By Candice Gage
Christian dating tip #40: Don’t be a cheap date.
I never wanted to be one of those spoiled girls. You know — the ones who have to be taken out to fancy restaurants and pampered with expensive gifts, the sort who expect large diamonds. I’ve always found that attitude rather sickening.
Instead, I always wanted to be the kind of girl who is a blessing to the men in her life, the type who gives more than she receives. I’ve worked hard to develop that sort of character. Indeed, I’ve become quite a virtuoso in the art of being low maintenance.
For example, my first serious boyfriend never even “took me out” anywhere. He hung out at my house, and I’d hang out in his garage (he was a mechanic). We never went to dinner or coffee or a movie. Growing up in the courtship movement, it didn’t really seem that odd to me. Though I sometimes wished things were different, it didn’t cross my mind to complain, as I thought that would be selfish.
In the years that followed, I went out on a few dates with nice guys. But all of my closer friendships were like the first — even in one of my most serious relationships. Though he occasionally suggested going out and I always said I would really enjoy it, the guy never followed through. Aside from one Taco Bell Seven-Layer Burrito and a cup of tea, I (or his parents) instigated and paid for our few outings. Like his predecessors, he preferred hanging out at my house or his place of work. I always suppressed any feeling of disappointment. I didn’t want to be spoiled.
And that is just in the arena of “going out” with guys. I also maintained low expectations in other areas – from emotional support to birthday presents, my standards have always been low. These expectations were never surprised or disappointed.
In other words, if you disregard any sexual connotations of the phrase, I turned into a very cheap date.
The scary thing is — I didn’t even notice. Instead, I took pride in my lack of self-interest. Then, earlier this year, I finally began to notice a pattern in my relationships. When I reflected on the past, it seemed that I was always giving and rarely receiving. I don’t think it was very healthy, for me or the men I dated. Instead of encouraging their growth, I began to realize that my “selflessness” might have allowed those men to miss out on the blessing of loving and serving others.
Consider Paul’s words to the Philippians.
And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. (Philippians 4:15-17 ESV, emphasis added)
Paul encourages the Philippians to give, not out of his desire for gifts, but out of his desire for them to grow and experience the blessing of giving. To put it more simply, he loved them enough to expect their love in return.
For some of us, it’s easier to give than to receive. We may feel uncomfortable being on the receiving end — maybe vulnerable or needy. But if we want to serve others, we must give them the opportunity to serve us.
I’m not suggesting that women should become spoiled and demanding. On the contrary — I think we should be motivated to truly serve the men we date by seeking the same fruit in their lives that Paul sought in the Philippians. This will look different for every man, varying with personality, economic factors, etc. But our motivation should always be the good of the men we date.
Men should have this attitude towards women as well. While you may feel good about yourself when you do all the giving in a relationship, you might unknowingly be encouraging selfishness in your significant other.
Christ gave his life for us, but he loves us enough to expect our love in return. If we really love others as Christ told us to, we will encourage them to love us back as well.
Over the last months, I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m much more mindful of practical ways men demonstrate an other-centered attitude. I have raised my expectations, and I’ve found that there are many men out there who seem to really enjoy doing nice things for their gal friends.
So, take my advice — don’t be a cheap date. Instead, do good to others, and give them the gift of doing good to you as well.
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