Stop Waiting for Him to Ask You Out

Taking a second look at the idea of "men initiate, women respond."

In college, I waited—like I thought every good Christian girl was supposed to.

The Christian rhetoric of “men initiate, women respond” gridlocked my heart into eleven months of waiting. As the story often goes, I really liked this great guy. Our relationship escalated from group hangouts, to study breaks and late-night runs, and from there on to dinners off-campus and formal events. He never expressed his feelings per se, so I mastered the art of channeling my anxiety about his ambiguity by scribbling in my prayer journal. I was that girl.

“Does he like me? Will he ever profess his true feelings?” I asked God, but I never asked my crush.

The Christian rhetoric of “men initiate, women respond” gridlocked my heart into eleven months of waiting.

I didn’t ask him how he felt because I was told good Christian women’ don’t initiate, and speaking up crossed into the forbidden category of pursuing. I was instructed to pray more, trust God, sit by the phone, and wait. As a result, I lost my voice. And as it turned out, he did finally profess his feelings—to another girl. Spending a year of your life swooning over a guy only to discover he never fancied you “that way” can feel like a small death, can’t it?

We all know how hard it is to land a date with a good man, both statistically and anecdotally. We’ve heard about prolonged adolescence and know how The New York Times suggested the word “date” be stricken from the dictionary because no one is really “dating” anymore. Added to all this are the common Christian teachings for women seeking romance:

1) God calls us to wait.

2) We can’t ask him to tell us how he feels or clarify his intentions because that’s “taking matters into our own hands.”

3) If a woman initiates, even just once, she’ll set a pattern that could lead to a marriage in which he’ll never be the spiritual leader.

4) He’ll pick up on your hints, so there’s no need to be explicit with your feelings.

5) Flirting will make him stumble.

We talk about “biblical dating,” but since there was no modern concept of dating in the Bible’s historical context, what does this really mean? Is the mandate that women should not initiate a biblical idea? Are women in danger of dominating their future husbands because they suggest hanging out one on one? Is it really God’s will for women looking for “the one” to wait and be patient?

When we take a closer, more critical look, we find these rules are not necessarily based in biblical teaching. I believe Christian men are called to lead—but that doesn’t mean women have to lose their voice.

Here’s a look at a biblical woman who was strong, courageous, took risks, and—drumroll, please—initiated. Ruth, a single woman, put on her best rockin’ outfit and to Boaz after dark. Of course, there’s cultural context in this story, to be carefully studied and considered, but there’s at least one simple principle that speaks to us today: Ruth didn’t sit at home praying Boaz would come knocking on her mother-in-law’s door. She didn’t read into his kindness. assuming he liked her and would eventually make a move. After he showed her special attention, Ruth took a risk. She initiated and allowed him to respond.

I believe Christian men are called to lead—but that doesn’t mean women have to lose their voice.

Ruth teaches us a few insights into how women can pursue romance:

Don’t be afraid to initiate

If you have your eye on a guy, suggest a Saturday run or something casual to do together. Invite him to come out with you and your friends. Don’t just wait for him to pick up on your hints. Initiating can be scary, but it also circumvents a lot of confusing games. If you reach out, you’ll put the ball in his court. Then, it will be up to him what to do next.

Be clear with your desires

Communicating—in words, not actions—what you want is vital. If he’s singling you out, engaging you in witty text banter, or prolonging an unspoken possibility, it might be time to speak up. At some point, you both need to clarify and communicate your expectations. And if he’s not talking, you might need to be the first to bring it up. Does that mean you are a dominant woman? No. Does that mean you’ll turn him into a passive man? No. It means you are strong and have good communication skills. Hanging around Boaz’ field’s wasn’t getting the job done, and lingering by his side on a group evening doesn’t count as telling him you’re interested. Let’s stop the subtle communication and use our words.

Ask him to clarify his vague intentions

Asking him what he wants will protect you from unnecessary wondering and heartache. Boaz’s kindness to Ruth was initially vague—we don’t know if it was motivated by romantic interest or simply a familial obligation to care for a distant relative. So she actively put him in a position that required him to clarify. And we can do the same. If he’s singling you out, giving you special treatment, and hasn’t been explicit about his feelings or intentions—ask him.

This takes courage, especially because you’ll need to be prepared for a favorable or unfavorable response. Whatever he says, you need to know that his response does not define you. Instead of hinging your self-worth on what he thinks of you, remember who God made you to be and speak out of that confidence.

