Monday 23 November 2015

Dating in Light of Matthew 5:37

Inspired by Cardinal Sarah's wonderful book, God or Nothing, I have been slowly reading the Book of Matthew, and one of the verses came back to me when I was thinking of some basic dating advice. The context is swearing oaths, but the simplicity of the teaching strikes me as pertinent to conversations between men and women: "Let your word be 'Yes, Yes' or 'No, No': anything more than this comes from the evil one."(Matt 5:37).

When someone asks you out on a date, it is better not to obsess on what it all could mean, or why he asked you by text and not in person, by letter or by homing pigeon. If the invitation is, "Would you like to meet me for coffee?" instead of having a brain-freeze, you must ask yourself, "Would I like to meet him for coffee?"  If you answer is "Yes," then say "Yes". If your answer is "No," then say "No." Unless there is a very good reason you should NOT be meeting this person for coffee (e.g. he is a flirtatious married man you secretly fancy), say what you want and don't feel guilty about it. Meanwhile, no man on earth--even the one you are thinking right now is exceptionally sensitive--is going to fall over and die because you said "No."

If the guy shows up for the date in blue jeans and a T-shirt, and you think he should have shown up in a suit, to show proper respect for you or the venue (e.g. the opera), then this may weigh upon your decision about a next date--although frankly I think a man is a man and is going to wear what he's going to wear. If you don't want to go out with a man again just because he wears the uniform of his generation, then obviously you're just not that into him. Personally I think you should give a guy a chance, but that's me. Can you imagine a guy never calling again just because you wore jeans on a date? But anyway, it's up to you, so if he asks you out again, you should ask yourself, "Would I like to go out with him again?" If "Yes" say "Yes" and get used to the blue jeans because you have no right to tell a man what to wear unless you're having a formal dinner party.  If "No", say "No", and if pressed, say you feel no spark. Or you can throw caution to the wind and say you're looking for a Cary Grant type. Please e-mail me what he says. 

I think a lot of contemporary unhappiness could be averted if women just took the time to ask ourselves what we want when we are asked directly if we would like something. Do I? I do, so "Yes." I don't, so "No." Men at swing-dancing, who take what used to be the women's privilege of accepting or rejecting dances, say "No, I'm too tired" or "No, it's too fast" without being the least bit apologetic. (They are not entirely to blame for this appropriation. If women ceased to ask them to dance, we would get our privilege back.) Although I don't like being told "no", I envy the men guilt-free decisiveness. 

There is something to be said for openness, of course. When I went to swing-dancing, I wanted to dance with the men there. Now that I don't want to dance with the men there, I don't go to swing-dancing. (Actually, there are three regulars I'd happily dance with, but you know, it's a long way to go on a cold night, it would cost at least £3, I'd have to look at the smug faces of the other guys and watch beautiful, talented women throw themselves at them.) If you despise all the men in your social circle, then maybe you need to change your social circle.

But even if you like all the guys around, there is no reason for you to have a coffee with one, or have supper with one, or go to a concert with one, if you really object--for whatever reason--to the proposed plan. Maybe you don't like coffee, supper or concerts. Maybe the idea of being alone with him for 1-3 hours makes you cringe. In which case, if he asks you if you would like to have coffee with him, you will probably say "No"--and that's okay.  However, if you like the idea of having coffee or supper with the guy, or going to a concert with him, you will probably say "Yes", and that's okay too. "Yes" to coffee, supper or a concert is not "Yes" to anything else, and if he assumes it is, ask yourself the question again. Do you want to go out with this presumptive chap? If Yes, say "Yes." If No, say "No." If pressed for an explanation, say "You're too presumptive." That'll larn him.


  1. And my housemate and I were discussing this exactly topic not two hours ago while washing up/sharpening knives and drinking wine together. (and discussing her brother's girlfriend dilemas) 90% of the time I appreciate 'yes' for yes and ' no' for no, even if the question be; "would you like a cheese sandwich".

  2. I am highly amused wondering what these girlfriend dilemmas could be!


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