In my previous entry, “Why Church Guys Make the Best and Worst Boyfriends,” I shared some thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the “church guy” in regards to dating.
In the days that followed, I found myself thinking in reverse.
“What about church girls?”
“Why would they make the best and worst girlfriends?”
I do, after all, have a son and he may want to date one day and some girl may (hopefully) find him somewhat groomed and acceptable.
Much of my jump off points here are nearly identical and symmetrical to the previous entry:
I want my son to date a “church girl.”
A “church girl,” much like a “church guy,” is a girl who either grew up in the church or has assimilated into the life of her church.
I also think church girls make the best girlfriends for the same reasons that they have a good head on their shoulders, they date for a respectable purpose, and they’re vetted and/or held accountable.
My concerns, however, find divergence.
Again, I admit these reasons are rooted in generalizations, and there are tons of church girls who shatter these categories.
But with that being said, here are my reasons for why I think church girls make scary girlfriends:
1. They Have An Undefined Expectation Of “Leadership”
You’ll sometimes hear church girls complain about how their boyfriends aren’t leading, but if you ask them what they mean by “leading,” they’re not really sure.
And even when they narrow it down to something like “spiritual leadership,” it’s still coated in ambiguity.
When you press them, they’ll boil it down to things like, “I wish he would offer to pray for me,” or “I wish he’d occasionally ask me how I’m doing spiritually.” You know, all the things they never clarified to their boyfriends in the first place.
Here’s the typical scenario of how this can play out in a relationship:
A couple begins dating.
Their relationship starts out okay, but then they begin fighting.
Some pastor or couple encourages them to communicate, but over time, this practice of communication degenerates to the girl voicing her complaints whenever and however she wants.
He soon begins to feel like he’s on the receiving end of constant criticism. He feels like he “can’t do anything right.” Being afraid to bring anything up, he feels like he has to read his girlfriend’s mind, the very mind that isn’t made up or clear about what she wants. This leaves the guy feeling frozen, he wishes she could just let things go.
Not knowing what to do, he foolishly opts to be passive until told otherwise. She interprets this to mean he’s “no longer trying” and determines he’s unwilling to lead, reaffirming the very suspicion she felt early on in the relationship: “he’s not a leader.”
Yeah, it’s complicated.
But ponder this: How are guys supposed to succeed in something that isn’t defined for them? How does anyone succeed in ambiguity? Luck?
It’s true that guys should at least take the initiative to ask how they can lead, but maybe they’re afraid to ask because what they get in return is a hodgepodge of ambiguous convictions.
It’s like when guys ask their girlfriends, “What do you want to eat?” They’re left having to guess what their girl is in the mood for.
This is why some church guys lose confidence, not just as boyfriends, but as men. This is because if you keep playing darts in the dark, you soon begin to believe it’s you and not the darkness.
I think this is why guys love sports, gadgets, and hobbies. It’s defined. It’s clear. “Put the ball in the basket.” “Hold button for 10 seconds to reset device.” “Place meat on grill for two minutes.” It makes sense!
I recently heard a well respected sister at my church say that girls, “know what they don’t want, but don’t know what they want.”
I think this can be applied when it comes to defining “leader.” They know when leadership isn’t there, but they don’t express how their boyfriends can walk into it, whatever “it” is.
2. They Can Impose Unfair Standards & Comparisons
Picture a church guy and church girl arguing about something.
Eventually, they will search for a point of reference to make their argument clear and evidence based. This is why dating couples will sometimes compare each other to the counterparts of other couples.
This isn’t necessarily to be hurtful. They’re trying to speak out of a reference point with which they can place one foot of argument, in order to step into the next layer of reasoning.
So the guy or girl will say, “Ok, for example, notice how the guy/girl in that relationship is so _______ (“thoughtful” “kind “considerate” “etc.”). That’s exactly what I’m talking about.”
We can understand the reasoning behind this.
Again I’m generalizing, but here’s the issue:
When church guys compare, they do so laterally, meaning, they compare sideways, to their peers, or to someone in the same situation. They’ll say, “But look at that dating couple next to us.” Context is honored or at least considered.
