Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Rubber Band Effect

This weekend I spent some time with some friends of mine from college and we were laughing about funny (not all were funny at the time) dating adventures we'd had.  Jo's story is great and I have to share it with you.

Jay had watched his friend Steve date Jo for a year.  Jo is is petite with big beautiful, curly hair, matching big smile, and a spirit that makes whoever she is talking to feel like they are the most important person in the room.  Lucky for Jay, Steve was crazy enough to let Jo get away.  Of course, every guy came out of the woodwork trying to get her to go out with him.  Jay played it slow and continued to be a good friend with her and ended up winning her heart.

Jay and Jo started dating when Jay was in his spring semester of his senior year of college.  He was about to go off to seminary and that summer Jay and Jo would be working at neighboring camps.  One day Jay made a comment about this only being a summer thing.  Jo wanted no part of that.  She was immediately done with Jay.  Many of us girls would have cried with him or tried to talk him into committing long term or just continued dating him hoping he would change his mind, but not Jo.   Even though she was heartbroken, she would not take his calls or see him.  She even went out on dates with other guys.  She did her best to get on with her life even though she cared so deeply for him.

By the next Christmas, Jay had realized what a huge mistake he had made and had begged her back.  They continued dating long distance and it took a toll on their relationship.  Jay sometimes spoke confidently to Jo that she was the one for him and then the next day would backpedal because he would get scared.

Jo had told Jay she did not want him to tell her that he loved her unless he was willing to say that her for the rest of his life and he understood and respected this.  During this long distance phase of their relationship, Jo had gone to visit Jay and one night he told her that he loved her.  Of course, they both knew what that meant and it was a very special night.  UNTIL, the next day when he started backpedaling again.  That was it.  Jo was done.  She would not have anymore of it.  She told him to pull over the car.  She got out and started walking to her girlfriend's house she was staying at.  Jay asked her to get back in the car.  She said no and continued on.  He told her to get back in the car.  She repeated her response.  He yelled for her to get back in the car several times.  She said firmly in her girly voice, "Jay Ferrill, you will not speak to me that way," and kept walking.  She would not take his calls and booked a flight to fly out early the next day and went to stay with her brother.

Jo of course is heartbroken.  But she also knows she can't be treated like this.  She will have to move on with her life.  For the next week he tries and tries to call, but she will not take his calls.  Finally, he drives to her and begs her to let him talk to her.  In the week they've been apart he has realized what a mistake he has made and has even called his mom for advice.  He gave her a ring with a crown of thorns on it symbolizing Christ's sacrifice for us and he tells her that he wants live his life that way for her.  She did take him back and before long they were married.  Ten or so years later they have lived the adventure of following after Christ and have five sweet children.

I love this story.  I love the courage Jo had to do what right and stand up for herself and not let herself be mistreated.  She knew she could and probably would lose Jay both those times she walked away from him, but she also knew if he wasn't willing to chase after her, it was better to know then rather than find it out later.

James Dobson calls this the rubber band effect.  When someone we really care about starts to pull away, we often will try to hold on to them tighter.  All this does is cause the one being held onto to start pushing the other away.  Sometimes the best thing you can do instead of holding onto too tight to someone is to pull back a bit and see if they will rubber band back to you.  If they don't, you have your answer.  It is always better to find out early on that someone is not right for you, rather than later.  The less time you give to the wrong people the better!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

They Date Before They Are Ready for Marriage

Mistake #19

When she was a freshman in high school Anne fell head over heels in love with her dream man and the relationship progressed quickly.  Before she knew it, sophomore year arrived and with the raging hormones it was hard to stop the kisses which led to touches which led to Anne giving her body and heart completely away to another 16 year old.  The relationship became complicated and junior year, after many ups and downs, it ended.  The heartbreak was overwhelming and it took several years for her to heal and move on.  Anne and her boyfriend were both great people.   They loved God, had great families and they were even great together.  The only problem:  The timing was wrong.
Many girls make this mistake.  They fall in love long before they are able to get married and this, almost always, leads to heartbreak.  The Bible says many times in the Song of Solomon, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it is ready.”   
Here’s the guideline:  Don’t start dating one-on-one until you could be married within the next two years. 
This does not mean you cannot hang out with guys before then – just don’t go out alone.  You can enjoy a fun night with friends and a memorable Prom with a guy.  Simply spend time with guys in groups.  Play it safe.  If you feel your heart being caught up when you are with a particular guy, do not spend as much time with him. 
Many girls fear, “What if he’s my Mr. Right and I miss my opportunity because I followed this guideline?”  If he is your Mr. Right and you are not within two years of being able to get married then know that he or someone much better will be there when the time is right!  Promise.  God has amazing plans for you and your life.  Postponing dating will not get in the way of His plans.
High school years are so much fun and your joy can be taken away by heartbreaking relationships.  Protect yourself and have fun.  Then, in a couple of years, when you are ready to find “Mr. Right” pick up this book and study!  Meanwhile, pray for your future husband. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

