We talk all the time about wanting men to pursue us, but nobody wants to be stalked. What does it mean to pursue and be pursued? Why should men pursue? How would you prefer that a man pursue you? How would you respond to pursuing behavior? Link up with Lindsay and Rachel!
For our first wedding reading, PJ and I picked out the suggested selection from the book Song of Songs, which includes verses 2:8-10, 14, 16a, a beautiful scene of pursuit. Many interpret the whole book as an allegory for Christ’s love of His bride, the Church. I’ve also heard that if the Bible is the story of God’s love for His people, the New Testament is sacrificial love and the Old Testament, where this dear book lives, is a passionate love–God is wooing His people. I also love what the USCCB has to say about it in their Introduction: “It frequently proclaims a joyous reciprocity between the lovers and highlights the active role of the female partner.” That line is essentially the gist of my feelings about pursuit in the dating world.
When I was in my early dating years, I thought pursuit should be obvious (but not creepy) and done in contexts that were actually inappropriate. For example, I’d whine to friends that the cute guys at Mass never turned around to say hello, never came over to my table at the donut social, etc. Said friends buzzed in my head one of two different pieces of advice: the guys would remind me of what I’d been told in college: primarily, that guys were shy/could have the same confidence issues/wanted to win, so unless they felt they had a 100% chance they wouldn’t get shot down, they wouldn’t approach me. The other tidbit was that maybe I should say hello as exiting the pews or I should walk up to the donut table. The answer, it took me many years to come to, is that it’s a little of both, and a lot in between.
Pursuit was not obvious to me. After a few months in a big social group, a guy started offering to do simple things or meet up. It wasn’t clear to me what he was doing because I had come from an environment where guys only asked about meeting at the mall to shop for his mom’s birthday present because you were friends; if they wanted to date you, they asked you out–there was no ambiguity. It finally took an awkward exchange over email(!) for me to suss out from the dear fellow that his suggestion of a movie was a date to get to know me better. Suddenly it all clicked. I was not interested in getting to know him on that level and had unknowingly done the right thing: said no. If I had been interested, and what I started to do when responding to online dating messages, I did the right thing: saying yes.
Of course with hindsight, I now see the answer is very simple. If you want a man to pursue you, you say yes–yes to the explicit offer of a date, yes to the car ride home after Bible Study that he has offered only you, and even more subtle yeses to more subtle attempts at pursuit: a yes with your eyes or smile if either of his catches yours across the room, a yes to “is this seat free,” etc. The kicker is that I believe it’s okay to show reciprocity (the yes) but also to take an active role. When my husband and I first started messaging, there was less the traditional pursuit and me doing nothing to move the relationship along, but more subtle actions on his part. I took days, even weeks to get back to him in the early days, but he persisted, not willing to let me go. When we finally did meet, he wooed me: crafting a date in Boston that centered on my love for antiquarian books; on our third date, he gave me a little gift (like flowers). He pursued my heart, and I said yes, and I will for the rest of my life.
Some basic rules for guys: yes, initiate conversations with a woman at the Theology on Tap, but don’t follow her to her bus stop at night when you don’t even know her; buff up on body and tone language so you can read whether it’s appropriate to ask her on a date within 15 minutes of knowing her. It might increase your odds if you’re casting as wide a net as possible, but it certainly won’t make her feel like you consider her a special individual. And about the car ride home thing, I once was in a group in which a couple of guys said they wanted to do the ride home thing as a way of showing favor/a way to pursue only the women they liked. Do not do not do not treat your sisters’ in Christ safety as a special treat. Find another way to demonstrate partiality. The odds are great that there will be a few in the group who just don’t happen to be any of the guys’ type who will never get a break from their public transit commute. Your odds of getting women to like you increase if you are considerate of the others.
Finally, and I feel I have to be blunt: Don’t worry so much about who’s pursing who, who made the first move. If you like each other, you get together, and discern God is leading you toward one another, it will not matter in the end. Take an active role, joyously reciprocate, and romance each other the way God has romanced us.
Come back Friday for a special giveaway opportunity!