Not Alone Series: Encouragement for Men


Last week got away from me, so I am posting on last week’s prompt today. My post for this week’s prompt should go up tomorrow.

We seem to always have something to say about guys treating us right (or not right). But what does that mean? Have you ever thought to share those insights so guys have a better idea of what to say or how to act? What are some good habits guys can take up when dealing with us ladies?

That opening sentence is the truth, and it is sad. More than one of my male friends has rightfully complained about the expectations we women have for the men in our lives. We want them to make the first move. We want to be pursued. We want to be wooed. This is especially prominent in Christian circles. Many men enjoy leading, pursuing, and meeting a challenge, so that is all well and good. There’s even something theological to it. It’s not a bad concept.

But men are much more reluctant to embark on a challenge they don’t think they can win. How eager are you to do something when you are more likely than not to fail? Don’t you want to take on a challenge you can do?

Even though we want to be pursued and men want to pursue us, someone has to break the stalemate.

Romantic relationships should be like dancing.

Principle of dancing #1: The lead has to lead. The follow has to follow. Period. Unless leads want to follow, they have to be willing to lead. They can be bad at it, but they’ll never get better until they try. The worst leads don’t try at all.

I’ve experienced that with actual dancing. It really is terrible when my lead won’t lead, when he literally doesn’t move. I can take getting my feet stepped on a couple of times, and I can even handle being kicked, but I can’t follow unless I am led.

Romantic application #1: Men must make first move. The one who moves first, leads. If we ladies make the first move, we’re in charge, and I’m presuming that none of us want that. Some men are bad at leading. That’s okay. We can learn together. You might be approached by a lead you don’t want to follow. That’s okay, too. We’re all on the lookout for our lifelong dance partner, but if men try to force women into the dance, or women dance when they really don’t want to, no one will enjoy it.

I’ve never turned down an invitation to dance. Ever. I don’t get many, honestly. I have a personal rule that any man is worth one dance. Even if it is the worst and most awkward dance of my life, while he steps on my feet and smells funny and can’t keep his hands in appropriate places, I believe in redemptive suffering, so I can offer it up! At least I tried. I’ve danced with good leads and not-so-good leads, with teachers and amateurs. I am a better person for my dancing experience, and I hope they are, too. I can apply all this to dating, too, right?

Principle of dancing #2: The lead can’t lead a follow who can’t (or won’t) follow. If you claim to be a follow but are clearly opposed to being led, no lead can actually lead you. It will literally not work. There will be no movement. There will be no dance. A follow must be ready and willing to follow.

I’ve been a bad follow, too. It was a dizzying kind of fun when I just didn’t know what I was doing, but when I later knew how and just didn’t want to, we both lost out). (Again, I’m talking about actual dancing here.)

Romantic application #2: A woman who is not clearly open to meeting new men and giving them a chance will not find the one she’s looking for. No good man will try to force a woman into a relationship. A man can’t pursue a woman who isn’t out in the forest and willing to give chase, so to speak.

Principle of dancing #3: The follow can’t lead (or back-lead) because leads don’t follow. The roles would be completely out of whack. The follow would actually cease to be a follow, and the lead a lead.

Romantic application #3: I don’t think women should pursue men. I think both men and women should be up-front, clear, and charitable about their lack of interest, if applicable.

I also have experience in turning down a man in whom I was not interested. I will withhold details in order to protect our privacy, but suffice it to say that it seems to have gone over okay. I had to find out the hard way that chasing after a man is not a good idea, and that is all I will say about that.

To sum up, my word of encouragement to men is to look for a follow who is actively seeking a lead. Who’s on the edge of the dance floor? Who’s looking around for a lead? Make the invitation. If you are turned down, look for another. Be prepared to dance with many follows before you find the one you barely have to lead, the one with whom the dance simply flows. (A dance can be just a dance, but I like this metaphor, so I’m sticking with it.)

I want to be a follow who is actively seeking a lead. That’s not the same as leading. Remember, the follow can’t lead. I want to make the negative first move, or the zeroth move, or whatever move comes before the first one. I need to make that move.

What is that move going to be? That’s part of my NAS challenge, actually, so I’ll save that for next time.

Oh, and this “dating is like dancing” thing is not an original principle. I learned a lot from Matt Mordini’s writing on the Theology of Dance. Check it out and let me know if you think I’m on to something or completely off base.

Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting! Check out other responses on their blogs.


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I think I’d heard the analogy vaguely before, and not explained at all. I love how you explained it so eloquently and again, wish I had realized all of this when I was younger.

[…] I laid out my current ideas about how romantic relationships should be like dancing. I’m not the first person to come up with that one. I struggled a lot to get across what I […]

[…] written here about my opinions on leading and following. I stand by those opinions now that I am putting them into more regular practice. Spoiler alert: no […]

[…] that was hardest to write: I wrote a completely different middle for Not Alone Series: Encouragement for Men, and then I erased the whole thing and started over. It was tough to balance my desire to share my […]

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