I’ve discovered something remarkable in the course of writing about relationships. It has sparked a lot of interest and a lot of conversations, I’ve found myself in the absurd position of offering counsel and hearing stories that range from the comic to the heart warming. I’ve heard from guys who have no idea what they should do and girls who know exactly what the guys should do.
But I’ve learnt one immutable fact, guys like girls and girls like guys.
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, that this is what I’ve learnt? Sounds like I’ve been on another planet for the past 27 years. Except we often think that we are the exception. That we are experiencing something that no one else is. So when we hear from others that they face the same challenges and feel the same, it wakes us up that something is going on.
And I have come to two conclusions. The first I’ve already mentioned, and that is that this is a big issue, it gets people thinking and talking, and considering, it evokes lively emotions and painful decisions.
The second is that we have to get talking about it. I speak only for my situation, in a church of 500-600 people, most of whom are young and single. And in that situation I’ve taken a bit of a straw poll. I’ve inquired as to people’s dating experience, who they’ve asked out, who has asked them out. And I’ve tested a little hypothesis, and I didn’t expect to get as much agreement as I did.
The hypothesis is this, speaking of the single people in my church, most of them at most times are interested in someone of the opposite sex. And usually the person they are interested in is likely to be someone who they spend time around. So take any group of people from the church and it is to be expected that there are a lot of emotions lingering in the ether. Some of these feelings will be tentative, others will be unrequited, occasionally they will be obviously reciprocated. But all the time they will affect the group.
Except that’s not how we act. We act as though we are all just friends, and we push the romantic attraction below the surface, sometimes to preserve our own frail facade, sometimes to steer clear of awkwardness, but I think most of the time because we are happy living in the now. We are happy with what we have got, and we want to make the most of it. In a crowd of singles we share a common bond, an unspoken rebellion against the cultural norm.
It’s never that intentional, most would say they are looking for a partner, it’s just they don’t say much about it. It exists as a backdrop to our community and it affects it in two parallel ways, it inhibits the formation of strong non-romantic friendships and it stifles the open pursuit of romance. So back to my little straw poll, how much dating goes on, not much. It does take place and it usually happens quietly and discreetly in a most respectful way.
But go back to my premise, if most people like someone most of the time, and the people I surveyed had asked or been asked out between zero and three times. That leaves a lot of affection that goes unspoken.
I’ve also been asked for some solutions as I’ve written, the truth is I’m all out of those.
So let me offer one other consequence if we repress our feelings too much, we are living double lives.
But if we like someone and continue to act around them as though we are just friends we are deceiving them and deluding ourselves.