Insert Girlfriend Here

In the process of unpacking I came upon this little desktop picture frame. You know, the kinds that house a beloved aunt, parent, bosom buddy… or girlfriend.

My little picture frame’s been vacant for quite some time. So I thought I’d put a temporary placeholder in there for now, like I was reserving the space for her before she got here. Sort of a mental note on the order of: “1 dozen eggs, quart of milk, and one girlfriend.”

The caption of my crude stick figure (figurine?) reads:

Insert girlfriend here

Short, to the point.

Of course, where exactly the rubber hits the road on this one is well beyond me. And that brings me to back to the Moratorium.

Much as I hate to admit allegiance with the likes of Joshua Harris’ minions and the Kissing Dating Goodbye campaign, I have initiated a moratorium of sorts on dating. This came about around a month ago when I was in talks with a buddy of mine. Although for my purposes, the reasoning was slightly modified from Mr. Harris’ blueprint. In my case, my friend and I observed that I seemed to exhibit an almost masochistic habit of failing to network as widely as I could. It’s all part of the self-imposed Islander mentality: i.e., abandoning civilization in favor of more safe (read: solitary) environs. Unhealthy, yes, I know.

Coupled with the fact that I’d come out of a not-to-recent breakup with an equally unhealthy sense of urgency. Hence, to keep myself from fretting about spying dating prospects rather than just relaxing and meeting people of the opposite sex, I levied the Moratorium. The thinking goes: remove the pressure, the platonic friend count goes up. That has to be a good thing, right?

Last weekend’s Denver Post had a funny article about online dating called “Spontaneity Need Not Apply” by Vic Vogler. He expresses some familiar dissatisfaction with the online dating experience. It’s possible that it’s only funny to those that have lived the foibles of online dating, how it has a way of positively removing bad choices, but adversely sapping the element of chance. Vogler sagely notes, “Being open to love is different from chasing it.”

Now Anna Broadway, witty writer of the Sexless in the City blog, would wholeheartedly disagree with me on instantiating the Moratorium. Or at least, so it would seem. Although, Anna doesn’t offer any real alternative, just frustration with what dating abstinence usually yields.

Regardless, let me state that I’m open (oh, so very open!) but I’m not chasing the girlfriend-in-the-picture-frame like I used to. It’s not worth the heartache.

Join the Conversation


  1. Good luck, Rob- I hope this yields a high platonic friend count for you… er, that is what you want, right?

    Do you really feel strongly about this? I don’t know if you’ve convinced me that you really want this halt to dating.

    1. Platonic friends? Yes. Always a good thing. How strongly do I feel about this? Hmm, not sure. I think you saw through my venting, Sarah. This post was a little tongue-in-cheek, and maybe a lot cynical.

      However, the Moratorium itself was a real concept, however weakly and improperly implemented on my part. My buddy Jeff’s the one that suggested it. Perhaps I should give him the benefit of rebuttal. 🙂 Jeff?

      Anna, I’d be interested to know how women’s agendas in dating are different from men’s. I mean, besides the obvious, and avoiding stereotypes of male libido, can’t both men and women have the same goals in mind? Or am I misunderstanding entirely?

      (psst, hey Mom, that’s where that book reference came from!)

  2. Um, there were a few particulars where my “moratorium” is concerned. A) Women have a different obligation to seek out boyfriends/husbands than do men girlfriends/wives and B) when I finally gave up dating for real it was marked by equal caution toward those platonic friendships you mention. Calling it “not dating” doesn’t mean you’re not falling into pseudo-dating just the same. 😉 See also references to Derek Prince’s God is a Matchmaker. But hey, who am I to lecture? It’s your chastity you’ve gotta live with after all. 😉

  3. Depending on how “traditional” you are, it’s more the man’s job to go after relationships than it is the woman’s. I can “not date” and still get pursued, asked out, etc. (in theory). You decide to “not date” and … well, who asks you out, exactly? Maybe friends set you up on blind dates, but I think choosing not to initiate has more of a difference for guys than it does gals. Unless you’re just switching from direct to passive initiation, that is. Women don’t know anything about that. 😉

  4. Ahhh, the dating game…almost as much fun as slamming one’s fingers in a door (repeatedly)…

    Traditional or not, one cannot date (either genuinely, platonic, pseudo-, or otherwise) unless there is at least one other person (of the opposite gender) present. My problem is not the asking, it is getting the ladies to accept an invitation. I am not sure if I am just particularly repellent, overzealous, unattractive, or what. I can’t speak for everyone, but it requires great deal of emotional energy and effort it takes (me) to ask a woman out. Its not that I fear them, but I do hate (and fear) rejection. Politely done or not, a rejection is painful.

