Being Single and Dating
About the Guest
Hanna Seymour and Jaqueline Anderson Meza tell their stories of courtship and dating their husbands. Deepak Reju has some advice for singles who are lonely and dateless on a Friday night. Shaunti Feldhahn gives her perspective on the singles' landscape based on her research.
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Hanna Seymour and Jaqueline Anderson Meza tell their stories of courtship and dating their husbands. Deepak Reju has some advice for singles who are lonely and dateless on a Friday night. Shaunti Feldhahn gives her perspective on the singles’ landscape based on her research.
Michelle: Ladies, have you ever wondered what makes you most attractive to the man in your life? Here’s author and researcher, Shaunti Feldhahn.
Shaunti: Other than how she looks, the biggest sort of emotional factor is feeling that this woman sincerely admires him; because it’s hitting on all those insecurities and vulnerabilities in him of: “Am I any good at what I do? I don’t know if I am.” This feeling that—“This person knows me really well; is in my corner, cheering me on. She thinks I can do it,”—that is powerful. He is longing for that.
Michelle: That seems simple enough; doesn’t it? Today, we’re going to take a look at some dating advice for singles, and those who love them, on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. When you ask for dating advice, or when you give dating advice, you’re opening a big can of worms. In my experience, everyone loves to give dating advice.
Sound Engineer: Hey, Michelle,—
Sound Engineer: —can I give you some advice on dating?
Michelle: No; absolutely not. [Laughter] See? Everyone loves to give dating advice. Quite frankly, it’s not always—how should I say?—good advice. Sometimes it’s not thought-through advice.
Today, we’re going to explore dating and singleness. In a way, as we go through this material, you’re probably going to think that this is quite random. That’s really not my intention. My intention is to help you understand that life, well, it isn’t a one size fits all, especially dating.
We’re going to hear from two young ladies; they’re going to discuss dating and how they snagged their husbands. Actually, what’s quite interesting is that they’re from the opposite sides of the country; but there’s a theme running through their stories. I want you to listen for that.
After the break, we’re going to hear from Deepak Reju and Shaunti Feldhahn. They’ve spent many years listening to singles, and they have a few words of wisdom. So if you’re single, stay tuned. If you’re not single, I ask you to keep listening; because a single friend of yours/they may need this advice.
Hanna Seymour is chock full of advice for college-age women. She’s mentored thousands of women over the years; authored a book called The College Girl’s Survival Guide. While Hanna subscribes to the idea that men need to be the pursuer and leader in a relationship, she kind of nuances it in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Here’s Hanna.
Hanna: My husband and I dated. He sent flowers to my office, [Laughter] seeing if I wanted to go to dinner; I mean like one of these movie-type plotlines.
Michelle: I’ve been waiting for that!
Hanna: I know; so many women have. I was like, “Blah”; I couldn’t believe it. I went out on a few dates with my, now, husband; [Laughter] but I ended it. Two years later, we reconnected. I gave a nudge—[Laughter]—I did—I said, “Hey, let’s catch up.” We ended up talking for about three-and-a-half hours. At the end of it, I said, “Look; I think that, if a guy’s interested, he will pursue. You did that; I ended it. I don’t know where you are, but I would love to spend more time with you and get to know you better if you’re at all open to that.”
That is a nudge; that is a strong nudge, but I didn’t ask him out to dinner. I did ask him to hang out, and grab a cup of coffee, and catch up; so I initiated.
Hanna: But I wasn’t saying, “Hey, let’s go out to dinner on Friday night at 8:00 pm; I’ll pick you up.”
Michelle: Right. You didn’t label it; it wasn’t a date.
Hanna: It wasn’t a date.
Michelle: It was—
Hanna: It was—
Hanna: —a nudge.
Michelle: It was your sister-in-law who made the match?
Hanna: She was the first connection; [Laughter] but lots of other matches and—
Michelle: Do you believe in matchmaking?
Hanna: I do. I have a lot of friends who are married today because a good friend in their life thought of both of them and said, “I think you all need to meet,” or “Give this a go.” I think, if you have a wise and discerning friend, they can be a really helpful person in that treacherous dating process.
There’s also a lot of people out there that want to match-make, and they have no business in matchmaking, because—
Michelle: That’s true.
Hanna: —whether or not they are not being thoughtful about it or whatever. I think there’s a specific kind of friend we all know—you can probably identify: “That’s a friend I would trust,”—and then there’s a whole slew of people I would not give the power of putting me at a dinner table across from the opposite sex. [Laughter]
Michelle: That’s Hanna Seymour with some great advice. Did you catch that? She’s talking about the set up—you know, connecting Katie with John—it’s really okay! Some people think that matchmaking, as some might call it instead of a setup, is one of those old-fashioned things. Actually, I believe that the setup, or matchmaking, is something that the church needs to be involved in these days. If you talk to some other singles, I think they would agree with that.
