The Ethics of Dating

Something occurred to me recently. Thinking about various experiences, mine and those of others I have observed. A recent one, me dating a woman that I am no longer dating, and me counseling a young woman years ago about how to tell a guy she’s not interested.

One of the confusions over the last couple of generations that men experience in dating is this: why is it that women don’t seem to like nice guys? It suddenly hit me that this is entirely the wrong question. It’s not about nice guys, though often that is misconstrued to meaning men who are supplicating or submissive towards women. But here, let’s take it to mean men who are kind, generous, thoughtful–in other words who epitomize what 1st Corinthians living men should be like.

I think what women have failed to understand, perhaps because having total choice in relationships is still relatively recent for them, is that those characteristics merely open the door to possibility. The idea that a man is kind, good, generous, brave and hard working should be enough to win her heart is not enough. See the woman I was going out with last year wanted a man who was really affectionate. She liked the qualities I had as a person, but she wanted to give her affections to someone intensely affectionate. I wasn’t that guy, and would never be that guy unless I was pretending, which I didn’t want to do. It was hard to break up with her because she resisted the idea that things would not somehow work out.

I think that as we have come to a point where marriage in our culture is predominantly for companionship, we need to become wiser about how we court. And so ultimately women in order to be ethical about this need to understand clearly what they want and have a clear understanding of how it can come about.

Not sure that that is likely, so let me address men instead: you need to keep an eye out for what she really wants. If you can’t give it to her happily because you like it too, then don’t, and don’t continue the courtship. If what she really wants is say a fun active outdoor lifestyle and you are more of a museum and glass of red wine guy, then don’t. You get the idea.

Men need to get over the idea that women want a hardworking man with a good heart–those are good things, but I find that women inevitably are looking for some other thing once that door is open. It can literally be anything. In a way you could liken it to this: you like dogs, you want a dog. But you ideally want a dog that suits you well. If you get a totally unsuitable dog, at best you will have an uncomfortable situation you’re never truly happy with–like say if you spend most of the day commuting and working and just want to veg out when you get home, but you’ve got a Springer Spaniel or a German Shepherd or something, going nuts with longing for you to be home and spend time with it, not a good combination. At worst you want to give the dog away, get rid of it. That’s how it is with relationships now.

So what if you’ve already gotten past this part, you’re married or cohabiting or whatever? What then?

I’d like to offer some of the platitudes that Christian marriage counseling books do, but I can’t and won’t. If you’ve gotten past that then you are in for a difficult and heartbreaking time, perhaps, of it, to whatever degree. You may, as some have, find yourself in a virtually sexless marriage. You may find yourself with someone where you carry a huge amount of the load of parenting or other parts of being a family with little sense of partnership.

The thing is, that’s how it is for God. God yearns for our love, our devotion, our attentiveness, our obedience, because He knows it is what is good. Yet we struggle to give it to Him, or sometimes are barely even aware that we’re supposed to. One of the roots of faith is compassion as Christ had it, as a very smart poster reminded us today. Forget the platitudes–the point is that we are called to be like Christ.

I believe that there are some things that totally cross the line in marriage and for which divorce may be the only remedy. But being unhappy, unfulfilled, lonely…these are heartbreaking situations, but the answer is for your heart and mind to be transformed.

So I think in conclusion that we need to be careful about how we date, as Christians, because we don’t have an easy way out–do we have an easy way out of anything though? We need to be ready to accept the counsel of others that we trust. We need to remember that our faith has to be cared for and nurtured. We need in all things to be surrounded by those who are wise in their understanding of the Gospel, and who are trusted companions as we grow in our faith, and we ourselves need to feed ourselves wisdom and knowledge and understanding so that we continue to grow. Because the only way we can truly have compassion is if we are strong in our faith.

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11 thoughts on “The Ethics of Dating

  1. I think the era of the dewy eyed Christian romantic is long over. When the N count is taken into consideration these days most men would be better of forgoing marriage altogether. I think the model needs an overhaul, marriage at 15? Get those boys and girls together when the are still virgins and have them establish a monogamous life, these days there is far too much water under the bridge at 20 for most and it is a serious problem by 30 (or later) when so many are getting married now. That has got to be a significant reason so many marriages are “unhaaaaapy”, rampant promiscuity.

  2. Oh boy, this topic got bigger and bigger. Unspoken here is the aspect of….and utility of game. I have a whole post about it down there somewhere. Bouncing between the actual game gurus and the site of Novy who seems to be the anti-game guru and a few others, maybe there can be a self tailored game-ish solution here, individually fitted. Rabid gamers would cry sacrilege, literally, which is one reason I felt the push of opposite polarity the deeper I read into game. Maybe the irony of MGTOW being into game with such deep religiosity seemed not to be congruent, anyway, this isnt about game per se, but it needs to be considered in the thinking over this topic.

    There is a young man with youtube videos about feminism, I will try and link him, who has a vid about dating at 25 and makes a point similar to souj. He says that the multiple choice of electronic media has taken all limits off the choices and made it like a catalog. They are inundated with blunt offers accompanied by images and silly profiles, and deep communication consists of series of abbreviations and emoticons. Is it any wonder the relationships are at digital speed rather than limited to 33 or 78 rpm?

  3. “And so ultimately women in order to be ethical about this need to understand clearly what they want and have a clear understanding of how it can come about.”

    When it comes to getting what she feels she wants or needs from an emotional or relational standpoint, I think ethics is usually the last thing on the mind of most women.

  4. To be clear because this would be one of those things that got distorted, she wouldn’t be consciously thinking the antithesis of ethics either, like bad ethics or something. More its reactionary behavior to follow the yellow brick road where emotion leads

  5. True. I didn’t mean to suggest that it would be an intentional acting counter to ethics, more a case of the ethics, the right/wrong of a given action never even entering the thought process.

