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The Six Month Dating Experiment Part One: The Last Five Years

I haven’t been on a proper date since 1999.

Many people recoil in shock at that confession. I half expect them to inspect for unsightly boils or check my breath for halitosis. Generally they’re left pretty confused. Why would a reasonably attractive, intelligent, personable girl not be in the dating scene?

That’s not the reaction I receive when I reveal my semi-involuntary “dating fast” to Christians. Oh, no. I could name a dozen single Christian friends who have never been on a date, never been asked out or never been kissed—or in some cases, all of the above.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or is there?

My friends and I have long suspected something was amiss. Certainly some of these dateless individuals have good, perhaps great reasons for their solitary status. I’d be the first to tell you that I don’t need a man to show that I’m worthwhile. But it seems odd, given any group of average-to-good-looking Christian twentysomethings, that you’d see so little dating and so much standing on the sidelines, alternately complaining and pledging to find “the one” in “God’s time.”

Heck, usually I am one of those girls offering lamentations and platitudes when I’m not a cynical spectator. So many times we’ve said something should be done. We never knew what, exactly, but dating didn’t make sense as it stood.

Then Henry Cloud walked into my life.

Henry, or Dr. Cloud, if I’m being as respectful as I ought, didn’t descend from heaven to sweep me off my feet. (His wife and children probably wouldn’t have appreciated that!) Instead he wrote a book that attempts to answer the questions my girl friends and I have been asking. Are we alone in thinking that “Christian” dating is messed up? How do we fix it?

My best friend challenged me to read Dr. Cloud’s book, How to Get a Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back. That wasn’t daring, really, since I’ve counted him among my favorite authors for years. No, the real challenge came when she said we were going to go through Dr. Cloud’s dating “program” and hold each other accountable in the process.

Dr. Cloud is a Christian psychologist (Ph.D. from Biola University) and has authored many books to that effect. But as I devoured the pages of How to Get a Date …, I was confronted with ideas and beliefs about dating that you wouldn’t hear in the Christian circles I’ve run in.

As I contemplated Dr. Cloud’s statements, I couldn’t find biblical support for why I date—or don’t date!—the way I do. I decided dating was only appropriate with a guy whom I’d consider marrying. That was in part because I had prematurely given my heart to guys I didn’t love, but also because some guy in a book told me that was how it should be. I operate under an assumption of what “type” I need, though clearly that hasn’t worked. (Need I remind you just how long it’s been since I’ve been on a date?)

Maybe all I need is time. Maybe, eventually, Mr. Right will wander up to my front door and call for me by name. But so far that hasn’t happened … and in the meantime I’ve not only become bitter about men, I’ve also become scared. As Dr. Cloud puts it, “If every date is the Super Bowl, you will put too much pressure on yourself to win. Just enjoy the game!”

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So I’m going to try. I’m going to follow Dr. Cloud’s advice, though it means challenging attitudes I’ve held for years.

And I’m going to write about it. I won’t rehash the whole of Cloud’s book—you can pony up your own $15 if you want the whole of his advice and the rationale behind it. But I will chronicle my own journey through this relatively new dating territory, and maybe we’ll all learn something in the process.

Hey, if it doesn’t work out … you better believe I’m going to take the publisher up on that guarantee! “Be dating in six months or your money back”? I’ll waste no time cashing in on that promise.

[Carla Jean Whitley is a picky, picky princess whose friends say her standards are so high that Jesus would need multiple interviews for a date. They are hopeful, however, that God will send her a man to straighten out her confused little brain.]

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