    Being an introvert, I have a hard time initiating conversation with anyone. But, I have also been told that I am “too honest” (I say too much when someone else initiates the conversation).

    I tried the online dating thing for a while. I should call it online “meeting” or chatting. I never once went out on a date. People (even in my own family) are wondering if I am homosexual and that is truly aggravating. My non-Christian friends are always trying to get me to go to bars, dancing, etc., but I am wary of those situations. Not because I don’t think that there is not at least the potential for a good relationship, but there is plenty of potential for damaging and/or sinful relationships.

  5. I think a moratorium is not a good solution for anyone who wants to find a spouse… UNLESS they:

    1. have a specific goal in mind (esp. for character development, such as AB)
    2. have a set ending time for this dating hiatus
    3. feel specifically led to backtrack and focus on other things for a while (notice I said for a while)

    I think “I’m not dating right now” is really code for “I’m not dating just anyone- I want to find someone really special with whom I can spend the rest of my life with.” So why not just say that (or better yet… don’t say it at all, but simply show it through your actions)? It bothers me when young Christians say that they’re not dating when the reality is that they would if they had found “the right one.”

    Among females, the tendency is to develop a superiority complex as a result of not dating. A young woman I knew bragged to others once that “I took a year off from dating” to anyone who would listen. I don’t think that’s really the point, and it bothered me to no end that she thought she was much more upstanding and moral than the rest of us infrequent-daters.

    There’s my two-cents’ worth! 🙂

  6. Why sure, I’d be happy to supply the line of reasoning that led to the Moritorium! We were talking about a couple of things.

    One was what John Eldredge calls “taking the question to Eve” — the male tendency to answer the question “Am I a real man?” by checking to see whether or not he has a girlfriend/wife.

    The other was your tendency to shy away from social situations — like that single’s dance at church — especially when there’s an implicit “hooking up” mentality and the fear of rejection that goes along with it. We agreed that it would be ridiculous to avoid women entirely as a remedy to idolizing them.

    And when you asked, in light of that, how you should treat single’s functions, I suggested going to them with your only goal being to meet as many people as possible for a couple of months.

  7. I feel I should try to clarify some of my motives behind the Moratorium. First of all, as I’m sure is the case with all of the singles that have posted here already, I do hope to find a spouse some day. But to borrow from Sarah’s fine list (oh, how I love the enumerated/bulleted list!):

    1. I most definitely have a specific goal in mind here.
    2. I have a rough idea on the ending time, but it’s tightly related to #1 and when that could have some sort of fruition. The trouble is, character development is kind of a life long quest, so perhaps I should rethink #2.
    3. I definitely feel that focusing on other things for a while (still indeterminate) would be healthy for me.

    And this whole endeavor is most certainly not for a kind of badge of honor. Quite the opposite, actually. Most of the time, shyness gives me a sense of shame. I think the Moratorium is an effort to relieve the shame for a season, until the character is built back up.

    Yikes, the skeletons are out of the closet now, huh?!

  8. the boyfriend factor rarely crosses my mind. for me, it’s about meeting &/or dating a guy that might be potential marriage material. if he doesn’t fall within the standards that i have set, then i don’t bother. this weeds out many potential “boyfriends,” but keeps us both from future heartache too.
    while it’s nice to “have someone” (ie. a boyfriend), i’d rather be single than be with someone who isn’t the person God wants for me.
    granted, sometimes i get lonely.. heck, we all do. but i surround myself with a lot of friends, from both sexes.
    and i try not to over-think it. 😉

    1. Angela, that is sooo wise to set standards and stick to them. We had a good single friend who was miserably lonely and married someone out of desperation. It makes us sick. He’s miserable and his children are suffering. Be patient and wait stubbornly for the one God has set aside especially for you! You are extra special! (I know that sounds corny, but it’s true!)

