Not Alone Series: Noble Pursuit

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We talk all the time about wanting men to pursue us, but nobody wants to be stalked. What does it mean to pursue and be pursued? Why should men pursue? How would you prefer that a man pursue you? How would you respond to pursuing behavior?

Today’s topic was inspired by Katie’s post about encouraging men and one post in a series by David at Restless Pilgrim. In some way, I guess it’s also inspired by the wildly popular Christian books Wild at Heart and Captivating. I read them both, and I didn’t like them. Overall, I thought they each suffered from the full theology of love taught by St. John Paul II. It’s not supposed to be split into TOB for men and TOB for women. It’s “one flesh” theology.

Despite my distaste for those books, I agree that Katie and David both have valid points. Men have been encouraged, inside and outside of the Church, to back down. Women can do things for themselves, but men are supposed to be chasing adventure and slaying dragons, and so on. So everyone has been sold on the idea of men pursuing women. For better or for worse, I am among them.

The problem is that no one has any idea what “pursuing” supposed to look like. I am not opposed to flirting, and sometimes the situation calls for leaning in a little heavy. (I have this dream of actually saying, “If you ask me out, I’ll say yes,” but I haven’t gotten to that point with anyone in a while. Any male readers want to weigh in on whether that sounds awesome or scary?)

So the men in our lives do try to pursue, despite not knowing what they’re doing. David tells the story of inviting a young woman he knew as friends to spend time with him in progressively smaller groups. She said no every time. He concluded that she wasn’t romantically interested in him, and he moved on. But it turned out that she was interested, and her reason for rebuffing his invitations was that he was “meant to pursue” her.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like some pretty solid pursuit: clear, persistent, based in friendship, admittedly not using the D-word (date) but pretty darn close. (Some of those “smaller groups” would have been just the two of them.) It seems to me like she should have said yes at some point.

“I’m busy” in response to an invitation is ambivalent. It could be either an honest explanation or a gentle let-down, and there’s no way for a well-meaning man to know which is which. Personally, I keep getting booked 3 weeks in advance. (It’s hard being popular.) David offers a helpful alternative to “just say no.” If you’re genuinely interested but also genuinely unavailable, be clear and extra-positive about inviting him to ask again. Drop a handkerchief. Be visibly sad about being busy and obviously happy about being asked at all. (This is harder to do over the phone: another reason for in-person asks.) Reschedule immediately, if possible.

Note that “I’m busy, but maybe some other time” when you really want there to be another time is probably not clear enough. That could be a brush-off, too. I’ve accidentally sent someone away by saying that. (I wanted him to call again. He never did.) Not everyone is as calendar-oriented as I am, but when I have really wanted to go and couldn’t make the initial invitation, I have literally pulled out my phone to check my availability. That’s not pursuing; that’s responding.

My takeaway is that, although I prefer to be asked on dates rather than asking men myself, I intentionally make my “yes” mean yes and my “no” mean no. If he has the courage to ask, I will do everything I can to reward that effort with grace and charity, with encouragement when I’m interested and compassion when I’m not.


Next week’s topic: Fulfillment

How do you give encouragement to other singles (or couples) who are struggling in their journey? (hosted by Rachel)

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Hi Lindsay,

I saw the post when it went up and the video you posted on FB, but haven’t made the time to respond until now. As far as your question about the response “If you ask me out, I’ll say yes,” I would find that awesome. I also greatly dislike the general mentality of pursuit because it goes against feminism and what I learned as common respect and decency. There’s no way of knowing if I have stopped pursuing a women who was interested in me in the past, but when a woman puts up clear road blocks I defer to her. If she turns me down and says she isn’t interested I respect her decision. I realize that may be one of the reasons I am still single. It frankly scares me.

Another issue with the gentleman always having to pursue is the decision of who to pursue. Sometimes when I meet a few people and they all seem like wonderful individuals I am overwhelmed with the idea that I have to choose one to pursue and accept that the others may be alienated by that since they weren’t my first choice. I guess it might be a derivative of FOMO, but it causes me to hesitant at openly pursuing anyone. Living away from a solid friend base has certainly made my desire for a person to share life with increase. A few days back someone shared a quote relating to women being like apples, and the ones a the top of the tree are the best, but they don’t get any attention from the boys who are scared to climb all the way to the top. First of all I think that is a terrible analogy, but secondly I’m willing to make the effort and climb, but if someone is throwing stones at me while I’m climbing to make me prove my worth, I’m probably going to give up.

Peace, support, and solidarity,

Craig

    It makes perfect sense to move on when a particular woman says she’s not interested. I have a particular friend in mind who was, when she met her now-husband, also being badgered by four other men. I use that word intentionally; she wasn’t interested, but they wouldn’t move on.

    You’re not the first man I’ve heard comment on the awkward situation of picking one among many to pursue. I’ve never been the kind of girl who only hangs out in packs of other girls, but I experienced that at the beginning of a dance class once. There were more followers than leaders, and I was chatting with three other women before class. (Otherwise, I never get to talk to any of the women!) One of the men walked over to join us chatting, but when our teacher turned on the music, he didn’t ask any of us to warm up with him. I gave it about eight seconds before I asked him myself. He turned out to be really good! I’m not 100% sure that translates out of dance and into romance, but I guess it could.

    I hope no one’s throwing stones at you! I get the analogy, and I’ve heard that before, but the stones are uncalled for!

“If you ask me out, I’ll say yes,” but I haven’t gotten to that point with anyone in a while. Any male readers want to weigh in on whether that sounds awesome or scary?)

Story time. I once met a girl. We became friends, I was interested but…well…I dithered. Anyway, after a couple of weeks she sent me a message which said “So, maybe you can help me with something. You see, there’s I guy I’ve recently got to know. He’s handsome and funny and I really like him a lot but he hasn’t asked me out. Do you think I should stick around and wait for him to do that? Or do you think he only sees us as friends?”

I told her that he was probably a bit slow on the uptake, but that he’d be a complete idiot if he didn’t ask her out the next time he saw her :-)

Hey Lindsay,

Thanks for reading my article and writing a response :-)

God bless,

David.

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