He Said-She Said: A Lack of Attraction and Pursuit
- Thursday, January 28, 2010
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: There is a man who has been "pursuing" me that is a friend of mine from church. He's 39, very overweight but such a good, godly man that has very good character and a love for God (as do I). Although he is working on the weight issue and has lost some of his weight, I find myself less attracted to him as time continues. Part of this could be from the fact that on account of his weight issue he hasn't really showed much interest in pursuing me other than the occasional instant message online and a date here and there. But he doesn't seem overly excited about me in general. I guess my question is should I take this seriously? I'm 30 and am overweight myself, but near goal in my weight-loss efforts, extremely active and ready for marriage in my heart and in my walk. I just don't really know how to move forward. On the positive side, we do laugh together, we do have a good time when we're together; we can pray together and worship together. Like I said, we are friends! I don't think he's unattractive; I think it's because of his weight that makes me feel that he's not very attractive. Also, because he isn't pursuing as I am accustomed by other men in the past, I find myself not wanting to go out with him at all. Any suggestions would be very helpful in my time of need!
HE SAID: Let me try to summarize what you have shared with us. An overweight godly friend of good character has been pursuing you; however, as you have lost weight, you sense he is contacting and pursuing you less. Although you enjoy spending time with him, you are finding yourself less attracted as a result of his weight and lack of consistent interest in you. Am I close?
I know many fantastic godly single women, who want a relationship, but are not being pursued by Christian men. Some guys may be concentrating on work or don't desire a relationship; however, many are intimidated, fear rejection or lack self-esteem (your friend may be falling into this category which I will explain later).
The Bible calls us, men, to be the leaders in the church and the leaders in our families. To do this we have to have a strong foundation of faith in Christ and live it out boldly, and one way is by pursuing a woman in a godly fashion.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
You mentioned your friend had been pursuing you, but his pursuit has waned. I suspect there may be a number of factors other than just a lack of desire or interest on his part.
Your weight loss shows determination, perseverance and sacrifice by setting a goal, pursuing it and nearing completion. I'm sure you have struggled mentally, physically and emotionally in order to achieve what you have thus far. As a result, you almost certainly carry your head a little higher, walk a little taller and feel more comfortable with yourself. You probably look at your life and the world around you a little differently, too.
One of those "areas" that may look different is how you view your friend. You mentioned, "I think it's because of his weight that makes me feel that he's not very attractive." You have changed. Your perspective has changed. Maybe you see him differently now that you have lost weight. Was this something you didn't notice before? What are those things that initially attracted you to him?
In contrast, prior to your weight loss, your friend may have felt more comfortable with you and your relationship because you shared something in common. When you were both overweight, it may not have been something he worried about. Now that you have lost weight, he is forced to "look at himself in the mirror" and may be feeling self-conscious and lack self-esteem about himself, around you and in your relationship.
From a Crosswalk.com article titled, "Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone," I wrote, "Most of the contestants (of The Biggest Loser) did not become obese by eating right and exercising, they became that way by becoming complacent and accepting their way of life."
For the waywardness of the naive will kill them. And the complacency of fools will destroy them (Proverbs 1:32).
Many of us live for years growing accustomed to our habits, our idiosyncrasies, even our sins by becoming complacent and accepting it as our way of life. We tend to not even notice them unless they are brought into the light.
Your friend may have become this way about his weight. Your resolve to change your life has possibly shown the light on his overweight issue.
In every situation, we have an opportunity to feed into a person's life positively or negatively and we can leave the situation better than when we arrived or worse.
I can't tell you how to proceed with your relationship, but I can encourage you to take a moment to envision what he may be going through and to remember one of the reasons why you were attracted to him—his godly character. Communicate your feelings with him and ask him why he seems to be pulling away from you. Honest communication is the foundation of a successful relationship.
SHE SAID: I enjoyed reading your questions. In fact, I printed them out and then highlighted several phrases and sentences, as it helped me to find some answers (or at least food for thought for you) within your inquiry.
It sounds like this might ultimately be a question of timing. As you have indicated, neither you nor your friend are at your ideal weights. But he is not as far along as you are in making progress toward an end goal. That could possibly mean that his self-confidence is not on par with yours right now which could potentially speak to his actions (or lack thereof).
He is not now pursuing you (at least in the manner in which you would like), and you are ready to be pursued. This could be a matter of your friend not feeling good about himself yet (weight), and he is not ready to make a move. Or it's also possible that he just may not be attracted to you (and perhaps never has been [unless he has revealed his feelings to you, which you have not indicated], at least not enough to cause him to pursue you for more than a friendship). Or he could just not be ready for the commitment required in a serious dating relationship or for marriage (even though you've said that you are).
Regardless of what he is thinking/feeling, it sounds as if you two have established a solid friendship. That is good. Many marriages are birthed from friendships that at some point take a romantic turn.
The fly in the ointment appears to be your attraction to him. You are not as physically attracted to him as you think you should be in order to see him as someone you would want to date or marry (outward attraction is an important component in a romantic relationship and should be considered). But it sounds like you are attracted to who he is on the inside: character, personality, faith, etc. With time, it is possible for outward attraction to grow. I wonder if he was pursuing you right now (in the way in which you would like and have been pursued by other men), if this would cause you to see him differently (outwardly) and change your attraction to him. Maybe "weight" is not even the obstacle here. Just a thought and something to explore further.
So ... "how to move forward." If your heart is not engaged beyond friendship, then you should be able to remain friends and not expect him to pursue you for more than that. Period. However, if your heart is engaged beyond more than friendship (and despite your not thinking he's "very attractive"), then you need to take precautions to guard it (Proverbs 4:23).
You might just be plain ol' confused about your feelings for him. There certainly seems to be some conflict going on here in regards to how you see him (or want to see him). If I were in this situation, I would take a break from the friendship for a while so that you can clear your head and determine how you really feel about your friend. Spending a lot of time doing life together can sometimes cloud over what is really going on with expectations and intent (for both of you).
See how you feel after spending some time apart (perhaps a month?), and then make some decisions on how to move forward. Can you still be in a friendship with him? Do you only want to be in a friendship with him? Or do you find that you really are attracted to him (inside and out) for more than friendship? And if so, what happens if he doesn't full-on pursue you?
Either way, know that if you stay in a friendship with him which involves you spending lots of time together and going out on a casual date here and there, you may be sending a message to other potential male suitors that you are "taken" or locked into a relationship with someone else. And if that's not want you want to convey to others, then you also need to reconsider the boundaries of your relationship with your friend and make sure it does not to appear to be a "dating relationship."
It's also possible that both of you are getting your emotional needs met in one another right now and could have connected too deeply (or inappropriately) for a friendship between a man and a woman. I think you'll know after a short break from one another.
Time away from any situation usually brings about clarity and a more accurate read on what you really want and need in a particular relationship. You may find that perhaps this friend cannot be what you want right now. Many times, we can fall into the trap of unrealistic expectations. I'm not saying that that is where you are, but at least think about that and see if maybe you've got one foot in and the other just a banana peel away. Also, with time and with some changes made in his life, perhaps your friend can and will be the man who is right for you. Wait and see.
In the meantime, use your alone time wisely as you contemplate and seek direction for your own life and what steps the Lord is leading you to take (Proverbs 19:21)—whether that be toward one another (in a mutually agreed upon, clearly-defined dating capacity) or to a more appropriate distance away from your friend for any emotional disengagement that needs to happen for a healthy friendship.
... in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you ... (Matthew 7:12).
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who's counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to living the single life, PLEASE SUBMIT HERE (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
**This column first published on January 28, 2010.
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