July 19, 2018

The Common Difference between Single Men and Women

Gary Thomas — 

During a recent sermon, I got a few laughs of recognition when I described what I see as a huge difference between Christian women and men who are looking to get married. Of course there are many exceptions, but quite often I see this:

A Christian woman is in a serious relationship with a man when she recognizes some warning signs and red flags. Her first instinct isn’t to “run,” it’s “How can I make this relationship work?”

When I talk to Christian guys, however, it’s often comically the reverse. They are dating an attractive, healthy, personable, funny, intelligent, godly and wise woman who earns more money than they do. When I ask when they plan to pop the question, their response is often, “I can see all those qualities, but what if there’s someone even better out there?”

I don’t know if this discrepancy results from the perceived lack of available, thoughtful, and gainfully employed Christian men, but both Lisa and I have seen it far too often. We knew a couple that had us a bit concerned, wondering if the woman was making too many concessions. As gently as possible, both of us tried to point out what she was going to accept for the rest of her life (many of the things we didn’t think would ever change), but she moved forward.

My heart broke when Lisa explained to me, “Gary, if I could have convinced her that she’d find another solid, decent Christian guy to marry in the next five years, I think she would have broken off this relationship. But she doesn’t think there’s anyone better out there. She thinks it’s either make this relationship work or be single for the rest of her life.”

However it breaks down by gender (again, I’m admitting this is a stereotype with numerous exceptions), these are the two tendencies:

“How can I make this relationship work?”

and

“What if there’s someone even better out there?”

The danger of the first tendency, “How can I make this relationship work,” prior to marriage, is that it may excuse many things that shouldn’t be excused. It’s one thing to help a spouse with whom you have children confront and overcome an addiction. It’s another thing to willingly go into marriage and plan to conceive children with someone you know is going to be fighting (or worse, not fighting) an addiction for perhaps the rest of their life.

It’s one thing to figure out how to deal with more of a temper than you thought your partner had once the honeymoon is over; it’s another thing to go into a marriage fully aware that one misstep can set this person off for a fifteen minute rant. I’ve said this many times: if your significant other seems a little too angry as a boyfriend or girlfriend, he or she will seem much too angry as a husband or wife.

If your natural default position is “How can I make this relationship work?” just be aware of your tendency: are you excusing something you shouldn’t? If so, guard against it. Bring others into your relationship to gain perspective and objectivity.

Those whose tendency is to ask, “But what if there’s someone even better out there?” often have a distorted view of marriage. They tend to be a little more selfish, and they frequently fail to understand that a great marriage is about building something more than it’s about finding someone. Making a wise choice is the starting line, not the finish line. You’ve got to add intention, purpose, chosen intimacy, etc.

In fact, there are likely hundreds of people with whom you could build a God-honoring and even happy marriage if you’re willing to work at it. Some choices are certainly wiser than others, but no person is the “complete” package, in the sense that for the rest of your life you risk finding someone with a set of strengths that look very attractive in comparison to your current partner’s. Comparing a new infatuation (which launches neurological blindness) with a more mature relationship isn’t fair, though. It goes back to thinking marriage is about finding someone instead of building something together.

By the way, if your hesitancy is based on thinking you need to choose the “right one” so that you can have an “easy” marriage, just talk to some married people. No marriage is ultimately “easy.” Two sinners living in one house creates sparks: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17).

Instead of wondering whether there’s “someone even better,” spend your time considering whether you’re with a person of faith whom you respect, are reasonably attracted to, are compatible with in the most important areas (read The Sacred Search for what these are) and possesses the necessary relational skills to keep growing a marriage. If those qualities are present and growing, you’re well on your way to a wonderful marriage and a wonderful life. You’ve found a perfect God, so you don’t need to find a perfect mate. The key to happiness is learning to embrace a life of worshipping Jesus rather than desperately pursuing another human being.

Knowing your tendencies is helpful so that you can guard against the natural weaknesses all of us carry. It may sound contradictory to put these two against each other because they seem like opposites—one is too quick to pull the trigger, the other is frozen and can’t move their finger if their life depended on it. But notice the difference: one woman moves forward even though there are numerous red flags. One man won’t move forward even though there is much reason to do so. One can’t say “no” and one can’t say “yes.”

The first group needs to pay more attention to the red flags, and the second group needs to give more consideration to the positive qualities. An abundance of problems should cause you to pull back or at least pause, and an abundance of positive qualities shouldn’t be ignored by the off chance that somewhere out there, someone even better is just waiting to meet you. Think of all you’re missing out on by not beginning to build a life together right away.