Hanna Seymour lives with her husband and little boy in Nashville, Tennessee. Now, we are going to take a trip to Portland, Oregon, where Jacquelyn Anderson [Meza] is a high school teacher. She has spent a lot of time listening to girls about their dating woes. You would think that would be totally different from one end of the country to the other end of the country. In some ways, it is; and in other ways, it’s not.
In fact, Jacquelyn wrote a book with her dad called The 10 Myths of Teen Dating. Here’s Jacquelyn talking about how she met her husband and, also, the dating woes in Portland.
Jacquelyn: The difference was, between my husband and every other man I’ve ever met, he asked me out immediately. He said, “I don’t want to text; I would like to take you out, face to face, buy you dinner and have an in-depth conversation with you.” Our dinner was at 7:00 pm, and we stayed out until midnight.
Jacquelyn: We just kept talking, and talking, and talking, and talking.
I think it’s hard; because technology can be kind of a social buffer, but then that prevents that real intimate growth/relational growth from happening. I think, for women, if he’s not trying to hang out with you in person, cut him loose. Call me old-fashioned; but I like a nice, straightforward, direct man. I don’t like games, and we’ve all met guys that play those games; like, “Oh, well, I might be free on Thursday.”
No, no, no! [Laughter] That’s unacceptable to me. I think women kind of settle for that in the absence of something else. They say all the time, “What if you’re kissing a frog, and the prince walks by?” [Laughter] Do you want to get caught kissing the frog?—
Michelle: That’s true.
Jacquelyn: —hoping he’ll turn into a prince?
I think part of getting past it is finding the right person, and finding someone that’s really compatible with you, and shares your same values set: obviously, being a Christian and living a life based on biblical principles. But the nitty gritty, too, of: “How many children you want to have,” “Do you want to adopt vs. having your own?” “What’s your timeline for getting married?” “Do you want to have a big wedding/a small wedding?” “How important is living close to family?”—things like that. I think if you can get those things compatible, you’re in a better spot.
Michelle: So what is your advice to your friends?
Jacquelyn: My advice to them is: “Trust that God has a plan for your life, and be available. I think that sometimes God has a plan for your life, but there are things you have to do to get that plan going or to move to the next step.”
- Are you hanging out with the right kinds of people, who are going to introduce you to the kind of person you want to be with? That’s a big one. If you’re going around with a crew that you maybe wouldn’t marry someone in that crew, how can you change who you’re with to find someone? Because like attracts like.
Michelle: Right; exactly.
Jacquelyn: That’s how I met my husband/is the friend of a friend.
Michelle: Oh! Okay.
Jacquelyn: Yes; obviously, that’s the ideal.
I think just trust that God has a plan for your life, and then be ready, and be there, and be social. Hang out with the right kinds of people.
Michelle: I like what Jacquelyn has to say about “like attracts like”; so the people you hang out with are probably going to be the people who you date, and the people who—well, maybe you marry—so just be mindful of that. Above all, as Jacquelyn said, “Trust God.”
Isn’t it quite interesting how both of these ladies were setup by friends and family members? Just something for you married people to think about.
It’s time for me to stretch my legs a little, grab a cup of coffee. When we come back, we’re going to continue with advice from Deepak Reju and, also, Shaunti Feldhahn. Stay tuned. I’ll be back in two minutes.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. Today, we’re talking about singleness and dating. I think it’s really important to clarify here that what you’re hearing today isn’t a one size fits all. Life doesn’t fit into a human-invented formula, like we think it does. That’s why we always need to go back to the Bible as our sole authority. However, it is hard to find advice on dating in the Bible; but the Bible is our sole authority.
Deepak Reju spends a lot of his time counseling single men and women at the church where he pastors in Washington, DC. In fact, the majority of people in his church are single. Deepak has some advice for men and women, who find themselves lonely and dateless on a Friday night. Here’s Deepak Reju.
Deepak: I don’t want you to bear your burdens alone, because the weariness of years of singleness is generally hard. That’s where we just want to be real about it—a Friday night, where you’re by yourself yet again, is a lonely existence; or going to another wedding, where you’re by yourself, and you’re not paired up with anyone; or going grocery shopping to just shop for yourself when all your friends are shopping for their husband and children—you feel that weariness; you feel that loneliness; you feel the pain.
That’s where you’re going to fight, first and foremost, to trust that God’s promises are actually real and true. You’re not going to hold onto just the fears and the desires and concerns that actually can dominate your life, and actually stand in the forefront of your life. It is horribly painful; and you shouldn’t bear that alone, which is why you want to be in a church that helps you walk through that.
