What if you have the opposite problem? What if the guys you don’t like are always the ones asking you out? How do you turn them down without . . . crushing them?
That’s what one of you asked recently:
I’m fifteen, and I love hanging out with guys. Except every time I try to be nice to a guy, they begin to like me, and it strains our relationship. It makes me paranoid and uncomfortable even though I try to stay true to myself. I always regret it when I’m nice to a guy, but I don’t want to cut all the guys out of my life just because they can’t get a hold of their hormones. Here’s my question: If you know or think your guy friend likes you and you don’t like him, is there anything you can do to avoid drama?
Actually, yes. In fact, I came up with five things:
It’s no sin to reject someone. Rest in knowing that whatever happens, God is in control of their lives, too.
Pray. Ask God to show you the right time and the right way to lovingly but truthfully communicate to this guy.
Tell the truth. One of my biggest regrets from my teen years is that I thought lying or covering up the real reason I didn’t like a guy would protect him. Wrong! In the end, it was always better for him if I told the truth. Proverbs 24:26 says it like this:
Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.
Stay away from clichéd Christian responses like, “God told me,” or “I just don’t have peace.” If there’s another reason—a reason that would help him know where he needs to grow—share that with him in a direct, loving way. Don’t tell him what you think he wants to hear. Tell him the truth.
Ask him if you’ve led him on. If he says “yes,” ask him what specifically communicated that to him. Don’t defend yourself; listen and learn from what he shares so you don’t make the same mistake a second (or seventh!) time.
Affirm him where you can. Even if you don’t like him, you can let him know it’s an honor that he would take an interest in you! More than that, he demonstrated an enormous amount of courage in putting his feelings out there and asking you out. Tell him how much you admire that and that you hope your response won’t keep him from pursuing the right girl at the right time.
Also, say hi the next time you see him! He’s likely to feel really stupid around you, so that simple act will be a real gift.
Trust God’s sovereignty. Turning a guy down can tear up a girl’s heart. Here’s a letter a dear friend wrote me after I turned a guy down. I hope it encourages you as much as it did me!
Don’t be afraid of breaking someone’s heart. God uses heartache in incredible ways.
It’s no sin to reject someone. Rest in knowing that whatever happens, God is in control of their lives, too. If you’re not feeling the same desire to go forward, then rejection is the best thing you could do for them.
In eternity, I believe you and [he] will both be smiling at each other in joy when you look backward with perfect knowledge of all these things and see fully from God’s vantage point what He was doing on [this particular day].
Which of these steps do you think would mean the most to you if you were a guy being turned down by a girl?
Last week on the blog I shared what Christian guys think about flirting. After reading that, I anticipate a lot of you wondering, Yeah, but if I don’t flirt, how’s a guy ever gonna notice me? So I asked the same guys to answer that question for you in advance.
The way you act now as a single is how you’ll act as a married woman. You don’t need to “dangle.”
For starters, here’s a comment a married man happened to leave on the blog this past week:
To my single sisters, the way you act now as a single is how you’ll act as a married woman. You don’t need to “dangle.” My wife attracted me with her conduct and her heart. —”Book314″
And from the single guys:
A girl can show she’s interested just by responding with interest when I talk to her or by being casually, but clearly, open to do something with me—even if I just invite her to do something in a group.
I’ve learned that most girls naturally show they’re not interested just by not showing interest when any opportunity, no matter how small, arises for us to get to know each other more. If she’s interested, I’ll usually see a smile when I ask her to hang out with other people, or she’ll love spending time talking to me whenever we’re in the same place (or at least not seem like she just wants the conversation to end). Those two things are huge.
She could just be friendly and feel like I’m a safe guy, but her interest shows she’s open to me as a person. It allows me to initiate further to see how interested she is. —Justin
From a guy’s perspective, a girl speaks more through nonverbal than verbal: the way she dresses (modesty), carries herself, and interacts with people speaks much of her character. It is those qualities that “attract” or pique interest in a guy that is seeking a God-loving woman. —Tony
It’s a good thing to be friendly and kind instead of far off and distant. Some girls can have it so strongly in their minds not to be a flirt that they end up overcompensating and coming off as cold and uninviting to guys.