I’d love to hear from all the singles out there if you think this stereotype holds true, or whether I’ve just gotten a skewed view of what’s happening in the world of singles these days.

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54 responses to The Common Difference between Single Men and Women

  1. Hope in Christ July 20, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you, Gary, and everyone for your comments! Good stuff as always.

    I knew right away from my own experiences that women tend to try to make it work due to our hearts for relationship, and men tend to always think something better is out there. It’s a very frustrating and hurtful belief. I’m so thankful for men like Gary who are willing to bring the truth to the Body – we are so in need of it. Very few male leaders are teaching this, so our men are approaching dating in self-seeking ways, really asking “what can she do for me?” instead of “how can I be a blessing to this person?” The only man I ever heard approach a relationship that way was Dave Meyer. There were some hard years, but now him and Joyce Meyer are enjoying all the blessings that came from that good choice, now in their sage years. I’m sure there’s other men, I just haven’t met them yet or haven’t heard their story.

    In one relationship experience I had, these tendencies are exactly what happened. I could see beyond our imperfections (there were many), but because we were both committed to following and growing in Christ, I felt together we could overcome and build something pretty awesome together. There were many practical reasons why we were a good match: we had the same values in the areas that really matter, were walking the same path in terms of our walk with Christ and our ministry interests, had similar backgrounds, and we both valued “traditional” roles in family life. I also felt because of our similar experiences, I could understand him more than another woman could or would be willing to, once she gets to know him (no one knew him like I did, and even though I loved him through his shortcomings, it seems the fact that I could see them all made me the unpopular one). Outwardly, he was considered the example of a good single Christian man when women around were tempted to believe there aren’t any good men anymore. Inwardly, I could see some sin he had not yet truly confronted, and didn’t know how and I had to confront him on it in love. But I knew he desired to grow and change and heal – we both did, even though we fell very short some days.

    Unfortunately, because of hurt and sin, it was not the beginning of the fairy tale romance he had dreamed he would have with “the one”. So he didn’t think it possible that I could be “her.” He didn’t like the way we met either because he had a picture of what it would be like to meet his future wife and wanted to hold onto that, but I say don’t limit God in what He chooses to do. One thing is a fact that even he can’t deny: we both became better people from having known each other. To me, I say, “isn’t that what this is all about?” From him, he says, “thanks for all you taught me. I became a better man from knowing you. Goodbye.” And I will add to that, “… and now let me go give all I learned and grew through with you, and give it to someone else who will give me that fairy tale dream I had of that woman that would make me want to open my heart more than you did, now that you helped me become that man that could attract a woman that I think will be better than you” (he didn’t say that literally, but that is literally what he’s doing and what his dream was, though I told him opening his heart is a choice, and that love is a choice. Gary, WHY DO MEN DO THIS?? They leave the one that was there during their growth years that loved them through it, then take that learning and bless it to someone else. Is this so a man can feel in a position of power again, even if he’s not conscious of it, seeking the thrill of validation? And I know, I know, men don’t fall in love with the woman that teaches them. But isn’t that wrong? Shouldn’t we honor the person that was there through the hard times of growth and choose love?

    At the same time, I was going through a myriad of traumas. Sometimes he was my hero, and other times he didn’t know what to do, and the last time he gave up, not wanting me to lean on him anymore for the emotional support that he only wanted to give if I was “the one.” So even the life-changing friendship is now over, by his choice.

    He was the first and only man I ever felt like I could respect and follow. Not because he was perfect, but because I believed in him and his vision. Other than having expectations of a fairy tale, we wanted the same things in life.

    Can I see areas where he needed to grow still? Yes, absolutely. And he is the kind of man that needs to hear it from another man but doesn’t, so it was shocking hearing things coming from me for the first time when he thought he was near perfect. Men tend to push women away before really listening to the one made to be the helpmate, and cut off the iron-sharpening that could have happened for both – so we have very few sharpened men today and very lonely women made to be helpmates. But if he had not had any shortcomings, he would be a perfect human, and I don’t expect perfection. In fact, I realized I liked that he had to overcome some things – it was a much better story that God could tell through his life, better than if he had been that model Christian man everyone thought he was. Now his story can help others, I’d tell him, now that he’s been through something.

