Okay, seriously, his hovering is starting to make me nervous.
My friend, Anna, and I stood together after practice, gathering our sunglasses and water bottles. She patiently stood while I rummaged in my bag for my hair ties. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one of the guys on our team standing close by, shuffling his feet and looking like he wanted to say something. Following my gaze, Anna looked over and smiled at him, giving a perky greeting. He jumped a bit, startled, then smiled back and started talking rapidly about a homework assignment that he hadn’t written down. Anna began helpfully reminding him so seeing I was not needed, I wandered off to make sure my brother had grabbed his hat and water, too.
After dodging a couple of overenthusiastic, chestbumping male teammates, discussing briefly some improvements with my coach, and seeing that, not only did my brother have his gear, but also my hair ties as well, I headed out the wire gate to where my friends were waiting for me in the minivan to drop us all at our houses. As team captain, it’s part of my job to leave last and make sure everything is in order and nobody’s left anything behind.
Suddenly, the awkward dude was standing in front of me, giving what I was pretty sure was supposed to be a friendly smile. I froze, my hand hovering over the lock on the gate. This guy was part of the men’s varsity crew. I was in charge of the women’s team. We never talked at all, and honestly, I thought he was kind of quirky. My brother was good friends with him, though, and had nothing but glowing things to say about him. I relaxed a bit and smiled. “Hey.”
“Hey,” he said rather breathlessly. He clinched his fists anxiously once or twice. My friends were waving at me to get a move on and I started to walk away, but he moved with me.
“I was wondering if you maybe wanted to come to prom with me and a group of friends?” He blurted.
Time slowed down a bit, and my brain started to churn with this new idea. “Prom. Urgh. Nobody’s been talking about anything but for months. Did he seriously just ask me to be his date? Gah! How awkward would that be?! Nuhuh, I need to dance with my girlfriends, and just imagine, I’d have to sit with him and his crazy buddies and I couldn’t just run of whenever I wanted–”
“Sure,” I said, suddenly just as shy.
“Self, what are you DOING?!”
“I’ll have to ask my parents if they’re okay with it, though.”
“You’re making this worse, dummy! Stop talking before it’s too—”
“Great,” he replied, brightening.
“I’ll see you then, I guess.”
“Well, that’s that, then. Good job, Olivia. We’re doomed.”
Prom came and went. It was slightly awkward, as predicted, but we ended up just walking all over the grounds and talking the entire evening, dancing only once or twice. You can imagine how terrifying it was to tell my dad about this whole thing. I’ll save that for another post, though.
Before I even recovered from my prom hangover (midnight is way past my bedtime, guys), my prom date had asked me out again. And again. And again. Let me be honest, when this innocent prom date developed in something bigger, I had no idea what was even going on, but I want to share with you some good lessons I’ve learned during this experience.
1. “My daddy’s got a gun” Okay, don’t actually say this. You don’t want to advertise to just anyone about your possession of arms, mmkay? But one of the first things I even said to this dude was, “I’ll ask my parents.” Do not, I repeat, do not be ashamed to make it clear that your parents have got your back, and that they want to know exactly where you’re going, and with whom, and how long you’ll be gone. This is NOT to make your date feel threatened, it’s just to let him know that you have a family who cares, and, more importantly, whose opinions matter more than his. Just sayin’.
2. Don’t go it alone; Even at prom, I was never completely alone with this guy. I didn’t want to be, honestly. Not because I thought he would do anything to me, but just because I didn’t know him very well. Promptly after our night at prom, he texted and asked if I wanted to see a movie with him….unsupervised. I felt a little tug in my tummy that said, “Um, no. Just you. Just him. With him driving you. Fuggedaboutit.” I went to my parents and told them everything, and they agreed that I shouldn’t go anywhere with him alone just yet. Long story short, both of our families ended up tagging along, and we all had a great time. Later, after one or two more chaperoned outings with each other, we had lunch at a local burger joint, this time with no parents or siblings nearby. However, he and I both knew that my parents were only five minutes away at a coffee joint.
3. Listen to your gut; This is a slightly creepy, yet true, statement my mother made to me a while back as we were driving past a graveyard: “I’ll bet that almost everybody in that cemetery died because they didn’t pay attention to what their gut was tellin’ them.” True, huh? Of course, if you hang out with good people, you don’t have to worry about getting killed on a date. I just wanted to tell y’all this because it’s a good thing to live by. After a date, how do you feel? Kind of tense? Relieved it’s over? Do you feel flustered, or rushed? Examine how you feel and talk it over with someone you trust. Don’t get blinded just because you enjoy the attention.
