I have very few regrets in life. Perhaps that I saved more money in my twenties and wasn’t quite so impulsive at times. However by far the biggest regret I have is this.
I wish I had started dating men outside the church many years ago.
I actually had to grieve the many ‘wasted’ years I spent, trying to date Christian men and failing miserable.
The years I spent trying to work out how I could come across less ‘worldly’ and more ‘innocent’ because that’s the type of girl I saw men in the church going for.
The year’s I spent trying hard to push down my opinions on equality because a guy at church I had a crush on when I was 19 said I was ‘too feminist’.
And all the time I spent trying not to be too ‘challenging’ on topics discussed at small group – where my sister and I would lead it, while the other women would dutifully come along and sit with their husbands.
And when all that failed, I tried to chase men. Only to realise that the majority of men in churches didn’t like women who asked them out first.
A new approach
A few years back, I decided I was going to be Miss Proactive. I asked five guys out at church. All flat out rejected me. They didn’t even want to share a casual drink.
I felt dejected, and sad and stuck. Really stuck.
And I felt ashamed for the fact that I couldn’t get a Christian guy. Something I had been told my whole life that I “should” do.
It also didn’t help that when I was 26, a pastor stood up and told a group of us the dismal statistics as to how few men there are in the church compared to women. His answer to the problem was to simply say that ‘God may ask you to give up your dreams of having a partner and be single’, because he did not in any way think a Christian could marry a non-Christian.
Blogger Amy Mackelden felt so annoyed over the issue that she just walked away completely and wrote a blog called ‘No One at Church Would Date Me, So I Quit Christianity’.
Unlike Amy though, I had enough sense to realise that one person’s opinion of what God may or may not think of me and my choice of partner were his thoughts and not God’s.
The paradox of choice
There are many wonderful and great men in the church.
Many though are taken in what I like to call ‘the first wave’. Those that pair off at the age of 20 and get married.
If however you, like me, had many many other wonderful things to do before wanting to get married, you’ll be in the second wave. This wave has no real age limit to it, but it’s rocky and wild.
Lucky for the men though, it appears as if they are left with a smorgasbord of women to choose from. Some would disagree with me, but from where I stand, the men seem to have these amazing women in front of them and yet don’t ask them out.
The problem is, with choice, many men just don’t choose at all.
Many, keep their options open for years. And why wouldn’t you? If you knew at the drop of a hat you could have a nice Christian girl in her early twenties, then why not wait?
Christian author, Debra Fileta, put it well when she said, “Man-up and make some choices. Don’t dabble into relationships, don’t show interest in 10 women at a time all while trying to find which one you like best, and quit holding out for a woman who might simply be a figment of your imagination while real, godly, beautiful women are sitting right next to you at church.”
I’ve also seen very average 5/10 Christian men at parties who are swarmed by women – something very foreign to many men outside the church. It’s as if the dating tables have turned within the church, where women see a scarcity of men and try to clamber on the available ones.
But there are no good women to date
Say some Christian men.
At the other end of the spectrum, many men complain there are no women to date. This one pains me and a host of other wonderful women I know in the church.
I’ll never forget how a male church-going friend of mine stated ‘there are just no women in the church’.
And maybe he’s right.
There aren’t too many extroverted, amazing looking 23 year olds, who have an amazing prayer life yet get down in the clubs on weekends who want to change the world, yet also get married and be submissive wives.
And then there are people like myself and countless other women.
We aren’t 23. We aren’t meak or mild. We have opinions. We may or may not have active prayer lives but we can discuss theology and life experiences. We like our work. We have some wit. We are driven and we’re not afraid to tackle the hard topics. We also want to find partners and have children and raise a family but we may be too scared to show it or it may not appear as our first focus.
And as wonderful as we women are, many of us will not find love in the church.
It’s been amazing to me in the past year, how many of these women, who are finding no luck in the church, have jumped on Tinder.
Another lovely friend of mine exclaimed after a five year dating drought with Christian men, that she went on Tinder for two weeks, had two great dates and was planning a second with a really nice guy…a non-Christian.
Other girls have approached me and asked if there was a button on Tinder where they could just match with Christians. The answer it no. But maybe that’s something to ask Tinder founder, Sean Rad.
The hard part is that I, like many other women, have had to accept the fact we may not find a man who shares our faith simply due to the fact there are not enough to go around.
Not to mention the fact that many men in the church are after a certain type. If you don’t believe me on this, one woman I know was asked out by nine different guys last year.
Yet some great women were asked out 0 times last year – ones that are just as beautiful and with just as much to offer as Lucky Lady 9.
Happily Ever After?
Ever since I kissed Christian dating goodbye, I have dated some good guys. Ones who went, ‘she seems nice, I think I’ll take her to dinner.’ They didn’t overthink it, they didn’t freak out about the future and they didn’t get stuck in their heads and stress about everything.
Due to the stigma around dating and flirting and sex though, many Christians just do not get the opportunities to date like their non-Christian counterparts. This can lead to many missing out on maturing and learning those fundamental relational skills.
Dating is messy and at times hard, but you won’t learn anything just by sitting around and waiting for the one. Because when you do find ‘the one’ you’ll have no relational skills to handle them.
This isn’t a blog to say that all women should follow me and do away with dating Christians. It’s simply to highlight the reality of what it’s like for many 20-something women in the church today.
And also to say to them: no it’s not you, you didn’t fail, and no you haven’t disappointed God or your family by not managing to attract the eye of a Christian guy. You are pretty enough, you’re good enough and you will be a great partner to someone one day. Just because a guy at church didn’t ask you out, doesn’t mean 10 more outside the church won’t. You’re great and don’t stop thinking that just because it may not be reflected in the faith community you’re in.