Also, you need a church that helps you to hold onto those promises; because some days, those promises feel like water dribbling through your hands. They feel like you can’t hold onto them. You need somebody to say: “It’s hard; but I’m here for you, and God still loves you,” “It’s hard, but we’re going to keep fighting through this together,” “It’s hard, and it’s painful—what you’re sorting through today—I’m going to wrap my arm around you and cry with you.”
Michelle: That’s a hard thing—because depending on the age of your young friend, who’s sharing these things with you and saying, “I don’t want to compromise,”—that’s a hard thing to just give that all to God, because He might never bring those wants and desires around. It’s hard to face that.
Deepak: It is hard to face that, because there’s no guarantee that you’ll get married.
Deepak: But that shows the futility of making marriage your idol. If you put all your hopes in marriage, you’ll live a disappointed life.
Yet, marriage is a good desire!—we’re not denying that at all—it’s a good thing to aspire to. Singles are told all the time to desire marriage.
Michelle: That’s right. So how do you live the rich single life?
Deepak: It starts with, first, centering your life on Christ. Jesus is the One who promises to us to be the living water that gives us the full life. Jesus is the One who can help us in our times of sorrow and grief, and Jesus is the One who can bring us un-abounding joy that we never expected.
Yet, what often we find is that we get caught up in all the things of this world/the treasures of this world—though we profess to be Christians, though we go to church, and though we even read our Bibles—Jesus really is secondary to all those things.
- So we always make first things first and second things second. We make Christ first; we make Him our greatest treasure and desire. I’m not saying that as a Sunday school answer. [Laughter]
Michelle: Many times that is the Sunday school answer!
Michelle: It’s the perfect Sunday school answer that everybody hears.
Deepak: Yes; and people will say to me, “You’re a pastor; you’re paid to say that.” [Laughter] Well, no; I say that because I really believe that. I really believe that’s true, because I’ve experienced that. I’ve seen hundreds of people whose lives have been transformed when they’ve centered their life on the gospel, which is why I want daily reminders of what it means to center my life on Christ.
One of the things that our pastoral staff has tried to do in our teaching is to not just generically talk about good biblical truth, but to constantly bring up the gospel/to regularly bring it to the forefront of our conversations.
Michelle: That’s a good thought. And it’s pulling our eyes off ourselves and onto the cross.
Deepak: Yes; then, when Christ is center of my life, then everything else has its proper place; because Christ puts everything else in its proper proportion in relation to Him: so then, marriage becomes a valuable thing; and children become a valuable thing; church becomes a valuable thing. But first and foremost, they’re valuable because they’re in relation to Christ, who has His proper seat on the throne of my life.
Therefore, my good desire for marriage I will keep longing for, because Scripture tells me that it’s good to desire a godly husband or wife. But I’m not going to actually make that ultimate, because only Christ deserves that.
Michelle: Deepak Reju with dating advice; although, it feels a little more like spiritual advice; doesn’t it? He’s reminding us to balance everything with the gospel; in other words, balance everything with Jesus, who should be our living hope.
That’s hard to do! Believe me; I get that. At times, it’s really hard to do. We live in a world that doesn’t believe that truth, a world that wants to feed us lies. Yet, we need to go back to the truth that Jesus is our living hope.
Shaunti Feldhahn is a great researcher; she is a great researcher of people. She loves to ask questions, and she has this gift of looking at the entire picture. When I talked to Shaunti about some of her advice for dating and for singleness, she says that we should not settle for anything.
Shaunti: I will say this to the singles, who are longing to be married—it is something that is hard to explain—however, there is so much of a temptation, at least when I was single; there was so much of a temptation to try to get into a marriage, even if it was kind of any marriage, just to feel loved. At least, for women, that’s more of the insecurity that’s being hit on; it’s like: “Am I lovable?”
“I’m married, so therefore; it makes me feel more loved,”—and that is the biggest lie. There is nothing worse than being in a marriage that isn’t the right marriage, and not feeling loved, and feeling this excruciating sense of disconnection in the place that you’re supposed to be the most connected. It is far easier, I think, to stay single and to be single—not that that’s any excuse to leave a marriage—but just sort of, on the front end, to know: “It is far better to wait for the right thing.”
Michelle: That’s some good, sobering advice.
Shaunti, we’ve been talking about single women. What about the men out there?
Shaunti: It’s interesting; as I’ve been doing this social research over the years with both men and women—we’re at more than 20,000 men and women that we’ve interviewed and surveyed over the years—one of the biggest misunderstandings I guess/one of the biggest things that isn’t actually accurate—is that a lot of single women think single men just don’t care as much about marriage. That just isn’t true.
