tell myself that was an act of support, not desperation….

I’ve done it on/off for awhile now and while it’s led to a lot of dates, it’s led to 0 real relationships. Nonetheless, I’d say I’m kind of an expert on it, and after my most recent experiences, I felt compelled to write about what I’ve noticed and some of my pet peeves. I hope they make you laugh and think. Enjoy 🙂

Let’s start with men’s profiles:

  1. The “entrepreneur”: How is it that every other guy is an entrepreneur? Of course some men really are – and there’s nothing wrong with being a go-getter, having multiple streams of income, and/or owning your own business, but I question what this means sometimes. Beware: he could be entrepre-not-employed.
  2. The “agent”: Travel agent? Insurance agent? Secret agent? I don’t know what that means. What is your job?
  3. The “director”: Director of operations? Director of  marketing? Director of porn? Again, I don’t know what that means. What is your job?
  4. The “athlete”: Maybe in the past, but not when you’re over 40. What is your job?
  5. The “fish guy”: I really don’t understand this one. So many men’s profiles have a picture of them on a boat holding a fish they just caught. While I understanding fishing, being proud of what you catch, and taking a picture, I don’t understand why you would put that pic on your dating profile. Particularly because those pictures look uncomfortable, bloody, and gross. What is that supposed to communicate to a female? For me, it’s akin to women posting pictures of themselves with shopping bags after braving the sales on Black Friday. Look! We’re good at shopping! It may be true, but is that what you want to advertise? Would guys be attracted to that?
  6. All his pictures are with other people: Which one are you?
  7. Worse, all his pictures are with other females: I think the questions and concerns with this one are pretty evident…
  8. If he doesn’t put his height, he’s under 5’10” (which isn’t necessarily bad, just sayin’)
  9. If his pictures look great, he is very complimentary and affectionate in interactions, but he says he can’t date you immediately because he’s a successful business man who is traveling “out of town” – and he calls/texts at odd hours- he’s a catfish. NOTE: these types also tend to speak or type with grammatical/spelling errors because English is not their first language and they may be out of the country.
  10. Men aren’t just catfish, they can be jellyfish. Meaning after initiating conversation  and dates with you they can become spineless and hard to pin down. Ex: they just stop calling/texting instead of talking to you about what’s going on.
  11. They write “Can you keep up?” in the profile: Are we in competition? Maybe I can, maybe I can’t, maybe I don’t want to. Am I suppose to chase you? Will you help me if I can’t? It just seems that phrase is adversarial and gives me a negative gut feeling- which I don’t think is a great way to start a relationship.
  12. They write “I’m looking for someone to compliment me”: Maybe they are- but I think they mean “complement.” Which relates to my deeper thoughts about how couples are supposed to complement each other, not be in competition. If we are a complement, then it doesn’t matter what your weaknesses are, I can fill in. And where I am weak, you can be strong.

When it comes to dating and relationships, it concerns me that as we wait longer to be done with school, to get the careers we want, to get married, etc. it’s like we are learning to “perfect” ourselves before we can be in a relationship. In turn, we expect quite a bit out of someone we are with. Then we are all disappointed when we see none of us are perfect. Yes, we should strive to be what we were created to be as individuals, and no person is going to complete you, but I thought partnership means we make a choice to accepted the good and the bad, and work on things together. It’s us complementing each other and building something great – not two perfected people finally meeting and somehow ending up perfectly happy forever after. Thoughts?

 

Timing and the “Spirit of Girlfriend”

I know I said my next post would be about online dating but there will be PLENTY of time for that and some other issues started stirring in me…

A wise male friend of mine from grad school, who has been married for some time, commented on one of the previous posts that most guys are essentially idiots (my phrasing not his) until a good woman comes along and changes them and/or gives them the motivation to change. My initial reaction to that was pretty indignant because my interpretation was that women should date idiots hoping and believing one day they will change for the better. No thank you. I already see WAY to much of that.

But as I have talked to more people and heard their stories, there may be something to it. Not that women should date losers hoping to change them, but that it seems you kind of have to catch men at the right “time” in their lives – when they already have some self-awareness that they want to grow, when hooking up or endless casual coffee dates is no longer their thing, when they are already starting to want more, but they haven’t exactly figured out what that looks like or zeroed in on a specific person yet. That’s when you (the right female) hopefully appear and give them some motivation (and maybe even guidance?), that in a lot of cases I’ve heard of, ends up leading to a relationship.

