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: I am a 52-year-old woman who would like advice and insight on men my age who are true followers of Christ. Do men still seek after women who "play hard to get"? Or is this the way of the world? I hate game playing and the world says don't call a man, let him call you and even when he does, don't always be available. Why can't we just be real with each other? Thank you for your time and ministry. I know there are plenty of women who would like to see this answered.
HE SAID: Let me just preface my comments by saying, although there seems to be a societal consensus about (all) men and their lack of skill and expertise in communication and relationships, men differ in the way each seeks and pursues the opposite sex, as do women in the way each reacts to being approached. That being said, I won't try to speak for all men, but I will try to offer some insight based upon my observations and experience.
Just because an older man is a true follower of Christ, it does not guarantee a "standard of behavior." There are some amazing mature single men who are servants of God and are the pillars of their church, while there are others who choose not to be. Some older men have never grown up and then there are younger ones who have matured beyond their years. Age, maturity, life skills and behavior are all independent of one another.
Drawing conclusions based upon a person's age or on a couple of experiences may distort the way you see a man and alter the way you react to being pursued.
While men are inherently born as "hunters" (one who pursues, leads, and protects), and most men desire to fill that role in some capacity, not every man will play the "hard to get" game. Some enjoy the thrill of the hunt or the challenge of the pursuit, and others don't. For the pursued, "playing" hard to get and being cautious and discerning may look similar, but are two different things.
You speak of the gamesmanship aspect which is how some women approach a relationship; however, more important is how careful and discriminating a female believer should be with whom she allows herself to be pursued by and yoked to. It is a common notion and practice for non-believers to attend a church in order to find a "nice" girl, and we have received many letters from Christian women who are dating non-Christian men.
I have always felt a man should be the one who "pursues" and make his intentions known, but a woman also needs to help a guy out sometimes. If you are interested in someone, let the guy know in some way, especially if he seems to be aloof to the whole situation. There's nothing wrong with running into him (without stalking), letting a friend know your interest (without it becoming "high-schooler-ish"), or just striking up a conversation.
Many older guys have not had a strong father figure, mentor or teacher in their life that has taught and, more importantly, lived out an example of what a godly relationship should be like. As a result, we have had to (try to) learn how on our own, often through difficult experiences.
The best approach to any relationship (for both parties) is to be honest upfront, throughout and always. Sharing your feelings and intentions may not be "part of the game," but will often circumvent hurt feelings and misunderstandings later on, and save a lot of time and energy.
Don't give up your dream and desire to find the right man for you in an honest and real way.
SHE SAID: Should age matter when it comes to relationships between "older" men and women? Yes. But does it? Not necessarily.
Whether through church or various community groups in which I am involved, I am friends with single men of all ages—from 20s and on up into the 70s. What I have found is that each man is different, and I must be careful (as much as possible) not to categorize them all together and to consider each individually and as a person with his own story and/or set of issues.
Besides physical and mental maturity, one would think that age would translate to emotional maturity as well. But this is not always so. I know very put-together and emotionally stable twenty-something men who are very wise beyond their years (and put their older brothers in Christ to shame!). And then, just this past week I overheard a single, fifty-something man say that he wanted "no restrictions" in his life and that he "answered to no one" at this age and just wanted "to have fun" in regards to relationships and his life choices. Alrighty then.
So, what I am seeing and saying is that age doesn't always means a whole lot when it comes to emotional maturity and integrity (and wisdom, for that matter). And so you must consider each man individually.
Most of your question is focused on how a woman should respond to the advances of a man who is in pursuit mode, and so my answers to you will be more focused on the responsibility of women as they relate to men in relationships (or potential relationships).
Do men still seek after women who "play hard to get?" I don't know, and I think each man would have a different answer. But my question back to you is this: should women even play hard to get? And what does that really mean? "Playing hard to get" could connote dishonesty, meaning saying "no" you are not available for a date when you really want to say "yes" and are available because you think this might make you (in some way) even more attractive or desirable to your suitor (Proverbs 10:31-32, Psalms 19:14).
Or it could also connote a woman who is "guarding her heart" (Proverbs 4:23) and protecting herself for her emotional well-being. It could mean that a woman is purposely not always going up and talking to a man or seeking him out first in social settings, or continually initiating e-mails with him or calling him, etc. She may be waiting for him to seek her out and to engage her in conversation, so that she is sure that is was his idea in the first place to want to spend time with her and pursue her.
The world says don't call a man, let him call you and even when he does, don't always be available. To this I say, "The world is right on the ‘don't call a man, let him call you' part. If you want to be pursued (and there are plenty of biblical examples of a man pursuing a woman if you want to look those up), then let a man do the pursuing. Ask yourself your intentions before you call a man. Is your call business or work related? Are you calling to ask a legitimate question about a ministry or group in which you are both involved? Do you not have any ulterior motives? Or are you just calling so that this man will notice you and so that you will be closer to satisfying the desires of your heart? On the flip side, if a man does call you and you are interested in a romantic relationship with him and your schedule is free and clear for wherever he would like to take you or whenever he would like to spend time with you, why would you say otherwise? This is dishonest and is the type of "game playing" of which you spoke of in your question (Proverbs 12:17-18).
Why can't we just be real with each other? Well, why can't we? We can! It starts with you, right? We can't control others, but we can certainly control ourselves. So, how about you start being real? Maybe you already are. If you are focused on being authentic with those around you (including eligible men) as well as Christlike (Romans 12:10), you will be perfectly positioned for the man who is real, who is emotionally mature and who is ready for you. He will recognize you, and when (according to God's timetable, Proverbs 16:9) he is ready and is moved to be with you, then he will do something about it.
If you are mature, discerning and working to keep it real and being honest with those around you, then I believe you will be able to attract the same type of man who is looking for a woman of your worth.
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 March 30, 2010.