love is a risk {a follow-up post}

Surprise!  I’m back for another love post!  (Actually, a kind of follow-up post to my ‘actively waiting’ post, now that I think about it.)

I wasn’t going to do any more posts about love, but I started reading this blog post about it, and I was just like, “I have got to reblog this.

But first, my unsolicited opinion!  (Because it’s my blog and I do what I want.)

I’ve been talking to so many people about love lately – my sister, my best friend, some other friends – and it’s just been really interesting to hear so many different opinions from my friends in different stages of life.  One girl is in a complicated friend relationship that may turn into something more (which she’s slightly afraid of), one is swearing off guys for the moment, one is reaching that age when she feels like she’ll never be married, one is swearing not to date a guy unless he’s marriage material, and one is afraid of guys.  (You know who you are!  Hugs and kisses. *wink*)

Confession time: I’ve been in all of those places.  (And right now, honestly, I’m constantly swinging between trying to be satisfied in Christ {and I’ve been trying to learn how to be satisfied over the past like five years} and wanting to just scream “DATE ME!” at a guy I like.)

My views of marriage and guy/girl relationships have changed so radically over the past five years that I wish I could go back in time and give my sixteen-year-old self a firm shake, a hug, and a promise that it’ll all be a little more clear in the future.

Relationships aren’t complicated, guys.  That’s my revelation from the past few years.  Guy/girl relationships can be a little complicated at times… but only if you make them so.  If you’re constantly worrying if you’ll ever get married or if a certain dude is THE ONE, congratulations, you’ve set yourself up for a few weeks/months/years of worry.

(Tangent: And hey, guess what?  The only way to know if a guy likes you is to ask.  Plain and simple.  I thought asking the dude was stupid… when I was twelve.  And it is stupid… when you’re twelve.  At eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-five… DO IT.  There’s no use pining over some guy you have no chance with.  Ask his sister, ask his mom, ask him… but don’t think about him sporadically {or constantly} and worry if he likes you or not.  Ask and move on – either with him or away from him.  And if you’ve done that, WELL DONE – you’ve saved yourself loads of time!  Trust me; it’ll be far better in the long run when you’ve moved on instead thinking you’ve moved on and being reminded of your feelings towards him when you’re invited to his future bride’s bridal shower.  Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… *cough*)

As Phylicia says in her post, Dear Girl, It’s Just a Date, we as Christians have made guy/girl relationships too complicated by insisting that they be destined for marriage.  When I was younger, I swore I’d never date – and I’d only court someone (whatever that means) when I was absolutely, positively, one hundred percent SURE that I’d marry him.

Golly Pete, was I naive or what?!

Over the last year or so, I’ve realized that it isn’t that simple.  Courtship does not equal marriage.  Dating does not equal divorce.  Yes, if your definitions of the two are wrong (especially excessive, serial dating, or even excessive, serial courting), you’re setting yourself up for failure.  I’m not saying that dating is wrong and courtship is right (or the opposite), but we need to reevaluate our views on the two.  Is a failed courtship a failed relationship?  Nope, not if God taught you something through it.  Is going out on a date with a guy sinful?  Nope, not if boundaries are set and God is the focus.

I’ve seen both dating relationships and courtship relationships end in disaster.  Dating where neither is fully committed and boundaries get crossed and, hello, babies get made.  Courting where the couple is never left alone to figure out if they’re comfortable with just the two of them and then marrying and finding out that – heck, no – they’re not comfortable at all.  Both are wrong and both have lifetime consequences.

The way I see it, a guy/girl relationship (be it courtship or dating) is only a failure if, when it ends, it scars you for life and radically negatively alters your perspective.  If you’ve been in a courtship and it failed, that is okay.  We need to stop pressuring people into thinking that you can only “get to know someone on a deeper level” if you want to marry them.  Can you imagine how much pressure that must make the guy feel if he does ANYTHING wrong?!  Not to mention how much pressure is put on the girl!  “Getting to know someone on a deeper level” only means that – getting to know them.  How can you know if a person is compatible for life if you don’t get to know them first?

Don’t make relationships more complicated than they already are.  I’ve seen relationships falter and die a tragic death because of too much talking, too much bad counsel, too much worrying, and way too much analyzing.  Yes, relationships are a risk (especially guy/girl relationships), but that’s faith – trusting in God and moving forward even when you can’t see (II Corinthians 5:7).

Okay, enough rambling – to my original intent for this post!

As the following isn’t my post, I’m just going to put some of it here and encourage you guys to go read the rest.  ‘Cause it’s amazing.

just a date

Dear girl,

We the Church – we’ve made relationships heavy.

Relationships are a serious thing – serious because they involve real hearts and raw emotions. We have to walk wisely and think clearly. But not all relationships are meant for marriage.

Maybe you already grasp that concept in your head. But I want you to grasp it in your heart – and on your next date.

Don’t try out his last name.

