If you grew up in Christian circles, these statements will probably sound familiar:
“You don’t really need to look for a girlfriend because when God is ready, He’ll lead her to your doorstep.”
- “If you just focus on your relationship with God [and not on meeting someone], He’ll bring your wife to you at the right time.”
I hate to admit it, but I once actually bought into that line of thinking as an excuse for not dating. The irony is that I had some great godly female friends who would have gone on a date or two with me if I’d simply asked. But my excuse sounded so spiritual, so admirable, so holy, so worthy of...… OH for the love of Joshua Harris, who was I kidding?!?
It was Christian passivity at its best!
I know this now because I didn’t apply that principle to any other area of my life. Not once did I ever think, “I don’t need to search out a job. God knows my financial needs, when He’s ready, He’ll stir up a Human Resources manager at some random company to give me a call and offer me a job.”
The truth is, I was scared of being rejected. I was also lazy, because if I’m being completely honest, I was still enjoying the boyhood phase of my life - tittering on the edge of manhood without ever committing fully to it.
Thankfully, a few godly bearded mentors stepped into my life at the right time and called me out on my childish mindset. In perhaps the most spiritually meaningful man-conversation I’ve ever had about wanting to find a wife, one of my mentors straight up told me that I needed to “Man up and g….." [for the sake of modesty, I will keep to myself the last three words of that sentence]. Needless to say, that conversation set me on a direct course to manhood and I started to take responsibility and initiative in going after the goals that I set for myself.
While I’ve matured plenty since those days, I unfortunately find myself today in regular conversations with single young men who still seem stuck in the same cycle I couldn’t navigate my way out of. So, for the benefit of a generation of manboys who haven’t been taught how to act like men when it comes to asking a girl out, I present to you, your graduation ceremony!
Bros, it’s time to man up and find yourself a woman!
When Proverbs 31:10 poses the question, “A wife of noble character who can find?”, it presumes that such a pursuit involves getting off your couch, burning your comic books and 90% of your video games [things that keep you emotionally locked in childhood], taking a shower so you’re presentable, staying healthy, socializing in environments where actual human women exist, learning to hold your own in a conversation, maintaining a budget, and having a clear-enough idea where you’re headed in life.
Just so we're on the same page, I’m not speaking here of something casual where you have a cute crush on a girl you just met and wanna “hang out” to get to know her. Rather, I’m speaking to young men who have a cute lady-friend in their life they’ve known for a while and have decided they’re ready to pursue a more intentional relationship with her, but lack the courage to do anything substantive about it.
If that's you, bro, I came up with a solution for you! I’m no longer convinced the issue is courage. I believe the issue is clarity.
You see, when your affections have been deeply stirred toward a girl and you’re starting to wonder if she’s the lucky lady who will someday haul your future 3.5 kids to Vacation Bible School each summer, the courage to do something about it comes from having clarity about who you are, what you want, and where you’re headed!
Let’s face it, no girl has ever thought to herself, “I like that he’s not really sure what he wants.” The fact is, if you’re going to invite a girl to play a starring role in your unfolding drama, there are a few things you'll need to man up to, and that need to be “in play” in your life [all of which will result in the courage you need to man up and ask her out!]. The first two have to do with getting yourself ready, the latter two have to do with readying yourself for her.
In Genesis 2:24, God Himself says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” I’m not suggesting you propose to her on your first official date, or on the second, third, or fourth. I’m simply trying to point out that in those years when you begin transitioning from boyhood to manhood and start thinking more intentionally about dating and relationships, your first step is to move out of your childhood bedroom.
Having your own place is a win for several reasons, but as it pertains to dating, it tells a girl that you’re a grown up. The fact is that owning (or renting) and maintaining your own place is a great training ground for being able to someday take financial responsibility for someone else’s daughter. When she talks about you to her friends and family (especially her dad, gulp!), it’ll be a point of pride for her to be able to tell them you’re not mooching off your mom and dad living in their basement.
I understand that college is not for everyone, but you need to be good at something, or at least trained professionally for a trade. Find an area of expertise that comes naturally to you and get the professional training you need to become proficient in that field.
Before He died for the sin of the world, Jesus probably learned professional carpentry as an apprentice under the tutelage of His earthly father, Joseph. So, your Savior had a job! Oh. What? You follow Paul? Fine. Did you know that while he planted churches, the apostle Paul was also a professional tent-maker? Listen, having a job (even if it’s one you’re not too fond of) or a career bodes well for you in a relationship. For one, it lets her know you are heading somewhere, or at least trying to. Two, it lets her know that you have something else in life you’ve demonstrated commitment to. Three, when she asks you what you do for a living, or how your day went, you’ll actually have something to say.
By the way, unacceptable answers for “What do you do for a living?” include:
- “Nothing much. Just Chilling.”
- “I’m waiting for what’s next.”
- “I’m trying to find myself.”
- I would place the “I-don’t-know-shrugging-of-shoulders” on this list also, along with any statement that includes the words, “Video Games.”
