Don’t you wish sometimes that you could get inside a guy’s mind to understand how he thinks? Well, one man agreed to be my guinea pig. He happened to send an email with some observations about the women in his Bible study, so I asked if he would elaborate for the benefit of this blog’s readers. He good-naturedly agreed, so here are some of the highlights of our exchange. We’ll call him Connor for today. Connor attends an evangelical Bible church in Texas, one with many new believers—an important factor in this discussion.
Connor: I am volunteering as a co-leader in our singles group at the church with a lady. As in most cases we have a 5-to-1 ratio of women to men. The biggest struggle or problem I deal with is being smothered by the ladies. The last several weeks I have been approached by three of the ladies wanting to go out on dates. It is tough for me but I have turned them all down. My focus is entirely on leading this group with integrity and I feel like for me to be effective I need to be committed to them unattached. What can I do to limit or eliminate (I wish) these requests?
So I asked Connor if he could elaborate on what being “smothered” meant. Here is what he described:
Connor: The biggest problem with the ladies is their constant need for some attention. I realize that as a leader I am exposed to this certain issue. Because I am a hugger it tends to get me in trouble when trying to provide that pure male touch. I also have the wonderful gifts of mercy, compassion and encouragement which are helpful when leading this group. This in itself hooks them because I am attentive to their needs. I have an accountability partner in the female leader to make sure that I am not leading anyone astray. I also meet with two men’s groups during the week. I feel confident that I am not jeopardizing my ability to lead them by "just caring for them" in a righteous way. You were correct about the female leader. In the beginning I had to be straight with her about her advances. She had her subtle little flirtatious remarks and comments. We have a wonderful relationship now as brother and sister in the Lord. She has assured me that it is the ladies going places in their minds because of my availability. I don't see myself as “all that” but then again I do have a passion for Christ and that alone is enough for most women to feel secure and respected. The other leader has been talking for sometime now on doing a Bible study strictly for the single ladies and it sounds like it is time for that!
To be honest, I anticipated Connor’s description of himself—as well as his confidence that his motivations were godly and not giving mixed signals. I told him that he is the typical stumbling block in singles ministries—the hugger who is an empathetic and encouraging listener. Add to that his willingness to step up and lead a group, and you’ve got an irresistible draw for most ladies. No doubt, some might have been confused by his actions, especially if they weren’t aware that he was consistently treating other women in the same way. Since I’ve never met Connor, I can’t share any observations of his behavior, so for the purposes of this discussion we’re going to assume he’s not misleading anyone. (Let’s keep that assumption in the comments, too, please!) Now, there’s a lot here to unpack, but I wanted to further explore why Connor was reacting to the women’s initiatives as he did. So I asked another round of questions, which he willingly answered:
Connor: Okay, I’m ready now to answer your questions!
1. Why don’t you want to respond to these offers? Let’s see….hmm, not ready, not the right one but I believe the main reason is that I am focusing on being a Godly example unattached. What is not appealing in them? I honestly believe that some of these women have this desperation about them. It makes me feel (I mean this humbly) like I’m the only man available. I do have some attraction to them but have been very guarded against that for fear of failure on my part.
2. What are the women failing to understand in their pursuit of you? That I’m not ready to change my mind about dating. I think they believe I will be ready to go any day. Can’t I just be attentive and caring about them without them thinking I am attracted to them and that I would be a great husband?
3. What would you prefer to see in such scenarios? That they would think, Connor is our leader and we shouldn’t want him to stumble. That they pray I would be strong and continue to lead them by example through their days of singleness. I know it’s asking a lot!
4. Is there any “power” in a reserved woman? Very much so! A look or a glance says a lot to me. I like to see confidence and assurance about whom and what they are. It’s that constant calling or asking me what I am doing this weekend to see if I’m available that makes me uncomfortable.
5. What would you want to communicate to the women in this group if you thought you could do it without any repercussions? That God’s timing is perfect in our lives. I believe HE will reveal to the man and the woman they are right for each other. I haven’t felt that with these ladies. Maybe it’s just where I am at right now which is totally focused on this singles group. I want them to be happy and content with me giving them my very best in this area of my life and respect my boundaries.
The reason I wanted to feature this dialogue was to showcase how a man thinks about a woman’s advances toward him. But I know there are many readers who would wonder why Connor is not pursuing marriage at present. He did tell me a little about those reasons, but they are not germane to this discussion so I didn’t include them. Suffice it to say, he has become aware of some self-centered patterns of relating to women and is working to grow and change—this on top of working through being sinned against in a prior relationship. He is not trying to avoid marriage, but he is unwilling to just date someone for the sake of entertainment. If he gets married, he wants a woman who is “passionate about Christ, the church and family.”
What I’m trying to highlight here is that if a man is not pursuing, it’s because he doesn’t want to—and that doesn’t change when women drop hints as large as Mack trucks or even directly ask the men out. Generally speaking, female pursuit or manipulation is unappealing to most men. No matter how much feminism tries to convince us that the rules are different now, men will tell you that they really haven’t changed. Even if they accept feminine attention and advances, they still prefer to initiate. Plus, they value what they have to work hard to obtain. Is this my speculation? No. This is what men are publishing and broadcasting in both Christian and mainstream media—I’m not making it up!
For any men reading, I’d like to know if you agree and if you have experienced what Connor has described. If so, what counsel would you add?