Friday, February 3, 2012

Should women pursue, Part 2

The following is the rest of my answer to the question, "Is it wrong for a woman to take matters into her own hands (in her relationship with a man)?"

OK, now on to dating and who should pursue who. Here’s the deal … men are initiators, providers and protectors. Now this doesn’t mean that women have to stand in a corner and do absolutely nothing, but if women are aggressive or start pursuing the man, then I think that’s where a lot of our problems in society come from. If women are pursuing, then men don’t have to rise to the challenge. They don’t have to risk. They don’t have to be vulnerable. They can basically sit back and get what they want without having to do anything.

And maybe that seems nice to some guys at first, but over time I think they feel like they’ve been robbed of their masculinity. I think they can feel like their ability to provide/protect/initiate has been questioned, and this can lead to resentment of the woman. Because she didn’t trust him enough to let him lead, or because she is taking matters into her own hands, he can feel like he’s not even a necessary part of the relationship. He can feel used.

And his response could be expressed in a number of ways. A) He could sit back and bask in laziness (ala most sitcom men these days). B) He could become violent or abusive in order to gain control. C) He could leave the relationship because he’s not sure if he ever wanted to be there in the first place, or if he wanted it for the right reasons, etc.
So, on the other side, what happens when a woman allows the man to pursue her? First, she shows that she respects the man and appreciates/respects the gift of his masculinity. She shows that a relationship is not just about her, but that she acknowledges the need and the good of the presence of the man.

Secondly, she shows that she trusts the man, and that she trusts God – “let it be, Lord, according to Your word.” She is willing to entrust herself to God’s care and to His will, knowing that His desire for her is so much better than her own. I think it encourages her to see God as the Giver of a good relationship, instead of making a relationship her god. She is able to grow in prayer (and this is one of things that the woman is able to “do” – pray for the man to have the courage, clarity and strength to pursue a relationship, if it is God’s will).

Thirdly, in giving the man the “space” to pursue/initiate, she allows him the opportunity to determine if he is really interested in her without being manipulated. He is able to stand on a more firm foundation before risking a relationship. I think that’s a big part of it … because she doesn’t throw herself at him, he has to take more of a risk, so he wants to be sure he is doing the right thing before proceeding. If the woman is pursuing, then a man can take a relationship a lot less seriously, but if he has to put himself on the line, then he is going to give it a lot more thought, prayer and discernment. This makes for a better relationship for both the man and the woman.

Now all of this is making relationships sound like a big deal. They are! Our culture treats dating like just another random activity. So, we don’t tend to think about all of these things or consider why casual dating may not be the best training for our future vocation. So, all of this talk about giving the man “space” to discern God’s will, etc., plays into dating as being purposeful. It ties in with the idea of dating/courtship as a discernment of marriage. It doesn’t mean marriage to this person is inevitable or that it should be assumed that it will occur, but that if these two people did not believe in the possibility of God calling them to marriage, then they wouldn’t be in a relationship.

I think women can signal that they are interested, but this is done in different ways. Sometimes women do this by flaunting themselves (not good!) and sometimes they might think they are expressing their interest, but the guy has to be very in tune to pick up on her interest because it may not be super explicit/obvious. But girls can signal their interest by saying yes when the guy asks them to go out. And they can signal their interest by not hiding their interest. Some of the “signaling” can be rather subtle. Again, a lot depends on the girl. But she has a responsibility to ask herself in all of her actions/words/thoughts whether she is grasping for a relationship or receiving the possibility of the relationship.

So, should a girl ask a guy out? I strongly believe the answer should be “no.” If she does, it sets up a pattern for the future with her taking the lead, being in control, etc. And it leads the man to question why he’s in this relationship, etc. (See three points about man’s response above.) From a secular perspective, there’s a book called, “He’s Just Not That Into You” that explains that women should really wait for the man. They say that if he doesn’t ask the woman out or if he doesn’t risk something and initiate, then he’s not really interested in the girl, and she should drop her interest. They say if he doesn’t take the lead, then he’s not really interested, and so a strong relationship is out of the question unless he’s really interested. Therefore, the girl is better off being interested in someone who is really interested in her. This perspective is not only religious, though our faith plays a huge role in understanding our masculinity and femininity.

3 comments:

  1. So the double standard goes on and on and on. Believe it or not, the "lowly" and "worthless" man is also better off being interested in someone who is really interested in HIM. Only women are entitled to that?..What religion would support such a difference?

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    1. No one is saying the man is "lowly" or "worthless," nor that he doesn't deserve to date someone who is also interested in him. Men and women are different, though one is not "better" than the other. Is there a reason why for the vast majority of history men have initiated relationships with women? I think so, and I don't think this has to be degrading to men or women.

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