If a girl doesn’t act like she even wants to be around me, then I usually take that as a strong indication that she is not someone I should ask out on a date. On the flip side, when a girl is obviously being flirtatious and trying to gain attention, it tends to turn me off. I want to date someone who is grounded in Christ and not looking for their affirmation in a relationship. —Trevor
If a girl is interested in connecting, but I haven’t initiated conversation yet, I usually know she’s at least interested in learning more about me if she doesn’t immediately look away when we meet eyes—even if it’s just for an extra half second. I appreciate little signals like that that are obvious but would go unnoticed to someone else in the room. Otherwise, just trying to initiate out of thin air is difficult because, as strong as us guys can be, we’d like to limit the amount of rejection we get, if possible. —Justin
I wish I could tell this to every girl I meet: In 1 Peter 3, Peter talks about the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit. This is not the beauty of a quiet and gentle personality! Many girls seem to get hung up on this and try to be sedate and not talk and end up being miserable.
When a girl knows who God is—I mean really knows, not just talks about Him—she will have a peaceful spirit. She knows God will see her through and she trusts Him, so she is not going to “give way to fear” (1 Pet. 3:6). Therefore, she is not clingy to guys. She looks to God to satisfy her first and knows a man never fully will.
This is beautiful and incredibly attractive to mature Christian guys! It is hard, because you cannot see what God has in store for you, but God does not need your help (a.k.a. flirting) to bring the right guy along. —Andrew
Great stuff, huh? Now you’re probably wondering, What now? What do I need to change?
I can’t answer that for you since I don’t know you personally, but here are a few questions for you to think through or ask someone who sees you interact with guys:
Do I “dangle”? Is God’s love real and personal to me, or am I seeking attention from any guy who will give it to me?
Am I afraid to talk to or smile at guys I’m interested in? Have I gotten the idea that it’s more “spiritual” to stay far away from them and hide the fact that I like them? (Check out Proverbs 27:5 if so.)
If you’re like me, you want to “crack the code.” What do guys—particularly Christian guys—think of flirting? I asked some godly guys I know, and here’s what they had to say. (Something I learned from their input: it doesn’t take much to get their attention!)
Interest in flirts is fleeting. Attention for girls who don’t flirt starts slow but lasts. Even flirting guys respect girls who don’t.
Love and pursue Jesus as your number one priority, and guys who want a godly wife will notice. But that’s not really a good reason to pursue Jesus . . . it’s just a side benefit. —Ben
Don’t be afraid to be friendly to a guy you may be interested in. Nothing wrong with making conversation and being cordial. Don’t get carried away, and don’t over-think everything. —Mat
Interest in flirts is fleeting. Attention for girls who don’t flirt starts slow but lasts. Even flirting guys respect girls who don’t. —Sudhir
When is flirting helpful?
Flirting is usually helpful within the context of an already-established relationship. However, I don’t mean that flirting is all the relationship is made of. When I see a “relationship” that consists of nothing but bantering back and forth, trading sarcastic comments, pretending to overreact to something the other person said, and alternating between clinging to each other and pretending to be mad, I know it is not a good relationship. You need a foundation of honesty to build a good relationship on, and flirting is almost all pretending. —Andrew
How is flirting harmful?
If I am flirting and then not pursuing her, I am playing with her heart. Shame on me. Unfortunately, I do this sometimes without meaning to. —Matt
It can make you act differently than your real personality, until you don’t know how to be real anymore.
It will attract guys to someone who isn’t real.
It can be a waste of time.
It makes you look shallow/desperate.
It is self-focused, rather then Christ or others-focused.
You don’t really learn to communicate.
What do you think of a girl when you see her flirting with another guy?
Ugh! It’s fine to have fun with guys, but don’t lead them on. Don’t use guys to get a need in your heart satisfied. Be satisfied in Christ fully, and then have a great time with the guys. —Matt
What do you think of a girl when you notice she’s flirting with you?
