Should I approach guys?
Subject: Not Being Approached
Message: I really appreciate this Q&A board! Lately there's something that has been troubling me. You see, I am 24 and I never had a boyfriend, never really been on a date, and dont really know many guys. Ive been in this season of singleness for quite some time, and although my friends tell me that my worth is in God and not in what guys you meet and dont, I feel like the only reason they are saying that is bc they have never felt this way. Its easier for them to say it when guys ask them out all the time. They have to take a dating hiatus, something I can't even imagine needing. I understand what they are saying and it is true, my worth is in God, not in man, but at the same time, why even bother dating or getting married then? I was just wondering if I should start trying to approach guys, modestly of course. It just seems as if I wait to be approached, I'll be waiting forever.
You wrote that you’re 24 years old, single, and that your friends remind you that your worth is found in your relationship with God and not with guys, but that you’re ready for a relationship! You’re wondering if you should be approaching. The short answer is YES!
Firstly, you’re at the perfect age for starting a relationship—as in you’ve seen enough of the world and of the kinds of people in it that you’re probably not under false pretenses of what real relationships looks like. Also in your favor…the guys your age are actually starting to look for a partner and some of them even have jobs ;) That means that it’s easier to discern some of the harder-to-recognize traits that are just sprouting in the teen years.
Secondly, you’re obviously a Godly girl, so because I know that you’ve already laid this at God’s feet, it’s easy for me to encourage you to get active in getting to know more guys. While I appreciate the soothing and spiritual words of your friends, I don’t agree with how they are using them! Imagine using that same line of reasoning with someone who is looking for a job: “It’s okay, Ruby, you find your worth in God, not in a job.” Um, true, but if Ruby wants to eat and put gas in her car, she should keep being active in looking for job. Her relationship with God gives her a sense of peace and the knowledge that God is working on her behalf, but it doesn’t give her an excuse to do nothing.
Your worth in God and your desire to find a partner are not mutually exclusive. It is because you know your worth is in God that you can confidently look for a partner who will join you in reflecting the character of God to a world who sees mostly brokenness. I want you to really remember this so I’m going to repeat myself. If you truly know your worth is in your relationship with God, then you are in a great place to open yourself up to meeting guys!
Now, about the practical side, I’d write a whole book on Christian dating if time allowed, so let me whittle this down to a few “quick-start guide” bullet points. Obviously, looking for a partner is something that must be guided by God but there are also some steps I think potential daters should be taking. Here they are.
1. Do a self-inventory. I don’t mean a spiritual assessment; hopefully that’s an ongoing and deeper process. I mean, just do a little looky-loo at some of the things that would make you an attractive date: health, hygiene, confidence, positive attitude, ability to have fun, ability to have a conversation. Work on the areas you need work and get ready launch!
2. Know what you’re looking for. I never go shopping without a list, otherwise I’ll grab junk food or things that don’t go together and they’ll go bad in the fridge. It’s the same with dating. Make a small list of non-negotiable traits (I have 7) for whom you’ll end up with, and a list of things you’re hopeful for. Have 2 or 3 happily married friends look it over to make sure you’re not crazy. Your list will change and you’ll try to make it fit certain guys, but it’s a starting place. The more you stick to the list, the better off you’ll be!
3. Be approachable. Here’s the dating advice that I had to figure out from OUTSIDE the church because no one was teaching it inside: A woman’s greatest ability to get dates is in her ability to welcome new people into her presence. Some people call this flirting, but that has almost a sexual connotation today. I just think of it as a welcome mat: smiles, eye contact, a fun comment—all things that let a person know that they are welcome in your space. An average guy is fairly terrified of rejection, so getting 5 or 6 welcome signals is imperative. I also believe in engineering opportunities to welcome people into my world. I do it all the time now with guys and girls because it breaks the ice! Asking for small favors is the BEST way I’ve found to make myself approachable. Asking a stranger at church to save your seat while you find a friend, hold your smoothie while you fish for your keys or recommend which pastry to get at the local donut shop are examples of ways to use “asks” to be approached. You have created opportunities for conversation and friendship. If they’re cold or don’t make conversation, fine, but you’ve provided the opportunity.
4. Make low investment date plans. This leads me to another idea no one ever explained to me. I always though dating was this big, purposeful, romantic dinner thing. Basically the guy (or girl) has to show their cards and say “I like you. I want to take you out.” This leads to making it way more important, high investment, and nerve-racking than it should be. Instead, I like making it super low-investment plans. If you’re already doing something with a group, just tell the person you’re interested in that they should join you. “Hey James, some friends and I are going to a Jacqueline Jewel concert. You should come along in case it gets rowdy”.
Another option is to ask your interest a few questions to see if you can create an opportunity for him invite you to something. For example, “James, what do you like to do around here on the weekends?” “Oh, I usually go to church at Sunnyvale on Saturday morning.” “Wow, I love Sunnyvale, but I haven’t been in a while because I don’t have any friends to sit with.” “Oh, well, you can sit with me.” I love being low investment because you can find out more about a person without being nervous. You’re just creating opportunities to get to know each-other without having to divulge your interest level.
5. Look for matching of investment. I’m going to say something that modern, empowered women might sound surprising: I still believe the man should pursue. It’s not because you can’t. It’s so that it clarifies in his mind that you are worth working for, because no one values a trophy that they didn’t have to earn. Now, I also want to say that this doesn’t mean he has to make the first move—especially if your first move is a “welcome mat” move to get conversation going or to get him out on a group activity. BUT, if you invest effort, make opportunity and he doesn’t match it, move on! This is why it’s important to be making friends and talking to people all the time—you have to be able to keep perspective when things don’t go as you’d hoped.
Alright! Best wishes, Purple! Keep praying and growing and making yourself approachable. Prayers ascending for you right now. --Amie