As women, it’s easy to allow a man to string us along, grasping at signs of his affection and remaining silent. I did it for entirely too many years. But when my husband Michael came into the picture, I was committed to protecting myself by not putting up with vague intentions. After several great phone conversations, he sent a nonchalant Facebook message ending with: “Keep me updated.” You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t pray he’d clarify his message. I didn’t remain silent and hope he figured out I was the one for him. I took a risk and told him I’d love to get to know him better and would like for him to keep calling.

Two days later, my phone rang. And the conversation hasn’t stopped since.

Top Comments

John Paul


John Paul commented…

While I do subscribe to the idea that men do the pursuing. Some men or really boys suck at it. They lead girls on, are vague and when you add it up its just down right disrespectful to any woman. I always tell girls Men do the leading but you are free to ask at any point, "Hey where is this train headed" When traveling in real life you're given and itinerary and so there is no need to speak to the conductor but if a man is not stepping and giving you a map then you need to and should ask him. Every guy should a) be able to answer and b) not have a problem with you asking. A women pursuing would be her always calling, texting, asking him to hang which is completely different then a man doing those things and then a woman asking him what the deali-o is. If he's a man and a good leader he'll have an answer and hopefully that answer will be followed up with a "will you go out with me?"



Layne replied to Ruthie Dean's comment

This is bizarre to me. It's like you recognized that it's a rigged game, that the 'kiss dating goodbye' structure removes a woman's power and voice... but then you invent a flimsy "solution" to stay within the boundries of said game (you can have a voice, but don't speak too loudly). You were so close.


Abby Gaby Lim


Abby Gaby Lim commented…

Thanks for the thought-provoking perspective. Here's my take on this issue:

Stefan Stackhouse


Stefan Stackhouse commented…

If Christian singles are all brothers and sisters in Christ, then why should a Christian single sister not be able to interact with a Christian single brother the same way that a real life sibling would? Like the sister asking the brother if they could meet for a talk over coffee, for example?

Abby Gaby Lim


Abby Gaby Lim replied to Stefan Stackhouse's comment

I guess the key is making sure that both of you are still interacting like brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes, the two of you are just not on the same page. Like this article clearly points out:

Brandon Smith


Brandon Smith replied to Abby Gaby Lim's comment

This is such a great article. The truth is, asking someone out is hard and it's just as hard for men as it is for women. God didn't give men some spiritual power to not be hurt, affected, or feel rejected when they try to start a relationship and fail, and the truth of the matter is: For all the subtle signals you think you're giving out to the guy you like, there are dozens of girls giving him the exact same signals (or stronger ones) just because they want attention and have no real interest in being in a relationship. To slightly quote a good friend of mine, It's fantastic to want a Christian man to lead, but he can't lead dead weight. Let a guy know you like him. I'm so excited for that girl who got the nerve to talk to the guy she liked and now she's in a relationship. That's fantastic.

Camille Camzo Mcleod


Camille Camzo Mcleod replied to Brandon Smith's comment

Well this really was a timely article for me ..... I was having this discussion with a friend recently .... i am really with you on not wasting time....

Jen Smith


Jen Smith commented…

I've found that it's not just young guys. I'm in my late 40s, never been married, and met more than my share of such men. These men flip out emotionally when the "define the relationship" topic is approached by me. I've never let one go for years. I won't waste my time that way.

The sad thing is that their reaction ruins any friendship. How do you take someone for granted yet call them a friend. I don't need that kind of friend. So, there's no point in me having (single) guy friends anymore.

Catherine Seiwert


Catherine Seiwert commented…

From a psychological perspective, letting the guy initiate conforms more with the way God made us in our sexuality. Us women need to give men the chance to take responsibility. I honestly believe that when women take the lead away from men, we produce a society of men too immature to even be husband material. Men need to "fight the dragon" as one counselor describe to me. They need opportunities to prove their masculinity. If a man doesn't make the move, maybe they aren't the one for you (the example from your story has him asking out someone else, maybe they were just more his type), or he if he does really like you but doesn't have the courage to ask you, do you really want that guy as the spiritual head of your family, the guy meant to lead and protect? Now, there will always be anecdotal evidence that it'll work out fine if the women makes the move. Overall though, our current society of childlike men who can't make commitments to themselves, a wife, or even God often, is very strongly correlated with a few generations of women who have been determined to prove they are just as dominate, even if that means taking the 'balls' right from the men, if I may be so crass. I think there is also a difference between letting a guy, who it seems like is leading you on, know through your friendly conversation where your values clearly are on dating and marriage, and the other side which would be closer to point blank saying, "I'm interested in dating you, so come on".

Karess Rubrico


Karess Rubrico replied to Catherine Seiwert's comment

I totally agree with you, Catherine. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.



Chase commented…

I TOTALLY agree that it's okay (and even good) to take the initiative. Worked for me and my husband! :)

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