He sees her. He gets to know her. He begins to fall for her. He talks about her to all his closest friends. He speaks about her to important influences in his life. He spends time with her and her friends, and soon they have their friends. Weeks pass by. He continues to watch her, gets in her space to have conversations in the safety net of their friends. A gentleman-like side hug when they leave. She even smells good. Many more weeks have gone by. Making sure this is the one he would choose, even just for a cup of coffee alone. Falling more for her each day. Thinking more of her each day. Seeing how she loves others, serves others and her smile is contagious to those whom she comes in contact with. And then she falls over laughing and he smiles from a distance and likes her more. Two months have now gone by in this delicate process. He learns, by observation her heart for knowing God in her life. His fondness deepens and he decided to make that bold step of asking her out.
His friends are cheering him on. His mom wants a detailed report of the first date. Everyone knows his heart for her.....................deep sigh...............long pause and he walks over to her. He asks her on a date and she accepts. He puts his hand behind his back and gives a thumbs up to those who are watching from a distance. His step is now a swagger as he walks away with a smile that only a heart sick young man can know.
They have coffee. They were only scheduled for two hours, but it turns into five hours and they talk away the afternoon. She then is able to join him for unexpected evening plans with their friends. The perfect evening, the perfect first date. Everything he has learned about her over the past few months is so right. He listens to great teachings at church on Christian dating, and everyone around applauds him.
After a month of dating he begins to see more clear the future he will have with her. He talks about an event a few months out that he wants her to join him on. He talks about Christmas and how fun that will be, even though it's months away. He starts dreaming of how special he is going to make her birthday and starts dropping hints, even though they have only been dating less than two months.
Then something unexpected happens. She begins to pull back from him. She pulls away from him. She goes to her friends to shares these things. She goes to important influences in her life to discuss how she feels like it is so soon in the relationship and he is speaking of things months out. She is not even certain she is ready to be in committed long-term relationship. He asked her to coffee. He is kind and she has always thought he was nice, but he was not on her radar for dating at all and now he is moving so fast. Those important people around her said to accept his date. It's just a few dates. You have to spend a little time alone to see if you even like him. She explains that together they have lots of friends, but she never really got to know him apart from the group so she was willing to accept a coffee date. He was kind, a complete gentleman, so she accepted another date. She is a sweetheart. She would never play with his heart and the innocence in getting to know him is sending him mixed messages. How can this be?
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
She realizes she is not ready for what he is offering and ends it quickly. It was only a few weeks. It is not like they were getting married.
What is going on here is simply this. After years of conversations around dating, doing that dance on dating and hearing the hearts of both women and men, young and old I have come to some concrete conclusive evidence. Allow me to digress. Last night with men and women my own age (amazing I do have friend my own age, who knew?) We talked about this very thing. A middle age man not married blushed when I laid out my observations. He said, "oh gosh this is exactly how it is!" Another young man, confused over why his break up was so painful and he was still hurting said, "I thought I did everything I was suppose to, and after a month she broke up with me."
So what is going on? I am going to call this Pseudo Dating. I am sure there is some dating book that has already written about this very thing, but for some reason it's not getting read, because over and over I hear the heaviness of a relationship that ended to soon. Really, a month? Is that to soon. First I think it is a gift to every man and woman out there when it's ended early, in that you have not invested so much to have it come later when the stakes are higher. But I digress again.
What is Pseudo Dating? The definition I shall give is this: Falling in like/love with with the opposite sex and daydreaming about the future of the relationship long before there is ever a relationship.
In the scenario I painted above. This young man had Pseudo Dated this young woman for the better part of 2-3 months. I have see Pseudo Dating that has lasted almost a year. So when that first date is set up, the Pseudo Dater has already invested so much of his or heart into her. He has plans, big dreams with her, and shortly into dating her begins to share these plans and dreams. For the sake of clarity I will stick to the couple above. He had been Pseudo Dating her. He was not on her radar at all, other than a friend from their group of friends. She started the thought process of dating him, the first time he asked her out. He had weeks and then months invested in her with his heart. In his mind and process that relationship was well into it's 3rd or even 4th month.
He already knows she is an early riser, he knows she likes her coffee a certain way, he knows she loves to take long walks, and wander in and out of shops. She knows nothing of him and is actually quite shy about asking all the important questions until she thinks she might even want to date him. He comes away a bit confused. Questioning her, and wondering why? His heart is now confused and he lacks clarity in what is going on. He is no longer himself around her, there is awkward which is turned into simple statements like "I don't know why I am not myself today?" She continues to pull away from that "closeness" they once had. Really? They were not close, he was close to her. She just did not know it. His heart begins to sink and she does in fact break up. "I don't understand. I had people rooting for us, praying for us, telling me that we/she is perfect." "I shared my dreams with her for us and she did not accept them, how can this be?" Two words: Pseudo Dating.
After years of watching and listening I realized last night that I just could not sit dormant with this information. I drove back from Seattle with my oldest son in the front seat. These kinds of topics roll in and out of my ears. He wants to know how long he should wait, or what is the appropriate time to ask a girl out. I laughed and asked if he had girl in mind. Then I realized it did not matter. I cautioned him about putting to much thought into asking a girl out. Sounds like I lack sound wisdom to some I am sure. However it is often taught to wait, listen to God, protect her heart, and God will show you. All very good things, but a man or woman, or a girl or a boy begin the Pseudo Dating process because God designed us as dreamers, hopefuls, and gives us the ability to love and embrace easily, even from a distance. I told my own son that I know he speaks to God on these matters and if God has put a girl on his heart to pray about it. I cautioned him on Pseudo Dating, although I did not come up with that name until I started writing this blog post. He laughed, and again recognized even himself having done that over and over. I said if you have someone in mind, keep it an evening field of getting to know each other. Ask her out ALREADY!!! And then call me with the details.
My daughter shared a few statements a very nice young man had made after only two dates. He had been thinking for months to ask her out and got to know her, without her knowing him. She was, at her mature age of 20 said "okay whatever mom, now I am the bad guy for not accepting a 3rd date. Sheesh you'd think we were getting married the way he is taking it." Months later I did learn that he truly thought God was telling him she was the one. He had Pseudo Dated her for months. Her 2nd date with him produce plans he dreamed up as her husband. She ran fast and far away. What would have happened if he first noticed her, and then took time to take her to coffee and build a face to face friendship. He would have learned that God was working some big things in her life, that marriage was not on her radar and that she would rather walk in the country rather than the city, but she had such a serving heart, she was okay to go where the group went which often took them into the city. (which she does love too.)
So who do we know that is Pseudo Dating? How do we encourage them? All good questions.