I was at Starbucks the other day, packing up my laptop, and overheard the young barrista (all of 21!) complaining to a regular about how she was giving up on dating, and guys, because she never could find the right guy, etc..
The customer, who appeared to be in her 40′s, told her not to worry, that there were plenty of fish in the sea.
Of course, it was now impossible for me to NOT enter the discussion. (Those of you who know me, I see your heads nodding!!!)
I simply told the young girl:
“Look. The first thing you have to do is decide what kind of fish you want to land, and then fish where they hang out. If you want a top tier catch, you can’t be casting your line down among the catfish and other bottom feeders!”
The older woman broke out laughing, and then agreed. The three of us chatted some more, and I left. This led me to thinking:
- Are we teaching our children and young adults to approach dating systematically?
I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that we aren’t. From what I see (and, unfortunately, what I remember), most folks who are looking for a mate are using the “just have faith and trust God” approach.
While that sounds great, theologically, I think God intends for us to use some wisdom and judgment (that He provides), also! Maybe, even, we need to examine ourselves, our desires, and even our relationship with Him.
In fact, I think that God wants us to approach our dating just like we do our fishing. Think about what it takes to catch a desired fish:
- You have to decide what kind of fish you want to catch: Freshwater or saltwater? Salmon? Perch? Bass? Catfish? A fish that is good eatin’ or one that is mostly good for mounting over the fireplace? (Not the singing kind, either!)
- Then you have to research where to find such a fish. Lakes, rivers, or ocean? Near trees, grass, open water, or deep water?
- Next, you have to find out what’s the best time to catch such a fish: Morning? Noon? Night?
- After you have habitat and feeding time down, you need to discover what attracts the sort of fish that you want to catch.
- Finally, you have to equip yourself with the right assets to catch such a fish.
What has this got to do with dating?
A lot, let me tell you. Let’s take these one at a time, OK?
1. Identify your target fish.
If you don’t decide what you’re looking for, you’re apt to end up with just about anything, and anyone! That’s not always a good thing!
So, take some time to write down the characteristics you are looking for in a mate/date. Here are some seeds to get you started:
- Tall or short?
- Athletic, average, or don’t care
- Stoic or emotional?
- Indoor person or active sports person?
- Conservative, liberal, or centrist (politically and theologically)
- Serious or jokester?
- Blonde, brunette, redhead, or Goth?
- Drinker or teetotaler?
- Pure or note-so-pure (what level will you accept given Today’s culture?)
- Handyman /Handywoman?
- Creative type?
You get the picture. Before you go looking for a man/woman, you need to figure out what it is you want to end up with before you even leave the house!
2. OK, where do I find Mr./Ms. Wonderful?
That is a very important question! You don’t fish for salmon in a Texas lake! They don’t live there! Likewise, you don’t fish for perch in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the same way, you need to realistically look at where you will probably find the person with the characteristics you are looking for:
- Looking for an athlete? Join a gym or sports team!
- Looking for a “thinker”? Visit the Library, Barnes & Nobles, or take university classes!
- Looking for a person with a big heart? Work with your Church, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, or the local animal rescue group.
- Looking for someone who will probably want a family? Look at youth groups and other pro-kids organizations.
- Looking for someone who is active in their faith and also shares yours? Attend services and get involved in serving.
- Looking for someone who is shallow and wants a shallow, temporary relationship? Go to… aww, you already know where those folks hang out! <grin>
Basically, we’re talking “habitat”, here. Along with looking at where we might meet a prospective date, you need to look around them, too, at their “habitat”. This might include:
- How well do they keep up their car?
- Is their office clean, dirty, organized, decorated, or what?
- What kind of messages do you get from their clothes, hats, bumper stickers, jokes, and choices of entertainment?
- Is their normal hang-out a place that you would want to be seen at?
- What kind of friends and associates do they have? (This is a BIG indicator!)
All of these are “habitat”. Look carefully for clues, but also look repeatedly, as you might catch them on a particularly good/bad day that is not representative of the “normal them”.
3. When should I look for this person?
This is not necessarily a morning/noon/evening decision, although if you’re a morning jogger and are searching for a soul-mate, you might want to look early rather than later.
