What You Win Them With.... (For all the single ladies)

Today's guest blog is written by my assistant, Emily Duffey. Emily is a counselor trainee and is about to take her counseling and theology exams. She is single, and has some fantastic thoughts for other single women. I know you will be blest. 
“What you win them with is what you keep them with.” How many of you single ladies have/had a list of the “perfect” man you are looking for one day? You know those lists . . .  “Dark hair/blue eyes/ smile that makes me melt/ good kisser (that’s what everybody’s list says, right?) / good listener/Christian” (like how the list ends? Oh, priorities…). Even if your list is packed FULL of God-honoring motives, it is still easy to become list-oriented instead of Christ-oriented.

I often find myself saying, “Dating shouldn’t BE this hard!” It is as though there are hoops to jump through, the correct prayer to utter while jumping on one foot, all while balancing a Bible on your head. Often, though, the difficulty lies behind the deception we put out there as our “true” selves in hopes of snaring a guy.

When dating, the individuals put their best foot forward at all times—the woman wears the cute clothes, does her hair, wears the makeup (NEVER would she go on a date without ‘prettying herself up’ first!), and flirts like crazy with the guy in order to get him to like her.  He likes video games? All of a sudden, so does she… he likes having a pretty girl on his arm? Then she will strive to be the prettiest one around. The guy is much the same—he will carry her purse, take her shopping, listen to her advice on his wardrobe and buy that “favorite” shirt—and wears it!... all because it makes her happy… all in hopes of obtaining that goodnight kiss (or more) at the end of the evening. 

Fast forward the picture— the “perfect” couple gets married. All of a sudden his affinity for gaming is important again; she trades in her short skirt and Louie Vuitton’s for sweats and flip flops; his “favorite” new shirt is now at the bottom of the dresser drawer in a wad, and her makeup is a nuisance. He wonders where the gorgeous gal who liked to pick up the remote control and play a video game with him went; she wonders where her knight in shining armor who would do anything for her went. Both are miserable. Both have to learn each other all over again—and both have to actually like the other person with these new complexities added to the relationship.

There is a myriad of sin to be dealt with here. However, in the midst of this, both people forgot a little detail: “What you win them with is what you keep them with.”

I heard this said in reference to marriage not too long ago. Couples come in for marriage counseling, and may be bewildered as to why their marriage is in the state that it is in.  He complains she doesn’t bother to take care of herself, she’s self-centered, nags all the time, and is keeping herself from him in the bedroom. She complains he never wants to spend time with her, is more interested in his gaming console than her, and only pays attention to her when he wants sex. Both are miserable, and neither of them claims to understand what happened to their marriage.  Basically, they won each other over with lies and deception; they were devastated to learn the actual truth.

Now, as a single woman, I started thinking about this phrase, and tweaked it a bit in my thinking. It has changed my approach with men.  I started asking myself, “What do I want to keep him with?” Romans 8:5 says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” This verse is an excellent reminder of where to focus our thinking when considering this.

What are the most important things, the things that I want to be a part of my future marriage? All of a sudden, “Christian” moves from the tagged on criteria to the number one priority. More than that, I’m looking for a godly man who is growing in his relationship with Christ—someone I can grow with . . . someone who is willing to lead his family in a Christ-honoring manner one day (Phil. 1:27).

It has become important to do things with a guy that I actually like to do—not things I will do to gain his approval. For example, I can enjoy a video game with the best of them—in moderation. I am not a gamer. I enjoy hiking, but I am more inclined for a mile adventure at a leisurely pace, not a 10 mile hike uphill both ways requiring military grade climbing equipment. Don’t fake interest to appease a man! To do so would violate Philippians 2:3–4, which says to “[d]o nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”       
I want to be told the truth—so I aim to be truthful in my communication. Starting off with strong communication builds a relationship built on rapport, trust, and honesty. You want to be able to communicate well while dating--it only gets more complicated! 

I believe sexual intimacy is to be for married individuals in a covenanted relationship; therefore, I do not want to cross that line before I am married. I have heard the question repeatedly asked, “how far is too far?” All I know is that when that ball starts rolling, God never intended you to stop. Don’t put yourself into a position where you have to force yourself to stop (Sgs 2:7). If you’re asking how far you can go before marriage, you need to ask yourself if your focus and goal is to honor Christ in those moments more than it is to appease self. Sexual purity does not need to be compromised to gain a man’s favor. When expressed within a marriage covenant, it is a beautiful and God honoring act—when perverted and tainted, the preciousness is lost.

I want to protect his integrity as much as my own; therefore, I will not dress in a way that will cause him to stumble or struggle. Obviously, when on a date, I’ll dress the part—I’ll aim to look attractive in a God honoring way. The best place to judge your outfit is before each date begins—what are you trying to communicate? Who are you honoring? Does your clothing show your inner beauty, or flaunt the physical? If the physical is all you are after, you have earned your reward (Matt. 6:21).

Continuing with that theme, when married, it’s a good idea to keep that trend up—don’t stop taking care of physical appearances! It’s okay to wear sweats and flip flops once in a while . . . but remember to wear the cute clothes and put on the lip gloss, too! Yet if you are not willing to dress up for a night out in the same type of clothing you wore while dating because it would be inappropriate, you probably wore the wrong kind of clothing on the dates in the first place. The same principle goes for the guys, as well—if you wore nice clothing and spiffed up for a date, don’t trade in the nice clothes for the ratty jeans and forget how to take a shower once you’re married!

In short, what I want to “keep” him with are the things that glorify God. In like manner, I am to “win” him with the things that glorify God as well (1 Cor. 10:31). Remember your integrity—be honest and truthful from the start. Fear God—honor one another—and enjoy the process. Dating isn’t that hard when you start with truthfulness and go from there.