When You’re Not Ready
For A Romantic Relationship
You’re not ready for romance with a man?
Good. There’s no rush.
In fact, take this time to learn how to rethink romance. It’s better for your brain to have a strong stance on what Real Romance is before your heart gets carried away by infatuation.
To show you what I mean, I need to let you know a little bit more about me.
I used to be married to a man. That marriage ended when he divorced me. Toward the end of the marriage, the pastors of two churches promised to work with us to get our marriage back on track.
One of their instructions was for us to see a counselor who would report back to them what our progress was like based on our counseling sessions with him. During the very first session, the counselor raised a startling question that neither of us had ever thought of before:
“Do you two have each others’ backs?”
The silence that followed, the rapid blinking of our eyes in complete confusion—the crickets you could almost hear in the background—answered the therapist’s question better than any words we could have spoken.
Did we have each other’s back? Well, in order for that to be the case, we would’ve needed to be friends.
I was married to a man who was not my friend!
I can say that sentence fairly easily now. But admitting it to myself while I was still married was a very slow and painful process. God is gracious, though. He helped me see what I didn’t want to look at.
And the illustration He chose really surprised me.
During that final marriage separation, I frequently took my kids to see their dad, so they could spend time with him. Sometimes we went to parks, stores, or restaurants. Other times, I drove them to his home or office.
One day, during a visit to his office, he pointed out to us that construction was starting on a multi-storied building across the street from where he worked. Then he took us up to the top floor of his building’s parking garage, so we could better see the construction from a bird’s eye view.
Since the children began to be fascinated by the construction, I took them to their dad’s office frequently, so they could follow the progress. From my perspective, though, there really wasn’t much to see, only machines digging a VERY BIG hole.
Just earth movers
Large loads of dirt.
And a bigger and bigger hole.
Day after day, week after week.
Finally, something started happening. Cement mixers spun and poured. Machines laid pipes. People with hard hats began walking and pointing importantly. Steel beams followed and the site began looking like a building in progress. Those steel beams reached up higher than the parking garage where we stood across the street from the construction.
That’s when it hit me!
Because the office building was going to be SO VERY TALL, that big hole they originally dug had to be SO VERY DEEP. A good strong, high building required a deep and super sturdy foundation.
If our marriage had been healthy, we would have had a firm foundation, too. But we didn’t. The missing foundation was friendship.
Friends share vulnerably. Friends speak frankly. Friends have each other’s back. Our marriage didn’t show any signs of that.
Before you consider romance with a man, you’ve got to experience friendship with him.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO BE FRIENDS WITH A MAN?
Think about the female friendships you have today. Or think about just one. Consider what it is like to be in a nonsexual friendship with a woman.
Of course, you might be thinking . . .
You: But, Elizabeth Anne, men are different from women.
Me: Yes, I know that.
You: And relationships with men are different from ones with women.
Me: I know that, too.
But you need a point of reference
When you haven’t had successful friendships with men, the idea of having one seems as alien as planning to move to Mars. You need a way to start thinking about them that seems familiar. That’s why you’re thinking about a friendship with a man in terms of your friendships with women.
Take what you know about female friendship and apply it to men. Then, make sure that a friendship you start with a man looks a lot like your nonsexual relationship with a female friend.
And remember, a true friendship with a man comes LONG BEFORE a genuine romance with him. It has to or your relationship will topple over because it has no firm foundation.
Have you got your female friend in mind? With her . . .
- You can disagree with each other without arguing
- You can compromise with respect
- You can challenge your friend, and she can challenge you (and you both actually appreciate it!)
So what is it going to look like to have a friendship with a man?
You can disagree with him without arguing.
Make sure you can disagree with a man without it turning into an argument. Now, don’t go creating drama just to test a fella. Just notice what happens when he disagrees with something you’ve said.
Can he talk about it respectfully?
Can he hear your perspective and acknowledge it as reasonable?
The reverse has to be true, too. Make sure that when you disagree with him, you feel safe enough to bring up the disagreement. If you think you have to keep your lip zipped in order to keep the peace, you are NOT in a friendship at all.
You’re able to compromise with him respectfully.
Make sure you can compromise with a man. A basic fact of friendship is that two people can’t possibly like all the same things all of the time. Since you’re friends, though, one of you gives in sometimes and the other gives in at other times.
Does he do what you prefer as often as you do that for him?
Does he speak respectfully to you while you are working out a compromise?
If he nags or pouts when he doesn’t get his way, he’s not your friend. If he puts down your preference instead of honoring your opinion, he’s not your friend. If he uses fast talk and manipulative language to try to trick you into doing what he wants, he’s not your friend.
If you feel angry or resentful when he insists on his way (again!), he may be someone else’s friend, but he’s not yours.
You challenge him and are challenged by him.
Make sure you have with this man what God says real friends are able to give each other:
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6, New American Standard Bible
Is he bold enough to tell you when your behavior is ungodly?
Is he able to hear it when you do the same for him?
If so, he is a VALUABLE friend. If not, maybe he’s telling you what you want to hear so that he can get from you what he wants to get. Get out of that relationship before he can get it!
ONE LAST THOUGHT . . .
If you two are real friends, you both accept each other’s funny little quirks.
Any man who constantly picks at you or prods you to change who you are or how you do things is judgmental, controlling, and not worth your time.
God designed you on purpose, for a purpose. It’s impossible to experience genuine friendship with a man who demands that you be different from that just to suit his own selfish preferences.
Friendship with a man must come before romance with him. It’s during that friendship that you’ll learn if he’s trustworthy enough to have a romantic relationship with him.
And if you’ve been friends first and together decide to pursue romance, you can be confident that your romance will have the firm foundation of friendship that will help the romance last.