“stop. just stop it.”

My generation of Lutherans is the worst EVER at dating.

{This just in: I may tend toward exaggeration. Slightly.}

Somewhere between sleeping with the last person you talked to at the bar and Mom and Dad demanding a blood draw and polygraph from the new guy before he can sit down to dinner, my generation stopped believing that you can actually talk to people in order to find out if you like them and started believing that God will instead just drop the perfect people, marriage-ready, off at their doors a like FedEx guy on a delivery route.

My generation (Ok, let’s get real. It’s usually the women.) is genius at coming up with excuses as to why they shouldn’t go out with someone. They are masters at explaining why an hour  of conversation and a grande, single-shot, extra hot, light foam latte is just too much to ask.

And the excuses! My goodness, you should hear the excuses. He’s too tall. He’s too short. She’s too quiet. She’s too loud. He’s not attractive. He’s WAY too attractive. He’s not Lutheran enough. He’s too Lutheran. She’s too nice. She’s too mean. He sniffs funny. He doesn’t sniff funnily enough. She drives a red car. She doesn’t drive a red car. He has the personality of oatmeal. He has more personality than oatmeal.

In the words of a recent Easter sermon, “Stop. Just stop it.”

And if all the pre-judging and pre-determining and pre-worrying and pre-planning-out-everyone’s-entire-future-together-including-who-will-and-won’t-be-invited-to-the-wedding-that’s-currently-non-existent weren’t frustrating enough, this conversation almost always occurs before the person’s ever even (a) met the other person or (b) gone on an actual date.

So, I have to ask: did A date—one, single, solitary, lone date—ever kill anybody?  Has anyone literally lost a limb over coffee? Have people ever physically melted down over one dinner?

No. Of course not. {Maybe don’t check the Guinness Book of World Records on this, just in case I’m wrong.} Actually, I think Illinois gets it right on this one: Date early and date often.

Ok, don’t date early, but feel free to date often.

But not all that often. Let’s not go crazy here.

Instead, ladies, let’s go with a few quality, deeply theological and profoundly intellectual, criteria:

  1.  Does he have a debit card?
  2. Does he have a pulse?
  3. Does he have a car that runs?
  4. Will he hurt me?

(The correct answers there are (1) He better, (2) Gosh, I hope so, and (3) Can you settle for a scooter or this a true deal breaker? and (4) Just watch him try.)

C’mon, Lutherans. (And really, c’mon, Lutheran women.) Dating isn’t something to be feared and overanalyzed. It’s also not the Black Plague. It will not kill you. You can handle this. Your mom and dad don’t need to go on the first date with you. You also don’t need to decide how many children you’ll have and what their middle names will be before you’ve ever heard his voice.

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And just so we’re clear: Going out for coffee isn’t a proposal. If you breathe in the same proximity with one another, you’re actually not engaged. And if the date is horrible, and you find yourself wishing that your feet were weighted down with cement blocks and that he would toss you in a nearby river, you’re really only out a couple of hours that you would have spent pinning gowns to your fake wedding Pinterest board.

So go ahead. Ask me how I really feel about my generation and their messed up view of dating that never actually involves dating.

Just ask me.

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19 thoughts on ““stop. just stop it.”

  1. For a long time, I strongly preferred to date Lutheran women, making a beeline to say hello when an eligible looking woman showed up in church. Strangely, the women who seemed to be the most Lutheran often had values that were anything but.

    Then, I met my wife-to-be while watching a football game in a bar. We were several dates in before I discovered that she was a kinda- sorta- lapsed Lutheran. Yet she has turned out to be an incredible Christian woman and has developed a deep appreciation for the things of the Church.

    Lesson? I wouldn’t make a person’s faith or lack thereof a deal-breaker. The religious label that a person uses may mean less than you think.

    • I’ve seen it both ways … the pastor of the congregation I currently attend was raised non-Lutheran … took some religion classes at a synodical college … met a pastor’s daughter … and the rest … well … history.

      Another case, a pastor passed away … the discussion was how his wife of non Lutheran background labored to bring non Lutheran hymnody into his very liturgical congregation … so as they say … your mileage may vary.

  2. I’ve actually struggled a lot with this issue recently. A year ago I know I said I’d get back out there, but in the middle of the year, I had another melt-down, confidence destroying incident where I said the wrong thing at the wrong time to someone, & I went back into my hole.
    The thing I don’t understand from the low place I’m at now is, I would just assume be single the rest of my life & not have to deal with women, etc, but instead, my strong desire to be with a woman persists. It makes sick inside, because I’ve gotten hurt so many times.
    In our modern culture, we’ve tried to substitute friends for family, & this is a perilous enterprise, because it blurs too many social lines, and as you detail Adriane, it makes knowing what you’re supposed to do when in dating.

  3. Kate, that is very easy to say a the one who isn’t doing the asking. (The man that can just ask out women carelessly, are just that…careless.) Women seem to underestimate the fact that men actually do have emotions and feelings. They don’t enjoy having their heart crushed. Also, note that the blog is about women who won’t accept a guy’s invitation for a variety of reasons.

    Stet author, While, I do agree with the blog post, I have to charge you as a woman of our generation do you think that you contribute to the problem or do you improve the situation?

    P. S. I was thinking of a line from Jim Gaffigan while reading this post: “It hurts when someone rejects you, cause what they are really saying is, ‘I don’t even want a free meal around you.'”