    In the same token, am I that woman wanting to make it work? Sure, I am. I don’t believe God ever intended for us to go from one person to the next, practicing divorce. I think marriage is to help challenge us to love like Christ, but you only get that way when you learn to love when it’s hard. For some reason, all the single men I’ve met don’t seem to understand that no one will always get along perfectly.

    I also can see how I wouldn’t want a man that gave up on me at my lowest point, though I’m sure he’d say he didn’t give up on me, but would see it as him having to “back away.” I feel sorry for him now, because he lost a good thing – even a great Sister and friendship – because of his own fundamental beliefs he chose to cling to. All men in the past have done this to me in tinier ways. Every single one has come back to apologize after growing a little or being humbled and says, “I don’t know why I pushed you away. You were such a great girl and the most beautiful woman I had known. I regret what I have done.” And like someone said here, they feel very alone and never found a lasting companion because they pushed the good ones away in order to follow the lie that it’s always greener on the other side. Did I have a lot of growing to do? You betcha. But the only thing I can think of that happened that the men can’t explain is that I’m the only one that has ever told them things about themselves, the pride bucks up, and the next woman looks appealing until she leaves him in very hurtful ways.

    Sadly, Gary, it’s like a broken record. The same constant pattern. Though with that man that I loved, he is the only one that didn’t come back to apologize… yet. 😉

    Though he is an incredibly unique person and potentially could be the only one never to come back, as history repeats itself, I don’t ask if he will come back, but when. When he and other men like him realize what true love is about – love that goes far beyond romance to the cross. Sadly, Gary, as us women grow and grow more spiritually, we can’t find men that can match our spiritual maturity. What are we to do then? We cannot settle. We mustn’t settle. And I am saying that to you, single ladies. Sometimes the only way to help stubborn men grow is to tell them no and hold to your boundaries. That’s what I’ve learned the hard way but I’d rather hear Gary’s input! 😉

    And I understand other women in how they feel there are very few good single men anymore because it sure feels like it. But I’m with you ladies in faith that if it’s meant to be, God will find that man for us, even if He has to look all the way around the world to find him. Sometimes I think it’s possible there really is no match that He would recommend, but instead, He begins growing the men that are willing so that they can be in the future. So I do see this time as God growing me and my future husband up, and when we are ready, He will bring us together. And if the man he chose never comes and leaves His will, Jesus will give me the strength and grace to remain single, even if it feels like I’m not living out my full glory on this earth in what I’m designed for as a daughter of Eve. All the love I have to give, I try to pour it into the many hurting people around me who also were not loved.

    Keep teaching the truth on love, Gary! As someone else said here, please shout it from the roof tops so our men can hear! : D

  2. Now happily married, I remember what a huge turning point it was when God showed me that He would make me fruitful even as a single, that I wouldn’t be left bereft of community, and that He’s not impeded by the perceived lack of godly men around me, to choose to bless and provide for me. That enduringly broke the lying hold of “there being no godly Christian men out there” and that “I must hang onto the one I’m with at any cost,” even at the cost of emotional safety and incompatibility for friendship. I’m sad to say that my Christian mom was one of the primary proponents for that poverty mentality. Although necessary, I didn’t enjoy confronting her and refuting her there.

  3. Hi! I am 52 and married three years ago the most wonderful man on earth (with a very messy past, including alcohol and prison, but forgiven, healed, made new by Jesus). I met him at 47, never dated anyone before him, nor did he date any woman before.
    This post is about singles, which I have been for 30 years (counting from knowing Jesus at 18 to getting engaged). I would like to encourage single women who feel that “the clock is ticking”: I know. I did feel lonely sometimes. But also, listening to other people’s experiences, I kept thanking God for the problems I didn’t have. And never asked God that I may find a husband, but rather prayed for what He knew was better for me, because He knows better.
    I don’t know how I would have felt if someone told me, when I was eighteen, that I would have stayed single for thirty years. But during these years, sometimes some guy from the church showed interest, but no one touched my heart and I choose to stay single, trusting God that maybe that was my permanent condition (why not?), or He would provide. (A six-year-old girl once asked me: are you married? – No, I’m not. – So you’re alone? But you’re not alone, because God is with you! – she replied).
    Until I met the one who did maybe not seem the best (due to problems of the past) but who is the best for me (and adores me!!!).
    What is the difference for us knowing Jesus? We are not alone. There are few Christian men with all the qualities… yes, I know. But God is almighty. He really can do everything. And he is never late.

