Don't leave just yet. Besides these articles, sometimes I send out extra special stuff. Don't miss out. Sign up here.
people are love and respecting (now).
Join the movement.
After watching, please see my additional thoughts below. Thanks so much to my dear friend Erin for letting me put her on the spot like that. Wise words she speaks, so listen up!
As you can see, my friend Erin and I answered this video right as we were needing to leave for the airport. Later as I kept mulling it over and even discussing it with my father, I thought of something I have noticed in myself and others as we make observations of the “other gender.”
Women: It’s common to hear bold claims that men are fickle and rarely pursue relationships. Could it be because the men we want to pursue us don’t…resulting in us making those blanket statements? We forget about the guy who showed interest but we brushed it off saying, “oh, we’re just friends.” Or we try to forget the awkward guy who actually had enough guts to ask us out, but we quickly discounted it and then found ways to dodge him.
Sure, I know there are seasons where it feels like there are absolutely no men that have any interest in us…what-so-ever…but that doesn’t mean that we can say all men are fickle all the time. We too can be unhappy, fickle and neglect to say “yes” to someone who shows interest but isn’t THE person we wanted to show interest.
Men & Women: As Christians I think we need to be on the forefront of changing how we speak about God’s good creation. It’s ok to make observations and notice trends so that we can make a change, but ultimately we are only responsible for being obedient to the freeing guidance of how God calls us as individuals to live. After we appreciate the grace He has for us and our weaknesses, I believe we will have much more grace and a desire to understand this “other gender” (or simply other people) that can baffle us!
What are your thoughts? What are some things you appreciate about the opposite gender?
Don't leave just yet. Besides these articles, sometimes I send out extra special stuff. Don't miss out. Sign up here.
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
(Doing that right before I needed to be at the airport would have totally stressed me out. But these last two vids with Erin have been wonderful; so I’m glad she can be more chill about things like potentially missing her flight.)
I think the two of you provided a pretty balanced response. I also think you’re not married until your married. And on some level, especially right at the beginning of one’s possible interest, it’s okay that interest goes as quickly as it came. Of course we have to balance this with the epidemic fickleness of our generation that Erin so sagely pointed out. Perhaps if we didn’t throw all of our emotional energy into relationships, and especially potential relationships, right at the very beginning, we would be more free to allow the other person an existence that doesn’t revolve around us.
Maybe the problem is not “fickleness” per se. Perhaps the problem lies within our own expectations of relationships with the opposite sex. Many of us (including me) have the expectation that we are going to meet the oh so elusive “one.” Pfrrrrt…it may happen in a movie adapted from a Nicholas Spark novel, who has written such wondrous hits as “The Notebook” (just thinking about Ryan Gosling and Rachel McHotams on-screen acting genius makes me want to write in my journal about how awesome romance is) and the most recent phenomenon “Dear John” (By the way, I could beat up Tatum Channing…not really…he is kind of dreamy). Its all emotional porn, and yes, men fall prey to this too (I just put my Twilight poster up in my room, limited edition signed by cast and crew).
Its time to set realistic expectations. One that involves a real perception of commitment as Erin said (do you want to grab a drink next time you are in town? I currently am getting a masters in theology, coach an 8th grade boys basketball team, work for an non-profit…eh hem, sorry…we’ll work out details later).
Not that one should “lower expectations” but maybe set realistic ones that involves values more than persona (though that it important). I am NEVER going to meet a woman that loves the same crap I do. By the way Erin, do you like watching Battlestar Galactica, like studying Liberation Theology, who likes Indie Rock and political Hip-Hop? Call me.
Immerse yourself in men! Yes, please.
George, I appreciate your point that, although we should not “lower” our expectations regarding the opposite sex, we should readjust our expectations. Well said. Unlike Joy, a true fan, I have never seen Battlestar Galactica, but I really do like theology, Indie Rock, Hip-Hop (political or no), and your friend Mike Pacchione.
