Should women ask men out for coffee or call them up? Should they be the first to bring up marriage or post pictures of the two of them on Facebook? In the article ‘Should women pursue?‘, I argued at length why I think it’s better for women to let men lead and pursue, but what behaviour can be classified as pursuing and leading? The Bible does not spell out what actions could be classed as “acts of pursuit” or even what it means to let men pursue so it is really down to individuals to figure this out before God. However, to help women think this through I thought I would write my personal take on what it looks like to apply the principle of ‘letting men lead’ in this day and age.
First of all let’s consider, “What is pursuing?” Imagine your little niece asks you to play a game of chase and then proceeds to chase you around your garden. She is the pursuer. What if you then turn around and chase her back. Now who is the pursuer? You are. To let her remain the pursuer throughout the game, you must either not chase her back or at least let her do the bulk of the chasing. I would argue it’s the same when it comes to men. To let him pursue and lead, we must quite simply not pursue him back or at least let him do the majority of the pursuing! What actions are actions of pursuit? I would say they are actions that either:
- Clearly initiate a courtship
- Keep the courtship going
- Move the courtship towards engagement and marriage
An easy way to figure out what’s probably an act of pursuit is to ask yourself the question, “if a guy did that to me, would I take it as a clear sign of initial or continuing interest?” If yes, then it’s most likely an act of pursuit! Now please understand me: I am NOT saying women should never perform “acts of pursuit”. There might be times where it would be common sense and even wise for a woman to perform an act of pursuit. However, I do think that to let men pursue is to let them do the majority of these actions.
Below are 4 examples. These are just my opinions so please feel free to disagree and please don’t treat them as “rules”!
1. Telling a man we want to be with him or inviting him out for what is clearly a date.
There are plenty of ways we can be encouraging to a man without actively telling him we want to be with him. We can be kind, laugh at his jokes, smile at him when he is talking, listen to him attentively and look genuinely happy to see him. We can also pray and ask God that if it’s His Will for us to enter into a courtship with the guy, that God would show the guy and give the guy the courage to tell us. If after all this he has still not told us he is romantically interested in us, I would say in the majority of situations it’s better for us to just stop thinking about him romantically and get on with life. The guy is probably not that interested in us.
What about times when men show girls a great deal of interest and attention without speaking to them directly about their intentions? It might be appropriate for a girl to ask the guy what is going on and what his intentions are (or getting her father or a church elder to do this).
2. Calling the guy who is pursuing us to chat or initiating casual/romantic texts.
There might be times we need to call him or text him. For example to confirm a time for meeting. Before engagement however, there is rarely a need for women to be frequently and incessantly initiating long calls or numerous casual text messages and especially not romantic ones. Being the main initiator of communication keeps a courtship going and I would therefore argue is primarily the man’s job. I am not saying we can never initiate calls or texts but that I think to let him pursue is to let him initiate the majority of them. If a guy really likes us, he will most likely want to call and text us and keep on calling and texting! Some men don’t like the phone and prefer face to face. Calling or texting such men can actually annoy them! You may think…if I let him initiate most of the communication, how will he know that I am interested? What if I put him off? If you are friendly on the phone and sound pleased to hear from him and reply to his texts you won’t put a guy off who really likes you. If the guy thinks he has met his future wife, he will be so happy you have agreed to court him that he won’t be worrying too much that you don’t pursue him by rarely initiating calls!
I would also add that we are called by God in Song of Solomon to not stir or awaken love until it pleases (See A culture of stirred up love). High levels of communication can help us fall for a man who we will not marry. If he wants to be in deep communication every day, I would recommend that you prayerfully share with him that it’s a bit too much and that you don’t want your love to be stirred up prematurely.
3. Advertising our ‘relationship’ on Facebook before engagement through changing our relationship status to “In A Relationship”, posting up pictures of the two of us looking like a couple and writing statuses that talk as if we are his.
I have problems with this for a number of reasons and the first one has nothing to do with who is pursuing who.
- When we see someone is now “In a relationship” on Facebook we think “they are together now”, “he is her man and she is his girl” and “they are exclusive and committed”. Biblically, there is no such thing as being a couple before the commitment of betrothal and thus I would encourage women to not see themselves as “in a committed, exclusive relationship” until they are engaged. What if he is the one to want to change his relationship status and promote your courtship? I would advise you to discuss with him the reasons why such behaviour could be unwise. You can read ‘A culture of stirred up love‘ if you are not sure.
- By us women deciding to be the one to promote our courtship publicly we are pushing it forward, showing a huge amount of interest and are thus again taking the lead. Moreover, such behaviour can put unnecessary pressure on the guy.
4. Going out of our way to see him
You just happened to drive past his house and had to stop in to say,”Hi”, on Valentines day? You travel 100 miles to see him every weekend and he hardly ever comes to see you? You always turn up to his church for the evening service even though it’s on the other side of London? You might move house to live closer to him? You changed your university course so you can study together and see him all the time? If so, it would seem that you are pursuing him. To let him lead and pursue, I would argue, is to let him be the one to go out of his way to see you the majority of the time. If you are the one investing far more time, energy and effort into seeing him, arguably you are the one pursuing.
Further suggestions and clarifications
I am certainly NOT saying that I think you can’t be direct, honest and open with men or that you can’t share your opinions with them. Nor am I saying that you have to submit to a man you are not married to or have to let him pursue you. Furthermore, I am not saying it’s inappropriate to share with him how you would like him to pursue you in a different way. What about if you feel things are going too fast and you want to put on the breaks. Is that pursuing? I would argue ‘no’ and that it’s often necessary for a woman to slow things down. I see pursuing as pushing things forward whereas putting on the breaks is holding things back and thus arguably not pursuing! For example, I would not consider it pursuing if he says, “I would like to get engaged in the next few months”, and you reply, “I would like to go through the book 101 questions to ask before you get engaged before we think about getting engaged”.
So there are my examples! Do you agree that the above are acts of pursuit? Can you think of anymore? Let us know by commenting below! [Rowina Seidler]
Note: If you happen to be married and pursued your husband and lead the courtship, please understand that I am NOT saying your marriage will be in anyway less godly or less God ordained than the marriages of others. Nor am I suggesting your marriage is in anyway doomed to destruction. If however you are still currently the leader and head of your marriage, I would encourage you to read Ephesians 5:21-33, 1 Peter 3:1 and Titus 2:3-5).