Read an Excerpt
Chapter Two: Romance
So you've seen those cheesy ads I'm sure. You know, the ones filmed in black and white with the guy and girl who are desperately in love, who roll around together in the ocean surf while soft breezes blow their wispy hair all around their faces only to stare at one another with eyes that burn of passion and say in a low, sexy whisper of a voice, "I love to wear Calvin Klein perfume."
Ya, the ads are pretty lame. For real, who rides their bike straight into oncoming waves while they're wearing a long see-through dress?
But as lame as the ads can be, they're also pretty serious. The ad is piling up all kinds of references to things we find romantic just to sell a product. Like if the images in the ad remind us of things we love, the idea is that we will think we love Calvin Klein perfume (or whatever product they're selling), too. The whole deal is about hitting people who watch straight in the heart. It's about all about making us feel the romance.
For girls today, romance can sometimes seem like something from the past. Things that used to be considered romantic-like a guy opening a car door, pulling out a chair from a table, or just generally saving a "damsel in distress"-can seem downright sexist today. Guys who do stuff like this risk being called pigs, jerks, or misogynists (miss-soj-a-nists) because they just won't but out and let girls do their own thing.
What's a girl to do? It's no lie to admit that a lot of modern girls still go home and dream about a Prince Charming. Wishing a guy would sweep us off our feet might be old-school for modern girls like us, but it's a dream that's still alive. It's a dream in the hearts of tons of girls, all over the place.
This dream is exactly what reality tv shows like The Bachelor are all about. Even though this is 2003, you can count on getting a whole line of girls who will risk public humiliation for a chance to be swept off their feet-even by a complete stranger. And it's not like the girls who audition are flaky do-nothings. You've got lawyers, businesswomen, nurses, and teachers all lining up for a shot at Prince Charming, himself.
So the first thing we're going to do in the romance chapter is figure out what kind of girl we are, anyway. Are we the hopelessly romantic type? Or, are we more of a mix of romantic heart and modern head? Check out the two lists below and match up your real feelings about romance.
11 CLUES YOU'RE A GIRL WHO'S HEART-OVER-HEAD FOR ROMANCE
- You call radio stations to dedicate songs to guys you like so often that all the DJs know you by name.
- You spend your free time baking cookies in the shape of letters so you can spell out the name of the guy you like.
- Your cell minutes are all used up from text messaging guys you're crushed out on.
- You sing love songs in your head and stick your own name in the lyrics.
- You've actually written a love note on some guy's car with lipstick.
- You're now fluent in three languages, love skateboarding, took up art, and are into video games all because the guy you like is, too.
- You've sent flowers, candy, or gifts to win the heart of a hottie.
- When you and your boyfriend went for pizza, you had the pizza guy arrange all the pepperoni into the shape of a big heart.
- You bought your guy boxers with embroidery that says, "Me and pookie-bear 2-gether, 4-ever."
- You practice signing your first name with his last name.
- You jumped up at youth group, booked it over to the stage, grabbed the mic for like two seconds and said, "Hiiiiiiiiiiii James!" and then laughed, and giggled, and snorted, and laughed, and jumped back down to your seat.
So what does it all mean? For heart-over-head girls, here's the diagnosis: you're quick to get crushed out on guys. You probably put a lot of energy into getting guys to notice you and you almost always hope guys fall for you in return.
What's Good About It: Emotion
Being in touch with the sensitive side of our minds is a blessing. In our twenty-first century world emotion is usually replaced with intellect. Our world is full of logic and science. And the world is down on just about everything that can't be proven through facts and figures.
A mind in touch with emotion is a welcome change. Sometimes it's a fresh perspective on the world to let our feelings guide us. A feeling like the spark we get when we're excited, falling in love, or just have a crush on a guy can tap into emotions that people often keep all bottled up inside. When girls are too afraid of letting their true feelings show, they can miss out on some of life's best experiences.
What Risks Come With It: Infatuation and Lust
If you fall in love with every guy you end up having feelings for, your life will become a teenage soap opera. Before you know it, people will be calling you Rory and you'll think you live in Stars Hollow, forced to pick between your safe-bet sweetie Dean, and Jess, the brooding new bad-boy in town.
Soap-opera-style relationships are on TV for a reason: they don't work in real life. When people get close to one another it's not like they can just switch gears one episode later and get into somebody else. If you're a heart-over-head kind of girl, you run this risk. Infatuation is short term and usually ends up going nowhere. It fizzles out and you're left wondering what all the energy was for in the first place.
The second risk is lust. When infatuation goes too far, it's like your body takes over and your mind gets thrown in the back seat. This can lead to a girl making some pretty bad decisions. Going too far, physically, or starting to compromise emotional or religious values that you care about can be the result of lust.
