Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dating to dignify, part 3 of 5: Making a move

This year I've interviewed dozens of my single Christian friends about dating. I've taken their ideas about the best ways to navigate the initial stage of a dating — getting a first date and moving past it —  and have compiled them in this blog series. 

Check out:

Part 1: "No more dodgeball"
Part 2: "Get a social life that benefits your dating life"

Alright, gents. Her smile is dazzling. Her dimples make your heart skip a beat. She's adventurous — she gets a kick out of rushing down a mountain on a flimsy board, she eats spam for dinner sometimes, and she's even traveled to Dijibouti. Yeah, that place exists. Her hair, gosh, you wonder how soft it feels. And yes, you heard right: she just used a five-syllable word.

So ask her out, man! And if for some reason you're not absolutely sure about her, no problem. Don't not ask her out because you're afraid of taking her out and then not being able to reciprocate her continued interest. We know unrequited interest is part of dating, and we're prepared for it. (More on "rejection" on Friday). We'd rather you took a chance on us to do discovery, then to preclude discovery altogether.

And when you do ask us out, there is just one consideration my lady friends and I have for you:

1. Make your intentions clear. We love it when you're clear about your intentions, both when you're asking us out on a first date and when you're hoping for a second date. Here's what this looks like:

A. Before the date:

We like it if you avoid saying,

"Want to get coffee sometime?"


"We should grab dinner."


"Want to hang out?" 

These approaches can be confusing. It's hard to tell from the verbiage if you're interested in a date, or are looking for a friendlationship.

(Friendlationships are friendships that contain some sort of romantic interest but never progress toward dating because one party wants the emotional income of the relationship without a willingness to commit.)

The last couple of years God has been teaching me humility, or a right understanding of who we are in relation to God. When we're humble, we see how small and weak we are next to God and how valuable we are because of his love for us and his image in us. So that the fruit of humility is seeing things the way God does— the way they actually are. 

I've been learning that dating is an opportunity to grow in humility. Not only does it require deep trust in the goodness and sovereignty of a big God, but it also requires that we treat each other as image-bearers of God. This might look like genuinely praising the God-reflecting goodness and beauty that God has bestowed upon the woman you'd like to take out. She'll sense your admiration is genuine, and it'll make her soul smile. It will help her to see herself the way God does.

So if you think she's pretty great, then let her know! A year and a half ago a man I admired asked me out to lunch in a way that made me feel really valuable.

"You seem like a remarkable woman," he said, "and I'd like to get to know you better."


His compliment wasn't over-the-top — it didn't come close to smacking of flattery — because he was sincere. And his sincere, direct declaration affirmed my worth. His intentionality also ignited in me a desire to be equally intentional with him. 

He and I didn't end up going on a second date, but his intentionality made it really easy for us to transition into a friendship. And my soul still smiles when I remember his kind words. 

In addition to clarifying your interest, it's also helpful if you clarify that you're treating. We like it when you treat. It makes us feel lovely and cared for.

It's helpful when you say things like,

"Can I buy you a cup of coffee sometime?"


"Can I take you to dinner this weekend?"


"Want to grab lunch this week? My treat!"

If your romance is unfolding over the internet then it's still helpful if you make your intentions clear. Many women have trouble assuming that weeks or months of correspondence indicate interest on your end because many of us have had experiences in which men wrote us out of boredom or partial interest (again, the friendlationship is often the culprit).

So if you find yourself shooting emails back in forth for weeks that turn into months, then clarify your intentions, whether they're romantic or merely friendly. This is one of the manliest things a guy can do. And yeah, it scores major points.

A note for the ladies: If a guy doesn't make it clear that he's asking you on a date, then ask him, "Are you asking me on a date?" If you're not interested in going on a date, then phrase your clarification like this,

"I'm not sure if you're asking me on a date, but if you are I'm not interested."

This helps him to be more direct, which allows you to be direct in your response.

And guys, be equally direct and honest in your response. If you were interested in a date, then tell her, even in the face of her rejection.

Directness dignifies. It's like a guardrail along a cliff establishing safety for both parties to develop trust and affection with a clearer sense of purpose and freedom for the relationship.

B. After the date:

If you liked it and want another one, then tell us before the date is over. And after we've parted ways, shoot us a text reiterating how much you enjoyed our company. Call us a few days later to ask for date numero dos, and weeee're golden!

When you risk disappointing rejection in order to clarify your intentions with us, you show us the worth of our souls. You communicate that affirming our worth is more important than avoiding disappointment or saving face. 

This helps to teach us humility — it helps to assuage our insecurities, and teaches us our value. 

And if you're not absolutely, 100% positive that you're into a gal, that's okay. You can still ask her out for a second date. Just be sure that the way you invest in her emotionally and physically reflects your uncertainty (this deserves a post of its own at some point, I think).

And as you date her to do discovery, if she seems more confident about quickly moving forward than you do, then you may want to tell her honestly where you're at. It'll help her to adjust her expectations and be wise in the way she invests emotionally. 

Whatever the case, follow through when you say you will. Be consistent. Show us you're willing to risk rejection in order to make make us feel valuable. This sort of intentionality is a a step toward establishing trust. And I assure you, nothing is more attractive or manly.

Ladies, come back tomorrow, because tomorrow's post is for you.

© by scj


  1. Great post Sarah, thanks!

  2. Oh, this takes me back to college and the dreaded DTR (Defining the Relationship). They seemed *so* scary, but after having what *I* thought was a friendship blow up in my face as *he* thought we were actually dating (I knew he was interested, but he *never* asked me out, and we never did anything intentional except "hang out" on campus), I came to appreciate the honesty and humility that came from a man willing to risk it by talking things through and making sure we were on the same page in all aspects of moving forward in the relationship one way or the other.

    First DTR was super, super scary, and I tried to avoid it. Second was was scary simply because we both felt called to examine this as a lifetime partnership further. After that, each was lovely and made me feel so respected and cared for the entire time. Yes, that man was Gryphon. :-) As you can see, 3 months of friendship, 13 months of dating, 14 months of engagement, and 15 years of marriage later, those honest talks and risking humiliation on both parts was well worth it. :-)

    1. Sharalyn,

      I remember much talk of the dreaded DTR in college. I managed to avoid them. By not dating. :) One of the things I love about a man being clear and direct from the get-go is that it doesn't make the DTR a scary and dreadful conversation. When a couple is clear about intentions and interest along the way, then there doesn't need to be an unnatural, awkward DTR. It's just a natural extension of what's already been talked about.

      I love that you and Gryphon have such a consistent history of honesty and intentionality. You go, guys!!

      Thanks for sharing, S.