They Throw the Principles Away in a Long Distance Relationship

Mistake #18

India had beautiful, thick, curly hair with big, warm, brown eyes.  She made people feel special when she talked with them.  She was an amazingly selfless person.  She lived to help other people.  She didn’t just care about people who were hurting, but she would do whatever she could to relieve their pain.  Every other guy she met was in love with her.
One summer she worked at a camp for underprivileged inner-city kids.  It was this summer she met Matt.  She loved how caring and gentle he was with the kids and how much he made her and everyone else laugh.  They spent every free moment they could spare together.  The summer together was great, and real life came back too quickly.  They lived life in colleges 6 hours apart but decided they would make the best of it.  They texted all throughout the day and would often talk for several hours at night.  She loved getting to tell him all about her day each evening.  It was not long before she would hear him typing or doing something else while they talked at night.  Before she knew it, awkward silences filled their conversations.  What was going on?
India typically followed the principles we’ve introduced in the previous chapters, but found herself in exceptional situations.  At camp, reality was suspended so the principles didn’t have to be applied, or so she thought!  Once back in real life their relationship was long distance and she thought there was no way to follow the principles.
Girls often make these mistakes in long distance relationships.
1.      She is too available.  The guy has access to her any time of day.
2.      He doesn’t have to ask her on a date. He has a standing appointment with her every night by default.
3.      He doesn’t have to work to find out more about her.  She lays it all out for him.

We’re not saying long distance is easy.  But you CANNOT throw the principles away JUST because you are far away from the guy!

When things are long distance, remember these principles:
1.      Follow the mirror rule.  Don’t respond any sooner or longer in regards to messages.
2.      Be Where You Are Principle.  If he calls or texts while you are doing something or are with other people, get back with him later.  Remember you are a woman in demand that has a lot going on; you are not available at his every whim.  Let him wonder what you are doing and why you aren’t getting back with him right away.
3.      He still has to ask for dates.  Don’t have conversations with him through the phone, Skype, or texting for more than ten minutes.  Let him want more of you and have to actually ask to schedule time with you on the phone.  It is very easy to say, “It’s been so much fun talking to you, but I have so much to do.  You can call me again sometime.”  When he complains that you have to go already, you can say, “I know, I’d love to go on a phone date with you so we can talk longer sometime, you just have to ask.” 
4.      Be creative.  As time goes on you can be creative with your dates.  You can both look at the stars together or eat the same meal together while you Skype.  Be creative and have fun with it!  None of these ideas can compete with being together, but enjoy what you do have.
5.      Give him the appropriate amount of time.  If you are at an early stage, limit yourself to no more than two phone or Skype dates a week.  Follow the same time allowances you would if you were in the same town dating.  (Review our post from June called They Are Too Available.)

Long distance is not an excuse to let a guy have unlimited access to you.  Even if you are long distance, you are still a woman with a full, fun life.  Let him work hard to be part of that life instead of wondering how he can maneuver himself out of it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

