Why Biblical pursuit might not be what you think.
There’s a guy I’m friends with and really like. I kind of want to tell him how I feel, but I’ve always heard guys should be the pursuers. My girlfriends tell me guys are supposed to be the leaders in Biblical relationships. Is that true? And do you think it applies here? I’m wondering if it might be okay to ask this guy out or if I’m supposed to be waiting for God’s plan.
First, thank you for asking this question. I’m so glad you did. I remember wondering about all of this myself, and I know so many others ask themselves the same things.
We wonder—What does it really mean for a guy to be the pursuer? Does it mean we need to sit back and wait passively? And if we make the first move, does that mean we’re doomed for an unbiblical story?
The thing is, when it comes to whether or not you should ask this guy out, I truly believe it’s up to you.
The rules aren’t as hard and fast as we think they are. I was talking with my wise friend Hanna about this a few weeks ago. She is a writer and mentor and self-proclaimed ‘word nerd’—and I know she loves digging deep into different translations of the Bible.
She said to me, “Steph, there are no Bible verses on dating, so there are no Bible verses about pursuit in dating!” Back when the Bible was written, people got married really young (and it was often arranged!), so dating guidelines just weren’t necessary. So while a lack of guidelines makes this feel even more confusing (God, just tell us what to do!), my hope is that it also takes away some of the fear that you’re going to do it wrong.
Here’s my advice on the subject:
If you’re in a great friendship and you’re unsure about where it’s headed, it’s okay to nudge him. (I did this in one of my best friendships — here’s the full story.) When Hanna was dating, she found herself in this situation too. She decided to initiate the conversation because she needed to be an advocate for herself. She needed to take care of her own heart. And I agree! I don’t think believing in pursuit means we need to sit silently on the sidelines while we wait for the guys in our lives to make choices that affect our hearts too.
When I was in your shoes, I approached the conversation by saying, “Hey, I’m confused. I love the time we spend together, but I want to know what’s going on in your head so I can make some decisions for myself.”
So where do the pursuit and spiritual leadership come in? Friend, I believe we only get into trouble when we end up in a relationship where we are doing all the pursuing.
Think about it—if we pursue a man all the way to the altar, if we make all the moves and initiate all the important conversations and keep the relationship on track… well, it means we will be leading that relationship forever. Its survival will rely on us. And that’s not the story we want for ourselves!
So how do we make sure we’re not controlling our relationships, especially if we were the ones to make the first move?
I think it’s important to give guys the opportunity to reciprocate. The thing is, there are stages to this. You might ask this guy out to coffee, but then he can respond with a text or an invitation to dinner. By taking the first step, you’re setting up the tee and giving him a chance to knock it out of the park.
Dating and relationships are kind of like a dance, back and forth. A step toward him first doesn’t mean you’re taking the lead for the whole song. It’s like a conversation: it takes two people. Both people need to be in on the relationship.
I started feeling more empowered (and taking pressure off guys to do all the leading) when I realized that sometimes guys don’t really know how! This is something my husband Carl pointed this out to me in one of the bonus videos for my Love Your Single Life course. We’re all only human, guys included! And just like there are things we haven’t been taught to do, there isn’t a how-to-pursue class that every guy is required to take. Because the Bible doesn’t give specific advice about dating or pursuit, we’re all trying to follow the instructions it does give, then interpret the rest the best we can—with compassion, advice from our friends and mentors, and the wisdom we have now.
We want to date and marry men who are wise and encouraging (and yes, who romantically pursue us!). But that doesn’t mean they need to physically lead us through our dates or our devotions. We are responsible for caring for our own hearts and for chasing after Jesus on our own. In the end, I truly believe a Biblical relationship is pretty simple: two people who love Jesus, moving forward in life together.
So sweet friend, be bold and confident. Know that if you’re ready to tell him how you feel, you’re not messing up God’s story for you. You might even be stepping into it. My prayer for you is that talking to this guy about your feelings will bring you clarity and help your heart feel light and free.
P.S. If you want to listen in on my conversation with Hanna, when I brought her a whole list of Christian dating rules and we talked about which ones were Biblical, true, important, and which ones we could throw out (!), click here.
And if you were reading this today and thinking about your very own feelings for a guy that you’re not sure what to do with, click here to read my very best advice for if (and how!) you should tell a guy you have feelings for him.