Friday, June 7, 2013

Dating to dignify, part 5 of 5: Better than Houdini

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 3: "Making a move"
Part 4: "Laying out the welcome mat"

When I interviewed my single friends in preparation for this series, all of them had something to say about rejection. And they all agreed: directness and kindness dignify best.

Let's say you've met lots of young people, you've found someone who's interesting, you've gone out with them, and now you know you're not interested in a second date. 

Gents, if this is you, then tell your date, rather than performing an unexpected and altogether confusing Houdini disappearing act. This can have the last-person-picked-at-dodgeball effect.

A little over a year ago I went out with a great guy. He was a tall, handsome, successful, and kind Jesus-lover. And yet, there just wasn't chemistry between us. Our date felt flat. I was prepared to give it another go with the hope that a second date would kindle some sort of spark, but he wasn't. So he called to tell me.

He prefaced the tricky conversation by telling me the good and beautiful things he'd observed about me on our date. And then he said that, although he saw I was a good woman, he wasn't interested in anything beyond friendship. 

It was natural and sincere, and eliminated any agonizing guesswork on my end. It made me feel dignified, like he'd observed the worth of my soul and felt my worth warranted follow-through. Should I run into him again one day, it will not be awkward.

Ladies, we can take our cue from my date's approach, too. When a guy asks for a first or second date and you're not interested, be direct.

Don't ignore his texts and calls. Don't tell him you're really busy and can't go, or have prayed about it and aren't interested, or are in a season in which Jesus is your boyfriend. Don't tell him you'll go on a date, and then later retract your yes when he calls.

Instead, affirm him and be honest. Tell him some of the ways you've identified he uniquely bears God's image, and be specific. "You are funny and seem really thoughtful, but I'm not interested romantically."

Don't patronize him with pity dates. He wants you to be clear.

Ladies and gents: When a date rejects you, show them they are esteemed, even when their rejection disappoints and makes you feel silly. Show them they're not just valuable for what they have to offer you. You'll be in heaven with them forever and ever. And in the meantime, you're fighting the same fight and building the same Kingdom.

I've had men use that awkward moment after I've turned down their offer for a date to say,

"You are really lovely, Sarah, and I'm glad I met you. Thank you for your directness."

I haven't experienced anything that mitigates the humiliation of rejection as much as a man's kindness in the face of my rejection, and vice versa. 

Sure, the directness will probably always sting, and dashed hope is horrible, no matter how kind the dasher is. But who knows, in addition to dignifying the soul in front of you, your directness and intentional affirmation may allow for a friendship to blossom. The best fruit of my dating the last two years has been the friends that have come of it.

So here's to you meeting lots of people, going on lots of dates, making lots of friends, and, hopefully, finding someone special!  *raising glass of orange juice*

As you get out there and date in the coming months, let's talk about the next stages of dating at some point, shall we?! 

Because now that it's become more natural for me to meet men and either welcome or decline their interest, I find I'm grappling with stuff that goes beyond the first date, like how to be single, celibate and yet still a sexual being; and how to confront lust (and how to define and understand lust, for that matter!); and how to resolve conflict; and how to discover marriage potential; and so much more. 

I've gotten good feedback from some of you about this series. You like discussion about dating. So I'll do my best to sort through these issues now and then on here, as I continue to date. I hope you'll grapple with me. 

Until then,

Happy weekend and haaaappy dating, folks!


© by scj


  1. I love your writing, your authenticity, your insights. Your life is so encouraging to so many. Thank you for being you, Sarah.
    So many people don't realize there is one like you out there. They settle for so much less because they don't think there are options. You, my dear, are one worth waiting for, a gift to that unnamed someone in your future.

  2. Thank you for these kind words of encouragement. I read and re-read them. They made my heart smile. :)