Wasted time: In my own life, I spent A LOT of time acting like a good girlfriend/wife for guys who didn’t appreciate it, couldn’t reciprocate it, or were still in their “idiot” phase precisely because I thought I could influence them. I thought if they could just see how good/smart/nice/pretty/etc. I was, they would love me, want me, and commit. That hasn’t worked, but maybe that’s because when I knew them it wasn’t the right “time” for them?

Even now, I think it’s a struggle for women to find the balance. You want to show good qualities about yourself so men are attracted, but you don’t want to do too much so that you are “giving it away for free” as they say, or end up being the pursuer. It’s really difficult and I think a lot of females end up wondering what’s going wrong. In an effort to make a relationship work then, some women can err on the side of doing too much. They become possessed with the “spirit of girlfriend.”

A couple of months ago I started thinking about this, and in talking to other females it led to a term I call the “spirit of girlfriend.” Basically it’s when women accept being a girlfriend, even when they want to be a wife, because it’s what is offered, and being in a relationship seems better to them than being without one. It’s essentially performing all aspects of full commitment without the commitment. God must have wanted me to think about that further because I coincidentally came across some talks by Kris Vallotton from Bethel church around the same time that were addressing almost the EXACT same thing. He calls it a “Judas spirit” though, because in the Bible Judas wanted the perks that intimacy with Jesus brought without actually being committed to Jesus or His cause. The Judas spirit is “intimacy without commitment.”

The spirit of girlfriend/Judas spirit is rampant in our culture and affects both males and females. We all have had it or know someone who has it right now. It makes us act in ways that are dishonoring and disrespectful at best, and abusive and cruel at worst. A friend of mine recently said that men act poorly because women accept “crumbs.” I replied sometimes “crumbs” seem better than starving. We were made for relationships and they feel good, so it is no surprise we will sometimes accept less than the best in them for the sake of having them. However, one thing I can honestly say that I love about still being single in my 30’s is that I am able to make the conscious decision that a little fasting (not starving) is good, and infinitely better than eating dirty crumbs that could poison me with the spirit of girlfriend.

Related Questions: If men are not being prepared for relationships by other men, society, mentors, or parents, is it up to women to do it? Is the issue of “timing” in relationships really as simple as if you meet men too soon they aren’t ready, and if you meet them too late they are already in a relationship?

So, do you want to meet for coffee?

I’ve been away for a few weeks gathering great data and anecdotes from all kinds (all kindz) of people, and I’ve got some great topics for future posts. This one is about the typical go-to first date now-a-days: coffee.

I get it. It’s the first date, or as we have said, maybe not “date”- it’s a meet up, or a hang out, or some other noncommittal term, so no one is pulling out all the stops, but sometimes I struggle with the whole “meet for coffee” thing. Here’s why:

Since my specialty is neuropsychology, I tend to conceptualize behavior in terms of questions such as: “What did the brain learn?” or “What do we keep doing because the neural networks are strong making this behavior easy?” When it comes to coffee dates, they’re easy in every sense of the word. It’s easy to get there, easy to order, easy to pay,  easy to leave, etc. You don’t have to put great effort into where to go, what to wear, what you’ll discuss, the whole vibe is casual. Why is this a problem?

Whatever we practice, we get good at. Overtime, “practicing” casual coffee dates gets easy and therefore the brain likes it. The logical extension then is that anything more than a coffee date gets more difficult, and if never practiced, it’s very easy for the brain to decide “that’s too hard.” I doubt people consciously think this, but if you never challenge your brain for more, it’s going to think more is (too) hard. Worse is that you can blame another person, whom may want more than meeting up for coffee or drinks or hooking up, for being “too difficult” and dismiss them. I wonder how many ladies have been labeled as “picky” or “snotty” or “demanding” or the classic, “high maintenance” as an artifact of this process?

Could this be why many men find it hard to go past casual dating to more serious relationships? It’s hard and they are just plain out of practice? It goes back to what I was posing in my first post regarding how men and women prepare for relationships. How do you know how to have deeper and meaningful conversations if you never practice? How do you know how to listen for what a potential partner might like, and then plan a next date accordingly if you never do it? How do you have a DTR if you never talk about or think about DTR’s?

I also wonder if this could be related to why (most) women like the idea of older men. The whole having money and being more established stuff may actually be secondary. What’s primary is that an older man is much more likely to be proud to do more with you than coffee, a movie, or getting drunk at a bar. Older men are much more practiced at actually being in a relationship and are proud to be with you, which I think is what most women want. Thoughts?