Erin: Perfect! I like my friend Mike Pacchione TOO! We have so much in common!!! That will be our ice-breaker on our first date. We have so much to talk about…
I have more to say about lowering expectations…
Our Western Christian communities are notorious for heightening expectations on dating, and on marriage. I believe this causes a perfect storm when coupled with the wider culture’s expectation on love and romance. These myths create in us a heightened idea of relationships. This idea circling in our heads about “what dating and marriage are going to be like” devastates our connection with certain realities that ensue when navigating a relationship. In way, it creates selfishness and idealistic expectations on what is going to happen. It seems like the church communities I have been a part of the last couple years do not preach or teach about the value of singleness or the consequences of having idealistic expectations of a dating relationship. In fact, its a fox pa…foh pah…faux pa…?…to teach this on the pulpit. Singleness must be celebrated alongside marriage. Why can’t there be classes on marriage AND singleness? Our church communities must encourage healthy marriages and healthy singleness and not set one above the other.
I truly believe perceptions of a healthy singleness will allow for people to navigate dating relationships better! This means lower expectations on the ubiquitous time-line we (or the church) have created for us, our letting go of our pygmalion project, etc., etc. But alas, we haven’t discussed internet dating (the commidification of relationships) and why I hear more success stories than failures. I will expound another day…
I loved Renea’s answer! Furthermore, sometimes in dating relationships we discover, along the way, that we don’t have enough in common, or even possibly, that there are serious issues the other person needs to work out before being able to enter a healthy long term relationship. No one wants to be that guy, but it’s true that *sometimes* we have issues and aspects about us that really ought to change before expecting someone to commit to us.
I think part of this is related to a double-standard our generation (and I think humanity in general) struggles with. It’s okay for other people to have problems they need to change, but I want someone to accept me just as I am. Even if I’m manipulative, withholding, short-tempered, flaky, moody, and selfish. God loves me just as I am, so my significant other should too!
While it’s true God’s love is unconditional, sometimes we’re just not mature enough to be in a serious relationship yet. I think the dating process reveals those immature aspects of our personalities over time. And when they come out, sometimes that leads to break-ups, as it should.
Hopefully, like Renea pointed out, at that point we haven’t gotten so emotionally invested that it’s traumatizing to leave the relationship. But in the age of hook-ups and easy sex, that’s often not the case.
Good thoughts, Renea!
Joy: Some books you should (if you haven’t already) check out: Loves Me, Loves Me Not (Laura Smit); From Front Porch to Backseat, A History of Courtship (I forget the author); and As For Me and My House (Walt Wangerien)
Joy, is there something about choosing to marry someone that you meet from the get go because you know you’re going to run into imperfections/fickleness?
I know it sounds crazy (maybe an act of faith and trust), but doesn’t it suck to get to know someone, date them, have them share their vulnerabilities with you and then have you say, “sorry, this isn’t good enough for me?”
“We’re both too manipulative, withholding, short-tempered, flaky, moody, and selfish. Let’s take a break.”
i think that’s why dating is appealing, but man — do people know that those thoughts and attitudes come up during marriage too?
I appreciated George’s comment about the value of encouraging young people to be “good singles” (for lack of a much better term). The church could do a lot worse than to encourage ALL its members to pursue godliness with virtue, whether married, single, etc. After we respond to God’s grace there is actual work to be done (thank goodness; we’re not just biding our time until he redeems our bodies). Part of that work involves growing in maturity. Yes, marriage is *one* of the many contexts in which our sanctification takes shape, but there are many others as well.
Of course our sinful natures rear their ugly heads during marriage–in my experience, seemingly ALL the time, as oppossed to when I was single, when I was able to hide from that part of myself more easily– that doesn’t mean that everyone is on the same level of maturity nor that we should all just pick a mate and deal with it because “this is as good as it’s going to get”.
For some, arranged marriages seem to work just fine. It’d be interesting to see a post, on that, Joy! Are these marriages really as high in quality of life as they seem, or are these people less likely to be divorced because they live in cultures in which divorce in anathema? I think there’s more going on in the arranged marriage arena than we’d like to think. I doubt it’s as ideal as it seems.
