"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7).

OK, I know this passage is addressing husbands, but I think it’s possibly the most important message in the Bible for single men. There is great wisdom to be gleaned from this verse on how to understand women and navigate relationships with us in an honorable way. And what better time than Valentine’s Day, or as many of us like to call it, ‘Singles Awareness Day,’ to do a good heart check?

As I work and minister to single moms, I almost daily find myself dealing with someone who’s been deeply wounded by the way a man has treated her. In fact, I’ve found that single women in general are in such a state of hurt and confusion over the way men are treating them that their hearts are literally dying.

So this piece had to be written.

If you are a single guy who is following Jesus, we assume you know certain ‘rules of the game’ and are going to play by them. We do understand that you are a flawed human being just like us and probably don’t mistreat us on purpose. We also know that there is no such thing as a relationship without risk. But here are five things that would help our hearts tremendously for you to be more diligent about:

1. Don’t underestimate your leadership role. God assigned all men, not just husbands, the responsibility and privilege of leadership when it comes to women. You are physically and emotionally tougher than us, which is why he refers to us as the weaker vessel. When you read ‘weaker’ think delicate, precious and vulnerable. How you steward us matters A LOT and you will be accountable for it to Christ one day.

I think I speak on behalf of all women who love the Lord when I say our number one desire in a man is that he can and will lead us spiritually. If we allow ourselves to get involved with a man who isn’t a believer, than we are agreeing upfront to not have any of the following expectations. If he doesn’t share Christ’s heart, we cannot expect him to love us or treat us in a Christ-like manner. That said, many of us who have established that submission to Christ is a ‘non-negotiable’ in a potential mate still find ourselves reeling in insecurity because of the way we are being led by Christian men. Guys, we want to let you lead us, but part of your responsibility in that is creating an environment where we feel safe to be led and to respond to you. When you mislead, it hurts us and causes us to distrust men and God.

2. Don’t single us out unless you want a singular relationship with us. Maybe it’s that extra rib God gave us, but we women have a heightened sense of awareness. When you single us out in any way—like giving us a compliment or liking a picture we post on Facebook or letting us borrow your pencil—we notice. I know, it’s crazy. Sometimes it feels like the greatest curse of womanhood, the fact that we are SO aware of the littlest things. So when you send us a private message, or call us for reasons that are not business-related, or your hugs get more frequent, we really notice. When we notice you treating us in a manner that is significantly different than the way you treat other women, it leads us to believe you are interested in us in a singular way. If you ask us out on a one-on-one basis, we always assume there is romantic interest unless you clearly state otherwise. If you actually say the word date, we expect that you are ready to be singularly committed to us. If you want to date as the world dates, be aware you are engaging in a cruel sport. The whole concept of Let me lead you to believe that I’ve picked you when actually I’m just using you to meet my needs until something better comes along is actually pretty unkind.