Young People Ask . . .
How Should I Treat a Girl Who Shows Interest in Me?
“Susan took the first step, and I had no problem with that. It was a good deal for me.”—James. *
“If a man is not honest in his dealings with women, it can have catastrophic results.”—Roberto.
RECENTLY a young woman said that she wanted to ask you something. You have often seen her in groups of friends, and she is fun to talk to and do things with. What she mentioned, though, has left you stunned. She is interested in a romantic relationship and wants to know if you feel the same way.
This may surprise you if you are of the opinion that the man should initiate a courtship. While such is often the case, keep in mind that in taking the first step, she did not violate Bible principles. * That fact may help you respond properly.
After thinking about the matter, you may conclude that you are too young to date or that right now the girl doesn’t appeal to you in that way. You may also feel guilty, wondering if you somehow gave her the wrong impression. What should you do? First, you will want to take her feelings into account.
Consider Her Feelings
Think of what a girl goes through in this situation. Eager to make a good impression, she may have rehearsed her words for days. After combining the right words with just the right smile, she then wrestled with the possibility that you might say no. Finally, working up enough courage, she overcame her nervousness and told you what was in her heart.
Why did she put herself in that challenging situation? Perhaps she has a crush on you. Then again, she may admire your fine qualities in a way few people do. So her words likely included an unspoken compliment that you do not receive every day.
These points are included here, not to sway your decision, but to remind you to be kind. Says a young woman named Julie: “Even if he does not have feelings for her, the man should feel flattered that someone noticed him. So, instead of just saying no, he should at least be nice and let her down easy.” Let us assume for the moment that you intend to do just that—“let her down easy,” or find a gentle way to say no.
What if you have turned her down in the past? You may now be tempted to tell her off abruptly. Fight that temptation. Proverbs 12:18 says: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” How do you speak with “the tongue of the wise ones”?
You might simply thank her for expressing her feelings and for holding you in such high regard. Apologize for even unconsciously giving her a wrong impression. Clearly but kindly tell her that you do not share her feelings. If she does not grasp your reply and you need to speak more firmly, you should still avoid a harsh tone and cutting words. You are dealing with her tender feelings, so be patient. Were the roles reversed, you would appreciate her letting you down gently, wouldn’t you?
She may insist, however, that you purposely misled her. She may cite certain actions that gave rise to her feelings. ‘Remember when you gave me that flower?’ she may say, or ‘How about what you told me as we walked together last month?’ Now you have to make a serious self-examination.
Face the Truth
Explorers of old often viewed the lands they discovered as objects of conquest and exploitation, and today some men view women that way. They enjoy romantic relationships but do not want the responsibility of marriage. Without committing themselves, they try to charm women by playing on their feelings. Such a man gains a woman’s affection through deception. A Christian elder comments: “Some young men seem to go from one girl to another. It is not fair to play with a woman’s emotions like that.” Where does such selfishness lead?
“Just like someone mad that is shooting fiery missiles, arrows and death, so is the man that has tricked his fellowman and has said: ‘Was I not having fun?’” (Proverbs 26:18, 19) When a man pursues a relationship with a woman for selfish reasons, she will eventually see his true motives. Then his deception could cut her to the heart, as the following shows.
One young man sought a romantic relationship with a woman but had no desire to marry her. He took her out to good restaurants, and they went to parties together. He enjoyed her company, and she enjoyed his attention, believing that he was courting her. When she found out that his interest was merely social, she was deeply hurt.
If even unintentionally you have given a wrong impression to the young woman who has just approached you, what should you do? Being defensive and trying to justify yourself will only make her bitter. Consider this Bible principle: “He that is covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but he that is confessing and leaving them will be shown mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) So be truthful. Acknowledge your responsibility in any misunderstanding. And if you deliberately took advantage of her feelings, admit that you made a big mistake. Sincerely apologize.
Do not expect, however, that your apology is the end of the matter. The young woman may be angry with you for some time. You may have to explain your actions to her parents. And you may face other consequences. Galatians 6:7 states: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” But by apologizing and doing what you can to right the wrong, you will help her to go on with her life. And this experience will teach you to ‘safeguard your lips against speaking deception’ in all matters of life, including those involving members of the opposite sex.—Psalm 34:13.
Think Seriously Before You Answer
But what if you would really like to know the girl better? If that is the case, you should realize that dating and romance are not just ways to have a good time. The powerful feelings that a dating couple develop for each other point them to a commitment in marriage. After they marry, those feelings help to bond them together as husband and wife. How might this knowledge affect you now?
After thinking about this young lady, you may realize that she is attractive in a number of ways. She has opened the door, and you would like to keep it open. But instead of charging headlong into courtship, take steps now to protect the two of you from grievous pain later on.
At some point you may want to consult with a few mature individuals who know her. Suggest that she do the same with some who know you. Each of you should ask those mature ones what they consider to be the good qualities as well as the weaknesses of the other person. You might also ask Christian elders for their comments. It is good to know whether the person you are interested in romantically is well regarded in the Christian congregation.
But you may say, ‘Why should other people get so involved in my private life?’ The truth is that even in such a personal matter as romance, getting the thinking of other people is wise. In fact, it is Scriptural, for Proverbs 15:22 states: “In the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” The adults with whom you speak will not make a decision for you. But “the counsel of the soul” that they offer may reveal aspects of the other person, and yourself, that you do not see.—Proverbs 27:9.
James, quoted at the outset, did this. Although he had been living on his own, he talked with his parents about Susan. Then the two of them exchanged the names of other mature ones who could offer comments on their prospects as a couple. After hearing good reports about each other, James and Susan began dating to see if marriage was a possibility for them. If you follow a similar course before your emotions become too involved, you will feel much more secure in the decision you finally make.
Above all, pray to Jehovah. Since dating is a step toward marriage, ask God to help you see if a relationship with the young woman might lead to that goal. More important, ask God to help both of you to make decisions that will bring you closer to him. For both of you, that is where true happiness lies.
^ par. 3 Names in this article have been changed.
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If you are not really interested, be careful that you do not send the wrong signals