    • Neil! It isn’t easy to say at all. We’re the ones doing the waiting. That’s hard stuff. And my point simply was in response to the author’s charge that Lutheran women won’t just go out on a date. I’m saying “ask me, and I will!” Her entire point was that a date is just a date. Try it out! And you respond by saying that men who just ask women out all the time are careless. By that same token, maybe us women are trying to protect ourselves from rejection too! As a girl who has had a few serious relationships, I don’t think I’m one of these girls who goes “eww, he had a beard, I can’t date him” yet it seems to me that most Lutheran men I meet are looking for the quiet demure lady who cooks the meals, raises the children and beyond teaching them catechism, better not be engaged in theological discussion. That’s not the “woman’s” place. (By the way I’m hoping to be blessed to stay home with my children and teach them the catechism.) But I’m sorry, I’m a pastor’s daughter. I’ve read some theology and I love it. And quite frankly, if I’m picky, it’s because I’m looking for a man who’s up to the task of raising a family in the way of The Lord in this vail of tears. Now before I get too serious here (I love jim gaffigan) I will just say that I find this whole discussion very amusing. In the end, God promises to provide, and He will. So anyway, in Christian love, I’ll agree. I should be more sensitive. But also, all you Lutheran men out there need to man up. I’m sorry but ya do. I mean, what do you have to lose? Christ has won the victory. That’s what matters. Asking a girl out should pale in comparison to that.

  4. Women often have poor expectations of a man.

    To many men, if a date goes 70% well, the man says, “well, not bad for a first date, but there is room for improvement. All in all, not a bad first try, I think that I will call her for a second date.” For a woman, it was 30% bad and not tolerable. “30% bad! Oh my gosh, it can only go down from here.”
    Men and women today have messed up expectations and I agree 100%…

    IT’S JUST A DATE!

    You really need to give someone at least three dates to see if you are compatible. Some people are just nervous on the first date. Some people need to get to know the other person before they come out of their shell.

    Let people know that you are looking for someone to spend your life with but it is like shopping for clothes. Some look good, but aren’t a good fit. Some fit but aren’t comfortable. When you find one that is comfortable like your old college sweatshirt, then perhaps you can settle down.

    It is also good to keep it plural. Date more than one person at a time. This helps to keep you from fixating on one person and getting all weirded out. The other thing with this is that if you really like someone, but they aren’t feeling it and they tell you that it is over for them, you have a much softer landing with other prospects.

    Some guys say that they can’t date more than one woman at a time, some girls say that they can’t date more than one guy at a time. Yeah I used to think that too and you know what they called me? “SINGLE!” Just keep the sexual parts for marriage and date as many as possible and see who rises to the top of the pile – that’s how to find a keeper.

    How do I know that I’m right, because it worked for me and I have coached many men to do the same and it works for them too.

  5. You’re right John. I appreciate your comments. Patience is a virtue. It’s just hard for a rambunctious, bold, and generally outspoken Lutheran girl to shut up long enough for the quiet shy Lutheran boy to speak up! 🙂 But I guess they’re afraid we’ll think they’re proposing…haha. Btw we don’t think that. At least most of us. Ah well, I love being Lutheran. There’s plenty to do while we wait for the shy ones to pluck up the courage. Happy Easter everybody!

  6. My 18 year old daughter just broke up with her boyfriend. She now wants me to pick and choose her next one – she seriously wants me to do this!! Can something be said about pre-arranged marriages?

  7. This is a great post! As a formerly rather shy guy, and with three sons who probably qualify for that designation at least somewhat, I do have a thought for Kate: Just remember that “shy persons” just need the strength to get up and do what they need to do (Powermilk Bisquits, anyone?) (Prairie Home Companion, if you don’t know). So-called wimpy men will come around with the “ask” when given opportunities. Hang around a bit.

  8. The song says “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life…get an ugly girl to marry you.” Truer words were never spoken. I thought I would want to marry a high-maintenance, fun-loving girl. I married a gutbucket-low maintenance, fun-loving, pious woman (rescued her from WELS, in fact) who loved me for who I was, not who I wanted to be or who she wanted me to be. She’s beautiful from the inside out, and I am a happy man for it. The moment you stop looking for Mr. Right is the moment when Mr. Right might just show up in your life.

    Christ is risen!

  9. I met my wife after a mutual acquaintance blew himself up and I did the memorial service – go figure.

    Of course, my advice would be this for both men and women – forget about what you “want” — think about whom you want to serve. In life, if you judge a relationship (or congregation, or job, or town) by what you want, you are always going to be able to find something to complain about… but if your focus is on showing love, well, there you can find contentment.

  10. I met my wife on Match.com. In my experience, the girls I met on eHarmony fit your description like a glove. There was always something that doesn’t fit their criteria, and I never had a second date with anyone from eHarmony. With Match.com, I found the girls were more realistic, understood that they’ll end up as old maids before they meet the perfect man, and I actually had three relationships over the years with people I met through that site. The point of this story? eHarmony girls are scary. 🙂

  11. Try going on just ONE date with *everyone* who asks you (that is unless your gut tells you they’re not safe) even if you think he’s not your type – think of it as a observational date! By the end of that date, you will know whether or not you want a second. Try it, you might be surprised and you will definitely learn a lot about people too.

  12. Maybe the men should try being, oh I don’t know, MEN and actually ASK US OUT. Just saying. It’s hard to go for the wimpy ones who won’t even ask. Sorry if I like real men. Good thoughts though.

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