What advice would you give to a woman who is interested in someone and maybe they’ve had a couple of these “Starbucks dates,” but nothing seems to be moving forward or backward or just anywhere as far as she can tell?

Probably the biggest thing I’d encourage her to do is to ask God to protect her heart. Ask God to take care of her in this process because my heart got disappointed and hurt a lot of times in dating. Dating is tough. It is not an easy period of life, oh my goodness. It’s funny ‘cause while we’re in that season it should be fun. It should be great. And it’s just not. And there are moments of fun, but like overall it’s just a tough thing because you’re so vulnerable. Both people are, and you’re kind of putting yourself out there and hoping for something. And especially women . . . we’re romantics and so it’s just a difficult thing.

But I would really be very prayerful in dating and just say, “God, please shelter my heart and help me to be wise, help me to have this balance of being open and warm and friendly in dating, but also to be wise and not give my heart away to somebody who is not the right man for me.” And you know I was not in love with any other man before my husband, and I’m really, really grateful for that. But I know that’s a rare story actually. It was later in life that I was married. I definitely felt a certain amount of love or friendship love with some of the other guys that I dated, but not “in love.” But I think I was intentional, too, about guarding my heart and asking for God to lead the process. So that would be my biggest advice.

It is really encouraging to read the guys’ thoughts about inner beauty. At least for Christian guys, it sounds like it's just as important to them as outer beauty.

It was so wonderful. And a couple of the guys said that if we meet a really beautiful girl and are blown away but then she has nothing to offer like of herself, of her heart and she’s just really shallow and doesn’t have any depth in the Lord, they were just saying they’re not interested. Like literally it can go from “Wow, she’s amazing” to not interested anymore. And that really showed me how much the heart and the relationship with God are so important to these Christian guys. And I just loved that. The other thing that really, really blessed me was that they really value modesty. I mean I’ve spoken about modesty and purity for so long, but that these guys are saying that they value purity, that they valued modesty that that made them them respect a woman and want to like pursue her because it says so much about her heart. I loved that—like it was so great hearing that from these guys directly.

Many of the guys you interviewed really stressed the importance of basing a relationship on friendship first, and they also desire that women would just be themselves.

I really think that [female readers] will be encouraged by that. My parents, they’re 36 years into marriage, and they have a beautiful marriage. And they have always said my whole life like base your marriage relationship on friendship, because that is what will last through the challenges of life and changing bodies and aging and everything. The friendship is what lasts and connects you, so I do think that girls are going to be encouraged by that. And it’s interesting . . . I think we buy into “speedy is best.” The kind of hurry, hurry, hurry convenience, I needed it yesterday kind of approach to everything including dating. And I think there is almost a wakeup call to us girls in this book, in every area of our lives, to just kind of slow it down and just like let it be. Let it be what it is. And let’s be who we are in our relationships. Let’s honor who we are. And I just think of some of the most attractive people that I know in my life. They just own who they are in the most beautiful way, and they just have this unique beauty to them. They’re just owning who they are before God.

And I just think as a single woman, I’d been single for so long, like I had a lot of people just say, “Hey, while you’re single, just foster that relationship with Jesus that it is really strong and solid and learn to know who you are in him because that will benefit your marriage.” And I see why they were saying that now. And it’s almost like you can be excited about preparing for your groom. I know like as a single woman I liked writing letters to my future husband because it was like a way I was preparing for my groom. But I was also as a person preparing for my groom, shaping my heart like seeking God so that he could show me who I was in him. And that’s something to be excited about and to go, “You know, I’m pressing toward the season of my life that I’ve longed for by preparing for my groom as a person, becoming whole, not being this needy kind of insecure person who doesn’t know who I am. I’m going to press in to who God’s made me to be and that will enhance the quality of the future relationship that I’m longing for.”