Yeah. We can’t settle, but we can’t constantly hold out either. As usual, we find ourselves in the middle, in the tension.
I do think though that, generally speaking, our current cultural climate lends itself more toward forever holding on to our options so we can hold out for The Best. (Not to mention our obsession with the latest and greatest causing us to abandon the Old for the New including exchanging our spouses for the exciting, unfamiliar infatuation of a newer relationship.) Couple that with an obsession with God’s Will, and we find ourselves swimming in illusions about The One. This is why I really appreciate George’s point about the cultural and sub-cultural pressure we put on our romantic lives. Very well put.
Thought maybe I should join the conversation, but ya’ll seem to be doing fine without me…
I liked this line from Renea’s first comment and it’s implications that can transcend beyond romantic relationships: “we would be more free to allow the other person an existence that doesn’t revolve around us.” I think that is achieved when our hope is not solely in humanity and what it can “do” for us. I think the fine balance is not becoming too self-reliant. (As you noted this is most important “in the beginning of relationships.”)
(jumping to arranged marriages)
I haven’t done extensive research on arranged marriages but from the little I do know, I don’t think it’s as bad as we assume. Will there always be horrible exceptions? Yes…but I think in more modern societies families will find two compatible children, introduce them and let the “kids” spend time together and ultimately decide. It may have been more abrasive in the past, but we tend to think (probably due to our westernized-freedom-or-die mindsets) that anything that we don’t have 110% individualized decisions on, that somehow the people who “arranged” us are evil.
Wow, how did we go from men being fickle to arranged marriages? ha. Anyone know of any good resources to check out on arranged marriage statistics?
India or Indiana, where we find ourselves dating and getting married will still leave us with choices on how we will view the other. This is the “tension” and “balance” that many of you talked about and I fully agree with.
Everyone had great insight and I would like to comment on everything, but I think I would rather leave you with a question that is actually going to be part of a blog and project that I have been working on…
We often talk about what the church did to create certain feelings and fears that we have and what the church should do…
1) Share specific stories that you remember from your church experience that created that feeling…
2) Did culture contribute to the feelings?
3) What could the church have done and what could it do that you would respond to? Would you go to a singles class that you talked about George? What would it have to look like? Would your friends go?
4) What do you think is the churches main responsibility to it’s body of believers?
I’m excited to answer the questions, Joy…especially after a church event tonight for singles that left me frustrated and looking for words to explain why.
Another note on the conversation above: I think we have to be careful to not be reactionary to the way things are done now and swing to the opposite direction of glorifying arranged marriages (Seinfeld: not that there’s anything wrong with that). I just finished the documentary Hoop Dreams (good, good stuff) and would like to throw out a possible option. I haven’t seen it yet, but I rented another documentary called “Arranged” that came out in 2007. It’s about the arranged marriages of two women, both public school teachers in Brooklyn. One is a Jew, the other, a Muslim. If the “with both family pressure on the one hand, and the rejection of traditional values by the outside world on the other” on the box doesn’t get you (there’s the tension you alluded to, Nae Nae), I don’t know what will. Oh, I wish we could get everybody in one place for a little dinner, documentary, and dicussion night!
Erin, how come your name doesn’t link to your blog? It should… you put up a good one.
Here’s the link everyone: http://thewideopendoor.wordpress.com/
(I’m glad you liked the film, Erin; it’s in my Netflix queue.)
Also, I believe one or more of the essays in [5 Paths to the Love of Your Life], which is good despite the title, addresses this issue as well.
1. The overall sense that singles are second-class citizens that need help.
2. Hollywood, Bollywood and Dollywood
3. I would not go to a “singles class”. Marriage classes and singles classes should not exist, distinctly apart, from each other, if at all. A community or small group of both ought to exist with the sole mission to follow Jesus ( how to do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God, loving your neighbor, outward mission, etc.), not just to live your best life now (i.e. how to get married, how to maintain status quo, how to keep up appearances, etc., etc.,)
4. See question 3
George – Loved your answer to #3 & #4. Brilliantly stated.
