I was chatting with my friend Debbie, who is one of these red-headed tell-you-what-is-on-her-mind kind of people whether you want to hear it or not. I asked her what she thought about some of the ideas behind Joshua Harris’s book I Kissed Dating Goodbye and happened to mention, “I am not sure why I never read it back when it came out years ago.” She turns to me with that sparkle in her eye, and says “Well Jason, that was probably because you were not as desperate as you are today.”
Whoa – ouch!
Remember, jokes aren’t funny unless they have a little bit of truth to them. I did laugh at her comment and my situation. I remembered the quote “Those that can laugh at themselves will frequently be amused.” I was amused enough to share it.
It is very true: I am a bachelor. Thanks to just how life turned out for my measly 30 years, I actually have never really ‘dated’ anyone – so I guess I was accidentally ahead of the curve on Harris’s book. But please understand, I was not actively avoiding ‘going steady’ or ‘having a girlfriend’ like Harris encourages. Quite the contrary, actually with my natural propensity to get a ‘crush’ easily. I pursued several avenues over the years in my normal over-the-top manner that never went any farther than interest. I believe God knew I needed to grow up.
Growing up is hard: I have had all kinds of naïve and silly ideas about dating. I remember in 6th grade, there was this really cute girl that we wrote little notes to each other – her best friends became the go-betweens. At some point, I think even one of those ‘Do you like me?’ notes with the check boxes were produced. It ended up fizzling, but what in the world was I going to do if we had decided to ‘go out’ or ‘be a couple’. We were 12 or 13. It was all silliness.
Back in 2010, I thought the silliness finally came to an end. After commiserating with my sister Sierra one weekend, I came up with a term called ‘THE easyDATE’. To me, it was a revolutionary method of getting rid of all the crazy thoughts and preparation and hassle surrounding going out on a single date that I heard a teacher of mine, Gary Antion, constantly talk about. And then about a year ago, I realized I had no idea what to do after going on these easyDATE’s for a couple of years. What is the next step?
What I didn’t realize several years ago until reading Harris’s book, was that the problem I had with dating had to do with how wrapped up we get in the romance side of things. And by ‘we’, I mean, ‘I’. I am in love with love. Romance too early was the problem. Getting all wrapped up in feelings, and allowing that to become the basis for the relationship is the issue. There was an imbalance between romance and friendship.
Harris quotes C.S. Lewis in saying the difference is this:
“We picture lovers face to face, [their eyes locked on each other,] but friends side by side; their eyes look ahead [to a common point].” IKDG, p 132
Harris elsewhere explains the difference in a different way:
“In dating, the romantic attraction is often the cornerstone of the relationship. The premise of dating is ‘I am attracted’, therefore let’s get to know each other. The premise of friendship is a common interest, therefore let’s enjoy it together.” IKDG, p 39, paraphrased.
I think this is why I enjoyed the ideas behind I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I felt like I was re-living and re-realizing all the thoughts I had over the past 10 years, but this time in an organized, succinct way. Joshua Harris wrote a book to tackle those thoughts and kissed the ideas of romantic, exclusive dating behind. I, likewise, produced a video to try to introduce a different kind of dating, and then went on lots of them. But after a few years, we both realized we didn’t know what was next.
In Harris’s own words:
“The main point of I Kissed Dating Goodbye was “If you are not ready for marriage, wait on romance.” But now my fellow singles were asking, “How can you know when you are ready for marriage? And once you’re ready, what should you do?” To be honest, I hadn’t figured that out yet. I never meant to become an expert on relationships. The questions my readers were asking were the same ones weighing on my heart.” – IKDG, p. 212
Talk about a puzzle to solve!
The next step I will likely learn as the man is how to pursue a woman, if the opportunity arises. The trick is to do it without being creepy, in a way that leads to what some have called courtship. Pursuit, according to the recent poll I took below, was the number one item that needed to be worked on, especially with us backwards Church of God guys. But pursuing is a game of balance.
I talked with my friend Tom about this interesting idea of pursuit without appearing creepy and desperate as us singles sometimes have a tendency to do. He said this piece of wisdom about his own experience in pursuing the woman that became his wife:
“The difference between pursuit and desperation is invitation.” Tom Bulharowski
So for you guys, grow your circle of friends and cautiously look for invitation. Please don’t hop right into talking about marriage – that is exactly why some call single’s activities ‘meat markets’. And ladies, please help us poor guys out with a little invitation once God puts on your heart the time is right. Us guys are generally a little lacking on the skill of picking up signs, so it might necessitate a little directness, in a charming way.
I finally finished the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I am realizing that I am actually enjoying this phase in life called singleness. I do love the ideas of love – and realize that I am prone to be dangerous. But if God works with us, who knows what might happen – He might actually write a love story for each of us singles.
I will close with these words from Harris’s book – that unfortunately are too true:
“Though its hard to imagine, someday I’ll tell my children the story I’m writing with my life today. But that realization does little to save me from the puzzling maze called now. ‘History never looks like history when you’re living through it,’ says John Gardner, ‘it always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable.’
As I stand on this side of matrimony, with no potential mate in sight, I’m right in the middle of messiness and confusion.
… Someday, when I am older and wiser I’ll sit back and tell my story to someone who will listen … I’ll probably tell some young fool the same thing I get so tired of hearing from others. I’ll tell [them] to bide [their] time, ‘for it’s sure to work out in the end.’ And of course, ‘you can’t rush these things.'” IKDG, p 207