I’m a Christian Serial Dater (Apparently) - Elisabeth Klein

As we’ve discussed, I’ve decided to try dating by joining an online dating site.  And I’m learning a TON. About life and boys and even myself. Go figure.

But one issue that’s come up is the little phrase “serial dater”. I have been super clear with the men that I’m communicating with that I am not “that kind of girl”. (I’m not sure what kind of girl I thought that was, but I was certain I was not it.)

Until I looked up the definition of serial dating:

One who engages in the process of systematically dating an obscene amount people in a short span of time. –UrbanDictionary.com

I gasped. That was me!!!

Okay, not an OBSCENE amount of people, but (at the time of this writing), five first dates in three weeks is obscene if you look at the number of first dates I’ve had in my life (five pre-marriage TOTAL).

But I’ve come to realize something. I realized that this is how I am going to handle this whole dating-total-strangers thing (and it’s not for everyone).

You see, with Mr. Good Man, we emailed and IM’d and called and FaceTime’d and texted for five months before we met. In other words, I totally loved the guy before our first date. Umm, yeah. That’s probably not duplicatable. Or necessarily recommended.

So, in an effort to protect my heart and the hearts of every man I communicate with, I’ve developed a bit of a system. (That I have dating system should shock no one.)

Pre-Step one: my profile has a statement that makes it uber clear that Jesus is my highest priority and that he will be my future husband’s highest priority. If I could have it flashing in neon, I would. This doesn’t keep all the creepers away, but I’m hoping it separates a bit of the wheat from the chaff.

Step one: they must initiate contact with me. I may be a quote-unquote serial dater, but I’m an old-fashioned serial dater.

Step two: if all they do is send a wink or smile or like a picture or favorite me or what-have-you, I do not respond.  They must write me something. And it HAS to be kind and respectful. Bonus if it’s funny.

Step three: we email a bit.  If my phone number is asked for or a date is requested in the first day or two, I say simply, ‘not yet’.  How they respond is key because my desire for slowness and to have my wishes understood and heeded is paramount.

Step four: I ask two important questions. One, what are your thoughts on this whole online dating thing/communicating with more than one person at a time? And two, what does Jesus mean to you?

Step five: I assess their responses, and I write them back with how I’d answer those two questions.

(My responses, in case you’re curious:

My thoughts on the online dating thing, just for full disclosure. I had one boyfriend before my husband, then dated my husband for four years, and was married for just under nineteen years. I have been divorced for two years and I have just in the past few months considered dating. I have been on just a few first dates in the past two months, and none before that for 23 years. I’m a dating novice.

One thing I learned through my very difficult marriage is not to settle. And though I have no intention of being what I hear people call a “serial dater” and I wouldn’t be a game-player even if I knew how to be, I am currently communicating a little bit with a few men at the same time right now and may even go out with a few around the same time as well, as I guess I figured that’s what this is all about.

But I wouldn’t drag something out if I didn’t feel chemistry, I wouldn’t seriously date more than one man at a time, and I will always be honest with each man where things are.

My take on who Jesus is…  I accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was fifteen and I am trying to live a life that brings me closer to him. He is my closest friend, he is who I call to for help and guidance, he is who I want to become more like. I spend time with him every morning through prayer and journaling and reading Scripture. I attend church weekly. When I write and speak, I try to point the women I’m talking with to Jesus.  And the highest priority for my choice of a future husband will be that he knows and loves Jesus and has a growing relationship with him.)

Step six: if we’re both okay with how the other responded to those couple things, I’ll typically ask if they still want my phone number, and then we move to texting and a call or two.

Step seven: if all of this is going well, I’ll ask them if they still want to meet me, and then we’ll set a date.

(You’d think this would take FOREVER. It doesn’t.  This takes about five days to two weeks, depending on how often the man is able to communicate.  And this may seem really quick to some of you – the opposite of slowness, which I get. But why drag things out at the beginning? I now realize I can tell pretty quickly if there will be a connection with someone, and if there isn’t, let’s both move on. So the beginning is somewhat quick in the first-impressions stage; but then we’d move slowly beyond this point.)

Step eight: we meet.  This is fun and a little bit scary but not as scary as I thought it would be.  And I’m even a shy introvert whose idea of a good time is watching Alias on Netflix while sipping tea.  (Party animal that I am.)

*Actual date tips:
Choose someplace public.
Choose someplace in between.
Do not get picked up by THIS STRANGER; drive there yourself.
Tell someone the following details ahead of time: who you’re meeting (name and phone number), where you’re meeting, when you’re meeting, and plan to contact this person when you’re safely home.
Bonus tip: A good male friend of mine said that upon first sight, you really should immediately think “oh wow”, not “oh boy”, (which I’ll touch on below).

Step nine: This is now the day-after the first date. I spend time being contemplative and prayerful because I take this search of mine super seriously.  And I’ve come up with a philosophy with the help of two male friends who gave me some advice after one of the first dates left me a bit confused. I had shared that though my date was a very kind and good man, I wasn’t attracted to him and didn’t feel any chemistry, so I was wondering whether to go on a second date for open-mindedness’ sake (even saying, “So, even though I don’t want to see him again, should I just push through and see him again?” Yeah, I know. I’m a nut.)

Their responses:

“No attraction.” Really? Whether or not you have set the bar too high, I question the emotional wisdom of seeking to spend time with someone to whom you are not attracted. You would then have to “work” on learning how to be attracted to someone you are not attracted to. As for the bar being set too high…as a Christ follower, you do just that. Set the bar as high as the cross. As a woman who has suffered much, do not settle. Be humble in your endeavors to seek love, but do not settle if your “eyes,” heart and mind are not one. –male counselor

If you truly knew your worth as a woman, you wouldn’t go on a second date with a man you weren’t excited about in all ways. –guy friend

So basically, I’m allowed to decide what I’m looking for in a man, what’s important to me (after godly, of course). Which means, if I want ______________ and _______________ and _______________, I can look for those things.

Marriage is a big deal. My first marriage was hard and broke me. I would rather be alone than in something boring or not right or lonely or painful or simply parallel.  I won’t get married again for just eh.

So, as long as I’m prayerful and willing to possibly be on my own longer (or forever) if I don’t find those things, it’s my choice and my life.

In other words, if you’re walking closely with Christ, you can trust your judgment. You are your very own expert, according to my awesome pastor. And Scripture says that we’ve been given a sound mind and that we have the mind of Christ.

Step ten: If I want to see the man again, and he asks me out again, I will go out again.  But if I don’t want to see the man again, I will let him know by the end of the day after our first date. Hearts will be hurt through this process, I’m sure, but I promised myself I will not drag something out or lead someone on.

So, I don’t think I’m a serial dater; I’m just doing this the best I know how, having never done anything like this at all before in my life. And you’ve got to know that every step of the way, I am praying for clarity and discernment. I do not take this lightly.  And if you’re out there too, it might be helpful to come up with a few standards of your own to help you navigate this craziness.  Because trust me, it’s crazy.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  –Matthew 6:33

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.