For a good portion of my dating life, I have largely misunderstood God’s design for men. This misunderstanding resulted from my personal dating experiences, and it developed the following way…
For a long period of time, I never dated a guy who ever seemed that into me. He might have liked me at first, but as the relationship progressed he grew distant, and he eventually detached himself altogether.
What’s more, my exes all moved on very quickly. It didn’t seem like they were heart broken or that I left any sort of void in their lives. They were all just fine without me.
As a result of these experiences, I grew to believe that men are not prone to emotional attachment in the same way that women are. They could be interested in a woman, or even grow to love her, but they could just as easily turn that love off. They were inherently independent beings who could do with or without women.
Granted, I would find exceptions to the rule–in movies I saw men go to great lengths for the women they loved. Poets waxed eloquently about the beautiful features of their beloved’s eyes, lips and neck. I also had male friends who’d had their hearts absolutely broken by a girl. Without their girlfriend, they were emotional wrecks.
So how did I categorize these men who defied my understanding? I decided that they were somehow lesser men. It’s not that being in love is unmanly, but being extravagant about it seemed foreign to the gender. Any guy who would be that gaga about a girl needed to stop himself and start acting like a man. Only girls are supposed to get that swept up in romance and be that emotionally tied to another person.
So that’s how I understood men.
Here’s the problem with that line of thinking–
When your standard of manhood is emotional guardedness, you won’t recognize godly affection when you see it. In fact, you could be turned off by it.
Here’s what I mean–the kind of love and care you should expect from the man you marry is a kind of love that mimics the Father. That love is extravagant, self-sacrificing, and seemingly crazy at times. It is a love that goes to great, even absurd measures for the beloved, all for the sake of lavishing love on another. The cross is, after all, the most extravagant act of love the world has ever seen.
That said, any relationship in which a man is guarding himself or holding back is a relationship that fails to reflect God in a fundamental way. Granted, relationships should be guarded at first, but if you continue to date and that dynamic never changes, then there’s a problem. Such a relationship is more selfish than godly. It falls short of the example set for us in Christ and the Church–it is not a love that lays itself down for the other, but instead puts its own best interest first.
With all of this in mind, we ladies need to correct our vision. We need to look for the guys who embrace godly manhood, not a manhood that values emotional detachment and independence over intimacy.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that a guy is worth working for, simply because he plays hard to get through emotional unavailability. That is not the kind of love displayed for us in Christ, so it is clearly not the kind of love that God desires for you. If you find yourself drawn to that type of man, then you need to reevaluate your standards.
And to all you godly men out there–thank you for being a light in the dating darkness, and for reminding us of the true standard of love. Though we may get confused at times, you serve as a compass pointing us back to God amidst a culture of selfishness. Thank you for persevering–please press on!