  9. So, you’re saying you are fasting dating women and/or the search for women, for a time? I think it’s wise if something is becoming too consuming to step back and take a break,in order to regain balance and perspective. I hope that you will have a lovely woman on your arm soon. The fact that you are yielding to God, allows Him to use this time to mold you into a better man, still. A man who seeks the heart of God is indeed a very sexy man.

    I must say, all of you should be commended. In this culture saturated with sexual promiscuity, it’s gotta be harder than ever to be single. You are choosing the narrow road/harder road. May your reward be great. My hat’s off to all of you…

  10. Probably the perfect time to concentrate on other things considering you’ve just moved to a new state…its the perfect opportunity to make some solid frienships and get to know the area you live in. I feel for all single people who don’t want to be single. I can’t imagine not being married. You have my prayers and support.

  11. What makes us special in God’s eyes and what makes us special in the eyes of another person are not nearly the same things. God’s delight in His people is in seeing Himself — His presence, His Glory, His Holiness — at work in His servant.

    What makes us special in a person’s eyes are typically rather fleeting things:
    1) physical appearance
    2) personality / psychological makeup
    3) interests, etc.
    4) common ideological views

    We then tack onto these qualities with “they are a also a Christian”. A person who is seeking after God’s own heart may be a broken, shy, withered shell — where all that may be left is God’s gracious presence and a person trying to make sense of / put together the pieces. Is that attractive?

    Also, this notion of marriage as the key to happiness is not Biblical. I’m NOT saying that God wants us to be miserably married, but if we are unsatisfied with being single, why would we be satisfied with being married? Maybe my problem is not that I am alone or lonely — maybe God’s best for me is to keep me in that lonely place because that is when I rely on Him the most. God’s purposes for marriage, for life, for tragedy, for blessings, (which I find are often very difficult to distinguish) etc. may be totally different from my 21st century, post-modern, romantic, pseudo-Christian ideals.

    As far as there being only “one person” for us is more a romantic notion than it is Biblical. What I mean is that I don’t know how you would make a scriptural case for “there is a person created only for you”. But, the flip side of that is that I can’t argue (from Scripture) that God didn’t create person specifically for me.

    I have been told time and time again that I am attractive, a strong Christian, and that I seek God earnestly (by female friends — who are not single). I don’t feel that I am any of those things. Perhaps this is the key. Do women want a person who projects the image of success? Or do they want someone honest? Do they want a salesman who tells them how lucky they are to have that man?

    Why do we assume that God has someone for us at all? Is singleness a disease or a gift? Am I truly wise enough to tell the difference between a blessing and a curse? Maybe my being single and the loneliness that I struggle with is a blessing from God. Maybe God loves me enough to prevent me from being married (at all or prematurely) and is trying to teach me to rely solely on Him for my happiness, comfort, joy, etc. and I don’t believe that He can provide those without a spouse. Maybe God realizes that being passionate, committed, and earnest would make me prone to idolize and worship my wife and marriage more than Him. And being that I am shallow, prone to wander, and fragile, God is keeping exactly where He wants me to be whether I like it or not…

    1. Hojun4, if you really believe God wants singleness for you, why haven’t you quit dating?

      How do you know for sure that God hasn’t placed in you the desire for a mate, rather than the other way around?

      Something reader Jules said a while back was that what mattered the most about a couple’s bond was the sense of “ownership” between them. I.e., it’s not ultimately important that her husband has all those qualities, but that he is hers. He chose her, and she him. The volition in their bond forms the commitment between them.

      1. In response to Rob’s questions:

        I am not convinced that God wants singleness for me — I am simply saying that perhaps that is the case and I have not “figured it out” yet. Maybe that is God’s will and I just don’t like it.

        I don’t know. Can we judge our own motives (a la Jer. 17:9)? The desire for a mate is certainly not, in and of itself, sinful. Could it not also be culturally influenced? Perhaps my desire is a combination of internal desire, external influence, etc.