    • Wow! I applaud you Karin for staying single all these years! Happy to know you finally met the man for you!

    • Such an amazing and encouraging post!!! God blessed and rewarded your faith in Him. Bless you and your husband – may you have decades together!!

  4. This is a great piece of information. I’m currently going through a break up now and sadly I truly loved this man. He told me that I’d be better off with someone younger because he’s 10
    years older then me. He also said that he’d be best suited with a widow that was older then me. I was the type that wanted to get counsel at the church we attend. Seeking advice about both our fears and insecurities relating to past failed relationship and phyical closeness in a Christian Faith based relationship as older adults.

    The writing was very clear that we needed to end what I had felt was a very nice relationship. The fact is now I can see he had one foot out the door looking for a better fit. My heart is broken.

    • Sorry to hear MB. You’ll find the right one for you soon!

      • Empowered to Prosper July 20, 2018 at 11:33 am

        There is really no such thing as the right one for you.There is only the one who is willing to accept the love God wants to express through you, to build them to be their best and vice versa.
        My view is that if he is unwilling to accept God’s love expression through you, the bottom line is that for him it’s never going to be about the older woman, or widow, or any of those different features, it’s really about his level of maturity in love. At this level of emotional maturity as well as spiritual growth, you will be doing yourself a disservice to move forward with this type of paradigm. You also deserve a relationship that causes you to grow and mature in God’s love. Moreover, he’s told you what he wants…it’s in your best interest to heed his request, and know that what you are seeking in a mate, has been seeking you. Releasing yourself from such a man will allow you to embrace what could be.

    • Glad he didn’t continue to waste your time, and I hope he didn’t already waste much of your time. Some men are always out looking for the possible better one. Those men are selfish and never able to settle down. It’s good you break up this relationship and move on to find someone who can settle down.

  5. Thank you very much Gary for this article!! I completely agree,as a Christian single woman who has been in countless toxic relationships and encounters (sadly not just with non-believers but especially with ‘Christian’ guys) I find it true that women (generally) tend to sacrifice ‘good enough’ or ‘okay’ for the ‘best’ or ‘healthy’ because it takes SOO long and it is SO hard to find godly men, especially when living in Spain which is -1% Christian (Evangelical). I applaud men and women who have not lowered their standards nor compromise their faith in the altar of toxic, mediocre, addictive relationships.

    • Hi Sabria, just a thought perhaps you can try men from different regions if those in Spain are not working out. Don’t limit yourself!

    • Great article Gary! I agree with Sabrina, however I find myself saying “there’s got to be someone better out there” due to the lack of Godly men, even in the church, in the USA! I hardly ever meet a gentleman that has a quiet time or a bible study of his own or with a group of men! Why is that??

      • Alicia,

        I don’t know. I just grieve that so many are missing the ultimate joy in life—a life lived with Christ as the center

  6. Matthew Huffman July 19, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Maybe this is just because I come from a very urban part of the country (Washington, DC area), but it seems to me that both men AND women are obsessed with finding someone with all the perfect qualities. The result is that romantic hopefuls move from person to person in an endless string of dates and meaningless sexual liaisons and never connect with another person in a meaningful way or commit.

    • I totally agree with you Matthew! Not just the States (cause I live in the Caribbean), but people, mostly young people enjoy the “newness” of a relationship. But when the feelings of butterflies, etc wears off they are no longer interested in the relationship and moves on to another! So sad!