The reality is, when you ask a girl out, you can be certain that she’s weighing her options very carefully with each story you tell. She’s asking and wondering, “Where is he heading in life and do I want to go along for the ride with him?”
A while back, in preparation for a sermon series on relationships I was teaching, I sent out a short survey to a 100 single Christian women in the United States and overseas. I asked them to answer concisely and honestly these three questions: "What’s your idea of the perfect guy?", "What two non-negotiable qualities do you look for in a guy?", "What do you wish single Christian men would do more of or become better at?"
While there were some humorous mentions about wanting to be with a godly guy who wasn’t creepy or “a weirdo”, what the ladies were unanimous about was wanting to be with a guy who “takes initiative and can communicate” (which they defined as the ability to listen attentively and respond intelligently).
Dudes, just so you have an idea what you’re in for when you’re about to man up and get more serious with a girl, sometimes, “listening attentively and responding intelligently” means not talking. It means acknowledging the “feelings” she has about a problem without trying to solve it for her.
Yes. I know. Complicated, right? Allow me to explain.
You and I have trained ourselves to filter through the clutter of emotions in order to focus on the real issue at hand. This means, when faced with a problem, we immediately want to take it apart and figure out the pieces so we can put it together again. Unfortunately, this method won't always apply to her.
While your stunningly good intentions might lead you to suggest a quick solution to her expressed problem, she would have you know that she doesn’t actually want you to fix the problem, but to simply understand [first] how she’s feeling about the problem. Then, and only then do you earn the right to ask her if she’d like you to give her some counsel on how to “fix” her problem. So, that means you might someday need to listen quietly as she vents for 17.5 minutes about a frustration, acknowledge her frustration, quietly hold her as she cries for another 5 minutes, and then humbly offer a possible solution!
True story bro.
There’s a lot more to communicating with the opposite gender, but I think if you nail this one down, you’ll be miles ahead of any other competition vying for her heart.
This might come as a shocker, but “being in love” is not enough reason to get serious about a girl you really dig. Gary Thomas, author of the book, “Sacred Search” has written much on this theme. In his book, he explains that because of the way God designed our brains, romantic attraction is sort of like an hourglass. The very moment you, “fall” for someone, that hourglass gets turned over. For some of people, that sand may trickle slowly. For others, it might gush like a broken dam. But here’s what both have in common: on an average, the time on that hourglass only lasts anywhere from 12-18 months.
In other words, that “butterfly in your belly” feeling you have for her won’t last forever, so your relationship needs to be built on something much stronger than your intoxicating “drunk in love” feelings.
Here’s the deal. At some point in your relationship, the real her will begin to reveal itself and she won’t be as pretty [emotionally, physically, relationally] as the first moment you laid eyes on her (mostly because she’s a human woman). The truth is, there is only so much shimmery lip-gloss a faithful Christian girl can schmear on. In fact, the one thing you can be certain of in your relationship is that she WILL change.
When she does, you will be presented with an opportunity to demonstrate the substance of true love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It’s a passage couples love to read at weddings, but if you step away from the romantic haze of the wedding day and process this passage, boy, you’ll discover that love requires work! Being patient and kind when she takes really long to get ready for a date that started an hour and a half ago requires work! Not feeling jealous when she’s genuinely being nice and friendly to more attractive guys requires work! Trying to “keep no records” of her wrongs requires work! See where I’m going with this?
Lest someone hears that and thinks, “This is ridiculous. Love shouldn’t be hard work. It should be easy, beautiful, and effortless.” WRONG! Love IS hard work. You wouldn’t expect someone who wants to produce an Oscar-winning movie to say, “It shouldn’t be hard to write a compelling screenplay that A-list actors will flock easily to”, would you? WOULDYA?
Success, even in relationships, always comes at a great cost and sacrifice of self.
Now, here’s where clarity beautifully collides with courage.
If all the above are present in your life, your confidence level will naturally increase because you have a clearer sense of who you are, where you’re headed, and more importantly, how she beautifully fits into it. I've had the privilege of observing many young men as they've journeyed from boyhood into manhood, and I've seen these truths play out in their lives again and again. My wife would also tell you that I speak from experience!
So, having set all the above as a foundation, you can now employ some of these romantic gestures:
- Purchase tickets to a sold-out concert of a band she really likes and invite her to go with you.
- Be super-clear that your time out together IS a date; (e.g: “I was going to check out this art opening on Saturday night. Would you go with me on a date? I think it would be fun if we both went together.”)
- Find a healthy balance between shoulder-to-shoulder time [movies, concerts] and face-to-face time [dinner, coffee, apple-picking].
Also, everything in this image below:
On a separate-but-same note, you should also be ready to move on if she blatantly shuts down your offer/invite.
Don’t linger. Don’t beg. Thank her for hearing you out and move on! (A clean break might actually make you more attractive). Find someone else you’re attracted to, someone who shares similar values and is headed towards the same horizon. The odds are really really in your favor!
Dudes, I wish you the best. I really do pray that you find the girl of your dreams. In the mean time, how bout getting a head start?
Be strong and courageous. Man up and find yourself a woman!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.