Don’t picture the Facebook status.

Don’t go there.

It’s just a date.

I’m not saying to lose the romance and I’m not saying to abandon all common sense. I’m not suggesting you settle for less or that you approach relationships carelessly. I’m saying that your truest self – the self you want a man to know and see and love – isn’t revealed when you’re knee-deep in the Christian-relationship mating ritual. There, we must bear the weight of a potential future, and bear in mind that marriage – marriage could be on the line.

All on the first date.

But despite the best efforts, we can never guarantee a first date will lead to marriage. No one can.

These days we move strategically, chess pieces navigating the game. We have to know if he’s ready to spiritually lead and financially take on a family. We have to know where it’s headed because otherwise, it’s a waste of time – right? Dating is supposed to lead to marriage – right?

Not always.

We the Church – we’ve made relationships complicated.

We meant well, really. We seek to protect purity and uphold marriage. We want to embrace God’s design. But we keep missing a consistent gospel theme: freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). In relationships, that means if you’re walking by the Spirit of God you are free to go on a date without demanding a DTR. [Ashley’s note: Define The Relationship]

We want it all in order from the beginning. We want the promise of no broken hearts, no disappointment, no struggle through the just-friends-but-not stage. We want to guard our hearts from hurt by only dating people we could see ourselves marrying, but the pressure is too soon, too heavy. A Starbucks hour won’t tell you if this guy is marriage material. It takes time.

Girls wonder why the guys run scared. I would run scared. I don’t believe Christian men are afraid of commitment. I believe they are afraid of commitment expected on the first date. In a church culture where a date equals intention of marriage, the pressure is on. You can’t just ask a girl out and get to know her; you have to know your intentions first. But how can you know your intentions if you don’t even know the girl herself?

Read the rest of the post here, then leave a comment and let me know what you think!  Do you agree or disagree with what I and Phylicia said?

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15 thoughts on “love is a risk {a follow-up post}

  1. Pingback: year in review: 2016. | inklings press

  2. I know I promised you my opinion on this post months ago. I sort of agree, sort of not. I kind of think that in trying to avoid one extreme, this view goes just a bit too far in the other direction. No, not every relationship–be it dating or courting–is going to end in marriage, but I still don’t think you should enter a dating-type relationship unless you’re serious about pursuing the possibility of marriage. Basically, I’m an advocate of being just friends first. Getting to know each other as people and fellow Christians, and if you feel led that way, then pursuing more of a romantic relationship. Doesn’t mean you can’t have a private conversation as just friends, and yes, I have had non-awkward one-on-one conversations with guys (with other people in the room, I don’t think it’s wise to be alone with someone of the opposite gender, if only for appearance’s sake). It could just be my personality, after all, my great grandparents knew each other for literally six weeks before they got married and stayed married for fifty some years until my great grandpa died of cancer, but I definitely intend to take a friends first approach.

    • I think I forgot to say (lol) that I don’t think that a serious relationship should start unless there’s a possibility of a marriage. I just hate the conservative mindset that says that a courtship can’t start until there’s a PROBABILITY of one. I’m a total advocate of friends first, too. WOW, SIX WEEKS?! Whoaaaa.

  3. I kind of agree with this post, but I kind of disagree as well. I mean, why call it a date if it is not marriage focused? I’ll hang out with guys I don’t know that well, but I’m certainly not going to date them. This can probably go on the elusive list of reasons I am perpetually single. I’d rather date a guy I’m already good friends with. I get that dating does not mean marriage or divorce, but just getting to know each other. Nobody acts like that though. Like it or not, “date” does have a getting ready for marriage theme attached to it in the Christian community. I’m fine with dating someone and not marrying them, but dating IS more serious than just being friends.

    I’m actually in a complicated situation right now. I’m casual friends (emphasis on casual) with a male classmate. Over the last month I have gotten the impression he would like to go out with me. I’m perfectly fine being friends, but I’m positive we will never be more than friends. Now I’m turning down offers to hang out and have lunch with him (one on one) because I don’t want to act like I’m interested! Ugh! I’d tell him straight up that I’m not interested in anything beyond friends, but he’ll probably deny any interest and act like I got the wrong impression. Why are guy-girl relationships so difficult?

    • I agree with you. I wish dating could be easy, but sometimes it isn’t. I think it’s a case-by-case thing. In your case, I’d say it’s probably okay to still hang out with him (maybe even one on one) as long as you make sure you’re friendly and don’t give him any clues that you like him as more than just friends. I understand not wanting to offend him or ruin your relationship, but maybe it’d be best to talk to him so you can save a good friendship before it gets ruined by stupid emotions? : P

  4. Eowyn, this is beautiful. You basically said everything that I would have.

    To be honest, I’ve never had the stress of dealing with the whole “dating v. courtship” thing because my church doesn’t do that–that is, dating is considered perfectly okay, as long as proper boundaries are set (ie, no premarital relations). So yeah, we’re allowed to date. I never have, just because nobody has ever really ASKED me (cough, cough), but I’m perfectly okay with the idea of starting to date somebody and NOT KNOWING if I want to marry him or not. I CAN’T know that till I get to actually know him, as a person. You just have to relax and be yourself and take some time, and eventually you’ll figure it out. Like you said 🙂

    My only thing is, I don’t want to date somebody that I already know I DON’T want to marry. Like, there are some guys I know where I’m like “if HE ever asks me, the answer is no way.” Because, you know, that WOULD rather be a waste of time . . . if I totally know we’re not going anywhere from the very start.

