Category Archives: Dating

Music and Lyrics

My mind works different than my wife’s. She hears the beat; I hear the lyrics. I think that songs and music are powerful and fuel your soul, and that the lyrics and even the emotion of the artist affect you in some way. Another odd reality of my brain is that it plays with the meanings of words, so I don’t just hear the words; I hear the raw literal translation. This makes songs with weak lyrics grate on the core of my being, and of course I have to air my frustration with my kids. So the meanings of songs is a common conversation that I have with my daughters.

I am rather proud of Xandra at the moment, because she has ruined this song for all of her friends. Her friends will be walking in the halls of her school singing, “Stay With Me”, and turn to her with dreamy eyes and say, “I love this song, its so sweet.” And Xandra will reply, “Why?!? Its awful!”, which produces stunned and confused looks.

Because she is my daughter and because we have talked about this a bit, she will then explain, “Listen to the words… let me paraphrase it for you.” “I don’t love you. You don’t love me. But I’m a man who has ‘needs’, and so you should lay with me.” Then she will show them the actual lyrics:

Guess it’s true, I’m not good at a one-night stand
But I still need love ’cause I’m just a man
These nights never seem to go to plan
I don’t want you to leave, will you hold my hand?

Oh, won’t you stay with me?
‘Cause you’re all I need
This ain’t love it’s clear to see
But darling, stay with me

Why am I so emotional?
No it’s not a good look, gain some self control
And deep down I know this never works
But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt

To all the young women out there trying to figure out the world, let me say something to you. You are worth more! You deserve to be loved! A real man’s greatest need is to receive respect and have honor. Sex and intimacy is not a need or a right, and no real man will ever make you feel like you are indebted to share those.

And don’t sing along with songs that suck!

Can a girl be “just friends” with dudes?

One of Xandra’s friends asked this question, and I thought it would be easy to answer, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it seems. Keep in mind, that this is all purely my opinion.

First off, I guess you have to define what a friend is. There are acquaintances – people that you see at school or work or church or wherever and you chat with them but don’t go out of your way to see them or talk to them outside of there. There are closer friends – these are people that you would invite to a party or people you would miss if you haven’t seen them in a while and you would go out of your way to see them and they would go out of their way to see you. Then there are best friends – people that you check in with every day, that you know what is deep in their heart and they know what is deep in yours.

I would say that you can have any gender of acquaintance, and you really can’t have a best friend of the opposite sex that is just platonic. So for the sake of this question I am going to use the “closer friend”.

The first issue, from my perspective is that God made you to be half of a whole. God had made Adam in His own likeness, so Adam had a character a lot like His own, then when God took the rib out of Adam and made Eve, he took half of His own character and put it in Eve. When you find someone to spend your life with together, you find wholeness together. For that reason, there is a natural tension and attraction between guys and girls, and it’s a healthy natural thing.

The second issue that I see (again all this is my perspective) is how well everyone is playing their media defined gender roles.

100 years ago, children wore clothes that were easy to wash and because of the difficulty of getting decent clothing everyone wore hand-me-downs, so all the clothes were dresses. On top of that boys didn’t get their hair cut until they were at least 6 and maybe older, so little boys and little girls looked exactly the same. Here is a childhood pictures of Franklin D. Roosevelt at age 2 ½.

Franklin Roosevelt in a Dress
Franklin Roosevelt in a Dress

Enter department stores and their desire to get people to part with more money, so the very first boys and girls section was a ploy by department stores to make parents feel like they were not doing enough for their kids. Boys got pink because it was a lighter version of red, which is obviously a good strong color, and girls got blue because it was a softer color. Pink did not become a “girls color” until the 1930s when chemical dies made it possible to make a color called “Shockingly Pink” that wouldn’t fade. Clothes were launched in that color as was a perfume with the same name that had a bottle in the shape of a woman’s bust.

From that time to this, marketing departments have been working on making you feel like you are missing something so they can sell you more things.

The reason that this has anything to do with boy-girl friendships is because the main target of the marketing machine is teens who are mostly at a stage in their lives where they are figuring out who they are and are therefore the must vulnerable to feeling like they need this “thing” to make them feel more complete or to define them. If the message 100 years ago was that boys and girls need to be recognized separately by colors, then the message today is that you are not sexy enough. In order to make that message stick, they put hyper-sexualized images… EVERYWHERE. And 95% of people or more buy it all, hook-line-and-sinker.

But the 95% crowd is constantly moving toward the target that the media painted and if the crowd ever gets to the level that the marketing departments are painting then they won’t have that disparity to make you feel like what you are really missing in life is a new bikini top and Daisy Duke shorts, and a hot boyfriend, and… So they keep pushing to sexualize and make things even more over the edge so you will keep pursuing the elusive happiness that is represented in those Photoshoped and staged ads.