On #1, if you can ever think of actual scenarios that you or your friends have experienced that would be really helpful. I hear a lot from people say they get an overall “sense,” but I wonder if part of that (not all of it) could be from our own sensitivities because we do desire to be married and subsequently feel like we are on the outside due to the pressures we put on and desire for ourselves?
Absolutely. I think what exists stems from both one’s own insecurities about singleness and the conditions the church, and our culture have set for us. I wish I could give specific events, other than the obvious: ubiquitous marriage classes, evangelical churches predominately hiring married pastors, sermons on marriage (a local church has recently campaigned for their men to “step up” and ask women out…the impetus for this can only be that marriage is more valued than singleness, and that men are the ones who are held responsible and maybe even accountable before God for the singleness dilemma…!@#$%).
Are there any single elders at your church? Are there any single head pastor’s at your church? Would they even be taken seriously? Now, there is no overt discrimination against singles in church just as there is no overt racism or sexism in the emergent church…it exists, its subtle, and it manifests in ugly ways.
I have two single female friends, one African-American and the other Asian-American who began to see the subversive discrimination that existed within their local evangelical church. To make a very painful and long story short, they realized that they were unable to use their gifts (spiritual, if you will) because of their, gender, relationship status, and race. The only place they were allowed to serve where in the designated areas: children’s ministry, or women’s ministry. Though the intentions of the church are “good” the consequences of these intentions come off discriminatory towards their status. Though the church displays no outward discrimination, the “boys club” system that is trying to be maintained (really…only married white men as elders and lead pastors have the power to make decisions for the whole of the church).
This is what I hear, feel and see in that type of church community:
1. The works of the Holy Spirit can only be interpreted and manifested by a hegemony.
2. One has to achieve or have status in order to have any value for the life of the church.
3. There must be something wrong with me because I don’t meet up to the prescribed standards. (This sensitivity is not born out of insecurity or false pressures, it is a condition placed on me).
I’m sure by now all of you are tired of me, hell, I’m tired of me.
Thanks for a wonderful discussion friends!. Joy, thanks for your insights. Erin, thanks for being you.
What do I appreciate about men: their loyalty, sacrificial living, boldness, bravery, strength, desire to create, curiosity for good, willingness to explore, protector instincts, keen ability for spatial relationships, problem solving skills, capacity for tenderness, sense of adventure, disciplined warrior skills, sense of humor, their abilities to “rise above it”. Better not leave out the brawn, God knows I appreciate that too! 😉 God knew what He was doing by making man first! I love ’em, appreciate ’em, and have every desire to live with ’em. Mwwahh to men! You’re the best!
For the comment in the ‘Women’ section above, I am going to have to agree with the “but isn’t THE person we wanted to show interest.” I have seen this many times in the singles ministry I am involved in. Not that you should have to say “Yes” to everyone who comes along — because sadly they may be few and far between for some of us — but a couple of times I have had friends labeled as “Predators” for asking someone out. If they would’ve ask a couple different girls out in a short period of time, I would say “yes” and would confront them, but both of these men have asked one women in the ministry out and turned down, the labeled ‘Predators’ and all the women avoid them.
I have to say I appreciate the love and patience of the female gender; especially when dealing with their children. Last night I was on a plane from Detroit to San Diego. The lady in the seat in front of me had a toddler on her lap that was all over the place while the other two children she had with her sat very quietly in their seats ( a sure sign of a great mother). While the toddle climbed all over her and attempted to communicate with other toddlers on the plane, she just kept putting him back where she wanted him. I would’ve lost my patience about 5 minutes into the flight if I had that happening to me. The love and tender care Women have for their — and often others peoples — children never ceases to amaze me.
Great job ladies!
Currently I don’t think the Men are too fickle, they simply don’t make decisions and/or approach women. I see more of a “failure to launch” than a “fickle” issue.