Truly, there is just as much of a longing for connection and a longing to find that person who can know everything about you, and care about you anyway, in the men as there was for the women.
Michelle: That’s interesting, because that’s obviously a lie that’s being told.
Shaunti: Oh, totally.
Michelle: It’s a lie that’s being told that they’re apathetic, and they just want to sit and play their video games.
Shaunti: Completely; totally. The video games are often—yes, they do want to sit and play their video games—but it’s because they’re lonely; right? It’s because they feel like a failure; it’s because they feel like they’re not good enough for anybody; so it’s better to not risk it. It’s really important for women, especially, to understand just how much that better-to-not-risk-it feeling is in a man’s heart.
Men look big and strong and confident in themselves. We think, “He’s a little too confident; you know? [Laughter] He needs to be taken out a bit.” Yes, that’s the case for a small percentage of men.
But the vast majority—it’s just a mask—there’s so much self-doubt; there’s so much vulnerability. The single men that I spoke with and I surveyed said that that’s actually one of the main reasons why the most attractive characteristic in a single woman—other than how she looks—because there’s no way around the fact that being physically attracted to somebody is a big deal for guys, from the beginning.
But other than how she looks, the biggest emotional factor is feeling that this woman sincerely admires him. That is the most attractive quality, because it’s hitting on all those insecurities and vulnerabilities in him of: “Am I any good at what I do? I really want to be up to these challenges, but I don’t know if I am.” This feeling that: “This person, who knows me really well, is in my corner, cheering me on,” —that “She thinks I can do it,”—that is powerful.
He is longing for that: longing to have that relationship, where he can feel that way, and have somebody who knows all of his faults, and knows that he makes mistakes, and yet believes in him anyway—that is just as powerful of a feeling to a single man as the feeling is to a single woman, of someone who sees all of her stuff, and loves her anyway.
Michelle: So what’s the disconnect? Because I am seeing the fact that we’ve got single women who want to be married.
Michelle: We have single men who want to be married.
Michelle: What’s happening? [Laughter]
Michelle: It’s just like—okay; so they want/they both want—and something’s wrong; something’s broken.
Shaunti: —first of all—
Michelle: Or it seems like something’s broken.
Shaunti: Well, no; there are some common disconnects. One of them is about faith. If you have somebody, who hasn’t met—who’s a single woman for whom her faith is really important—if she hasn’t met the guy, for whom his faith is really important: she’s right to wait. The guy—if it’s his situation—he’s right to wait.
There are many different reasons why they’re not getting together. One of them—I’m just going to say something that’s going to sound really—what’s the right word?—this might be slightly controversial; but I’ll just be candid, because we saw it in the research constantly. That is that so many men today have this feeling, already, of being beaten down. This is a hard culture for men; we don’t realize it, but it really is—like every TV show shows the guy being the buffoon; right?—it’s just the way it works.
Michelle: And the women—they’re not admiring them—especially on TV.
Shaunti: And that’s the problem. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that we’re coming on in a way that is: “Well, if you’re not going to get your act together, I’m going to get my act together; and I’m going to run over you. You’d better do what I say.” Men instinctively have two responses to that: they get angry, or they withdraw. Neither of those is healthy for a relationship.
It’s a sinful tendency of us, as women; it’s like, “If he’s not going to do something, I’m going to do something. I’m going to take control; I’m going to make things happen.” That’s our sinful tendency as women; right? His sinful tendency, in the face of that, is to back off. Neither of those are the godly responses.
Where we might have those tendencies—these are God-given sort of/there’s a flip side to these—where there’s a good side to that, and there’s a bad side to that. We need to have the redeemed version of that.
Michelle: Some really good words from Shaunti Feldhahn. Again, she gets both sides—because she is such a researcher—she gets the men’s side and also the women’s side. We live in a broken, broken world. As she said: “Women, maybe we need to be a little softer and more approachable; also, affirming to the guys.” “Men, you’ve probably already tried really hard with women. We can be difficult; I’m sorry. Let’s just lay it out there; I’m very sorry. But don’t give up! Be courageous and keep asking us out.” I think both sides need to give grace, lots of grace.
It’s hard to be single, and it’s hard to live in a dating world. There can be some real deep pain that goes along with singleness and, also, loneliness. Coming up in a couple weeks, I’m going to talk with Ron Deal about how to cope with loneliness in a season of romance. I want you to stay tuned for that.
Guys, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re in a relationship, your girl expects this day to be special. Next week, we’re going to talk about how to appreciate the people in your life and not just take them for granted. I hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, and our co-founder, Dennis Rainey; along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producers, Bruce Goff and Marques Holt. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
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I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
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