But when church girls compare, they’ll compare laterally and upwards.
So while the church guy compares his girlfriend to another church girl in a similar life stage, the church girl will point to a 35 or 45 year old man with an established career, who’s been married ten plus years, with kids, who’s had twenty more years to process things, and she’ll use him as a reference point for her boyfriend.
The boyfriend who just started graduate school as a 25 year old?
Or she’ll point to her pastor and say, “Look at how he loves his wife” to motivate her 19 year old boyfriend who got his driver’s license 3 years ago.
Aren’t these unfair comparisons? I understand how this could happen in the heat of battle, but isn’t it unloving?
No guy can fast forward his own experience and wisdom to that of another man who has gone through life seasons far beyond, no matter how much he wants to.
Could you imagine if the boyfriend gave her a taste of her own medicine and referenced her argument’s counterpart wife who’s actually ten times more amazing than the husband himself? Argument over, as well as the boyfriend’s life.
The church girl can pray that her boyfriend grow in godliness. She can express her admiration for a church leader to hint for the guy to grow up. She can even express to her boyfriend the kind of man she wants him to model his life after.
She also has to understand that non-lateral comparisons, should she choose to wield them, go both ways.
If she wants him to be like the godliest man at church, she also has to be ok with him wanting her to be like the godliest woman at church.
3. They Have An Informal Surveillance Team
I once heard this beautiful quote:
“A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man must seek Him in order to find her.”
It’s very powerful.
It’s also very incomplete.
The quote should actually read something like this:
“A woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man must seek Him in order to find her…..
…..but even if she isn’t, the man must still seek God, get past her group of friends, her bat-wielding father, her small group, her church brothers, the intimidating older church sisters, the one creepy older church guy who keeps reiterating he’s her older brother figure when he’s secretly been in love with her for the past 3 years, and her pastor who views her like a daughter figure, which means it’s actually the guy who will be so lost that God must find him.”
If a guy is interested in a church girl and thinks he’ll have to play his cards right with her, he couldn’t be more wrong.
He’s gotta play his card rights with her by showing his cards to about fifteen other people in the church.
The dude is being watched by the church community and he doesn’t even know it.
His mom has already been contacted. His past girlfriends have already been interviewed by her small group leader.
In fact, he’s being monitored right now by the church staff through an app on their phone (patent pending).
Good luck brother.
Some Concluding Thoughts
Much like “church guys,” I believe church girls, though imperfect, still make the best girlfriends.
If you’re a church guy, I’d encourage you to be bold and ask the spiritually intimidating girl if she wants some coffee. If you find her intimidating, be more afraid of the possibility that you might be the kind of guy who won’t raise the bar on his own life.
Don’t settle. Take initiative. Take her out for coffee. Prepare some questions in advance. Make fun of yourself. And make sure you pay for the coffee.
If you’re already dating a church girl, take the initiative to ask her specific questions. If she says, “I want you to be a man of conviction.” Don’t nod your head and say, “Ok” as you board the spaceship to Planet Clueless. Ask her, “Could you elaborate?” “Could you share a time when I did that?” Give her specific scenarios so you can gain a gauge rooted in reality. And truly listen to her. Don’t just parse words, but listen for the heart’s pulse beneath.
If you’re a church girl, I’d encourage you to spend your time dreaming less about the guy you want God to provide, and spend more time praying about the kind of woman God wants you to be. Ask your girlfriend(s) and small group leader this question: What major character issues do I need to pray through? Rather than being defensive, prayerfully reflect with their responses.
If you’re already dating a church guy, I’d encourage you to be clear. Venting may be good for you, but clear venting will be good for him. And here’s the biggest thing: Guys grow into what they’re told they are. If you keep telling your boyfriend he’s a moron, he’ll believe it and grow into the very moronism you’re preaching. If you thank him and acknowledge his efforts, he will begin to grow into that as well.
Dating isn’t easy.
Stressors, temptations, and challenges are around the corner. Wisdom is found wanting.
May the local church, be for you, a village of grace and truth.
There’s no need to hide, pretend, or go at it alone, any longer.