The topic of dating has always been a tricky and vulnerable topic for me to talk about. Since I was brought up in a strict Christian home, I was not allowed to date until I finished university (Ok, more like my dad wanted me to come back with a degree cert and NOT a marriage/ birth cert!). I had a pretty conservative view on dating- men must ask women out for a date, I should not go out on a date unless I really liked the guy etc. And of course, I had so many insecurities and fears that I would put up a "chill" and "I am not interested" persona. I am so guilty of "brother-zoning" men because I wanted to protect my own heart from disappointment.
However, ever since I have embarked on my identity journey with the Lord, my view on dating has morphed tremendously. Its as if I had a new lens to view myself and coffee dates! Here are some things that I have learned:
(1) Treat coffee dates as low stakes!
He doesn't have to be "The One". Technically, I will never know if he is "The One" if I did not even give him a chance to know him. I don't even have to be attracted to him. No, I am not NOT guarding his heart. As long as I don't have weird vibes from the guy, I think I am pretty inclined to say "Yes, why not?" A while ago, I found a note on my car windshield from a random guy, asking me on a coffee date. Cracked my memory on who he might be. I did remember briefly talking to a stranger- guy after I parked my car, out of courtesy.
I didn't know what to do it so I approached my Enneagram Type 7 (bless all my Type 7 friends. All about fun and taking risks) pastor, Peter Mattis about it. He got wide-eyed and very excitedly said, "Pearly, what's the worst that can happen? It was a bad conversation but you got a free cup of coffee!". Truth. It doesn't have to be high stakes. Neither do I need to have an expectation that it's going to be a date that will change the course of my life. To anyone who's wondering, it ended up being a nice 2 hours conversation but we both agreed that there isn't anything more to this than a friendship. My heart was very OK and did not even experience an inch of disappointment :)
(2) You don’t need to wait for God to tell you to ask someone out on a coffee date
Well, I guess if we are on the mentality that coffee dates are low stakes, we really don't need this magical God-moment or 10 signs before we ask/ accept a date. This wasn't me. I was all about, "God, highlight the right guy for me! God, should I strike a conversation with him? Decide for me and tell me what to do!!". I personally believe that God does allow us to choose who we plan to be with for the rest of our lives (of course there are exceptional cases where He knows this relationship is not good for us or He sovereignly wants two people to be married for a specific purpose like Hosea in the Bible). God uniquely created us with unique desires and traits that we are naturally attracted to. Most of the time, He does trusts us to make good decisions and in return, we entrust Him with our decisions as well. Trusting that He makes all things work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). At times when I don't hear Him say something explicitly, I follow Peace. Peace may come in a form of a small gut feeling. And peace may look like this man checking off the ideal-husband-list that I have written years ago :)
(3) You don’t have to change yourself to get a date
I have receive countless advices on how to "position" myself better to get more dates. My parents would tell me to "tone down as men do not like strong women", "laugh softer because men do not like loud women", "exercise less because men do not like muscular women" and many more "you should-s" and "you shouldn't-s". Putting aside unhealthy behaviors, I am a fully believer of showing up as you. In order to be true to a relationship, is to be true to yourself first. I've been asked out a number of times in the gym; which is hilarious as I would be in the worst condition ever- sweaty, tired and obviously not interested to talk to anyone (gym is downtime for me)! Be comfortable in your own skin. Research has confirmed that men and women rate confidence as a very attractive trait in a potential partner (Buunk, Dijkstra, Fetchenhauer, & Kenrick, 2002)
(4) You don’t need a date to validate who you are or your needs
The number of dates you receive is not a good indicator of how awesome you are! A good indicator if you are having a healthy mindset about yourself is thinking, "I would make an awesome date and wife" instead of "Am I not good enough? If only I am more intelligent, thinner, prettier <insert the blanks>". And yes, we all get confronted with a sense of loneliness or emptiness form time to time. This is what I would ask my heart whenever that kicks in:
(i) Identify the need that I am desiring ie. Do I need to be loved right now? Validated? Comforted?
(ii) How else can I fulfill this desire? Some examples:
- If I am lonely, is there someone that I can grab a coffee and hang out with?
- If I am need to be loved, how about I ask God how much He loves me and what He loves about me?
- If I am sad, is there a friend that I can watch a comedy and have a good laugh with?
(5) Enjoy your singlehood!
Instead of always looking to the future for what my life would be, why don't be present in the moment. Enjoy the relationships that we have at hand and the (slightly more irresponsible) adventures that we get to go on. Pack your bag and go to Africa for one month. Go jump off the plane. Find out who you really are. Do all the things you can before you find yourself having to allocate time for a husband and 3 kids. Have fun in the moment and surrender your desires to the Lord. He knows what's best for us and definitely knows when is best for us ;)
(Super YOLO trip to Grand Canyon!)
Pearly Ng, an unashamedly single woman in her 30s, is having a time of her life right now. She quit her corporate job when she was 30, packed her bag and flew 21 hours to California to pursue her passion in ministry school for 3 years. She is currently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and is open for coffee dates just as long the coffee tastes better than the ones in California ;)