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"—Matt. 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 (Psalm 25:4-5).
QUESTION: Should cultural and racial differences hinder marriage among children of God worldwide?
HE SAID: Should they? No. Can they? Yes.
Depending how strong a person's cultural foundation is, how important it is to maintain those traditions, how "structured" or inflexible both may be and how involved outside entities (parents and family) are will impact how much the marriage will be affected by those differences. What could be something that enhances the relationship through personal growth and cultural awareness can also become divisive if not accepted and respected.
SHE SAID: It's only a hindrance if you make it so (Scripture tells us we are all one in Christ—Galatians 3:26-29). For some people, marrying outside of culture or race is just too great of an undertaking. From my own experience of knowing various interracial or intercultural couples, I have seen that they must deal with an entirely different set of issues than couples who are from the same culture or of the same race.
I'm not saying it can't work; just know that it might require a little extra or different or unexpected work in order to understand each other, in order to communicate, in order to meet on the same page, in order to integrate with each other's families, in order to deal with how society at large will see you and address you, etc. But, know that if it is God who has brought you together with someone of a different culture or race, then he will work out these differences as he is able to do in all other situations (Romans 8:28).
QUESTION: I'm an introvert, very shy and a private person. Talking with people outside of my family is hard for me (although I do this on a day-to-day basis because human interaction is vital for human beings). Nor have I ever been on a date before. So it's hard for me to know when I am being too pushy in a relationship, or when I'm just perceiving myself as being too pushy/obvious, and to everyone else it's barely noticeable. Do you have any advice?
HE SAID: One of the most difficult things about dating is allowing yourself to be who you are. We plan, strive, prepare, worry and do everything possible to make the best impression. Some people are better than others at "presenting" themselves; however, in the long run, I have found it to be most important to be yourself—obvious or not.
Don't try to be anyone else or copy what another person does who seems to be getting dates. God made us all different for different people. I trust He knows what He did and has a specific reason for doing it. Why try to mess up a good thing?
SHE SAID: Go to your friends and family and enlist their support. Many times, those who know us best can see things about us that we cannot. You may think you are pushy or obvious, but maybe you really aren't. Or you may not be as introverted, shy or private as you think you are! Does your inner world truly match up with your outward behavior? Check in with a trusted friend or family member to get some solid feedback.
Another option to consider is going out on some practice dates. Now don't knock it 'til you try it, because I really think I'm on to something here. Perhaps a friend of a friend (someone of the opposite sex who you don't know, but is a good sport) would be willing to help you out and be your "sample blind date." Then, after the date is over, you can go over the time spent together and see what this person has to say in regards to your behavior and what you were truly like in someone else's company. It could be a very viable option for you!
QUESTION: Is it okay to fast for a mate?
HE SAID: Some of the reasons for spiritual fasting are to grow closer to God, gain clarity in thinking, self-purification, or to break a stronghold. Fasting is an act of worship between you and God. Before beginning a fast, determine what your desire and motives are.
Isaiah scolded the Israelites for fasting for unrighteous motives (Isaiah 58) and Jesus warned His followers about fasting in order to be admired by others (Matthew 6:16-18).
"Is it okay to fast for a mate" depends upon your motives. If you want to fast in order gain clarity or hear from God about the direction for your relationship, great. However, if you are fasting in order for your potential mate to change or do something, I would caution and suggest you seek further biblical and pastoral insight.
SHE SAID: I don't see why not. When fasting is mentioned in God's Word—besides being a sign of mourning—I find that it is done so to aid in focusing and in humility, as well as with worship and in seeking the Lord's direction through prayer. I can't speak from personal experience when it comes to fasting, however, I have gone through times of great sacrifice when the Lord stripped away many amenities, comforts or relationships in my life to which I had grown accustomed. In this time of sacrifice, I was drawn to my knees, drawn to the Word and drawn to seek him more than I was doing beforehand. If you are petitioning the Lord regarding a mate, I can definitely see how fasting would help you to focus as you are seeking direction in this area of your life.
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 February 26, 2010.
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