This past month, I have had the privilege of teaching several young people on love, sex and relationships. After the teachings I normally try to have a question and answer session. I noticed that most of the questions asked by unmarried youth in our country have to do with a lack of emotional integrity. I have written on emotional integrity before. However this write-up is to address two particular scenarios that cropped up in the Q and A sessions in almost all the youth groups I taught. These two scenarios I am about to paint assume that the men and women involved are walking with Christ and are intent on handling relationships God’s way.
Bob and Tina are workmates. They take to each other after a few interactions and soon they are growing fond of each other. They begin to spend exclusive time together. They chat for hours. They go for lunch together and even walk to town from work instead of taking the bus. Naturally, at least one of them falls in love, if not both. People ask them if they are a couple. They vehemently refuse and say they are just friends. This goes on for over one year and now Tina is getting worried. She loves Bob completely and cannot imagine a future without him. She turns down dates from other guys because she feels a sense of unstated commitment towards Bob. But Bob isn’t asking her out. So she confronts him to define the relationship. Bob insists that they are just friends. Tina is shell-shocked. She decides to lock out Bob from her life completely in order to protect her breaking heart. No more chats. No more walks. She distances herself. Though at times she forgets and finds herself chatting and taking the walk with him. She is too weak for him. She even met his parents. They treated her like an in-law. Bob’s sisters liked her. Bob’s grandmother even had a say about putting a ring on it. But Bob never did. Tina meets David, who is interested in her. She feels nothing special for him but accepts his request for a date. The thing about David that interests Tina is his candour. By the third date, he declares his intentions. He is interested in her and would like to get to know her more. And if their stars align, he could even marry her in a year. When Bob catches wind of David’s advancements towards Tina, he becomes a new man. In one long emotional evening, he declares how he has always loved Tina and how they are meant to be. He even says God told him she is the one- the kicks of a dying horse. Tina is now confused. Which man should she choose? While I have little to say about which man Tina ought to settle with, I have a lot to say about Tina’ and Bob’s relationship. Pardon me. Situationship.
Listen up, ladies
Falling in love is a result of exclusive and consistent time and conversations with someone of the opposite sex. The key words are exclusive and consistent! Consider what Elizabeth Elliot writes. This applies to women, specifically:
“Unless a man is prepared to ask a woman to be his wife, what right has he to claim her exclusive attention? Unless she has been asked to marry him, why would a sensible woman promise any man her exclusive attention? If, when the time has come for a commitment, he is not man enough to ask her to marry him, she should give him no reason to presume that she belongs to him.”
Think about those words, carefully. A man who requests for your time and conversation exclusively must couple it with his intentions. Many ladies like Tina are diving into situationships hoping the man will lead. Let him actually lead first before you dive. The cart always comes after the horse. If the kinds of Bob lead you into their lives, they must make the intentions clear. If they want to get to know you, they can join your social circles. Once in a while they may ask to meet you alone- and even then, it must be clear why. A man who does not declare intention in the name of still getting to know you after 43 dates is an emotional waste. Don’t meet his mum. Don’t go for a long relaxing drive just the two of you. Don’t travel to his shaggz. Don’t Netflix and Chill. Ladies, what I am trying to say, Solomon beat me to it. Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Listen up, men
A man must lead! And to lead means to risk rejection. It means to take control. The biblical mandate is that the man leads! The woman, Eve, was made after the man, Adam- male leadership. The woman was made as a helper for the man- male leadership. The woman, Eve, was made from the rib of the man. Male leadership. The woman was brought by God to the man. Male leadership. The woman was named by the man. Male leadership. No more paragraphs for you, Beloved. Lead.
Tony likes Janice. He had made his intentions clear. He has pursued her over time and he feels she is about to say yes. He is serious and wants to settle down. Janice accepts the coffee dates. She accepts the advances. She is clearly warming up to him. She even thinks she likes him. That’s right- thinks. Why? Because there are four other men pursuing Janice that Tony has no idea about. Janice entertains them all. She enjoys what they offer. She enjoys the money they spend on her. She loves the multi-faceted attention. While it is not uncommon for a woman to be pursued by many men, it is strange that she hopes for this state of multiple pursuits to last forever. She knows that if she says yes to any of them, it means the other men will drop off. Then who will receive all those gifts? Who will receive all those flowers? Who will receive all those favours? She convinces herself that she is keeping her options open. But we know that options kept open for two years begin to show their real faces-materialism and indecisiveness. After a two-year pursuit she has never given in to Tony’s chase. At the start, in her defence, she was playing the proverbial hard-to-get. But now she can see that he is growing weary. The other four men are running out of juice as well. She decides to pick one. She picks Tony. But there is a problem, Tony is no longer interested. She suggests the new play in town but Tony has other plans. She falls back to the four. The town is empty and gone are the benefits of the situationship.
Listen up, men
A lot of women in our generation are told to know their worth. The same applies to you. Know your worth! While there is no formula for the length of pursuit, you must be in touch with the reality on the ground. Pray to God to reveal the heart of the person you are pursuing. Janice is possibly not ready for a relationship. The sooner you know that, the easier it is for you.
Listen up, ladies
Men have hearts too. Not engines. While the world often complains of men using women, Janice’s scenario is a classic case of women using men. It is just as bad as the former regardless of what your girlfriends say. To be a woman who honours Christ is to be sensitive to the brothers around you as well. Some women say that they find it hard to say no especially if the guy is really good. The problem with that statement is that it tries to sanitize the sin, but deep down it is still sin. You can say no respectfully, especially if the Spirit of God lives in you.
Another common scenario is one where you are dating but you have a separate best friend of the opposite sex. I have written about that here. You can read it. However, whatever scenario we conjure, we must realise that emotional purity is just as important as sexual purity. To read more on this. I recommend a book by Sherry Graf titled, I don’t get you! No more situationships, Beloved. May emotional maturity reign in your relationships.