It was the third time she had
called me in the last 24 hours about what to wear.
"I've decided on dress pants and that print top I got at
Banana Republic, you know, the one I wore to…."
"That sounds perfect!" I told her
(the same response, by the way, I had given to the previous two outfits she had
pulled out of her closet). After we had discussed jewelry, accessories, and
whether she should straighten her hair or wear it naturally curly, all that was
left was for me to offer a few final words of encouragement before she hung up
and began getting ready for the "big event".
A few days earlier a single and
solidly-Catholic guy had invited one of my girlfriends out for coffee. My
friend had had her eye on this particular gentleman, and understandably so,
since they were first introduced some months earlier. He had finally shown
enough interest to ask her out for coffee, and to say my girlfriend was looking
forward to this particular cup of joe is an acute understatement.
When my friend called me to share
the news about her coffee invite, I could almost hear the thoughts hammering
around in her head:
Is this a date? No, it's just coffee….Right? We're just
friends getting together. This is a good chance to get to know each other
better….Right? Or do you think he meant something more? Is it a coincidence
he invited me out for coffee instead of out for a full meal? Am I reading too
much into this…or not enough?"
I realize my girlfriend's behavior
may seem a little over the top, but I can honestly say I don't blame her. We
single folks wait so long for someone to come along who meshes with our
personality on the important areas of compatibility and attraction and a host
of other things. Added to our wish list, as Catholic
singles, is the desire to meet someone who also shares our Faith and moral
foundation. That's a tall order in today's world! Hence, when we encounter
someone who appears to measure up to a lot of what we're looking for – and also happens to be single! – it's
nearly impossible not to think about potentials and possibilities.
However (you knew there'd have to
be a "but" in here somewhere), I also think a caution is in order for all of us
singles who may have a tendency to invest too much emotional and mental energy
in first meetings or even first dates.
I hate to pick on my own gender,
but we ladies have a particular tendency to jump rather quickly and prematurely
into escalated emotions and long-term planning if we think a potential relationship
is on the horizon. Several years ago I heard the results of a dating poll that
polled a large group of single women of varying ages. One hundred percent of the women polled admitted to doing the same
thing every time they went on a first date: mentally trying out their first
name with the guy's last name. Honestly, gentleman, I'm not sure us single
women can help it! Catholic ladies ultimately desire the sacrament of marriage,
not a Sex in the City-type casual
fling; hence when our radar picks up marriage material, it's doubly hard for us
not to let our hearts skip a few extra beats.
Guys can often pick up on female
signals much faster than some of us ladies might realize. A gentleman friend
told me recently that when he takes a woman out on a first date, he can tell in
seconds if she is mentally planning their future already. While this excitement
about future possibilities is natural and wonderful, getting caught up in it
prematurely can also backfire in a budding friendship, especially if it's perceived
Beware of Undue Pressure
Most men, when they are interested
in a woman, want their interest to be taken at face value. If they've asked a
girl out for coffee, drinks, or dessert, that probably means they are
interested in getting to know the girl better, but might not be ready for a
formal "date", and they are definitely
not ready to propose or watch her walk down the aisle.
On a first date, if a guy feels
that the girl is naming their children and deciding what flowers and veggies
will go in their garden, he's most likely going to say goodnight and not call back
the next day. That kind of pressure is neither fun nor fair to place on a man's
budding interest in a woman.
The converse is also true: a woman
doesn't want to sip her caramel macchiato and feel like the guy is picking out
honeymoon destinations in his head instead of listening to her share about her
job and hobbies. It's too much too soon and definitely too much pressure.
Give Men the Chance to be Men
I've often heard single women
complain that the single guys around them never take initiative or never ask
them out. Sometimes these women have a point, but I also blame my own sex for
much of the problem. If single women today take it upon themselves to
initiate, plan, and prod their way into a relationship, then men will never
have the chance to take back their God-given role to initiate, lead, and
protect. Ladies, we must trust God, trust our brothers in Christ, and trust our
future spouses enough to have a docile spirit when it comes to that first date:
let's give men the opportunity to treat us like the priceless gems that we are
in the eyes of our King. Let's learn to respect their integrity, and be
confident that they'll know if and when it's time to initiate a more serious
Men also need the breathing space
to initiate a relationship at their own pace. They may need time to think, pray
and discern as they get to know a women. By no means does this mean that a guy
should string a girl on for unreasonable periods of time, but it does mean that after an initial "coffee
date" the guy should not be expected to call, text, and email the woman a couple
dozen times the following day.
Learning to Chill
I am sure most of us single people are guilty of
being premature in our emotional investment in a potential relationship, at
least a time or two. My prayer for all of us is that we will, with God's help,
learn to "chill" a little bit more – to take life and the daily experiences God
gives us at a little more relaxed and calm pace. Then, when someone calls to
invite us out for coffee, we'll be able to let coffee be coffee and wait on
God's timing for something more.