Swallowing Our Pride, Not Our Words
Since marriage is all about self-risking leadership, it makes sense that that’s where we need to start in dating. Guys, we need to swallow our pride, which is unwilling to risk failure or embarrassment, and then open our mouths and initiate the relationship.
What should it look like? There’s no one right formula, but it should at least include the following:
• What do you like about her?
What qualities and attributes have attracted you to her? What have you observed that makes you want to pursue this? Tell her! And don’t just focus on the romantic things that are likely to produce an emotional response. Talk to her about the biblical qualities and virtues that you’ve observed that make you think marriage is worth considering.
• What are your intentions?
If you’re serious about obeying 1 Timothy 5:2, “Treat … younger women as sisters, with absolute purity,” your intentions should not be recreational or experimental dating. You wouldn’t want someone treating your sister as a means for a little fun, would you? So if you’re not in a position to get married, you shouldn’t be having this conversation or the relationship! If you are, you don’t need to tell her that you want to marry her, but you should let her know that you want to start this relationship in order to find out.
• What’s next?
Regular dates? Getting involved in ministry together? Meeting each other’s close friends?
Give her a sense of how you intend to go about this, so she’s not left wondering the next day why you haven’t called. This might even include a sense of how long you think it will take to decide if this is leading to marriage or not. Some of you men are thinking at this point, “Wait a minute. Are you saying that all the risk is mine?” Yes I am. “Doesn’t that mean that she can just tell me no and leave me twisting in the wind?” Yes it does.
Welcome to leadership. Welcome to trusting God. Welcome to being a man.
Your cards belong on the table.
Your intentions and your feelings, to the extent that you can discern them and it is appropriate for you to share them, should be clear.
Part of your role even at this early stage is to protect the woman of your interest from unnecessary risk and vulnerability by providing a safe context in which she can respond.
Twenty years ago, when I finally worked up the courage to have the DTR, I didn’t do everything right. I wasn’t clear enough on my intentions. I certainly didn’t give her a sense of what was next. That led to problems along the way. But by God’s grace, I did risk myself. And I learned that God can be trusted, with my love life, with my manhood, with everything. All that, from just one small conversation.