A common question I get as a pastor’s wife in college and singles ministry is, “How do I appropriately relate to the men in our group?” Great question. Here are three ways a Christian woman can approach these relationships with discretion and grace.
- Remember the golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. We tend to over think things, especially when there is an emotional spark or connection with a man. That might mean avoiding a certain gentleman because we don’t want our attraction to be evident. Don’t let that decrease your opportunity for him to get to know you. Be as open and kind with him as you would to someone you have absolutely no attraction for. On the other hand, he will notice if you’re constantly popping up next to him. Avoid wearing your heart on your sleeve. Men are wired to solve problems not deal with emotions. That is something they learn how to understand when they become a husband.
- Remember, ultimately we are brothers and sisters in Christ for now and eternity, so treat them as such. This is manifested in showing natural concern for their general well-fare. As my singles pastor would say, “Strive for social normalcy.” It’s normal and socially acceptable to turn to a guy next to you and say, “How are you doing?” or “How did _____ go?” Even if you are attracted to him, it’s okay to ask him a question that you would ask anyone else. The fact that he is attractive to you doesn’t mean when you say “Hi” you are throwing yourself at him. Unless you actually are throwing yourself at him. If this is a gray area for you, pause and take notice of the reactions of other women around you. If you see a pattern of raised eyebrows, there might be a problem.
- Keep spiritual leadership in the realm of spiritual issues. Many girls get stuck thinking the guy needs to be a spiritual leader in every situation, including social settings. That freezes up a woman from having any interaction with a man unless he initiates 100% of it. You don’t wait for your biological brother or father to talk to you before you speak to him. The same principle is true with guys. Don’t fear being the first to say hello – this doesn’t have anything to do with spiritual initiative. The Bible tells us to “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” We are to greet everyone. Saying hello is a form of social kindness. (Since cheek kissing was a cultural norm in the past, I recommend social normalcy today means keeping your lips to yourself.) Women are free to choose a restaurant, activity on group outings, or even dates. These choices don’t fall into the “spiritual decision” category.
In my personal experience, generally, the more friendly and open you are to conversation, the more likely you will be asked out. Being approachable lowers the perceived rejection factor in his eyes. Be wise, poised, feminine – aim for friendly, not floozy.
Thanks for asking.
What do you think? What is your advice for appropriate interaction between men and women?