    But to be blunt, isn’t failing to consider the ethical implications of a given action inherently unethical?

  6. This post makes a lot of since and it’s common sense in a way. I just don’t see it happening especially when it comes to females these days. It really depends on who they are pleasing. Some care about social statuses, money and other things. And I know as a male it’s really hard to figure this stuff out.

    IAL I would support people getting married earlier. The problem is the parent. Are they going to fly with their child getting married at a young age which they have to sign the papers for this to happen(In Michigan I know they can do this).

  7. In terms of marrying younger, nothing wrong with 18 or I think in some states they can do it at 17 without parental consent. But marrying at 18 or 19 would be a huge improvement over the current gotta have an education and career and student loans paid off and before you know it we’re talking 26 or 28.

  8. Things line up better when we aren’t used to leading our own lives. If people are married at 17 or 18 that is a dozen or more years they aren’t used to doing things there own way, I was married at 20, only about 5 years too late ;).

  9. And here again the Christian vs secular shows that there are way more things TO line up perfectly, and a book and a creator to enforce the desire for same.

    A known poster at our point of origin says this all the time, setting a standard for marriage that is at once not really understandable, so steeped in Utopian language it is, and unachievable, so steeped in Utopian goals it is.

    :Full unity of purpose, a unified front, complete oneness of mind body , heart and spirit. To go into dating with that goal? Oh my.

    In some ways the Christian faith can feed Utopian urges in everyone, of we start responding to real life with even scripture based statements that functionally are platitudes. about being literally free from sin, about being every waking ,moment literally every second in meditation and prayer, myriad of examples, where we can say the phrase “we are called to….”. These “called to” things if relational appeal to women big time because they create the right FEELINGS. So is it any wonder the expectations are orders of magnitude higher in Christian women than in secular women? The statements of that one poster are wide open but i suspect she is attempting to put words to feelings that most of them are longing for.
    But with a caveat. Oneness and all those things isnt about that really being achieved. Its about HER FEELING that its achieved.

    If she feels safe (whatever that means) and feels love (wrapped in ribbons type) then the relationship is in oneness. So, the standards are built, and she is the arbiter.
    I dont know what it would be like being a middle aged man trying to date a Christian woman today, whether she had kids or not, I cannot imagine, when I see the 40 plus crowd of women at church that are obviously divorced, sitting with a 15 yr old kid, dressed WAY too overdone for her age, and sadly sometimes her shape, hair stiff enough to snap like twigs, puffy eyes covered w/ slathered foundation….I think of Driscoll trying to shame men into taking up with those women and I would want to run and hide under my bed.

    One guy commented recently somewhere and said something that on the surface looks just shallow and one off, but he meant much more, that can be gleaned from his other posts….he said something like

    “once you give up trying, with the women your age, in church or not, your dates begin to look like a series of flings with 26 year old women, they stay 26, while you keep getting older”

  10. The modern rules of dating are actually odd and flip instinctive thinking on their head, and have made male motivation for pursuing women suspect. For example:

    1. Being generous and thoughtful. This is a bizarre one–even in the animal kingdom this is often a gesture of affection. But it has become suspect. You can’t be TOO generous and thoughtful, apparently.

    2. Being modest. Modesty is no longer a virtue in our culture, you need to show off–striking a balance between being vain and being self condemning.

    3. Being chivalrous. Lots of women on dating advice sites talk about how they like the gestures of chivalry, while totally not getting the impulses behind them. So opening doors, pulling back chairs is good–but rescuing women is bad.

    4. Being emotional. Men need to be receptive and understanding of women’s emotions, but the reverse is not applicable.

    This is all kind of interesting, because it ties in with my theory in the OP, and I think it shows the strangeness of gynocracy. This entirely disarms men in relationships, if you think about it. There are no rules of dating that require integrity or ethical behavior from women at all, but the rules have become as strange and complicated as Courtly Love used to be. And as I have said, it requires men to become more aware, smarter about how this works, and more prepared to make tough decisions.

    Because of course there’s an underlying problem that we all know about–the idea that if the woman doesn’t want to be approached it is somehow wrong to have tried to. At heart this is all aimed at gynocratic control. As stated in another part of the blog, this is not even tactics anymore, but belief, and so it cannot be confronted in women unless they are remarkably self aware people, which most people are not.

    The ideal of course would be that two people are attracted, like one another, and explore the possibility of a relationship with one another, and if it doesn’t look good to both parties, they graciously step back from it. What the gynocracy has done is to further erode trust and affection between men and women–always a struggle anyway–and in a way institutionalized the feeling women almost instinctively have to question men’s motives constantly. And of course this feeds back–the sense of mystery that is part of what makes men in part want to pursue women is corrupted because the women’s motives are made harder to figure out. This creates a tension that is unhelpful; it makes it less likely that people will genuinely enjoy the pursuit or being pursued.

    If we wonder why the divorce rate is so high, consider this a moment: is it possible that those successful marriages (let’s say 25% of marriages–those which are not merely hanging on but are generally enjoyed) are made up of people with say higher integrity, willingness to have a good attitude and work on relationships, and who happened by good luck but also by ambition to pursue what they really wanted in a marriage. Let’s say that in most others the opposite is the case–that they pursued immediate passion, trusted to good fortune and were ignorant. Given what a relationship is up against, it is all the more important that we have this idea as the bottom line in an intimate relationship which might lead to marriage:

    Would we be willing to be homeless and destitute with this person? Seriously, if we’re Christians, in a given situation, would we keep our faith if we lost everything? Because it can happen at any time. We can all be in Job’s shoes, and some of us have been. I think that this is the difference between the contemporary views on modern dating and relationships and what the Bible proposes.

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