I have had the pleasure of making some good friends over the past year or so, and some them have their own blogs or are excellent writers and I have invited them to guest blog here. So without further ado, I would like to welcome Stephanie from http://unfoldinglovely.wordpress.com/. Thoughts and ideas are her own of course and response is welcomed.
I’m coming clean. Putting it out for the whole social media world to know… I did the online dating “thing” in the last year. There it is. I subscribed for 6 months on Christian Mingle and reupped for another 6 months, but only chose to stick around for about a month of that before saying goodbye to all of it.
I’ll be honest… I’m a novice, naïve, no idea what I’m doing kinda dater. To say that I was “wet behind the ears” would be a complete understatement of my experience. And I went in with A LOT of expectations. Not only on the site to find my “perfect match” but on men to be who I thought and expected them to be.
Now, in fairness, I’m a woman writing from my own experiences and things that I’ve been able to witness and glean during my time in the online dating world.
Let’s tackle the first expectation… Holding the website accountable to finding my forever man. Really? Did I honestly, truly do that? I did. My guess is if you’ve tried the whole online dating thing too… you might have fallen into the mindset as well at least in the beginning. But, alas, it doesn’t work that way. In reality, it isn’t all that different that meeting men, say in a room full of only men. One may be the guy or maybe not. There are ZERO guarantees that me or you will find our forever online. Or in real life. Maybe not even on the moon. It just might not happen. Or it might. Who really knows? It takes TWO people, loving God (in my case since I’m a believer), and a willingness to spend a lifetime serving another person. Pretty simple. Right? Right. No. Not simple. Not even a little simple.
The second set of expectations was a little more difficult to weed through. Thankfully, I had really good marriages to witness in my life and some not so great ones. I feel like I really learned a lot in my singleness and I am grateful for this season! On one hand, I really knew what I wanted a marriage to look like, but when I was faced with the reality of it all… I had no idea what it would look like for ME.
In order to make it easier, I’ll break it down into smaller bits and expound on those things that I’ve learned. Again, to be fair, I’m sure that many men experienced many of these same things, but since I’m a woman, I’m using the gender pronoun that fits MY situation. I will be the last person to claim “all men this” or “all woman that” because we are just all too different.
Godliness – even on a Christian dating site, not everyone who claims to be Christian is Christian. Der. I learned about scammers, liars, and cheaters while navigating my first couple of weeks on the site. I *expected* that all men there were godly. Aside from the fakers, there are different “levels??” of spiritual maturity. I saw many woman slight men who were good, solid Christian men, but maybe they haven’t been believers “long enough” or on the first meet the man didn’t pray over the coffee and danish or maybe he only went to church sometimes.
Get a grip, women! First, if a man loves Jesus and is chasing after Him with his whole heart… I don’t care if he’s been a believer for 1 year or 111 years. We can’t measure someone’s ability to love well based on the length of their walk with Christ. Can we? I can’t. Secondly, it isn’t easy for everyone to pray in front of other people, especially not when we’ve only just met. It doesn’t mean the man isn’t a godly leader. It means he didn’t pray over the coffee. Who prays over their coffee anyway? I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a man or an introvert. I am a woman who was born and bred to chat, bond, love, and create relationships with other people. I LOVE going to church and being in community with other people. Hell, I like going to Walmart and being in community with other people. I LOVE PEOPLE. Not everyone has that same ability to bond with others or to interact freely with groups of people or new people. Shouldn’t we be after a man who loves to serve? He might do it in a church, he might do it in a soup kitchen, he might do it on Friday nights at high school football games. Going to church alone is hard. Really, really hard. Don’t write him off right away because he might not go to church as often as you expect him to. Take a chance. Ask him why. Try to understand his heart. There is so much lying under the surface that we don’t even care to find out about a man before we just cast him into the reject pile. You know, kinda like we don’t want them to do to us…
Looks – let’s just face it (haha.. get it? Face it??… eh, anyway), looks matter. They do. Two people have to have SOME level of attraction to each other. BUT, in my experience, I found myself quite smitten with someone who didn’t meet some of my looks “criteria” initially. But his mind and his heart won me over and soon, I saw him more and more attractive with every passing day until he was pretty much one of the finest things I ever laid my eyes on. If someone has a kind heart and one that is attractive to you, take some time, you just might find that you’re more physically attracted than you thought. And as far as the criteria is concerned, relax a little.. so what if he’s an inch shorter or a year older that you like… is it really that big a deal in the big scheme of things?