For the record, I do go on coffee dates/meet ups/hang outs, and I’ve had a fine time on them, I just don’t like them as a mindless, easy standard. Now, I can hear protesters asking: “Well how do you know you even like someone in the beginning? Why waste time/effort on more than coffee if there is nothing there?” The answer is: Getting to know someone and being a good partner are skills that have to be practiced, and the effort and practice you put in even before you meet “the one” is going to prime your brain and serve you better for when you DO meet “the one.” For us believers, it’s kind of like doing well with what you have so the Lord trusts you with more. If you’re nonchalant, casual, thoughtless, or sloppy with what you have, why would He give you better?

So, let’s all be good to each other, value the time we have with each other, and maybe try a little harder at “practicing” more than what’s easy as we go on this journey. 🙂

Next post: online dating

 

 

There’s something about Cali…

This week’s post is coming from the great state of Texas. I’m here visiting one of my best friends, whom after years of going through her own “What about him God?” situations, is now happily married with two boys. Her husband said before meeting her, he made up his mind he was seeking a Christian woman. He found her on MySpace. They met and “that was it.” Easy. He let her know she was what he wanted, and he was what she wanted. 

The trip here reminded me of an interesting phenomenon I’ve observed. Whenever I travel, whether it be within the US or abroad, it seems like men ask me out quickly and easily- sometimes while I’m still in the airport. I’m not saying they’re all actually worth dating, but it’s interesting that I can be asked out within a day outside of California, but can go months or years without it happening inside of California.

I love being born and raised in Cali, but is there something about geography that makes men less likely to ask one out there? Are men more picky because of Hollywood? Is the high standard of beauty making them have more options because so many women are so beautiful? Is the laid-back culture making them less likely to be pursuers?

One of my early psych classes talked about the “Exotic becomes Erotic” theory. Basically it says when it comes to interpersonal attraction, people were more likely to desire those who seem different from them- like “opposites attract.” Could there be something that gives the signal ‘she’s not from here’ that is noticeable in a quick and positive way when outside of California that men are attracted to? Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

Reversing it, it does seem that Californians enjoy outsiders when it comes to dating. I’ve heard a lot of “I like him because he’s from the Midwest and has Midwest values” or “She’s so European.” With such comments it seems like people are trying to say the “outsider” doesn’t bring the same drama and BS that we all get used to within our normal circles. Maybe our brains tell us an “outsider” will be different and better, even though we all know the grass isn’t necessarily greener?

We’ll see how it goes this weekend. Going to a rodeo tomorrow! Ye-haw!

Ghosting and other terrible things that happen when “dating”

Maybe it’s all the Halloween decor around, but this week I was reflecting on the horrors – or shall I say issues – that can happen once you have met someone, and somehow you start talking, and now you’re dating… or maybe you’re just “hanging out” (see Situation #1 below).  These are not one time occurrences. The following have happened enough times to me and to people I know that I feel I can call them out and ask us all to learn and do better.

Situation #1: How do you know if you’re dating or not? aka: If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is it a duck? I have had guys come and pick me up, pay for meals, compliment me, call and talk to me so late that we fall asleep on the phone, and then deny we are dating. I’ve had other guys tell me it’s obvious we’re dating when I didn’t think so. I’ve then had people roll their eyes at me when I say I am a firm believer in DTR’s (Define The Relationship conversations for those who have never had the privilege, or agony, of having one). Sorry but without DTR’s it seems you are at the mercy of someone else’s interpretations. No?

As a female, in the name of not getting burned, and allowing men to be men (i.e. pursue), is the best policy to believe that unless a man specifically tells/asks you to be more than a hang out buddy, that’s all you are? It can be frustrating, but also safe. Thoughts?

Situation #2: You have a girlfriend?! aka: Mixed messages in the modern era. This one is when you meet a guy and/or have been talking to him and seeing him for a few weeks (or months), and then, out of the blue, he introduces you to his girlfriend. Ummm your who?! It’s amazing how some men don’t feel the need to bring this up, and how shocked they are when you act shocked that they didn’t.