What God Says About It: Emotions are a Gift.
. . . But watch it when your emotions get the better of you. The Bible's full of places were we're encouraged to use our thoughts, our positive emotion and our imagination in service of the Lord.
The best example? The Psalms. Take one book, add a couple hundred chapters, and throw in some old-school musical instruments, and you get song after song that's filled with emotion.
The Psalms feature shout-outs to God, to lovers, blessings, friends, nature, animals, music, good health, harmony, good times, and about sixty-five zillion other things. The words aren't about high-brow intellectual thinking. The Psalms are about emotion. It's almost like you wonder if King David had any free time after getting all American Idol about it and leaping across the grounds of his palace while singing his heart out all day long.
Emotion has a down side though. The best place to see the risks of emotion? Keep following the story of King David. His instant lust for Bathsheba led to a total mess in his life. He not only had sex with somebody else's wife, but he also had her husband murdered just to try to cover the whole thing up.
You may have heard this story a thousand times, but it's worth remembering. Emotion turned to lust usually ends up going bad. Like I said, the fire that you feel initially will eventually fizzle out and you're the one left with the consequences: guilt, sorrow, shame, confusion, and a feeling like you and God aren't getting along or you're getting distant from Him.
11 CLUES YOU'RE A GIRL WHO'S HEAD-OVER-HEART FOR ROMANCE
- You like to the split the bill when you and a guy go out on a date.
- You've never jumped in the car with a girlfriend and secretly stalked a guy you like just to find out where he lived.
- When you go to the beach, you actually wear a bathing suit that's functional, not for him to oogle at.
- You've never pretended you weren't home when a guy called, just to make him anxious or want you more.
- You're looking for friendship first, and then romance.
- You know exactly what you're looking for in a guy, and won't settle for less.
- You actually show up at family events you promised to go to, even if the guy you're crushed out on invites you to do something on the same day.
- You don't have any stuffed-animals named after guys you like. Not even one.
- You're fine sporting two-day-old hair, no make-up, and mismatched clothes in front of him.
- You say "bring it on!" to seconds if you're still hungry when you guys go out to dinner.
- You don't care if your guy knows what size jeans you wear, or how much you weigh.
For head-over-heart girls, the situation's a bit different. You're all for even-stevens and equality. You're not going to get all crushed out after twenty minutes on a date, and you're looking for a sign that feelings between you two are mutual before you leap into anything major. But here's the downside diagnosis: All this equality means a lot of waiting around to see what develops over time. And, as time goes on you risk getting to know so much about a guy that makes him seem cool, you sometimes forget he might not have some of the main qualities you're looking for, like being a Christian for example.
What's Good About It: Equality And Reciprocity
Reci-what you ask? You may not use the word that often, but if you're a girl who usually falls head-over-heart when it comes to romance, you know all about it.
Reciprocity (ress-a-pross-a-tea) is an exchange. You know, like you give a little-I give a little. When girls are the head-over-heart type, they're looking for this kind of swap. They don't want to be the only one crushed out. And they don't want to give up other stuff in their life that's fun, just to hang out with a guy. Instead, girls like this are all about give and take. It's sometimes called "guarding your heart." It's about protecting yourself, since the chances of you (as two high school students) not getting married are pretty high.
Giving a little on both sides isn't the same as holding back love unless you get something in return. It's more of an even-steven kind of deal. The feelings are there, but you're not going to go all in for some guy you just met, change all your hobbies, and give up other stuff you like to do in your life if he's not feeling it too.
Being a head-over-heart girl can be hard, though. When we first start thinking we might like a guy that way, many girls fall hard. Waiting to see what turns out if you two take it on the friends level first can be more than a lot of girls can stand. Here's where the head-over-heart girl hits her stride. She's into using her mind to stop, look, and think about what's going on before she gives her heart away.
What Risks Come With It: Mismatching and Playing House
We've got two main risks that come with being head over heart for a guy. They are mismatching and playing house. Mismatching is when you're romantically involved with someone who does not share your dedication to Christ. Playing house is pretty obvious-living together or otherwise pretending that you're married. I'll go into more detail . . .
Mismatching. Have you ever heard the phrase "unequally yoked?" It means that two people who aren't in the same place spiritually end up together. This often happens because one person is trying to "missionary date" the other-to save them and bring them to Christ.
But here's the real deal: you're a Christian girl. This means that you give it your best to follow God each day. It means you've got some ideas about what's what in the world today. And it means that you've probably got a clear idea about how you want to think about guys and sex.
If you end up with a guy who's not a Christian, you're ending up with a guy who might not share any of these ideas. So, the two of you end up being mismatched. Two things that don't really go together end up that way. He doesn't get the whole Christian thing. You don't get why he doesn't share your values.