They Do Not Listen to Friends and Family

Mistake #17

Isabel was a sweet and quiet girl, yet she was not shy.  She wasn’t a flirt with every guy, but she knew how to flirt enough to get a guy's attention.  She could take on any task and get it done well a day before the deadline.  People admired her competence and quiet confidence. 
Like so many girls the problem was not getting a man interested in her, but what happened after he was interested.  In time it became clear to the people who loved Isabel that this was not the guy for her, but because she hardly hung out with these people without her boyfriend, they never had a chance to tell her what they were seeing.  If they were bold enough to make an opportunity to warn her, Isabel was majorly offended.  How could they say this about her boyfriend?  What right did they have?! 
Proverbs 15:22 (NIV) says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” 
The truth is we need to utilize our family and friends for the wisdom and life experience they have.   We need friends who love and follow after God to help us to make wise decisions about who we continue to date and eventually marry.  Girls often underutilize their families.  Here are ways to take advantage of the wisdom you have in the people who care about you most:
·         Spend time around other people together.  If you decide to continue dating someone, it should not be uncommon for the two of you to hang out with other people including friends and family.  This is a good opportunity for them to meet this person and later share with you what is great about this guy and what might be areas of concern. It is also helpful for you to see how he treats and interacts with other people.  If he is dating you, he is likely treating you like royalty, but you want to see how he is with other people.  As a side note, it is especially helpful to see him in a situation with people he can gain nothing from.  How he treats “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) such as the poor, young, old, socially awkward, etc. will tell you volumes about his character.
·         Listen to happy couples.  If you have people in your life who are in good marriages, they are the perfect people to get feedback from on what they think about this guy.
·         Listen to your parents.  Your parents love you like no one else and have lived longer and seen more than you.  You should take every bit of wisdom from them you can.  We know that some of you have parents who have values you don’t agree with.  We are not saying you are bound to do what they say (assuming you are an adult), but you do have to honor them by listening to them respectfully.   After you have heard them, pray and ask God to reveal to you what is truth in what they have said.

Many people are hesitant to bring someone they are only casually dating around friends and family because of how their friends and family may behave.  If this is the case, go to these people ahead of time and let them know that you value their opinion about the kind of man you should date and marry because they love and know you better than anyone else.  This being the case, you need them to be casual and act like it is no big deal for you to bring a guy around.  Why would it be, you are a woman in demand and go out with lots of different guys?!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

They Worry About What Other People Think

Mistake #16

As a personal trainer at a gym, Fatima gets attention from men.  In the process of writing this blog she was part of a focus group where she commented, “The thing is, if you go on one date with a single guy who is part of our 5,000 member church, then soon people are asking ‘so, when is the wedding?’”  The other girls agreed.  They talked for a long time about how they feel like they have to KNOW they are interested in a guy before they go on a casual date because of the assumptions of the people around them.  Their parents will be too excited, everyone will be questioning them and the other guys will consider them off the market.  Enough excuses!  Forget about what other people think.  It’s not important.  Here are your guidelines.
·         Get it right in your mind.  There is NOTHING wrong with a casual cup of coffee.  There is NOTHING wrong with a guy buying you dinner.  There is NOTHING wrong with accepting dates from 3 different guys over the same weekend!  If you keep it casual and fun then there is NOTHING wrong with going on one, three even twelve dates with the same guy and deciding that you don’t want to further pursue a deeper relationship. This is a fun stage!  Getting to know new people is exciting and great practice for the moment when Mr. Right finally comes around!  Enjoy it!
·         Prepare your responses.  Now, you have to get ready for those crazy comments from the loving (and sometimes just nosey) audience members who feel the need to comment on every area of your intriguing and interesting life!  When they offer advice just respond with a genuine smile and warm tone, “Thanks.  I’ll keep that in mind.”  And the truth is that the advice may be good.  If they make a comment, with an insinuating tone, like, “I hear you are dating Mikey.”  Just say, “Well, we had a casual cup of coffee (or a casual dinner) but it’s nothing serious.”  Smile and move the conversation on.  Play it cool and they will too!  If they make condemning remarks just let it slide and forget about it.  It’s not worth worrying about. 

Remember:   Just have fun!!!  Forget about what other people are thinking.  Forget about their comments.  Enjoy this time!  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

They Do Not Expect Respect

Mistake #15

Mirabelle naturally related well to guys.  She was rarely without a boyfriend and once she had a boyfriend she was all in.  They spent most of their free time together and she seldom did things with just her girlfriends or the clubs she was involved in.  If he wasn’t doing it, she wasn’t doing it.  On top of that, she would put up with more and more lack of respect.  Sometimes he said he was going to pick her up at 6 and did not show until 7:30.  Other times he made plans with her, but when the guys planned something better he canceled.  Sometimes he even went through doors first and did not hold the door for her.  If they spent time together, she had to make the plans. 