A related issue I’ve noticed is that a lot of men who are in relationships will say things to single females that are nice but unnecessary at best, and ambiguous flirtation at worst. Examples:

  • “I really like your hair” – I’m thinking, ‘Tell your girlfriend you like her hair’
  • “I miss talking to you” – I’m thinking, ‘Talk to your wife
  • “Being around you helps me focus” – I’m thinking, ‘Focus on something else, not me’

Now, I’m not saying people can’t compliment each other, or that males and females can’t be friends, and for the record, I don’t think the men who made the above comments were being shady, just clueless. What I’m saying is if you have a significant other, you have the responsibility to bring them up somehow within the first conversation with a new person, especially if that new person is single. Thereafter, it’s nice to be friends and all, but spend time complimenting your spouse/girlfriend, not others.

Situation #3: “I don’t date__________.”  This is when someone you may be interested in tells you they aren’t interest in you because you have (or don’t have) a characteristic they believe they don’t (or do) want. It could be body type, ethnicity, education, hobbies, etc. For me this has most often come in the forms of: “You’re pretty but, I never saw myself with a black girl” and “I think you are too smart for me.” Ummm…thanks?

Certainly I am not mad at people for having preferences or a “type,” but rather than being unwilling to look outside of it, isn’t it better to be open to different people who may be a good fit? Don’t we all know people who ended up married to the type they “never imagined”? (And people divorced from ones they thought were “perfect” for them?)

Situation #4: Ghosting aka: Why are so many so afraid to have honest conversations? This comes in different forms. From guys who say they’ll call and don’t, to the ones who plan specific dates and then don’t confirm, to when you’re at the meeting spot and he’s not, so you call, and he doesn’t answer his phone. I get it. Not everyone is a great fit, and not all romantic relationships should continue, but part of being an adult is being able to look someone in the eye and have a conversation. Meaning, it is the epitome of emotional immaturity to “ghost” someone. And the excuse “I don’t want to hurt them” is an unacceptable lie. What you really don’t want is to make yourself feel awkward or badly for ending things. It’s ok. Just say it. No one is going to be mad at you for being honest. “What if they cry?” Crying is a normal response when one is feeling a strong emotion. It happens. It’s honest. It’s ok. “What if they freak out on me?” Then that’s further confirmation for you that the two of you were not a good fit. “Can I do it by text?” That’s better than ghosting but still kind of a weeny move. Ghosting is childish and leads to more heartache, confusion, and emotionality than just being honest. So be honest – in person.

Situation #5: Battle of the exes. This is when, after a few weeks or a few years, you learn the person you’ve been dating isn’t over their ex. The worst experience I’ve had with this was when my college boyfriend disappeared on my birthday – the very very long text message (weeny move) I got that night said his ex had called and since they didn’t have a “bad breakup”, he wanted to see if things could work with her. More recently, I met a guy in a mutual group of friends who showed a ton of interest. We had great conversation all night and at the end he walked me to my car and asked for my number. Then nothing. Turns out his ex had dumped him the night before he met me, apologized the night after he met me, and he was back with her. I wish them the best, but I didn’t need to be an emotional placeholder/rebound (even if it was for one night).

Summary: As adults I think we should know ourselves well enough to not jump into new relationships if we’re not over old ones, to be clear if we still want old ones, and to abstain from dating/flirting if you don’t want one. Going into, in, and coming out of relationships, we should all be honest and clearly communicate our thoughts, goals, feelings, and intentions – even if it’s difficult or awkward. I think that would make the (dating) world a better place.

How do relationships start?… (Where oh where have the single men gone?)

In the previous post I asked if men were “prepared” for relationships the way women are. For the purposes of this post, let’s assume they are. So how then does a relationship start?

Disclaimer: I am straight and female, so I am of course more biased to look at males than females or any other group. This is written from that perspective and not meant in any way to offend anyone.

People can introduce you. You can try online dating. But really, most of the opportunities to meet people come in day to day life activities, right? As I ponder these things, the question that kept coming up for me and my single female friends was: Where do single, straight, men go?

I go all kinds of places (all kinds), but I don’t see a lot of what appear to be single straight men. I do see a lot of gay guys and couples. I go to the market, gay guys and couples. I go to the park, gay guys and couples. I go to museums, gay guys and couples. I go to amusement parks, gay guys and couples. I go to the theater, gay guys and couples. I go to get my dry cleaning,  women, gay guys, and couples. Last Saturday my roommate and I went to a fundraiser – it seemed like a good place to meet some nice people (including respectable, reasonably well-dressed men, who care about stuff and have jobs) – women, gay guys, and couples. Guess who was at the comedy club she went to 2 weeks ago, gay guys and couples. Another friend of mine just got back from a cruise. Who was on it? Families, gay guys, and couples. I also go to restaurants and coffee shops quite a bit by myself, which I am totally comfortable with, but those places don’t seem to yield great interactions with the opposite sex either. So it appears women, families, and couples (gay or straight) are out and about….