Mismatching happens for a few reasons:
§ A head-over-heart girl is cool about guys, building friendships, and letting things develop over time, which means she's getting a clear idea of who she's dating. The thing is, there are tons of guys who have amazing morals and lifestyles, even though they're not Christians. So, because a head-over-heart girl is able to hang with lots of different guys and see how amazing they are, she tends to forget that it's even important if these guys aren't believers. She figures that so much other stuff is good about a guy that it'll all work itself out in the end.
§ Learning how to work on equal footing with guys means us head-over-heart girls are able to put up with a lot. We can get along with almost anyone as long as they're down to do their part, too. So if we end up getting close to a guy who's great at sharing, compromise, and being a teammate to us, we can forget one little thing: he's not a Christian. And what that means is that someday-maybe way down the road from right now-when you two try to be partners who follow God, you're going to run into trouble.
§ Missionary Dating. This is when a girl has a "burden" for a guy to bring him to Christ. This means dates, a serious relationship, and deeper levels of intimacy, all in the hope that someday, one day, just maybe even this day . . . he'll convert and come to God. But even a head-over-heart girl can't plan to make missionary dating work out just because it's been her plan all along. Take it from a girl who's been there: God is the only one who can call a guy to Christ-your kisses can't! Missionary dating doesn't always end up the way you'd like and people don't always convert.
Dating a guy can bring growth to our lives. But don't forget that spiritual growth means you, your boyfriend, and God are all on the same page.
In the Bible, the big guy warning us against mismatching is Paul. In Corinthians, he tells us that if we want to follow God, it's easier to do it with another person who wants to follow God, too. His master plan for this to work out: date people you know are going to be down with your religious beliefs. Date people that will help you grow and stay on track to become spiritually mature as you grow into womanhood.
Ok, but it's not like I'm getting married tomorrow, you say. Marriage is way off in my life, so what's the big deal?
The big deal is that when we're getting romantic with guys, we're getting intimate on all sorts of levels. Sure, you may not run off to Las Vegas and have a quickie-drive-through wedding with your current crush, but you're setting a precedent for the kind of guys you will date in the future when you are more serious. And you will also still have to deal with big-time stuff in your relationship.
Like what? Well, like what are you guys going to do when you go out? Is he into partying and you're not? Does he think it's no big deal to lie so you guys can spend more time in private? What about prayer? Is he into it, or are you going to have to put it on the back burner when you guys are together? Is he into getting physical, but you want to wait? What about church? Are you going to meet up with him after service or youth group is over? Or, are you going to start skipping out so you can hang with him and his friends?
See what I'm talking about with the whole mismatching thing? Even if you're not about to walk down the aisle with some guy, there's still a bunch of stuff that you two will be on different pages about. And even if you can get the pages all worked out, you're going to be reading two different books, so to speak. You'll be into the Bible, but what's he gonna' be reading?
Playing House While We Wait-And-See. Even if they don't plan to, some girls end up living in mismatched relationships. Sometimes a girl will choose to weigh the option of mismatching against the option of breaking up with a guy she's been into for a long time. In the end, she decides that mismatching isn't that bad of a proposition by comparison. And, when a girl grows into this kind of mindset, she's basically saying "yes" to a wait-and-see relationship.
After high school many of these wait-and-see relationships turn into living arrangements. "I'll just move in with my boyfriend for a while, so we can see where things are going," say some girls.
But if you think about it, what have these girls really committed to? A guy, or the idea of the guy becoming something he's not? Hopefully you picked the second answer. The wait-and-see approach basically commits you to an idea, not a person. You become serious about the idea that a guy can be what you want. So in the meantime-while you're waiting-to-see-you keep dating, set up house, live together and see if things can't turn out like you'd like them to.
Playing house can lead to lots of drawn-out, blow-up endings. Head-over-heart girls who've been hanging in there for years can finally explode when their dreams don't work out. Guys who date head-over-heat girls can feel duped or lied to. They didn't know their girlfriend was waiting-to-see some kind of miraculous change, like a conversion to Christ.
ROMANCE-BUT WHAT KIND?
No matter if you're the heart-over-head or head-over-heart kind of girl, you'll eventually take the plunge. No, silly, not that plunge. But the smaller plunge-the one into guys and figuring out how you want to spend time with them. When it comes to girls, guys, and how they should get romantic, there's lots of static and even more opinions.
Some People Are Going the Courting Route.
This whole deal got big when a guy named Joshua Harris wrote a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Just a little bit out of high school, Harris tried giving his life to God without trying to throw girls into the mix. He combined two-parts self-control, one-part commitment to his promise, and came up with this: courtship.
The basic deal is that courtship replaces dating (thus the title). Courtship isn't a kind of dating; courtship is it's own deal. It's like living with a different perspective on romance.