Understand that seeing someone in 3D will always be a little shocking initially. It’s like a flat photo just popped open! It’s a little bit weird and more so if you’ve been talking on the phone a lot or emailing a lot… we’ve created you in our heads and now you’re alive. It’s weird.
And everyone, men and women, full body shot photos are a must. No excuses.
The Great Pursuit Debate – In the Christian community, it’s become very *normal* for a woman to say, “I just want some to pursue me,” or “I want him to email me first so that I know he’s in pursuit of my heart.” Ugh. It almost makes me wanna gag? Why? Well, let’s go back to the being in a room full of men scenario… if I were in a room full of men and one or two or, let’s get crazy, and say five men caught my attention. I wouldn’t just stand there like a pillar in hopes that one might speak to me. I might actually have to say hi first. Or smile across the room. Or somehow let him know that it’s okay and it’s safe to move forward. In the online dating world, it might mean reading a profile I like and sending him and email. And, as a woman, I DO want to be pursued, but sheesh… I want the man I like to know that he’s also worth pursuing. With men being the pursuer ALL THE TIME, it means that he will bear the brunt of rejection ALL THE TIME. It also means that he is going to become very gun shy, very quickly. I get it… we want men to take the lead in a possible marriage, well some of us do…but sending an email doesn’t mean that he’s given up his man card and suddenly you’re ruling the whole relationship. It means you let him know you want to be pursued. It’s okay, ladies!
And men, I feel your pain. But please, once a woman takes that step, show her the same courtesy that you’d like to see shown to you. A gentle “no thank you” or a “heck yea!!” is good. And once you know it’s safe, please show some intentional interest in getting to know her. We all, men and women, want to know that our company is desired, or that we’re being sought after, or that someone is thinking about us. All of us want that.
Finally, say what you mean and mean what you say – The number of profiles I read during my online dating period is staggering. In the end, a good percentage of them were rubbish. Either the man wasn’t really ready to date, didn’t want to commit, didn’t have the time for a relationship, said one thing in the profile, but lived out something else entirely. Some people are very gifted with words. My heart is wooed by words. Just because a person writes something doesn’t make it so.
Ladies, if we say something about wanting honesty, communication, leadership, etc… and then when a man shows that – we freak out – it comes off as really confusing. If he’s moving too fast or too slow, talk to him. Tell him. We want communication ourselves, but when we run into issues, we run to our friends to talk about it. We should be talking to him. Maybe he doesn’t understand what you want or need. We can’t beg communication from them, but then stow away all of our thoughts that we should be communicating back.
Also, ladies and men, we’re on a dating site, we assume it means you want to find a relationship. Don’t get mad when we want one and you don’t. I mean, isn’t that what we’re all there for? I get it, go slow. Build a friendship. Blah blah blah. In the end, we are looking for a relationship with someone; we aren’t there to make friends. If a friendship happens, great. But please know that isn’t why we’re paying for a subscription to an online dating site.
Men, when you say that you look at a woman’s heart, and you want someone genuine, and someone who is going to love you… please don’t write her off if she’s not your exact picture of beauty. Mean what you say and say what you mean. I honestly had one man see me and leave. Truly. It really leaves a scar when women (speaking from my own experience) have to live up to a physical standard that is impossible.
That’s all I got. I mean, not really, but I’m already nearing 2,000 words for a guest post, I should probably call it quits for now.
If you’re an online dater, I hope that this has been helpful, but if you’re not, I hope I didn’t scare you away. It’s not easy dating, whether it’s in 3D or online. It’s all a little bit hard to navigate. To me, I love the idea of love and the hope in love being mine one day. Bring it on, cupid!