  7. Teresa Murphy Wheeler July 19, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Well, thank you Gary for this timely post. I’m a 66 year old widow who was married for 32 years. That was 4 years ago. It was a disappointing marriage, but we made some effort to have a Sacred Marriage until death did we part. There is not much out there to read for older singles, once married, now widowed or divorced. I kept searching for a different set of rules, but they are pretty much the same. The idea of senior dating is so different than dating in your 20’s-30’s. It’s a lot about companionship and having mutual interests and a shared Faith, but a whole lot about not being alone.
    Although my husband was a Christian, he brought a lot of baggage from his past 2 failed marriages, and I did not want to see them as red flags, but rather see him as forgiven like I was, so let’s live out our redemption as an adventure with thanksgiving! Sadly, I was in a marriage where I felt controlled and soon cowed down and lost my joy and lived with a just hang in there mentality of for better or worse… This past year, I became friends with a man who had been married once and for 36 years. It felt like a safe friendship because I knew I would never be more than friends because of his “religion” in which our core beliefs were very different. Long story short, after being seen, heard and enjoyed like I had not experienced with my “Christian” husband, I fell in love with this man after about 6 months of dating. He respected my boundaries and I thought surely God had a plan to use me to lead him into biblical Christianity.
    I really don’t think I’ve ever prayed so hard and so much for someone. We were seemingly compatible in every way and I really liked who I was when I was with him. I felt cherished. We went as far as to talk with my Pastor who was gracious as he heard our story of meeting etc. When I went to see him privately, he said I would not agree to marry you because you are spiritually incompatible.(I kind of wish he had said that to us together.) This was my wake up call. He told me my heart and mind were in battle which was the absolute truth, but oh how I battled with the thought of what my marriage had been like and how this might be my chance for love and provision in ways I had never known. By God’s Grace and my desire to Trust Him, and His word, I ended the relationship. My guy was shocked that I would let our spiritual differences keep us apart when we had such a loving, sweet friendship and desire to be together. It is still hard and only ended about 6 weeks ago. I got a variety of responses to my decision, but daily I am asking God to renew my mind and know that this was one way I could honor God as well as not enter into a marriage where I would always be wanting him to know my Jesus as His Savior and Lord, and not really accepting him and his false beliefs. Surely being single is better than being unequally yoked. Right, Jesus?
    I just purchased The Sacred Search, but there needs to be something out there for all us baby boomers who are young at heart, fit and would like to find love again, or maybe for the first time! May God continue to minister through you! (met you at Warm Beach. I lived on Whidbey Island, but moved back “home” to Dallas, TX)

    • Anonymous & Free July 20, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Teresa, I am certainly not Jesus, but I’m also not afraid to answer your question: “Surely being single is better than being unequally yoked. Right, Jesus?”

      YES! YES IT IS!!! What you are lacking in the equation of this question is all the unknowns of your future marriage with this man. While I don’t doubt he is a wonderful person and a good friend to you, you have no way of knowing how his worldview (and lack of Christian faith) will impact: sickness/disease, money/poverty, temptation, sexuality, attitudes toward aging parents, vocation, ministry, etc.

      I speak as a woman who was married to and abused by a (non-practicing) “Christian” man for many years. If you had told me on my wedding day that he would behave in such ways during our marriage I would have laughed in your face. Single and Seeking is ALWAYS better than Married and Miserable.

  8. Great piece Gary. I definitely know what group I belong to lol
    Let’s call it the frozen group. You’re scared to miss out on something better or you see almost every flaw as a potential redflag that could be dangerous later on.
    Thanks for those wise words.

  9. I am a recently divorced Christian woman who was married to a man that refused to address/acknowlege his addiction. I was willing to work theough it but he wasnt. He literally just checked out and ran from the hard work that could have been put in to address the addiction and heal the marriage.
    I think your observations are spot on revarding Christian men. Since becoming single, i have now realized how many older Christian men are now out there and seem so lonely. Earlier in their lives, they chose to leave their wives/not work on the relationship. Now, a good number of these men are lonely and alone in their retirment years. Im enjoying my singleness and not finding their sense of desperation very attractive. The sad part is that some of these men now acknowledge their huge mistakes in leaving women that really loved them in their pre-senior years (their words). Thanks for your well-written article. God Bless.

  10. Heartbroken Christian – Participant Observer July 19, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    This is very interesting to me. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I have encountered learning of situations quite similar to what you have. Even recently, what I witnessed was very similar to your observations.

    About a year ago, I observed a situation in which I believe a Christian female made the right decision. I was saddened when a Christian female elder to her in her church did not validate her. A man pursuing the younger Christian female told her he was willing to accommodate her dating and marriage values, but he indicated they were not his values in previous relationships. He said she was worth accommodating for, but he really did not adhere to them. The young lady was flattered but wanted to understand more of what he meant. She inquired, and he was not teaching the values to his children. She prayed and hoped he could understand but knew she needed to wait on proceeding into a relationship with him as he was wanting to progress the relationship forward quickly. The value in question is one that most Christian leaders and God-fearing believers consider a non-negotiable in dating and marriage. She prayed, asked further questions, determined that if the relationship were to progress further, he would not want to hold to the value in question as well as would not see the need for it in a dating relationship at that particular point in time. He did not want to accommodate, and he ultimately did not see the need to follow God on the matter…at least not at that time. While significant, the value in question was not the only concern. She knew, like anyone, that a change to the heart could occur, but the young Christian lady did not feel comfortable at that time. The Christian elder inquired of the young Christian lady as to why she determined to put the brakes on the relationship at that point. The young, Christian lady was respectful to the man behind his back but was also honest with her elder. Serious and not being sarcastic, the elder Christian lady criticized the young Christian lady for not realizing that her clock was ticking; criticized her for setting her standards too high; criticized her by saying that she was being judgmental; and criticized her saying that it would difficult to find a man who wants marriage and family with a stable career and charming personality.