4. Relax and have fun; This is probably one of the biggest things. Don’t go on every date behaving like your guy friend is about to murder you or take advantage of you at every turn. And don’t flirt relentlessly or wear purposefully tight or revealing clothes. At the risk of sounding cliched, be yourself. The best kinds of guys are naturally attracted to the girls who are themselves and don’t give a flying lollipop what people think of them, but also have a good amount of pride and respect, for themselves and others. Also, one or two dates does not seal the deal. I always refused to call my dates anything but “outings,” or “an afternoon/evening doing ___.” Why? Well, I didn’t really want to date! I don’t want a committed relationship just yet, and between you and me, dating is not all it’s cracked up to be. Besides, it’s much easier to have a good time if you’re not waiting for him to kiss you the whole time. Ew.
5. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye; Unfortunately, I was never romantically interested in this guy. He’s nice to talk with, but we share little in common, and since we are both naturally quiet, it’s a bit challenging to get a conversation going. That’s totally cool, though! I have a new friend to meet up with occasionally, and since our brief relationship was not a made a huge deal, and we had a pretty strict unspoken “no- touch” rule, things are not awkward between us. Errh, at least, not any more awkward than usual. Something else I took into consideration was our very different positions in life: He’s a graduated homeschooler about to attend university in the fall, where he’ll be bombarded with homework, sports, football games, dorm arrangements, et cetera, and won’t have a lot of spare time for a girlfriend. And, his new school is several hours drive from where I live. As for myself, I’m about to be a senior this fall, I work two (soon to become three) part-time jobs currently, and my family and I are going to use my gap year after I graduate to take a super-extended, worldwide vacation. It’s just not a good time for either of us to try to maintain a long-distance relationship.
It’s one thing to blab about the things you will and will not do when you date. It’s a completely different thing to actually experience your first date, especially when you’re the oldest child in your family and neither you nor your parents really have any idea how to handle these things. Trust me, I had a complete plan for my first date. I had a big, long list of questions I wanted to ask the man, and I swore up and down that I would court, not date. Is that what happened? Well, not really. Sure, I peppered him with questions and tried to (subtly) pick at his brains to find his opinions on the values that make up my core belief system, but we did not always have a person with us, and we never mutually agreed in words that we would be hands off. However, this was an excellent first taste of the dating world for me. He is involved in several very reputable extracurricular activities, has a very well-off family, is well-traveled, smart, and puts up with my younger brother quite well. He respects me and admires me for the things he’s watched me accomplish, and when I told him up front that I wasn’t comfortable being alone with him, he took it amazingly well and did not get upset as many other guys probably would have.
Here are some other things to remember when you date:
• Don’t be afraid to test him a bit; How does he react when you say you’re parents are coming? Is he willing to ask your family if he can take you out if you want him to?
• How does he treat his own family? How he treats his mom and sisters is ultimately going to be how he treats you.
• He said, she said; Don’t feel like a jerk if you go behind his back a little and see if what he’s been telling you about his grades, friends, or how he spent last Friday are true. Ask his friends and family and see if he’s truthful. This isn’t double-crossing; you just don’t want to be around someone who makes things up to impress you. You want someone genuine.
• Work that core; What are the beliefs that make the two of you who you are?
2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.” Don’t become romantically attached to someone you know comes from a separate faith, or who has vastly different viewpoints on critical things, like abortion, immigration laws, homosexuality, etc.
• Zing! Do the two of you just go zing together? Do you click? Is he easy to be around and fun to talk to? Do you share the same core values? Does he make you feel important and special, does he respect you? Do you admire and respect him? If you’ve been in any sort of relationship with another person, friends or otherwise, you know when your personalities just click. If not, that’s cool; don’t force it.
One of the key things to have when you enter a relationship or are considering beginning one, on both sides, is wisdom. Not sure if you’ll make the right choices? That’s okay! The book of James tells us that if any one of us lacks wisdom, we can just ask God, who gives generously to all of us without getting annoyed or finding fault (chapter 1, verse 5). Remember, it isn’t we who are alive, but Christ who lives in us (Galations 2:20), so you can trust wholeheartedly that his Spirit will lead you and strengthen you through all ages, stages, choices, and struggles you face in this life.
Written by Olivia Grace