If you go back and watch TV shows and movies from the 50s and 60s you will see a lot more “just friends” or plots that don’t involve cheating at the first opportunity.

Boys do the same thing. We all hate Axe deodorant, especially when mixed in great quantities with 10th grade guy sweat, but your school is full of the stuff. Not because of the quality fragrance and effective adjustment to body odor, but because the ads say that girls will throw themselves at you, even if you are a comely nerd.

Just Friends

Add in the movies and TV shows about the topic of “just friends” where it is never just friends, or movies about cheating, or “friends with benefits”, or any other movie where the guy always gets the girl or the girl always gets the guy and you have everything stacked against you. You’re a girl to start with, which dudes are going to naturally be attracted to. You are wearing clothes that are designed to get guys attention and get them turned on. And you have a million different media messages the give nothing but examples of making everything about sex.

And you want to be “just friends” with a dude.

I still think you can, but “the cards are stacked against you”. I think that there is always some awkwardness and most of the time one of you actually wants more out of the relationship than you/they are actually saying. But there is value in getting to know different kinds of guys and figuring out the kind of guy that you want to be with long term without going through meaningless relationships and breakups. I personally married my best friend, someone that I had known and been friends with for over four years before we ever went on a “date”. Here are some pointers that I came across and I thought they were good:

1) View your friends as family – There’s a verse in the Bible telling a dude to treat the girls around him as sisters. If a guy intentionally thinks of you as a sister, then his instinct will be to protect you and your honor. And you are not all that likely to flirt or be inappropriate with your brother.

2) Avoid “pair” pressure – as soon as you talk to the same guy more than once, someone is going to ask you if you like them, or if you are going out. Be ready to answer that and tell your friends that say stuff like that to get a life.

3) Alleviate awkward – sexual tension and attraction and uncertainty are all made a lot worse when things are awkward and someone you like but just want to get to know as a friend doesn’t know what you expect, or what to say, or what to do. Doing something as a group, like having a few friends over or doing something in your youth group is a great idea. If the target of your friendship is there in the group, its a lot easier to ease into meaningful conversation if there is a group around.

4) Learn how to converse – there’s no real precedent anywhere in history for the kind of social skills your generation is growing up with, using technology and instant messages, etc. One thing that I have noticed though is that this generation is not great at meaningful conversation or resolving personal conflicts where words are required. When you do get together with others (guys or girls) put away the phones and talk. Being better at talking in general will help you to be better at talking with guys in a platonic way.

5) Don’t flirt – this might seem obvious but if you have a dude that is your friend and you like them and you are goofing around and you start flirting with him in even a joking way, it could derail everything. Draw up some obvious boundaries like no hanging out in a guys house or having a guy to your house when no one else is there.

6) Ask for help – if the dude is really a decent guy and worth being a friend with, then ask them to tell you if they find something you are wearing to be too suggestive or makes them uncomfortable. If they really are decent, and really are looking at you like a sister they will not only tell you if if makes them uncomfortable, but they will tell you if you are sending the wrong message to other guys as well.

Heartbreak sucks! Hurting in general sucks and most of it can be avoided by not jumping into relationships that have no chance, but it will require you to think for yourself what you want in your relationships and not just play the parts you see in the movies. By only having relationships with people that are worthy friends first, you can avoid a world of hurt and your relationships will have a fighting chance.

This is all my opinion – and I am sure there are a million exceptions to all the rules and ideas above, but the conclusions are pretty much the same. You can be just friends with a dude, but it is a bit complicated and most of the time its worth it.

Boys, Dating, Testosterone and How To Punch Hard

Not long ago a guy who lives in our neighborhood came over to talk to my daughter. He’s a nice kid, but socially awkward from autism and he’s about 16 (We’ll call him Joe). My daughter is just 16, tall, cute, edgy clothes and style and she’s really kind and caring (We’ll call her Xandra). So Joe puts his arm around Xandra while talking to her on the porch. She does not like Joe in that way, but didn’t want to hurt his feelings, didn’t know what to do and froze. So Joe got to finish the conversation with his arm around Xandra.

boys and girls

So Xandra and I had a talk. This is the gist of that talk:

Testosterone is like a swarm of bees flying around your head. It’s distracting, noisy, and precarious. If you want to communicate something of importance to a teenage boy, you need to be clear, direct, and loud enough to be heard over the noise of their swarm. Boys on the other hand will have a hard time communicating what they are thinking or what they want, but are more inclined to “do” something and hope their actions speak for them. So he put his arm around you, meaning “I like you, and I want to be your boyfriend and I want to connect with you and experience you”, and you said nothing, which means… “I do too”.