    The young Christian lady advocated for herself and explained her concerns. The elder said she would have difficulty finding any man after that and said she was running the risk of being single for the rest of her life. She was very negative to her.

    What you said some females have said to themselves to persist and “just give in” on something that might not be best for them was spoken out loud in a church setting by another Christian lady around other Christian singles in a very negative way indicating that no man might want the young Christian lady if she didn’t go with the man whose values did not match. I don’t think females were getting the wrong message only from mainstream culture but also from the church by individuals who succumbed to pressure by the mainstream culture.

    I think many of us know God’s power to extend grace and change lives. He can change hearts for sure. I think the young Christian lady made the right decision to wait. Either God will change the man’s heart, or He will bring her another man whose values are compatible. I believe it.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Heartbroken Christian:

      I can only speak generally because I’m not sure what “value” you’re referring to. But values are dangerous things to compromise on. She sounds like a courageous woman

    • Hope in Christ July 20, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      My thoughts are that the elder is not truly an elder in the Spirit and is dangerous to listen to because of her immaturity. Holy Spirit would never say such things based on fear.

  11. Melissa Montana July 19, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    You are dead on, my friend! I’ve seen it, been there and counseled it. This is eye opening to have it addressed so directly. Yell this from the rooftops. More single adults need to have a reality check about this and take the blinders off. It could save a lot of relationships, encourage fulfilling ones (guys) and allow some ladies to step back. Thanks, Gary. You are a blessing.

  12. Just wow!! Great insight and clarity I think I’ve been looking for, but didn’t realize it until now.

  13. I definitely see this in the dating world. Women are usually the ones who try to make it work, even when they shouldn’t. And men always think there is someone better out there. I can’t even get a date at age 57 even though I look 10 yrs younger than I really am, have a steady work history, am fit and trim, upbeat, friendly, depenable, honest, healthy, etc. Why? I’m guessing the men think they can get a younger model???

  14. Although no longer single. I see this in many of my female friends. The oh we can fix him. The red flags are ignored. I try and tell them if something bugs you before your married that item will really make you crazy after your married. It is not going away. You can not change a person. While dating most people are on their best behavior!

  15. I am unmarried and have been on the receiving end of men not seeing my value. I’ve also stayed in relationships with men way past their expiration date. It’s really hard Gary. Really hard being a woman who is 33, who claimed celibacy 8 years ago, who has so much to offer so much love to give and to feel rejected. I have all the qualities you listed above (good looking, healthy, great income, involved in church) but am still waiting. And I’m not the only one. Many of my friends are too. I’ve done all the different dating ideas – online, singles groups, involvement in church. It’s tough. I have a revelation though that I need to “stop trying and start trusting”. I read your books and look for a date when you may have a Christian singles conference. I have even thought of coming to one of your marriage conferences because I think why you share is so valuable. God knows my desire and I still trust him. My request is for everyone reading this to send prayers my way. Prayers to uplift my spirit when I feel lonely. And to continue to have a desire to trust God. He is faithful.

    • MJ,

      Such prayers are offered now. And for the many others in your situation.

      • MJ, I am praying for you. During my long years of singleness, I clung to these verses in Revelation 19:

        I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

        king of kings and lord of lords.

        I claimed Jesus as my Faithful and True Husband, riding to get me on a white horse! With KofK and LofL tattood on his thigh! I even bought myself a ring to wear on my wedding band finger as a reminder that He was The Lover of My Soul. (This was helpful when I *didn’t* want any attention from men in certain environments.)

        I will pause and pray for you again now, and again as the Holy Spirit brings you to mind in the future. You are loved with an everlasting love, dear sister in Christ.

        • Sarah, thank you so very much. It is so good to hear this encouragement. I am feeling encouraged today and I have a sweet whisper that is telling me to trust Him. God is able and capable and he loves me deeply. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I needed to read this.