    • Aww, thank you! : )

      That’s awesome. I wish my church(es) had been relaxed like that, but they always looked down on dating. (My parents have been super relaxed about it, though, so that’s all that matters, lol.) Haha, saaaame. : P That’s so great – I’m so glad you feel that way! AMEN. Oh so true – sometimes you don’t know, but sometimes you get that vibe that just says “NOPE.” Exactly. : )

  5. YES. I agree. 🙂

    While I personally would want to be ‘good friends’ already with a person before getting to date him, I do agree that a relationship, when early in it’s roots (and when it clearly has so many chances of ending differently than marriage) should not be marriage focused. I do think that the Thought of ROMANCE as a topic should be marriage focused, but not the thought of a relationship with a guy you’re just starting to get to know. Finding the right guy isn’t that easy. 😛
    It’s also so awkward when you’re like, ‘Oh I like this guy – would I like to marry him? – let’s see if I would.’ Haha. Nope. It should be more like, ‘Oh this guy is cool – I should get to know him a bit better.’ That is why I for myself would want to be ‘just friends’ (rather than dating) with someone before going into anything remotely romancey; just to avoid stuff like that. 🙂
    But I completely agree that if some people want to get to know someone through dates, that the first dates shouldn’t be marriage-focused. But for me, I would only date someone I like a LOT as a good friend – so personally I think I’d only date someone I knew well already.

    Basically – I agree with what you’re trying to say. 😀

    Have you seen this video? It kind of expresses my view exactly. 😀

    ~ Naomi

      • Oh LOL I actually had that video up to watch next. Thanks! *watches it* HAHAHAHAHA “The Relationship Guru Who Has Never Been In A Relationship Before.” THAT IS SO ME. XD I loooooved this video. She basically said everything I said in my post. : P Thanks so much for showing it to me! (And it’s totally okay, I do that ALL THE TIME.)

    • Oh, I do, too! I have quite a few guy friends that I’m insanely close to and I’d love to be that way with my future husband before I marry him. You are so right! I already talked about pressure in a marriage-focused relationship, but, hello, PRESSURE!

      HA. That’s *exactly* how it goes sometimes. Not exactly the right frame of mind. ; ) I think it’s hard, though, to differentiate from wanting to know a guy as “just friends” and wanting to know a guy as a possible Prospect. I love my guy friends, but sometimes I want more than just a friend.

      Exactly. I’ve talked to my sister about people we know who’ve met and gotten engaged literally MONTHS after they first met. Nope. Not for me! XD

      Thanks. : )

      I hadn’t seen that video yet, but I totally agree with her! Especially her point on how lame it is when 14-year-olds date. Just… no. There are moments when I wish I’d dated a little in my early college years (just so there wouldn’t be quite as much pressure whenever I date in the future), but it’s okay.

  6. Something about the part where you talk about dating leading to divorce and courtships always leading to marriage makes me think of Josh Harris’ book ‘Boy Meets Girl’. I need to go back and find his exact words. It’s talking about ‘failed courtships’. I may write a post on it.
    I totally get what you’re saying here. I know couples who’ve dated and are happily married, and couples who courted and are now divorced. Just goes to show that stereotypes don’t work. 🙂
    She is also a new favorite blogger of mine, as of yesterday. You keep introducing me to new favorites.

    • I skimmed that book once… If you do, let me know! I think the problem is that, while they may not have said it outright, this courtship mentality has made us believe that, if we court, our marriage will be happy. A + B = C. Sometimes that’s just not the case, and it’s sad. Stereotyping is just bad. : P

      You’re welcome! She’s a new favorite of mine as of yesterday, too. : D

      • I like the book. In this section, Josh was talking to a friend about some other friends who were courting, but mutually agreed to discontinue in that type of relationship. The friend made some comment about it being sad that it hadn’t ended in marriage, and Josh agreed, only to retract it after a moment. He said we shouldn’t be sad when couples call off a courtship. They entered into the relationship to see if marriage was in their future, and it wasn’t. So we should be glad whether people marry or not due to courtship. The relationship served its purpose. They sought God’s direction and found it.

        • Interesting. That is so true. It’s not a failed courtship if you find out that you’re not compatible – if anything, that’s more of a success than even a marriage!

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