I am torn. I so love the attention, but I know it’s superficial. I know at the end of the day I am not really cared for; I am possibly being used to have her needs met. —Matt
Personally, I don’t always notice flirting unless it’s really obvious. At that point I would say it’s not very attractive. —Justin
First, I like it! A lot! God has created a desire for emotional closeness with others of the opposite gender, and it is fun! However, God has created us to enjoy the opposite gender within the context of marriage, and I want to be careful to not arouse those feelings too soon.
Second, it causes me to be wary. I don’t want a girl to get emotionally attached to me, and flirting is usually a sign that she is emotionally needy. I will almost always pull away more, because I want to be friends with girls that know to run to God and not guys.
Third, I want honest, meaningful, and fun conversation. Flirty conversation is rarely honest or meaningful, even though it can be fun. If a girl seems to only be able to relate to me in a flirty way, I don’t really see any point to it. It is certainly not going to keep me around her as much as a good conversation would.
Have you flirted with girls? Do you? If so, why?
Yes, I have. I try not to. It’s fun to stir up the emotions of a girl and fun to get my emotions stirred up . . . but in the end it doesn’t help anything. I like the attention, and she does, too. Where is the line between having fun and goofing off with someone of the opposite sex and flirting? I don’t know. I love to have fun, and I love to have fun in the company of girls. —Matt
Flirting has been a confusing thing to me . . . and something I tend to enjoy more than I would like to admit. —Micah
I struggle with flirting. Flirting is so easy to do, especially when you want someone you like to notice you. But at the same time it often has a self-seeking reward. I want her to notice me, so I flirt with her. We need to be careful that we are treating people in a respectful and God-honoring way. Flirting should not be the basis for love—it is a risky thing to place your hopes in. —Brad
I want honest, meaningful, and fun conversation. Flirty conversation is rarely honest or meaningful, even though it can be fun. If a girl seems to only be able to relate to me in a flirty way, I don’t really see any point to it.
What do you think girls should know about flirting?
First and foremost, a guy can’t meet your needs. Only Jesus can. Love Him with all of your heart. —Matt
That if she wants real, honest, mature friends, she needs to be a real, honest, and mature friend. I would tell her that flirting is not a good basis for a friendship, and certainly not a relationship, and even when it can be added, it should be added in small amounts. —Andrew
Don’t. Enjoy their company, but don’t seek to get your needs met through them. Let them pursue you. Respond to their attention, but don’t give your heart away. —Matt
What do you think of a girl when you see her flirting with another guy?
Usually it causes me to stay away from them. I want real relationships in my life, and it is hard to get past the pretending stage of a flirt. I also don’t want to be distracted; it is very alluring to have a girl focus on me, even if I know it isn’t real, and I like it. I don’t want to use her to satisfy my desire to get attention.
When your friendship consists of nothing but flirting, you end up in a relationship based on neediness. This is not solid ground for a friendship or a relationship. This is not a healthy way to relate to others. The purpose of a godly relationship is to glorify God and point others to Him! —Andrew
How do these guys’ thoughts change your outlook on flirting? Do you still feel like you need to flirt in order to get guys’ attention?
(If so, come back next week for “But If I Don’t Flirt, How Will He Ever Notice Me?”)
You’ve asked about flirting. And asked. And asked.
I Can’t Hear You!
I’ve pretended not to notice. Not because I don’t care, but ’cause:
I feel disqualified to answer. I mean, if you only knew. In high school, I remember leaning forward so my (male) biology partner would . . . (you can figure it out.) Yeah, I wish I had a do-over!
As a teen, I’d regularly attend a summer camp where my aunt served as the cook. She’d watch my interactions with guys and accuse me of being a flirt almost every year. (I always denied it adamantly, by the way.) I’m a huge fan of being friendly and have always loved to make people feel welcome—regardless of their sex. So I dismissed her concerns.
Flirting is foggy. How are we supposed to know when we’ve crossed the line from being friendly and having fun with a guy to . . . flirting with him? And is flirting even necessarily wrong?