    • Hello! I could probably describe myself as you have. And, I’ve had several relationships that didn’t work out. But, I look at those as refining me. From each one, I’ve learned something about myself, changed something in myself, and humbled myself to accept God’s direction and grace. Maybe you’re just not ready yet for what God has planned for you. Continue to put all your trust in Him.

      • Thank you Gary and Judy. I had been feeling down lately. But God is showing me so much through my support network of the importance of knowing my worth and value and to trust God’s faithfulness. I am more encouraged today. God has never ever left me or forsaken me. Seriously. He really hasn’t. He is revealing to me some areas to grow stronger in and I am excited to use this time to grow. Thank you Gary for your ministry. And thank you Judy for the encouragement. I truly appreciate it.

    • Praying for you sister. Be encouraged.

    • Good day Ms. MJ- I’m grateful for discovering this blog by Gary Thomas as its a valid resource for insight as well as encouragement. I’m highly goal oriented so I think about results frequently. Maintaining my hope in this area of my life is playing out as a beautiful adventure in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Praying for you,

  16. Good post to pass on. My experience is mostly with men and I have not seen this stereotype. What I have seen regularly is that many young Christian men who are high in mercy and grace have a tendency to to think their unconditional love and support will ‘heal’ the broken parts of the woman that they love. My encouragement is to help this sweet Christian woman to get the healing she needs before entering into a life long commitment with you.

  17. Red flags. I really wish I had paid more attention😢

  18. This is right on the button from my experience. I’ve been married 14 years now, and my husband carried this attitude on into our marriage. My attitude was more of, like you described, the opposite. Unfortunately, I had no idea this was his viewpoint, although I should of. Many signs were there. It has caused so many problems, huge problems in fact, and we are here trying to work through the mess. When you marry a man with this attitude, your never good enough, and no fault of your own. He’s still “looking”. It’s a “sure, your great, but what about HER?” One day maybe I won’t feel this way, but it I could go back, I would’ve stayed so far away from him.

    • Amber,

      I never thought of this attitude carrying on PAST marriage, but of course, as you state it, it seems obvious. A warning worth heeding

    • Amber, your account echoes in my relationship as well. My husband is always “looking”, sometimes flirting, I know he’s had an affair (the girl was visiting the US and by the time I found out about the affair she was ready to move in with him). I guess he thought she might be something better. And foolishly or not, I stayed, stayed to work things out. And here we are 35 years later, with grown kids, and he’s not as obvious with his looking as he used to be, but still will stop mid sentence when a pretty girl walks by to check her out. That red flag I should have paid attention to. I too am hoping that one day I wont feel like I’m not enough for him. Right now I’m working on feeling like I’m enough for myself.

  19. Very astute observations, Gary and Lisa! Thank you so much for opening other eyes to these patterns. A handful of wise readers will take heed and build good lives on godly foundations with repercussions that resonate for multiple, increasingly joyful generations.

    As for me, looking back thirty years, I can see these patterns in my own dating life before marriage. After a lengthy red flag engagement, I was able to listen to friends and family and break things off. But unfortunately, since I and the boy had invested so much time in the facade and used each other so heartlessly, he did not take kindly to the break-up and on some levels I have been looking over my shoulder and feeling unsafe ever since. Later when I finally did marry, feeling pressured to “hurry up and find someone already!” I married someone I could already see would probably not treat me with the respect and compassion I desired. We have both hurt each other deeply, with a series of ongoing disdain and disrespect, with little hope that we can ever get into sync with each other’s needs or build a friendship that can sustain us through hard times. To be honest, we each married each other for our looks, and now that those looks are fading… The result has been entirely too predictable: much too little love and respect in the beginning, and fading momentum as things move forward.

    We could use continuing prayers for God to do a redemptive work. Meantime, as a friend likes to tell me, others can either learn from our mistakes, or they can painfully repeat them for themselves.

    • Li,

      Regardless of WHY we got married, two believers can choose to build intimacy going forward. That’s what my book “A Lifelong Love” is all about. You might find it helpful.

  20. You’ve hit the nail squarely on the head again Gary. My church sister and I discuss this all the time, that women are quick to compromise on important and desired qualities in a mate but often times men will not settle for less than their desired qualities in a mate. I’ve forwarded this article to all my female friends.

    • Sashi (autocorrect keeps trying to call you sushi): I SO appreciate your spreading the word. Thank you for sharing this.