        All I was trying to say is that maybe singleness (at this stage of my life) is a gift — just as marriage, at another stage is a gift. I think there is something about human nature to want what we don’t have…

        I think that the fact that both people choose each other at some point forms a commitment between them, but I disagree that that is what ultimately keeps them together. People change, reality sets in, etc. What started out as a choice between both people is not a guarantee of happiness. Regardless of the relationship, it takes work and dedication from both parties. I know a lot of people who “chose” each other at some point and “chose” to part company at another. I don’t see how simply choosing each other is a guarantee. I will agree that it is important!

        1. What is commitment, but a choice? Daily, choosing to die to self. I’m not sure what it is you’re disagreeing with.

          Notice I never mentioned the word “guarantee.”

          1. I thought you were saying that the initial choice to be together / get married / love one another kept them together.

            I agree with the assertion that the commitment must be mutual and daily in order for the relationship to exist.

  12. Some are meant to be single, some married. After all, God DID make Eve especially for Adam. Jeremiah was told not to take a wife, while other prophets were told to.

    Sometimes I just want someone else to talk to other than myself. I mean, sometimes I’ll put in a VCR tape just so I don’t have to sit in silence [and uhm, sometimes to mask the arguing neighbors].

    I know that I am not using this time of singularity to the fullest…using it to get to know God better and I also know that it is the true source of my loneliness right now. I mean, even at church surrounded by all my friends…I feel this sense of aloneness … it doesn’t help that I was the only one left out of a recent altar call…it was a call to parents, old and new…it still hurts to think about it … but I know that even that is not ‘the’ problem. Of course, I only just figured this out today. We’ll see how tomorrow goes then, won’t we????

    blessings “bro”!!!!! 🙂 😀

    1. Ciera,

      I am sorry to hear about the altar call for parents. I can see where it came from, somewhat, but it doesn’t feel good to be left out of spiritual experiences due to a physical, here-on-earth constraint.

      I think that some in the church view single-dom as a curse, or maybe even “contagious” (though they would never admit it). I have seen churches exclude the most vulnerable members of the Body by installing “couples small groups”, among other things. This is not across the board, as I have found a wonderful church in which singles of all ages are valued and welcomed into service and fellowship.

      I think that married couples and families should be inviting singles over for dinner, asking them to participate in family events; initiating fellowship instead of isolating.

  13. I haven’t been single since I was a teenager so I can’t honestly say I know how it feels. I, however, do know how it feels to want something really bad and to be left out. I had a huge passion to be a mom. It was a consuming passion at times. To be unable to get pregnant was beyond frustrating. It was hard watching everyone have babies. Babies, babies, babies… We went to the couples groups but I felt left out as most of the women wanted to talk about mothering. I know I nearly drove my poor husband crazy. I also know I should have been medicated but I couldn’t because I was trying to get pregnant!!! I wish I could say I handled it better….

    I did get told that maybe it wasn’t what God had for me. I DID NOT RECEIVE THAT!!! I know He did put that desire in me, extra strong, I think. I wouldn’t have considered fostering and adopting if I wasn’t desperate to be a mom. We went through several years of hell to adopt Jessica but it was worth it because I love being her mom. I still have a passion for mothering and homemaking. It’s my purpose and my calling and ministry. It was worth the heartache and the wait. I am so glad it happened the way it did.

    It makes me wonder about Rob. Here’s a good looking, successful, intelligent, God fearing man. What’s up with the ladies? Here’s a great catch!!! God is working out his plan. Maybe he is hiding you and protecting you for the perfect mate.It must be an issue of timing and preparation. Who knows what’s going on in Mrs. Rob’s life. Maybe you should try praying for her to speed things along!!

    My point… As hard as it is, God’s ways and plans are bigger and better than our own. Looking back I am thankful for those hard times of waiting cuz I grew a lot and when the timing was right the little “blessings” came. Four of them!!

    My heart goes out to all of you and you’ve been on my mind all day and I am teary eyed thinking about you. Keep your eyes on God and allow HIS plan to unfold for you. Look for Him and join Him in what you see Him doing. May He give you have an extra measure of peace and contentment!! Hang in there!!!

    1. thanks for sharing that Julie. i agree.. God gave us those desires; and he says that he’ll give us the desires of our heart. it might just not be in the way we planned (or in our timing).

