I’ve tried to keep my distance from this book as much as I can. I’ve seen it in bookstores for a while, but I was still peddling the banner philosophies of Joshua Harris and Elizabeth Elliott: Just wait on God and the guy will come. So as much as I devoured every dating and relationship books I could find, this was the one book I wouldn’t touch. I was convinced that it was actually unbiblical to do something about my love life!
But months and years have gone by and I was still single. Where was the guy that Elizabeth Elliott promised would come if I just diligently wait?! No, I wouldn’t call myself desperate, but I knew something needed to change. So I grabbed this book and my dating life was never the same again.
What the book taught me
The book opens with a story of a woman. How she didn’t think she’d be doing what she was doing then. That she thought God would already have brought someone into her life. Instantly, this resonated with me. How many times have you heard a single woman in her thirties say that?
So the author, Dr. Henry Cloud, gives her a program to follow. And this is what is outlined in the book.
1. Meet five guys a week.
This was the first on the program. And there were three criteria for him to be counted: 1) He has to be new; 2) You have to talk to him long enough for him to be interested; and 3) He has to have your contact info.
This was a hard one for me. Honestly, I didn’t do it. I couldn’t just strike up a conversation with a guy in the coffee shop or bookstore. I just couldn’t. That’s not how things are done here in the Philippines. But if you do intend on following this, take note: Those three are the only criteria. It doesn’t say that you have to be interested or want to go out with them. The idea is to get you to open up. Be friendly. We have thought patterns and unconscious behavior that have so settled within us and unbeknownst to us, may be repelling or keeping us from the opposite sex! This is what we want to uncover.
Now if any of those guys do ask you out..
2. Go out with anyone once or even twice!
Of course, within the bounds of safety. If he looks safe, nice and harmless, then go. Observe the rules of safety: Meet in a public place, also inform a friend. I usually prefer meeting over coffee. It’s quick and less awkward to leave if the date doesn’t go well.
Yes, this goes even if you’re not that interested. The point is, we’ve all been boxed into a type. You need to see what else is out there. And how else would you know if you don’t go out with them. Now if he asks for a second date, then go. Even if the first date didn’t go well. Why? First date jitters.
If he doesn’t ask out again, then it’s ok. I’ve been relieved more than once that I didn’t hear again from the guy afterwards. Over chat our chemistry seemed good, but in person it just tanked. So what do you do then? Move on to the next one.
3. Go online dating
This was an eye opener for me. Of course, I wouldn’t go online dating. What kind of people who couldn’t meet someone in person would I meet there? Then again, I couldn’t meet anyone in person. So what does that say about me? I’ll shut up now. But Henry Cloud made a good case about this.
When you were in school, that’s where you met people. In college, same thing. And then you moved on to work. Those were the venues for meeting new people. You didn’t have to try hard. There would be people for you to meet. Of course, we can count church or social clubs. But you get to a certain age or point when you just settle in. You fall into a routine. You work on weekdays, maybe gym afterwards. On weekends, church, grocery and meet a few friends for dinner. That’s it. Where do you meet someone new then?
But online, that’s where people converge nowadays. That’s the new venue.
This became my main program. I went on three different online dating sites/apps. I swiped, sent messages and read lots and lots of profiles. But the thing here is you have to be discriminating and discerning. Not everyone will be there for the same reason as you are. They may be after different things. So again, just be open. Chat the person up. If the conversation goes well, then consider meeting in person. But if not, then just leave it. In my experience, people are honest enough to say what’s on their mind. Why wouldn’t they; they’re hidden behind the online veil.
If this is on a long-distance scale, weigh for yourself if you’re open to relocating. At first, I didn’t think about it too much and just started chatting. After awhile, it became clear to me that I prefer my current set-up. Let me emphasize here though: No matter how good your online conversations are, hold off any feelings or plans until you meet in person. Let me say it again: You have to meet in person. The dynamics online and offline may be different. And you definitely won’t be together with this person in cyberspace.
4. Keep your numbers up.
This is a numbers game. You just have to keep on meeting and meeting and meeting, and dating.
I was chatting guys left and right. Going on dates. Keeping it casual.
I’m not one to keep it casual for too long though. After meeting in person, or after a few dates, if the guy and I were still talking, I would ask him if this was something he’d want to pursue. Not get married or call it official, but just getting to know in a more intentional way. This way I’m not wasting my time and I know if I should move on already. I only have a limited amount of time and energy. If I’m spending it with a guy with no possibility of a future, then I’m definitely not spending it with a guy who may have. So use your time wisely. If it’s not this guy, then just move on. Again, it’s a numbers game.
Many stories of women in the book echoed this: You just keep on meeting and meeting, and someone will just surprise you. And that’s how I met someone..
How I got a date worth keeping
On the seventh month since starting this program (It guaranteed six months but I didn’t follow the program religiously), that’s when we met. And no, we didn’t meet online. We were set up and met in church. We started chatting then he asked me out. After a few dates, we talked of where this was going, our expectations for marriage and each other, and our timelines.
Now you might say I could still have met him without following the program or changing anything. But I beg to differ. I became more open, not boxed into a type and not take things too seriously.
My guy friend once told me that guys could sense whether you’re just in it with marriage as the prize, like a lighted neon sign on your forehead. That loosened for me. As well as going for my usual types. My boyfriend and I had actually already met years ago through the same common friend. But back then I thought he was arrogant and not my type.
It took meeting a lot of different guys to know what’s out there. I didn’t carry a lot of expectations going into it either, of who should do what first, or how it should be done. We met, and when it took a serious turn, that’s when I laid down how I wanted to be pursued.
Each story will be different. How you will meet and date guys will be different. So see what works for you. But if that desire to get married remains in your heart for some time now, then do something about it! We’re never called to just sit around and do nothing. Unless of course, as Henry Cloud puts it, you don’t mind marrying the delivery guy..
And no matter how unique our stories will be, one story remains the same: The Story of how God meets us and meets our every need. No guy can ever fill that void that only God can. So keep praying, keep seeking and trust in God’s perfect timing!