What is Intentionality in Dating?

27 Aug
"Man Tickling Woman's Nose With a Feather," by Thomas Wade c.1860

"Man Tickling Woman's Nose With a Feather," by Thomas Wade c.1860

I have a confession to make, dear reader.  Judge me not too harshly. I am only a woman, after all.  This confession involves, of course, a man.  RN to be specific.  The abbreviated version of the RN story is that for many years we were friends.  Best friends.  But only friends.  Just friends.  Just friends who happened to engage in long sessions of kissing and making out, but still, we were not dating.  RN did not have a college degree, did not earn a lot of money, did not drive, and overall did not seem to me to be suitable marriage material.  But he was very attentive, caring, funny, and deep into the things of God.  We could talk about everything with each other, and we did.  Also, he was an extremely superlative kisser.  (Well he was!)

Four or five years ago, long after our relationship had transformed into a strictly non-physical friendship, RN dropped me.  Cold turkey.  He wanted to date me and knew it wasn’t going to happen, he said.  He wouldn’t so much as return a phone call or send a Christmas card.  It was like a death.  My sense was that God was behind the dissolution of our relationship.  Too entangled.  So I released him, and reconciled myself to missing him.  Then this past March a mutual friend invited me to church to hear RN preach.  I prayed and decided to go.  After the service RN came over to me and embraced me long.  He’d missed me too.

My confession is that, between March and August, RN and I have re-established our friendship (without getting physical).  I let him know that I am dating and seeking marriage.  He let me know that he does not intend to marry.  And week by week we have drawn steadily closer.  Closer like: after prayer meeting, around 9.30pm on a Tuesday night, RN calling to find out if I wanted to grab some dinner and me saying sure and us being out until midnight.  Closer like: me going on a date with an eharmony guy and on my way home calling RN to see if he wanted to go have tea somewhere.  Closer like: RN calling me right before he goes to sleep and right after he wakes up.  Close.

Mercifully, I began to realize that all this closeness was not good.

Intentionality, living like you are planning to marry, is one of the four principles espoused in A Girl’s Guide to Marrying Well.  The principle of intentionality includes letting go of intimate friendships with the opposite sex that are not leading to marriage.  “No matter how clearly one or both of you have defined what’s happening as “just friends,” your actions are constantly saying, ‘I enjoy being with you and interacting with you in a way that suggests marriage (or at least romantic attraction),’” writes Scott Croft in A Girl’s Guide.

I think I got to this place with RN because he is a known, relatively safe, quantity.  Loving RN is not going to hurt me like loving Mr. X might.  But, loving RN will not lead to marriage like loving Mr. X might.  It’s the immediate gratification of having a limited love reciprocated vs. the risk and delayed gratification of having an enduring, loving marriage.  The root of my problem is that I have not completely believed that God has a loving marriage in store for me.  Hence, my wanting intimate friendship with a man now, as opposed to waiting for intimate friendship as part of the full package of committed relationship later.

One cannot practice intentionality, live like she is planning to marry, without fully, completely, and wholeheartedly trusting God that marriage is possible.  I am noticing that where there is doubt, there are dead-end relationships, datelessness, and worse. 

RN and I talked it over and have agreed to draw back radically.  I choose to trust God.  How about you?

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