When he put his arm around you, he had a little bit of expectation of how things would go, and if you had drawn the line there, he would have been hurt, but that is like falling from inches. Now, he has huge expectations; he has probably spent the last few days daydreaming about what this all means. When you say “Sorry, but no” the next time you see him, and you have to address this the next time you see him, and you have to be clear enough and direct enough to be heard over his swarm of bees, he will fall from great heights, and it will hurt him. So in the end, there was nothing compassionate about being gentle and tolerant and permissive in the beginning.

You are beautiful. You are tall and you have a great body, and you have a really cute face with eyes that show caring and compassion and deep, intelligent thoughts. You have purple hair and a crazy style. When you walk in the room, you change the atmosphere; you make things more fun. When you talk, you are deep and thoughtful. And you are industrious; you can make things happen. You are powerful. You will be noticed by a lot of guys. You will be approached a lot. If you don’t recognize your own value, and decide for yourself what you want in a guy, and you are afraid of hurting anyone, then you will end up in a relationship with the first guy that asks after you are 17 (not allowed to date in my house till 17), and you will not be available for the guy that you really want to be with.

X: “So, what do I say to him, or someone like him?”

You say, “I’m sorry, I’m not into dating right now and when I am, I want to date someone who is first, my friend. So let’s just stay friends”

X: “But then he’ll think he still has a shot, and I really am not attracted to him at all.”

Ah, yea, so say “Joe, last time we talked you put your arm around me and I really didn’t want to hurt you so I didn’t say anything, but I am not interested in you like that, so don’t touch me any more, ok?”

X: “That seems harsh”

Yea… clear, direct, loud enough to be heard over the noise of the swarm (the million thoughts that are fueled by testosterone). If you soft-sell it or hide behind “my parents won’t let me date”, then they are not going to understand and are going to act like you didn’t say anything.

Being physical in a relationship is something you want to put off anyway. You add physicality to a relationship because you think it will add intimacy and it does the exact opposite. Break the word intimacy down into these words “Into Me, See!” When you start dating and there is no physical touch, you only have words to connect each other, so you talk. You find out about them, their favorite color, why it is their favorite color, hobbies they like, fun things they have done, stupid things they have done, how their parents divorce changed them, how they think, who they really are. You see into them and they see into you. When you finally have that first kiss, that is the last thing that you will find out about them for a while.

X: “Really?”

Yea, when you kiss, you realize that it is fun, you want to do it again, so you go on a date, thinking about kissing. You eat dinner or whatever and have light chit-chat and then as quick as you can, you get to the car… [lots of smooching and slobbering sounds].  The relationship changes. I’m not going to say that it’s not fun, but I will say that the relationship will not get any deeper, at least not for a long time. So save that stuff for someone you really want to have a long relationship with, or even be with forever.

X: “What is ‘friend zone’ and why is that bad?”

The term “friend zone” is a social meme that is used to either make someone feel bad because they are there, or to try and pressure someone into not putting them there. This is the problem with that social mirror thing I talk about. People watch the media and learn about dating from TV (cause there parents don’t talk to them like this), so based on what you see in the media a date is a ‘failure’ if you don’t get to at least first and maybe second base. So when you date someone for the first time, you have to be the one to adjust the expectations of what you want. This is one of the big benefits of going to a big youth group where they talk about dating and relationships; when you go on a date with a guy from your youth group, you will both have the same expectations and it makes things a lot easier. If they are someone else from school, then you have to say, “I’m glad to be going on a date with you, but I want to make things clear so they aren’t awkward later, I want to really get to know you first and I don’t want a physical relationship yet, so there will be no kissing at the end of this.” Remember to be clear and direct and talk above their noise. My best advise is to keep the guys that you like in your friend zone, date from your friend zone and when you commit to a long relationship, choose your best friend.

If anyone ever disrespects your boundaries, then they are not worth being with. If anyone ever tries to manipulate you into changing your boundaries, by calling you ‘cold’ or ‘an ice queen’ or anything else that is meant to make you feel bad for withholding what is only yours to give away, then… do you know how to punch someone?

[short demonstration on how to punch… lock your wrist, hold your fist tight, don’t aim for your target, aim for behind your target or you will let up when you connect and it will hurt your hand more.]

[short discussion on how to dispose of a body]

X: “Ha. Yea, well wont I get a bad reputation if I do something like that?”

No, you won’t. Actually it will be just the opposite. When you treat yourself like you are valuable and will not be taken for so low a price, then people of greater character and greater value will also see you as more valuable. Xandra, this is why it is so important for you to know how much you are worth. You are worth a lot. You are a 10. You are a world changer. You are amazing. You deserve the best. And when the offer you are presented with is anything less than what you deserve, then say “No”. And if anyone ever disrespects your “No”… [dad gets a strange, far off, almost sinister look] Tell me… right away… and they will never disrespect anyone’s “No” ever again.

X: “Ok, your face looks a little freaky, but I believe you… What would you do; kill them?”

Xandra, you are worth a lot… even a little jail time 😉