Shortly before I met the Matchmaker, I was seriously contemplating sending an email to all my Christian friends asking them to be on the lookout for a single Christian guys for me to meet. I have a third cousin or something whom I’ve never met, but who met her husband because he did that, and I figure this is the closest to an arranged marriage that I’m likely to get at my age and in this culture. I actually feel more content as a single person than I ever have in my life, but at the same time, I still feel that I would like to be married and up until this point, neither the “you have to put yourself out there” advice, nor the “it’ll happen when you least expect it–when you’re not looking” advice have been overly effective. Maybe it would work better if someone else is looking. As long as they don’t employ as simple a rubric as “He’s a heterosexual male, she’s a heterosexual female, they’re both single,” and actually take our personalities into account, I’m fine with being set up.
Then the Matchmaker discovered me and offered to help me find somebody. In spite of his agnosticism, he’s got a pretty good handle on the Old Testament and he regularly calls me a “woman of valor” (an epithet I’m not sure I deserve but I sure appreciate a whole lot), and he insists something along the lines that “it is not good for [this particular woman] to be alone.” I thought this surely could not be a coincidence–meeting him right after this emailing idea I had. But I also interpreted his offer to be my matchmaker as meaning he would go through his contacts, and their contacts, and try to find someone suitable from people he actually knew. Or could actually get to know.
Here’s what I didn’t take into account. The Matchmaker is (to simplify descriptions a little), an economist, and so he’s all number-y and statistic-y and stuff. A couple of weeks ago, when we decided to get back on track with this matchmaking scheme (after I insisted to him that really, in spite of forays–some of them extensive–into dating men who don’t know Jesus on a personal basis, I do need to date and marry a Christian), he presented me with the following plan. I mean, this is how I understand it:
The type of man I am looking for, who has a similar relationship to God through Jesus as I have, and who maintains the same kind of relational morals, is likely to be rare. (Especially in New England, I might add.) In order to increase my chances of meeting such an individual, I need to draw from as broad a pool as possible. Therefore, I need to sign up on multiple dating websites and just date and date and date and eventually, statistically, the likelihood of finding someone I can connect with will be greater. Not guaranteed, but greater.
This sounded frankly horrible to me, and it still does, as a matter of fact. The number of times I’ve sworn off dating websites, only to return to them with dismay and resignation, doesn’t bear mentioning. I know I’m not alone in this. However, I can’t argue with the Matchmaker about the statistics. I do think there’s another dimension in play that he can’t take into account because he doesn’t believe in it, and that’s God and His will. I would find it simply delightful if, in spite of the statistics and “the best-laid plans,” I actually met a single, Christian, kindred-spirit man who was somewhere within my age group, out of the blue–or at least at seminary. But my previous experience with seminary tells me that most of their students, while male, are either married, 25, or both.
So . . . Okay, so I’m now on two dating websites. And I’m talking to some men, each of whom are quite nice in their own ways. I haven’t actually met any of them in person yet, and am not yet even sure that I’m going to. Here are some things I’m observing at the outset of this experiment, however:
1. I’m not the same girl who first signed up at ChristianCafe.com in 2003. I used to fall hard for guys on the basis of a profile and maybe a couple of emails, and I had some pretty considerable (and essentially groundless) hopes painfully dashed a few times. Now, it takes me a while to size someone up. I want to really get to know a person before I decide to commit to an exclusive relationship, and what’s more, I don’t think I’m even capable of emotionally committing until I have gotten to know them. I am still attracted to great writing and a good sense of humour, but I fall in love for different reasons now. A man can tell me he rescued some baby squirrels (While You Were Sleeping, anyone?), but that’s not going to impress me as much as when I’m hanging out with a man and my friends, and one of my friends complains of a headache and said man wordlessly and unobtrusively disappears to the nearest drugstore and buys her some painkillers, after having ascertained which ones work for her. Or when he shows up outside my workplace just before I get out for the day and has Chinese food which we eat together in the car while the rain trickles down the windshield, because we can’t eat it as a picnic in the park. Those are the kinds of things that make me commit to a guy, and I will spend time with one to find out if he has such thoughtfulnesses in him, but I need to actually spend that time before I can be sure I want to commit.
I was semi-recently pressured into exclusivity before I knew the character of the man demanding it (and, arguably, before he really knew mine), with very unhappy results, so I’m a little more wary these days. A man who can be patient with this process will recommend himself to me strongly simply for that. There’s probably a fine line between pursuit and pressure. One I like, the other I don’t, and I’m afraid I can’t tell anybody exactly where that line is. But the fact is, it exists.
2. Many men I’ve been “meeting” lately (whether or not I’ve actually met them) seem to be in a hurry to find “the one.” I’m feeling pressure again and not patience, and while I don’t want to waste anybody’s time, I think ultimately holding back and getting acquainted is more efficient than trying to force “the one” identity on someone. Also, there seems to be this idea out there that people can’t “grow into” love. The number of times in the past year I’ve been told by someone, regarding a man I may have just met, “If you don’t feel it, you never will,” astounds me. But the man I most recently loved I had known at least slightly for three years before anything came of it. I didn’t feel anything for him at the beginning (and it would have been frankly inappropriate at the time if I had), but I certainly did for a good long while in the end.
3. Most men with kindred spirit potential are shorter than I am. I long ago dispensed with the wish to find someone taller than I am, and the truth is that even off-website, I seem to get along better with men who are shorter, but still. Why is this?
4. Making the desire for a godly husband the subject of an experiment in statistics and psychology is, at least in this stage of the game, taking all the joy out of relationship. Last night I had a dream that I had to marry somebody, so I got married to this random guy about whom I was not convinced, and who wasn’t that excited about me, either. I used to have dreams like that all the time, but until last night, hadn’t for years. Am I praying about this process? Yes. Do I really know how to? No.
I suppose simply by blogging about this, I could be tampering with the data of this experiment, but maybe blogging about it is part of the experiment. Anyway. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you know anyone . . . screen him thoroughly, please.