  14. I think Jules and Angela are on the right track.
    A person has to be able to place God first, be comfortable with themselves before they can even think of becoming a good partner for someone else.
    Nothing more lonely than being in a relationship that is not meant to be.
    God has you where you are meant to be, at any particular moment. It is up to us to be still long enough to even determine how blessed we are. Just because you may be single now, doesn’t mean that is where you will be in the future.
    Consider Phil 1:6

    1. I appreciate your comments, Lynda, but I don’t understand the scripture reference in your post. I promise that my intent is not to be antagonistic…

      However, that verse, seems to be making a more universal, theological statement about God — specifically that God, who initiated salvation and is continually sanctifying the believer, will be faithful to continue / carry that work to its fruition.

      Believe me when I say that I find that verse very encouraging, but I don’t know how it can apply to marriage or singleness…

      Are you saying that God’s continuation / promise of completion of work could involve marriage? Or that either way (singleness / marriage), God is going to continue working in a believer’s life — and that regardless of our lot, we know that God is not going to abandon us.

      As far as desire is concerned, I think that we need to be careful when we attribute our wants to God. I don’t think that anyone here would ever blame a sinful action on God. However, simply because a desire is innate, does not mean it is a holy desire (consider James 1:13-15). We must be on guard against the evil which lurks within and the sinful nature against which we, as believers in Christ, struggle. It is certainly not beyond the Holy Spirit to change our desires and reshape us / conform us to God’s purpose and will.

      Paul specifically states that it is better for believers NOT to marry. Scripture never says that marriage is bad, but it does say that the believer who is single has advantages over the married believer (1 Corinthians 7 — esp. vv. 31-35).

        1. I never said that companionship or marriage was bad. However, scripture says via Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians that it is better for a person to be alone in Christ. Regardless of what I feel, I have to wrestle with that fact.

          Scripture never forbids marriage and it never calls it a bad thing. Scriptures such as Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 31:10-31 praise a godly wife.

          I think that what Paul is saying is that a single believer, has many advantages over a married believer.

          For example:

          Believer “A” is single.

          Believer “B” is married.

          They are each faithful and dedicated members of the same doctrinally sound, Bible believing church. The church decides to send 12 people to assist in rebuilding a church destroyed by hurricane Katrina. “A” only has to be cleared by his employer. “B” has to make sure that his family will be taken care of and while working in the damaged area, will have a divided interest (as he should).

          I would argue that God spared Jeremiah a great deal of pain by keeping him single. Preaching against Israel, warning Israel, and then watching Israel be destroyed as a single man was probably much simpler than had Jeremiah been married.

          I don’t mean to say that marriage is bad. I am simply saying that singleness and marriage have advantages and disadvantages for the believer.

  15. There are pros and cons to both singularity and marriage. I once composed a list…I remember that it involved ice cream somewhere. I’ll have to find it now.

    regarding the comment about praying for “Mrs Rob” – that’s great advice. I’ve been told numerous times to pray for my future hubby. I have spurts where he is very well covered and other times, I’m too discouraged to even think of it. It’s never sped the process up that I know of though. {that I know of}

    gotta run. Later!

  16. I’m still reading Gary Thomas’ excellent book _Sacred Marriage_. To paraphrase Thomas — being single promotes serving Christ; being married promotes becoming like Christ.

    Obviously the two are not mutually exclusive. But Hojun4’s comment is exactly right. It is easier for the single believer to serve than for the married believer. Marriage, on the other hand, is fertile ground for confession, reconciliation, and sanctification in a way that singleness is not.

    It strikes me, too, that we have all experienced singleness. I wonder why it’s so difficult for us married folks collectively to remember those days and stand in solidarity with our single friends in their longings and frustrations. It’s almost beyond comprehension that we push them to the outside of our social circles and marginalize them in our churches. We were all there once ourselves.

    1. I read Sacred Marriage a couple of years ago and found it very profound — even as a single person…it certainly changed my perspective of marriage (I think to a much healthier view). I would not have read it on my own, but one of two single people in a small church, I was sequestered with the married folks…

      Rob just doesn’t like me 🙁

      :mrgreen: 😛

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