Courting is a pretty simple idea. Here's how it works: guys and girls get involved because they're looking to get married. That's it. That's just about the whole deal. Two people click, get a vibe going, and then set off to find out if there's any reason why a marriage wouldn't work out.
It's straight up friendship first when it comes to courting. No making out, no getting down. Because courtship is all about finding a life-partner, different stuff ends up being the focus of the relationship then when two people date. Courtship gives people a way to focus on the heart, head, soul, and mind of another person-not the bod (although that doesn't mean you're not going to notice a nice set of abs or a sparkling pair of eyes).
Once you know what's up with what's inside the person you're into, then the only other stage is marriage. There's really just one level to your relationship until you tie the knot: friendship and personal exploration.
Other People Are Going the Dating Route.
Dating is way less intense than courtship, because it's more about temporary relationships. In fact, girls who date end up dropping a bombshell if they admit they're shopping for a husband. Can you say . . . breakup? That's just not what dating is for-at least not at first.
Dating is a trial run, or a test to see if people gel. The test might be successful, or it might not. There's no way to tell except to give it a go. And there's usually no pressure for the relationship to go anywhere serious at first.
Dating is casual and can be broken off in a jiffy. But while it lasts, people usually move beyond friendship and into physical intimacy while finding out more about the other person. Both things usually go on at once: friendship and physicality.
Some People Aren't On Any Route-They Just Like To Flirt And Hang Out.
Sometimes people who act this way are called "teases," "players," or "hustlers." They're the guys and the girls who just want to get you interested. They're not looking to get into a relationship and they're definitely not looking for anything long term.
This is a kind of confusing route, especially for teens. Why? Because girls (and guys) love to get attention. You're not a freak if you've ever gone out of your way to look great for a guy just to get him to notice you. You're not the only girl who's sat down next to a guy at a party and tried to act super-cute, funny, or witty to get him interested. Most girls have done it, even if they won't admit it.
But where does that stuff end up going? If you're not really interested in a guy, and you're flirting just to get attention, you're actually being kind of selfish. You're asking another person to give a part of them to you. And if you ask for too much, you're asking for parts of that person's heart, mind, or soul.
When you hear about people who play "mind games," this is exactly what's going on. Because somebody needs attention, they try to play with another person's mind and get it from them.
But don't think we're going off on flirting here-we're not. Flirting is totally natural. It's part of testing out what's going on with our developing sexuality. Just know that you can't let flirting get out of hand. It's not a way to get attention. And it may even lead to stuff that's hard to handle, like the pressure to have sex. Because you're using your body to get attention when you flirt, it's hard for guys not to pick up signals that you're into them in a physical way.
Ways to go after romance are as numerous as girls on the globe. Every girl has her own style. Every girl ends up feeling an urge to see what's up with love and give it a try.
Giving romance a try though isn't the same as becoming lost in a swirl of emotions and excitement. And this is where the advice comes in: get your head on straight. Know what kind of romantic you are (heart-over-head or head-over-heart), and take it slow.
The biggest mistake girls make in their teenage years is getting all dramatic about romance. Girls can sometimes spend hours, days, and even weeks worrying about guys, crushes, and what to do about these feelings. Girls can freak out when guys they like come near. Or, they can spend their free time fantasizing about what love would be like with different people. Needless to say, all this boy-crazy energy is energy that's being taken away from other things in your life, like sports, family, or most importantly your spirituality and relationship with God.
So hold your horses, girl. You don't need to wear these feelings on your sleeve like they're going out of style. You've got plenty more where these feelings come from, and you life is going to last, oh . . . about seventy, eighty, or even ninety years longer.
There's no rush to fall in love or get romantic. Truth be told from a girl who's older: people even get burned out on romance. After getting into so many relationships and getting so romantic about so many people, it's like you just reach a limit and have to take a break.
Knowing this when you're a teen is worthwhile. I'm not trying to convince you it won't totally bite when some guy you're crushed out on turns you down or breaks your heart. But you know what? You will live to see another day. For real. Your life won't end. It will just be a bummer for a while.
But then, life will take a turn for the better. This is just how life is: it goes in cycles. So keep this idea of cycles with you in your head. Crushes will come, and crushes will go. Romance will bloom and then it will fade. It's all about cycles.
Eventually a cycle will come where everything will just click. But it's nothing that you can force. So sit back, chill, and listen to God. Figure out if you're heading into romance with your heart or with your head. But most importantly, figure out if you're heading into romance on God's timetable. Check yourself to be sure you're not forcing a romance that's taking time away from God's plan for your life. The two will meet up eventually-God's plan and your man.
But until them, just give romance some time. It's not like your wedding day is coming up next week. Wait to find that cycle where everything seems to click and you feel comfortable and secure about what's going on.