Where do single, straight, men go? From my research, I’ve come up with the following:

  • The gym: problem –  everyone wears ear buds nowadays and are in their own little worlds. So even if you saw someone you’d want to to talk to, how would you do it?
  • Bars: problem – men there are typically young, and/or really not interested in an actual relationship.
  • Work: problem – they’re working (and from what I know, they aren’t good at multi-tasking so they’re not thinking about relationships while they’re doing it).
  • Home: problem – they’re at home (not out where you could meet).
  • Concerts: not so much a “problem” with this one, just wondering how the conversation would start…..
  • Sporting events: problem- they’re with a group of buddies. That’s intimidating both ways. Is he going to leave them to talk to you? Are you going to try to talk to them?

Sidebar: I was encouraged to learn to play golf because there are lots of men around at golf, men who can teach me to golf, I can watch golf with men, etc. While I love watching sports, I don’t love playing them. Can’t that be good enough? Do I have to learn to play golf? Bigger picture question: Should you do something you don’t really want to because maybe you’ll meet someone? 

If you’re reading this and you’ve had a good relationship or met your spouse in these ways please comment on your experience. If you think there are other places to meet singles, please share as well. And I know what a lot of you are thinking: ‘You’re Christian, what about church?’ That’s an entirely different post to come 🙂

Related questions: Regardless of the place, who should start interactions? If someone makes eye contact and smiles, is that a sign to start talking? Flipping it around, do single straight men feel they see a lot of lesbians and women in relationships? Are straight men scared to do more things alone?

Do men prepare for relationships?

I am a 35-year-old, single, professional, Christian female who grew up in church. Whether it be through online dating, meeting people randomly, or through friends, I have been on tons of dates and have come to realize, in terms of finding a mate, dating is not the problem. This blog was born out of lengthy conversations with women I know regarding relationships. My hope is to create a space where females can ask hard questions, hear truthful answers, and in general gain an understanding of what is happening with men, while we are single and after. It comes from a Christian perspective, but I hope it can be helpful to non-Christians as well. As I said, as a single, dating does not seem to be the problem.

Every woman I know, married or not, has read a book, done a Bible study, been in a prayer group, etc., regarding her (future) spouse. They have done something, and most often, numerous somethings, to prepare themselves for what it means to be a partner in a romantic relationship. They have decided to study what it means to be a “virtuous woman” and learn how to be so in their lives. I myself have read 6 books to date, asked for prayer, reached out to others, and read the book of Ruth, the timeless go-to for Christian females, 153 times (ok maybe not, but you get the point). The consensus seems to be work on yourself, serve the Lord, and the right one will be there to pursue you. The result?  As I see it, there is a large group of single, smart, beautiful, successful, serving, females waiting to be pursued. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean there is a group of men able to do so. It got me thinking, ‘What good is it being a “Ruth” if there is no “Boaz”?’ Or put another way: Do men spend time preparing for relationships the way women do?

I have to say, the answer according to the data set in my life is, “No.”

I can’t say I know of any single men, Christian or not, who have done any of the things mentioned above. I know married ones who have, and  maybe the single ones are doing it in secret, and of course I can’t say I have surveyed every man – and for the record, I am not saying finding a man should be the focus of any female’s life. I believe somewhere out there, there are some men who are trying to prepare for a future relationship or spouse- at least my mom says there are-  but when it comes to being a “pursuer” or being in a relationship, my experience is most guys say, “I think it will just happen.”

Well, I could probably stand to lose 5-10 pounds, maybe that will just happen too…

No? I actually have to make a plan to change my diet and work out more to lose weight? My point is, we seem to spend a lot of time preparing females in the church to be women of God, godly spouses, etc., and we encourage them to be faithful in times of singleness, but what do we teach the men? Do they know how to pursue us? Do they even talk or think about it? Or is it assumed when the times is right, they will “just know” what do to? Will it “just happen”?

Related questions include: Is it ok for a Christian female to ask a man out on a date? Where is the line between letting a man know you are interested and turning into the pursuer? Are women “thirsty?” Or are they simply compensating when men don’t state their intentions and/or make a move?