I fear making you feel paranoid about whether others (like my aunt) think you’re flirting or not. I want you to be yourself; I have no desire to make you feel self-conscious whenever you’re around a guy.
But it’s an important question. You want to know, and I want to know. Is flirting harmless—could it even be chivalrous—or is flirting . . . plain ‘ole wrong? There are a whole lot of different opinions out there. Click here to watch a few:
But Flirting Is Natural. And Fun!
Let’s face it. Flirting comes naturally (please tell me I’m not the only one!). And flirting is fun—especially when it’s returned.
Well, I should clarify. It’s fun in the moment. Afterward, it’s usually plain ‘ole depressing ’cause (let’s be honest) we did it to get a certain result and then . . . nothing. Nothing really changes.
And let’s be honest: Just because something’s “fun” and “natural” doesn’t mean it’s best. I mean, when you were little it was “fun” and “natural” to:
pull your little sister’s hair.
refuse to eat your peas.
stand on your chair.
say “no” instead of “please.”
But that didn’t make it right.
So today I’m taking the plunge. I’m going to get a conversation rolling about . . . flirting.
What Is Flirting, Anyway?
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when we throw around the word “flirting.” For the sake of this discussion, we’ll go with the Dictionary.com definition. Flirting is to:
toy or play with another’s affections.
deal playfully or carelessly.
Ouch. Sounds a lot like, It’s all about me, doesn’t it?
As fun and “natural” as flirting is, it’s also contradictory to who I now am in Christ.
Funny, though, how we can convince ourselves we’re actually building that guy up with our smiles, words, and playfulness. We can almost think our flirting is . . . chivalrous.
But based on this definition, here’s one conclusion I’ve reached about flirting:
Chivalrous Flirting Is an Oxymoron.
Huh? Come again, you ask?
Okay, let me break it down for you.
Chivalrous means “considerate and courteous.”
But based on Dictionary.com’s definition, flirting isn’t considerate of the other person; it’s completely self-centered. (If you’re not sure about that, read through the definitions again, and ask if you’d want a guy to treat you like that!)
That’s why “chivalrous flirting” is an oxymoron—it’s completely contradictory. And as fun and “natural” as flirting is, I’d have to say it’s also contradictory to who I now am in Christ. Why do I say that? Philippians 2:3–5, for starters:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
The next time you catch yourself flirting, I dare you to ask yourself why.
Why Do I Flirt?
I asked a few people why we flirt. Here’s what three people had to say:
Panic that no one will pay attention causes the urge to flirt.
While we flirt, someone is positively responding to us and accepting us, so we’re encouraged to continue.
I think part of it is the thrill of the chase. Flirting is not just to get a person, but to get a reaction. Sometimes girls flirt even with a guy they don’t really want.
How about you? Why do you tend to flirt? When you dig deeper, what’s really going on in your heart?
Hang in there—we’re just getting started! Come back next week for what Christian guys think about flirting.
Do you ever feel like you don’t have a clue how to help the teens in your life? Maybe, like me, you think you need a crash course in counseling and culture and technology and teen speak and, well, a little of everything in order to help them!
Maybe you’ve never gotten too close to them ’cause you’ve been afraid you wouldn’t know how to answer their questions. Or maybe you have given them answers, but then you’ve woken up the next morning wondering, Did I really help them? Was my answer even relevant? Or did I just put a heavy burden on their back?
In one sense it’s not a bad place to be, realizing you have nothing to offer unless God comes through . . . again. Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” You and I will always be needy this side of heaven.
But today I hope to give you a glimpse of the direction I think you need to head in order to be able to help your teen(s) with . . . everything. I’m not saying there’s not room for a varied education—I love to learn!—but if I could advise you, I’d tell you to learn one subject inside and out. I’d encourage you to learn how to apply it from every angle to any person’s life situation.
Are you ready? It’s the gospel your teen needs. He or she needs you to help them see how Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection has everything to do with their Friday nights and Monday mornings . . . and everything in-between.
