I’m no expert in love. You may have heard my songs about my attempts over the years. I’m 27 and I’m still not married. To some of you that doesn’t sound old, to others that may sound way too long to have been single. Either way, I didn’t bolt out of college right to the altar of matrimony so I can relate to many of the single folks out there. Every question you’ve wondered, I’ve likely already asked it myself.
I don’t aim to give you flawless, foolproof advice, just some insight of what I have developed over the years that I think works for me. So allow me to turn this chair around and sit A.C. Slater style and just talk to my peoples. Real talk. No bull.
“We’re just a couple of friends kickin’ it in a juice bar.”
I see people put so much pressure on dating. Pressure for it to look cute on Facebook. Pressure for our friends to wish they had our relationships. Pressure for what we’ve spent hours concocting in our heads to be brought to life in front of us. Can I suggest that we’ve spent way too much time letting movies and TV shows give us advice in areas they should have no say in?
I’m sorry girls (and some of you guys), but The Bachelorette is not a reality of how dating or any aspect of love should work. It is entertainment. I know, you hate me now and I’m not getting a rose. But can we just admit that perhaps we have been warped even slightly by this kind of crap? I know I have been.
I’m not saying dating should be casual and foolish with no intentions, just the opposite, in fact. But maybe we need to relax a little bit on our expectations for budding relationships, especially in regards to a first date.
I know some girls expect a man to chase her down but will never give him the time of day or respond to anything he does. So when he gives up on it she says, “I guess he didn’t care enough.” No he cares; he just isn’t stupid. What did you want? Did you want someone who cares about you or did you want a scene from The Notebook?
Guys we do it, too. Ridiculous expectations. We panic when a girl doesn’t respond like we want her to and then we give up. It’s a nice mixture of pride and impatience.
We put pressure on ourselves and on many other well-meaning people. We are afraid of being hurt and we are afraid of hurting others. It’s good to have caution, but I feel like we can tend to respond in fear and arrogance and call it “caution.”
Most likely who you end up with will look nothing like you had pictured it. You know why? Because you’re not good at predicting your future. And plans mean absolutely bupkis when emotions and love get involved. Guard your heart, but also use your head.
Here are the top five things I look for in someone to date. I’ve spent years trying to weed out the frivolous check-off’s like the color of hair and favorite actors and I’ve whittled it down to these five essentials I’ve established for myself.
1) Can I go to the same church with her?
Is this the kind of girl that I can agree with doctrinally and evangelistically? I have some doctrinal beliefs that I do not want to compromise on. Will she be bored or weireded out at a service I really enjoy? Does she want to go without me having to drag her? Will she drag me when I don’t want to go? All of those types of questions fall under this one.
2) Is she driven?
Is she driven in her career? Ministry? Hobbies? Does she show good work ethic? If she’s content never really doing anything with her life then that’s a big red flag for me. I don’t need her to have the same career as me or even the same hobbies and goals, but I need to know she will support mine and drive towards her own dreams and ambitions.
3) Can I have fun with her?
If you know me then you know I am constantly joking around. So to put it bluntly, I need a girl who thinks I’m funny. She needs to get my jokes and enjoy them because I will be making them all the time. Can we exercise, watch movies, and enjoy other activities together? She doesn’t have to be into everything that I’m into and I don’t have to love everything she loves, but there needs to be some common ground in how we spend our time recharging. I once told my friend, “All I want is a girl who I can hold hands with on the couch and who thinks Speed is as awesome of a movie as I do.” It was a joke… but kind of true.
4) Am I attracted to her?
Sorry to sound shallow but it’s just true. Look, I know I’m no Ryan Gosling or Jack Black (girls think he’s hot right?) so I don’t expect to be on the cover of GQ any time soon, but I would hope that whoever dates me would not have to come over and see me and then throw up in her mouth. There has to be chemistry there. Physically and emotionally. You know, it’s that X factor that’s hard to describe.
5) Is she kind?
This one is very important to me. My friend Swain one time even noticed it about me. He said, “What is it with you and wanting a nice girl? You always talk about it.” I didn’t even realize I had mentioned it so much. I don’t want a girl that makes me have to have to tell everyone, “Just get to know her. Give her time.” I want someone who will be friends with someone and then find out their name later. It sounds corny but it’s a quality trait that doesn’t get too many shout-outs these days. Kindness is super hot.
So those are my big five. If she meets those I’d say we have quite a bit of potential. Of course there is more to it than just what I’ve listed, and I don’t think these need to be the template for everyone to abide by. I just think we have a tendency to make checklists that are way longer than this and we make it nearly impossible for anyone to ever live up to our checklist of expectations to even get dinner with us. That’s not fair.
Everyone is a bit insecure when it comes to putting yourself on the line like this, but at some point you have to step out. I don’t think you will ever have 100% confidence, there will always be a risk to it. But the risk is what gives you the butterflies in your stomach and reminds you that there is still an excitement and beauty in the unknown.
Find out the points that are most important to you and don’t compromise on them. This stuff is hard. Partly because it just is, but partly because we make it that way.