Creating Healthy Expectations
In this blogpost we're going to talk about another aspect of dating: EXPECTATIONS. Ladies in the house, you know we all have expectation. A cute brother walks in to church, and you do a metal check. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about, you see if there's metal on the hand. Does he have a ring? Don't lie, you know it's true.
Part of defining the relationship, is figuring out and communicating our expectations. If you're attracted to someone and they ask you out, or you ask someone else out, I think one of the things we could do to bring health to our relationships is to identify our expectations.
Song of Solomon 3:1-2 says:
All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
Though this is in the voice of a woman who theologians believe is married, I believe there are practical things here we can learn from, male or female. Many of us are looking for "the one my heart loves."
We search for them, but do not find them. Yes, there's a play on words there, but I'm taking her words because many of us who desire to be in relationship are searching for that person. Eighty-five percent of single people want to be married or want to be in a monogamous relationship.
So let's come clean. Let's stop saying "this is just my friend" when they're not, or engaging in friends with benefits. No, we need to define the relationship.
Here's a message to the men (and women can learn from this too):
1. Own your actions.
Guys, if you are out with a girl alone on a second or third hangout, don't get it twisted and think that she's crazy if she suspects you're interested in her. You might say, "Nah, we're friends. We're cool." I'm telling you from the perspective of a female, don't automatically assume she's just there to kick it with you and your friends and watch the NBA finals. This might be the case, but there's a good possibility it's not...
Men, and women, own your actions. If you're hanging out with someone, texting them, and going out just the two of you, don't think that he or she is reading too much into things when they wonder if there's something there. It's time to open up your mouth and have a good conversation. This brings us to point two.
2. Use your words.
Don't be lame. God gave you a mouth, use it. Take the initiative and cast vision for your relationships. If you're interested in a woman, don't make her guess, don't play games. As her brother in Christ, you have the opportunity to lead in this relationship. If you're not interested in her romantically, set that line real quick. You might feel stupid, and she might even say, "Oh, I actually wasn't interested in you," but you know what, it's okay. If you're not at all interested, you just want to squash that immediately so hearts don't get broken. It might be painful, or cause a little bit of drama in the moment, but for the sake of your relationship with sister in Christ, use your words.
People's feelings get hurt when we're not very clear with our intentions.
Now for the ladies:
3. Don't be weird.
If someone asks you out for coffee, don't sit there and start dreaming of being eighty-five years old with them, squeezing each other tight in the sinking Titanic while the interlude of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On is playing in the background. Our minds can go there quickly. All the sudden we're married, we have 2.5 kids, a picket fence, and a dog named Spot. Yep, our minds can go there, so be careful. We need to give our brothers in Christ some latitude to get to know us.
I am not throwing stones here. If you knew me and my level of crazy cat lady, you would understand why I feel passionate about this. When my husband first invited me out for coffee, I had to text three friends to get their insight on it. I was freaking out about it, thinking, "Oh my goodness I can't believe this. What are we going to do?" And I sent him this long email saying, "I feel called to ministry, I feel called to free slaves, I don't think this is what I'm supposed to be doing, and God parted the Red Sea, He can bring someone to me." His reply via email was very simply, "No problem… it's just coffee."
When he said that I realized that I, and a lot of my Christian friends, were hyper-spiritualizing a lot of things. So instead of focusing on the minor, insignificant, maybe even borderline stupid things, let's start to focus on the more important things, which we'll get to in another post.
So remember, to keep your intentions and feelings clear in your relationships: own your actions, use your words, and ladies, give guys a little room to get to know you, before deciding if you're ready to put the white picket fence up. It may feel weird at first, but it will help you out and it will help out the people you're in relationship with in the long run.