(Or “I was asked “is it alright for a woman to ask a man out?”)

Since I speak of the pompatus of love (will someone PLEASE let me know what that means), I am dedicating my Friday blogs to the topic of dating. So far, I’ve looked at why folks bother to date, whether or not you are ready to date, taken a more realistic view of marriage, and defined dating (which led to looking at what I called “the couch dilemma”/DTRs). Now to examine a topic that, oddly enough, sparks a lot of debate.

I was at a Super Bowl party when a guy came up to me, regaling me with polite chatter while dancing around what he wanted to talk to me about. Eventually he got to his point. It seems that he found himself in the situation where a woman was interested in him and asked him out. He told me that this made him uneasy because he believed that if a woman initiates a relationship it sets a pattern that interferes with the man’s ability to lead, so he turned her down. This has been bothering me for a while.

I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t know why people come to me with questions. They know, or some part of their soul should cry out in knowing protest, that I am only going to make fun of them. I looked him in the eyes and wondered aloud why he wasn’t thankful that someone saw something in his crusty behind worth asking out. What I’ve come to realize is that this problem poses more of a dilemma for some folks than I initially thought. This is a question that polarizes singles, splitting them between traditional and modern schools of thought (I’m quite serious, by the way):

1. This is a good thing. A woman asking the man out takes the guesswork out of things. Look, the number one (and if not number one, at least top three) issues I hear from guys is that they can’t tell if a woman’s interested. So, as a general rule of thumb, if she asks you out, she’s probably interested. If he’s afraid of rejection, again let me emphasize that her asking him out reduces the chances of him being out on a limb and risking rejection. Let’s face it, some people don’t thrive on always being the risk-takers and anything that reduces risk is preferred.

Some people say that they are tired of outdated notions of male and female roles. I have the suspicion that there are some guys who like to say things like that in order to sound like, well, they don’t revel in their Neanderthal ways. Such guys may believe this non-traditional “forwardness” is okay in theory, but they would be put off or at least caught off guard in actual practice. In fact, it is my guess that many of the same guys who applaud this defiance of outdated notions are the same guys who, once the “I dos” have been said, immediately want a marriage of traditional roles.

Sadly, some guys will see the woman asking them out as a demonstration of her assertiveness and independence (read: threatened by), and they are more comfortable in the other school of thought.

2. This is a bad thing. This view comes from the traditionalists among us. Of course, this puts guys in a particular Catch-22: if they believe that men should do the asking, but they don’t want to risk rejection by asking someone out. These guys–when they come to me for counsel–again, get openly mocked.

But you never know which type of guy you’re dealing with. So, women, apparently your safest course of action is to hint broadly and loudly, but stop short of asking him out. This is one of those (silly) rules of the game that there is no point in complaining about, that’s just the way it is.

In general, men love the thrill of the chase and women love, want, and need to be desired.

There, I said it.

Do you know what all of this stems from? There is quite the debate in Christian circles about how leadership in the home should work. I’m not going to wade into this debate (since we’re almost at the end of our time together), however, I will say this: the church does a poor job of communicating what male leadership/headship will or is supposed to look like in marriage. Is it supposed to look like the man takes the lead in all things? Does this mean that the guy makes all of the decisions? Does this mean that every time the man speaks, the woman jumps?

Don’t get me wrong, this is how it is in my marriage. Oh yeah, whatever I say, my wife is quick to jump to it.

There is all of this pressure to be a leader, and no instruction on what this is supposed to look like. And no matter how nuanced the pastor thinks that he is making his teaching (your might remember such sermons on passages like Ephesians 5:22-32 or First Peter 3:1-3), what gets heard is “he commands, she follows.”- despite the context of the passages being a discussion of mutual submission.

Here’s what is rarely emphasized enough: being a leader means being ready to serve.

To the ladies who ask me “why do guys” questions: why would you want a guy too gutless to ask you out? If you are the kind of woman who “can” ask a guy out, then I wouldn’t worry too much about the “what if he’s a traditional guy?” dilemma. You’ll be butting heads on all sorts of issues. And if you put into the “only the men are to do the asking” camp, be prepared to wait. You can put your faith into a guy’s ability to pick up on cues and hints. Good luck with that. You will have to do something to stand out from the pack.

This is how the game starts.

Now I’m off to do the dishes. Cause I’m the head of my household and I rule with an iron fist, baby!

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