He Said-She Said: Turning Down Suitors, Signs of Availability & More
- Friday, February 26, 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, pleaseclick here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
It's "grab bag time" once again, and we've decided to answer more than one question in this edition of "He Said-She Said." We receive so many questions that there are simply more questions than there are months in the year! So we've selected six that don't warrant lengthy answers (or rather, ones we felt we could answer well enough with fewer words) and have combined them into one column. We hope you find them helpful and encouraging. Enjoy!
QUESTION: How does a Christian woman turn down a suitor in a good and right way? If the man says he understands but still gives special attention to the woman, what can she say to get some space away from him without turning him away from God? The case being the woman brought the man into Christian community, and now she thinks he is there primarily to get close to her.
HE SAID: Whether you brought a person into the Christian community or not, there is only one good and right way to "turn down" a possible suitor—being honest. Explain to him what your feelings are, where you stand and what you're looking for (or not) in the relationship. Don't go out alone with him and limit your time together to church activities. You are not doing him a favor by allowing him to believe there is more to the relationship than there is. It's not fair to him or to you.
Should he then choose to walk away from Christianity based upon your relationship, it was not the relationship with Jesus that he was seeking.
SHE SAID: Well hello there, can of worms! This is a complicated situation indeed. I would suggest thinking of this man as your "brother in Christ," first and foremost. As such, you would treat him as you would any other spiritual family member ("love your neighbor as yourself"—Matthew 22:39). If you have already had a heart-to-heart conversation and expressed that you are only interested in friendship, then there's really not a lot else you can do. Your male friend is responsible for his own thoughts, actions and words toward you. Perhaps you could make sure that you always are in the company of at least one other person when you are around this man. This might help provide a healthy barrier.
Remember that ultimately you can only control yourself, and his behavior toward you—and his decision whether or not to seek a relationship with Christ—is of his own choosing. (The Lord is able to draw him to himself despite your turning him down.)
QUESTION: How do you know who is single and who is married? I have discovered that not all married men wear a wedding band. That causes me confusion. If I am interested in a man, I do not know how to find out if he is married or not. Therefore I do not engage in any kind of "flirting" with any man—I would just be mortified if I found out he was married! Any suggestions?
HE SAID: One approach to finding out a person's marital status, without flirting, is to engage in a conversation which eventually mentions children, and then inquire if he has any. If he does and adds nothing more, you can follow up with asking how many children he and his wife want. Usually the answer will let you know if he is married, divorced or widowed.
If he has no children, the person will often tag on that he's not married or may say he and his wife are waiting or trying for children.
SHE SAID: My best answer to you is not an instant, add-water-and-mix one; it's simply time. And yes, it will take some time for you to know whether or not someone is married. But what's the hurry, right? If you're not speed-courting, then you should be able to make time to observe a man, and the information you are waiting for will be revealed to you naturally. You can still interact, but keep it on a platonic level, as you would with any of your brothers in Christ. In fact, try treating your interest as someone who is already married and then you know you won't be crossing any lines! The more time you observe someone and engage in light conversation, the sooner you will know if he is married or not.
QUESTION: I met this guy [online] some seven months ago and recently spent about six weeks with him and his two children. We love each other very much, and he wants us to get married. I love his boys, too, and I am ready to say "yes." My question: I was hurt pretty badly from a past relationship; he has assured me he would never lie or cheat and if we love one another, we can always work things out. In my heart, I sense that he is not open and honest with me about his sexual life ... I have a feeling that he may be into pornography! Do I confront him? How?
HE SAID: If you truly love this man, you need to be able to communicate with him (in person). Loving him and his children are not enough if you cannot trust him, especially at this point in your relationship (ready to say "yes"). Approach him, not in an accusatory way, but rather in a vulnerable spirit as you desire to share your past hurts, fears and insecurities with him. In doing so, ask him what he struggles with (we all have something, or many things, that inhibit our walk) and how you can help and pray for him.
If his answer is "nothing" (defensively), your heart may be right about him not being honest or he is not be able to share his heart with you. In either case, he may not be ready to engage in another serious relationship yet.
SHE SAID: Whether it's woman's intuition or a check from the Holy Spirit or both, you definitely need to take pause here. The red flag—and in interest of guarding your heart—means you must confront this man and directly ask him about his sexual history and whether or not he is using pornography. This is for your own protection. So be discerning, proceed cautiously and do so in brotherly love.
And if there are any doubts, then don't (as my mom has always told me). As in, don't say "yes" to this man until you have received a "yes" from God and have a peace about the situation. Communication + time + prayer + study in the Word = clarity in this situation (Psalms 25:4-5).
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