So I’m told it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend.  As a single guy (currently not dating, with no legit prospects on the horizon), I really wouldn’t have known this but for a few blaring indicators:

  • those horrible jewelry ads on TV, where the guy takes the woman to some unbelievably romantic spot, opens the box, and…she…GASPS.  The perfect moment, by which all others must be judged.
  • the middle school I work in, with all the raging hormones and emotional instability contained within, and its heart-themed bulletin boards, carnation sales, and dishes full of candy hearts (which I might walk by once or twice…an hour  🙂 ).
  • my calendar tells me that Saturday is (among other things) “Valentinstag.”  Nothing more romantic than German love…

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I actually like Valentine’s Day; the idea of a built-in shake-up to the routine that often sets in with marriage is a great idea.  I’ve got great stories of funny ministry events we used to do on Valentine’s Day, and the Philippines puts on a hilarious display near this holiday (think lots of Air Supply). 

And, to be perfectly honest, I rarely ponder my relationship status (unless a rare prospect crosses my sights).  However, every so often, it’s shoved right in my face: “We’d like to stay in contact with you, but we’re mostly spending our time with other couples now;”Sorry, you can’t have a career in ministry, because only married people are responsible enough for such things;” “So, when are you finally going to get married?  There’s this one girl I know… you should call her.” 

Some interesting numbers to ponder, from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • 43% of Americans over 15 are unmarried.
  • 64% of single adults have never been married (not sure what % of these are over 18)
  • There are 12.2 million single parents in the U.S.
  • 50% of adults in New York are unmarried (the highest of any U.S. state)

A few (lengthy) thoughts that need dispensing, on behalf of single Christian men everywhere:

To my non-Christian friends: it’s hard for you to understand this, but dating’s just different for guys like me.  Faith is not an accessory issue (as in “likes jazz” or “loves to travel”); it’s central to everything a future relationship of mine would be.  All my other life goals & plans stem from how I view myself in God’s eyes, and where I see Him leading me.  Any girls you would hope to introduce us to would need to embrace this, as well.  That generally means that we’re not interested in about 1/2 the single women you know; don’t take this as a sign of our hopelessness.  As I said, it’s just different.

To my churches, past and present:  I’m sorry to say it like this, but most of you have no clue what it’s like to be an unmarried adult; you probably met your spouse in college, got married a year or two later, and soon afterwards came the kids.  And, although you might not realize it, you have unintentionally ostricized the single men and women in your congregations, and shoved them aside to the kiddie table.  We don’t want “Singles’ Ministries;” we want to be treated like relevant adults with valid life experience (if regular sexual activity is all it takes to be a relevant adult, I know a lot of high school kids who would be, and just as many married folks who wouldn’t).  Look around this next Sunday: in an average room, you’ll likely find more than a few of us without Magic Rings (either through divorce, being widowed, or never having jumped into the pool).  We just want to be considered for positions of leadership, invited over for dinner, and, occasionally, interviewed for ministry positions we are otherwise-overqualified for.

To my single Christian female friends: How did you come to settle on the brand of shampoo you currently use?  You probably grew up using one type, then got recommendations from friends.  Then, eventually, you just had to start trying out different types, finding out what types of shampoo are out there, while at the same time learning how your hair worked.  Some were pretty awful, a few were great but too expensive, and, eventually, you came to find the brand that brought out the best in your hair (or, perhaps, you just grab whatever off the Dollar Store shelf.  I don’t know how women work).

Sorry to tell you this, ladies, but my experience has shown that, once you get past “the prime marriage years”(mid-late 20’s), the girls who still aren’t taken aren’t taken for a reason.  (I’m not talking about single moms, of course, who are dealing in a whole other reality)  And, furthermore, that reason is all too often nothing more than unrealistic expectations about “The One.”.  Mr. Darcy’s not coming.  Chandler & Monica doesn’t happen in real life.  It’s not that you’re not worth the absolute best: quite the opposite, actually.  To stay a growing woman of God who trusts her life’s direction to the Spirit’s leading, is something you should be commended and admired for (especially those of you with the strength and courage to lovingly raise children on your own).  You deserve to be cared for and appreciated by a God-fearing man who will respect, support, and challenge you.  And, yet, that kind of thing doesn’t just happen; we men need the “green light” occasionally, even though the culture tells you that you don’t need us.

Another point: do you tend to keep a lot of ambiguous male friendships?  Those do nothing but bring confusion to present and future relationships with men.  Chances are, if a guy has been “hanging out” with you for at least a few months, he’s hoping things will go somewhere.  Perhaps you are, too.  These AMF’s need to be clarified before intentions are misinterpreted and feelings start getting hurt.  Whose permission are you waiting for to be happy?

To my single Christian male friends: Hang tough, men!  The world needs you to be men (even if you can’t be husbands & fathers at the moment).  The women around us need us to stop being wishy-washy about our intentions with them, too; if you’re interested in dating someone, start moving things in that direction, then take a bold step to clear the air of any uncertainty.  She’s either interested, or she’s not, and putting this revelation off will only create confusion and misled feelings down the road.  But, we too must be reminded that opportunities don’t just fall into our laps; we sometimes have to go putting ourselves in new, broadening situations.  Not just to meet girls, but to experience life to the fullest, without needing someone else’s permission.

—————–

In conclusion, a funny SNL video that pretty much sums things up (both about how dating works, and why all guys hate Tom Brady):

http://www.dailyhaha.com/_vids/sexual_harassment.htm