Boundless put up an article today that further demonstrates why church dating is so difficult. In “How Not to Freak a Girl Out,” Martha Krienke shares a letter from a reader wherein the reader describes that after knowing a guy for two weeks, he asked her out with Boundless-style intentionality, explaining that he saw her as “marriage material.” Reader promptly FREAKED OUT and rejected the guy. Then her hamster went into overdrive, culminating in the letter to Boundless.
I’ll admit that the guy made the mistake of destroying any mystery he may have possessed by laying all of his cards out on the table at the get-go. He also, I assume, made the mistake of proceeding without enough (any?) IOIs from Reader.
But Reader’s letter to Boundless was so hamsterrific, my eyes boggled, and it speaks to Boundless’s disconnect with the realities of the SMP that Krienke didn’t rebuke Reader. Reader writes:
I know that Boundless and many circles are beginning to promote guys becoming pursuers and moving purposefully toward marriage. But I’d like to promote that there needs to be more caress, creativity and sensitivity in this area. “Putting the ball in her court” too early may drive a godly lady to emotional turmoil. She may need time to marinate in his light affections and attention before having him express in words his intentions and affections.
The idea that Reader wanted to be wooed rather than told “I’m looking for a wife, and you seem like wife material” – I can understand that. Especially after only knowing a guy for a couple of weeks and probably not having much one-on-one interaction with him, it probably came off a little like the guy was going shopping and she looked like a good deal. But then all of Reader’s purple prose about marinating and “emotional turmoil” betrayed entitlement: that she expected this guy to read her mind and know exactly how she wanted to be pursued. She continues:
To be poetic, I describe my “feelings and affections” like a flower that grows. We gently, and in good amounts for the specific type of flower, give it water and sunlight. [In relationships], the water and sunlight are the “pursuit/flirting/feeling the water.” The flower represents the “relationship.” And the growth of the flower represents the “feelings and affections.” The blooming of the flower represents “commitment.”
I think that for this particular flower, there was too much sunlight and water too early. The flower was not ready to bloom yet. It had not grown enough in the right conditions to be ready to bloom.
Church guys, if you would like to be successful in acquiring a woman who seems like “wife material,” adhere to the above instructions…if she’s not already attracted to you. What reader is ignoring is that if this guy had already been attractive to her, she wouldn’t be going on about watering, stems, and blooming, or needing to “marinate.” She would have jumped at the opportunity to go on a date with this guy and would be reading Passion and Purity to try to keep her hormones in check.
The major problem with the Boundless approach to dating is that Boundless doesn’t believe in/hasn’t discovered the alpha/beta divide. It assumes that all men are starting from the same place and therefore need only apply the same steps to get where they want to go. But because some men are alphas and even more are betas, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and it only leads to results like the one chronicled by Reader. Telling men to “man up,” “be intentional,” and “stop jerking girls around” is only useful for alphas. Telling a beta to man up and be intentional leads to freak-outs and rejections. By omitting the critical step of gauging female interest (and responding accordingly), Boundless dooms many men to dating failure.
I’m hoping that I might have a chance to start over. To get to know each other as brother and sister serving together. To get “pursuitive hints” without being faced with an expression of intentions. To get to grow in my own affections before being asked to commit.
[In my final refusal toward him,] I never actually meant that I didn’t want to be pursued. I guess I just wanted to be pursued in a lighter, slower and building sort of way.
I would say that Reader is in the “neutral” zone with the guy, otherwise she wouldn’t have expressed interest in “get[ting] to know each other as brother and sister serving together.” Having rejected him, she wants the option of having him back so she won’t feel like she made a big mistake if he turns out to be a catch. If he were truly repulsive to her, she wouldn’t have wanted to get to know him in any way. That said, it’s pretty clear that he’s not super attractive to her – a woman invoking brother/sister comparisons, even if it’s brother/sister in Christ, is not a sign of burgeoning attraction. Overall, Reader’s letter just seems to be a politely-worded complaint that she wasn’t pursued in the desired manner.
Still, Reader’s situation does shed light on the dating situation that most singles will face in the church, mainly because most people are not automatically attractive to vast numbers of the opposite sex. Most church guys will still need to learn some game and learn to read IOIs. Boundless keeps neglecting to mention (because it doesn’t distinguish between alphas and betas) that intentionality alone is not enough. Most church girls will have to accept dates requested in a less than ideal manner, with guys who are not super attractive to them at the time of the asking. Alas, Mr. Darcy doesn’t go to your church. Neither does Megan Fox. But on the upside, you’re probably not Chunk from The Goonies, so take comfort in that silver lining.