Let’s Connect the Dots
“But Paula,” you say, “If everything my teen needs (and everything I need) is found in the gospel, then why is it so tough to make that connection and to apply it to everyday situations?”
I think it’s ’cause it’s easier to deal on the moral, what-I-can-see-with-my-eyes-level. Connecting the dots to how your teen needs the gospel means you should want more than just outward conformity.
Do you? What do you want more in your teen? Genuine heart change or outward conformity to the rules? If you want the former (and oh, how I hope you do!), you have to get to the heart behind why they’re doing what they’re doing. The bad news is this will take longer. It’s not as easy as just saying “Stop it!” or “Fix it!” You have to dig deeper to root motives.
But the good news is when you apply the gospel to core heart issues, it has the potential to bring about real, lasting heart-change from the inside out.
Here are three tips for you as you interact with teens (or anyone, for that matter). If an acronym would help, remember “play” (PLA minus the “y”):
Pray. Pray that they’ll “get” gospel truths and implications. Pray that you will. Pray silently as you’re talking to them. Even just throwing up a “Help, God” or a “What next, God?” Second Corinthians 4:4 says,
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
If this is Satan’s scheme for unbelievers, you’d better believe he’s up to something similar in believer’s lives.
Listen. Listen not just to what your teen is saying, but what may be behind what they’re saying. Ask questions to clarify. Lots of questions. Make sure you’ve really heard them.
Apply. Apply the gospel to their life situation. When you’re finished, if your teen still has a glazed-over look, it’s possible you didn’t explain it well, or it’s possible their heart is hardened and their eyes are blinded to the good news. But know that the fault never lies with the gospel itself. It is, and continues to be, as Romans 1:16 says, “the power of God.”
With that said, let’s practice applying the gospel to a real-life situation right now.
In a moment of raw confession, the pastor’s daughter, who serves in leadership and who you’ve been friends with for years, admits to you she often watches porn. You’re shocked. How do you respond in a gospel-centered way?
First, recognize that it took enormous courage to tell you. Here’s a recent comment from a teen on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. It’s on a different topic, but you’ll still get the picture:
For a fleeting month I thought I was homosexual or bi. . . . To answer your question, do we feel safe talking about it with other believers: Heck no! I think the church is still hostile toward it. I am against homosexuality (at least acting on it) and so is my church. I think if I told anyone what I felt like that they would freak out. Just like I don’t feel safe telling anyone I struggle with self-sex. I have told people I cut and was bulimic but the weird sexual sins, no way would I ever tell someone at my church.
This girl isn’t the only one who feels like that. You may even feel like you can’t share your sin struggles with others in the church. That’s a problem we want to avoid in our churches, as we’re told to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other, that we might be healed (James 5:16).
You and I need to be a part of making the church a safe environment to confess our sin struggles to each other so we can all get the prayer and help we desperately need. And what safer place than the church, where we know we’re accepted in Christ and where we can fight against our sin and do the hard work of repentance together? How much easier that makes it to admit how flawed we actually are!
So a good place to start is in affirming your teen friend. Tell her you admire her transparency and want to model it, too.
Then, you might want to explain something like this to her in your own words. (I’m borrowing from Pastor Tim Keller.)
We are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope at the very same time. This [truth] creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you.
The more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin.
After that, you might offer to meet with this teen regularly to study gospel truths and pray together. Here’s a place to start: Five Ways to Avoid Getting “Beyond” the Gospel. As you share gospel truths, don’t shy away from giving her helpful tips like moving her computer to a public place and getting an accountability partner. These aren’t enough to deal a blow to the sin root in and of themselves, but they’re super helpful when the teen also understands the practical outworkings of God’s holiness, their sinfulness, and the “Great Exchange” Christ made so they might be seen as totally flawless in God’s eyes.
Yep, I’m convinced that everything your teen needs is found in the gospel. Everything your teen needs, everything you need, and everything every single person on this planet needs. Don’t worry if you don’t have a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling or if you you’re not up on the latest fashions. You have everything you need to help that teen . . . in the gospel.