Of course, there are deeper issues as to why a girl puts up with this treatment.  Maybe this kind of behavior was what was modeled at home, or maybe she doesn’t think she can do any better.  If this is you, we recommend you start a Bible study on who you are as a child of God.  (See Appendix C.)
Here are some practical things to do to gently demonstrate that you expect respect:
1.      Be less available.  We discuss this in Chapter 2.  If Mirabelle puts the principles in place that we talk about in Chapter 2, many of these issues will quickly be resolved.
2.      Make new plans.  If it is 30 minutes after he was supposed to pick you up and he hasn’t called, make new plans and go do them.  When he asks you about it, you can graciously (not sarcastically) explain that when he didn’t show up, you figured you had gotten the day wrong and had made new plans.  If he tracks you down in your new plans and wants you to go on the date with him, stick with the new plans and say, “I’d love to hang out sometime but I’ve already made other plans!”  You will rarely encounter this situation though if you are following the “Be Where You Are” principle explained in Chapter 2.
3.      Drop him and move on.  If he drops plans with you for something that is less than once in a lifetime, you need to move on.  He doesn’t really like you enough for you to waste your heart on him.  It’s possible that time will pass and he will realize he has made a mistake.  If that is the case, make him start at the beginning with you and win you all over again.  In the meantime, you need to move on.  For great ideas on how to get over him refer to Appendix A.
4.      Let him serve you.  If you want a man who holds doors for you, you need to stop, wait and let him open it.  Sit in the car and wait for him to come open your door for you.  It won’t take him long to get out of the car and realize that you are still sitting in the car waiting for him to open your door.  If something is heavy, ask him to carry it for you.  If he offers to help you with something, let him.  Men want to be a knight in shining armor and you want a gentleman, so give him the opportunity to act like one and let him be chivalrous. 
5.      Stop making plans.  If he wants to be with you, he will do something about it.  He will pick up a phone and call, or he will stop by and see you and ask for a date.  If he doesn’t do something to make plans with you, you can move on without letting your heart get any more involved with this person.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

They Talk About the Future Too Soon

Mistake #14

Kate was a detail person.  She liked to have everything planned out well in advance with several contingency plans.  This was one of her greatest gifts.  It served her well in school and her jobs.  People knew they could trust her to do things right.  When it came to dating, Kate also liked to have things nice and tidy.  Once she finally decided she liked someone, she just about had the wedding date and reception seating arrangement planned.  She wasn’t foolish enough to tell her crush this, but the thoughts were there.  If she did end up dating someone, within a few weeks she couldn’t restrain herself from hinting about the future.  Kate had it together and guys really liked her, but her relationships never lasted more than few months, because inadvertently, she made guys feel like they were getting their foot caught in a steel trap that wouldn’t let go.

Girls, I am not telling you not to think about the future.  You can’t help but think about the future, especially if you are considering adding someone in particular to your future.  What I am saying is don’t dwell on the future.  Don’t camp out there.  Don’t spend all your time with your girlfriends talking about it.  Be intentional about occupying your mind with other things.

There are two reasons for this:

·         Reason #1: You set yourself up to be hurt by getting your heart set on a particular future prematurely.  Obviously, there is a time to think about the future, but remember to wait for the right time.  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. . .a time to embrace and a time to refrain, . . .a time to be silent and a time to speak,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-7)  If he is not bringing up the future, it’s not time yet.  It’s fun to be wanted, so let yourself be pursued!  Christ pursues his bride, the Church; let your Mr. Right pursue you.

·         Reason #2: If you talk about the future before he is ready, you will scare him off.  My dog loves to walk close to me, but the moment I put a leash on him he pulls to get off.  He wants to walk next to me by his choice instead of feeling tied to me.  I know I shouldn’t compare guys to dogs, but the reality is that it is easy for them to feel the walls closing in on them when a girl starts mentioning the future before he is ready.  When the walls start closing in, guys will bail before they get trapped. 

It is hard to stop planning for the future.  Here are some tips to help.

1.      Take every thought captive.  It is a choice you make whether or not to dwell on those thoughts.  When you find your mind wandering to the future prematurely, redirect your mind to something else.  
2.      Meditate on a Bible verse.  Some of my best verse memory times have come from being intentional about not dwelling on something in particular.
3.      Refrain from talking about future specifics with him until you are engaged. 
·         If he brings it up, you may talk about your specific future as an individual and his specific future as an individual. 
For example:
o   “If I get married one day, I want to be able to work from home and stay with my kids.”
o   “When I have a family I want to take annual vacations.”
o   “I’ve always wanted to live in Europe.” 

·         You may not talk about a shared future. 
Don’t say:
o   “When we get married, I want to stay home with our babies.”
o   “I can’t wait to go on family vacations with you every summer.”
o   “We should go to Europe and scope out the perfect location for our dream home.”  
Enjoy getting to know someone and being pursued.  You can’t enjoy the present if you are consumed with the future.