Practice Makes Perfect
- Wednesday, March 30, 2005
As I’ve read through Dr. Cloud’s new book, “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping,” I have been confronted with an ugly truth that should have been obvious but seems like a clouds-rolled-back, heavenly-choir-sang revelation: My friends and I are really out of practice at dating. In fact, I think most single Christians are. Maybe that’s because we had no idea we’d be dating for so long.
In our parents and grandparents day, you married early, for better or worse. That attitude still prevailed at the Christian college I attended where dating wasn’t exactly recreational – it had a very serious underlying purpose. After all, one of the best ways to make sure Christian singles weren’t tempted to have sex was to marry them off as soon as possible. So from jr. high on, we girls got the subtle message that a wedding was the ultimate goal. We were even encouraged to create lists of what we were looking for in our future husbands and to write letters to our unknown intended. Then, when new guys came into the picture, they were carefully measured against these traits. If they were found wanting in any area, why waste the time?
I Think We're Alone Now
So we didn’t “waste” the time. And as the years passed, the opportunities to meet guys seemed to dwindle, and when we did meet men, few measured up to those detailed wish lists we clung to. So we purchased cars, appliances and maybe even homes on our own. We learned our way around Home Depot and acquired our own power tools (or the name of a good handyman). And somewhere along the way, most of us stopped dating all together. We tried our best not to look too conspicuous amid all the marrieds at church and learned to simply shrug when asked that awkward question: “why is a nice girl like you still single?”
It’s a question I’ve never had a really good answer for. I know so many “nice” girls who almost never seem to date, especially now that they’ve passed that threshold into their 30s. I just spent a weekend at the beach with several of them and while we all have different ideas about relationships, I think one thing we can all agree on is the landscape has changed and we’ve been left stranded without a current map.
Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but dating seemed easier when we were younger. In college and right after graduation, we were all at similar places, struggling to find our place in the world. Now, we’ve staked our claim, carving out careers and lives that are almost a hindrance to dating. My first boyfriend earned that title simply because we had been in the same class and rode the same bus and he was forward enough to pass me a note after school. Ah, those were the days. Now there’s so much more to consider. Do we have compatible careers? Do I make more money than he does (and does that matter)? Can we find a church we can both call home? Do we want the same sort of lifestyle, family, future?
It’s no wonder so many of us have thrown in the towel, at least at some point during our dating careers. After all, who expected this to become a career? We thought we’d endure it for a few years in order to find “the one” and that would be it. Ask anyone still single in their 30s and I bet they’ll tell you they didn’t expect to still be dating – or not dating as the case may be.
Getting Beyond Giving Up
But it’s easy to detail the problems. It’s harder to get back into the game. Maybe that’s why most of my friends who have decided to do just that have done so through drastic measures. Specifically, a dating service. And since my own plan to start dating again seems stalled, I’m taking the plunge, too.
If I’m out of practice, I need to get “in” practice and this should help force me to do just that. So I’m signing up with an online service this week, a course of action Dr. Cloud recommends in his book. The good doctor also encourages singles to “check your expectations at the door” when dating, and I’m going to do my best. For starters, I’m also throwing out my list of what I want in a guy. We all have types we think are right for us, but if my way isn’t working, I guess I need to be open to other options and accept that God just might know better what I need than I do.
In other words, while I may be drawn to those scruffy, soulful, artistic types with a Jeopardy-like knowledge of pop culture trivia, there’s a possibility I could have a future with a businessman who can’t name the manager from “The Partridge Family” or quote lines from “Waiting for Guffman.” Hey, stranger things have happened.
Wendy Lee Nentwig is a freelance writer and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. When not covering music from Beck to Bebo Norman, she collects old metal sign letters, laughs at the cartoon series "Home Movies," marvels at the talent of writers like Rick Bragg and David Sedaris, and is a connoisseur of fountain Cokes. Her favorite part of being single is never having to share the remote.
"How to Get a Date Worth Keeping" is authored by Dr. Henry Cloud and recently released from Zondervan Publishers. Based on over ten years of personally coaching singles on dating, Dr. Henry Cloud shares his proven, very doable, step-by-step approach to overcoming your sticking points and getting all the dates you could want.
Read the second article in this Singles series, "The Best Laid Plans," here.
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