But, what I really want you to do is look at events and the calendar and then compare what you are looking for to the potential times to “go fishing”.
For example, if you are looking for a “good old boy” or “good old girl”, you might want to look at seasons such as NASCAR and events such as Toby Keith Concerts, etc. If you’re looking for a “numbers and detail” kind of person (say, someone in the financial community) then March/April might NOT be a good time to go fishing, as many will be tied up with taxes and other financial matters.
Basically, you need to look at optimizing the time to meet, and connect. If you take your time, and plan your “fishing” carefully, you can increase your chances of catching the desired fish.
4. So, what do I need to attract and “reel in” the desired catch?
That’s a two-edged sword of a question. Not only do you want to make sure you attract the desired fish, but you don’t want to drive them away, either.
And, I’m not talking about things such as sports cars, large homes, etc. I’m talking about making sure that you are the type of person which your “catch” will want to attract and keep, also.
External appearances do, in our culture, factor in here. If you are looking for a “cowboy” or “cowgirl”, then dressing like a Wall Street lawyer may impede progress. Looking for a Godly mate? Then dressing sexy and sending “sexy signals” by your dress and behavior can hurt.
There is nothing wrong with dressing the part, if you are honest about who you are. Don’t go “western” if it’s not really you. Likewise, don’t go Goth or punk if you are looking for the “boy/girl next door” type.
Also, you need to realistically look at what your desired “catch” is and then take a hard look at yourself. You may think that a “cultured” individual is the Cat’s Meow, but if you can’t tell a Picasso from a pinwheel, then you need to work on YOU. Having an athletic soul-mate is fine, if you are also athletic. While opposites may attract in some ways, similarities and common interests/beliefs are also important. Examine yourself to ensure you are the proper fisherman for the type of fish you are after.
This “fishing” works two ways, y’know?
5. What do I need in order to catch the fish that God wants me to catch?
Oh, yeah, we definitely need to bring God into the picture. So far, we’ve been discussing earthly considerations, but the foremost thing you need, now, is God’s provision. This can take many forms:
God may send Christian friends into your life whose opinions and counsel He wants you to hear. These may even be the conduit through which God supplies the introduction to Mr./Mrs. Right.
God desires you to pray, SPECIFICALLY, for your future mate, even before you meet them, so that He can provide. This includes both praying “Thy will be done” and praying “please let him/her be _________”.
Being specific in prayer is not a lack of trust or a denial of God’s sovereignty. In Genesis 24, Abraham’s servant prayed a specific prayer to God so that he would be sure of God’s direction. Philippians 4:6 tells us to “let our requests” be made known to God. God cares about our specific wants/desires. But, we have to make sure that they are appropriate and based on His Word and His Will. This is where our list of “desired fish characteristics” will come in. God may show us new things to look for, and may reveal that some things on our list are not appropriate/needed.
To have the perfect catch, you need to talk, and listen, to God.
Last, but not least, you have to be an HONEST fisherman. A relationship built on honesty is on solid ground. One built on “bait” will blow up in your face. I’ve seen it:
The wife who is athletic before the wedding but a couch potato afterwards may bemoan her husband not loving her for “what she is”. Well, her husband dated someone ELSE, an athletic single, with no idea that it was a ruse or false front. End result: Disaster!
The man who “trolls churches” looking for a good, old fashioned girl, but who turns out to not really be faithful has deceived his wife. Is it no wonder she feels betrayed and let down when he doesn’t attend church AFTER the relationship matures?
This lack of genuineness and sincerity is deadly to relationships. So, be honest with your potential “catch”, just as you want them to be honest with you.
There are ALWAYS exceptions, but hopefully, if you approach dating in a systematic manner, like serious fishing, the blessings will last a lifetime.
So, what does this have to do with sex education, one of Knights’ Quest’s emphases? Plenty! An important part of remaining pure before marriage is selecting a dating partner (i.e. potential mate) who will share that goal. That is one of your “fish” characteristics that you look for.
Parents, are you teaching your children HOW to reach this goal?
Pastors, are you training your PARENTS on how to teach the children?
Young people, are you asking for this knowledge and discipline?
Discipleship takes many forms, too!
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