Are you being wise, particular, picky or just plain dumb? Here are 7 dumb reasons to not date someone or to break it off.
Everyone loves the show Seinfeld. Well, most people. Before Parks and Rec, The Office, and Fresh Prince, there was the NBC prime time hit based on a New York dwelling comedian and his adventures in life and love with his three “friends”. Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer are timeless characters and still highly quotable to this day, and yet something remains true about them that actors and producers alike still cite about them.
They were terrible people and some of the most petty people around.
Throughout nine seasons, these four 30 somethings would date everybody and anybody and usually break up for the stupidest, most petty reasons. A woman who has man hands, a man who programs his radio presets to Christian rock, a woman who looks like your best friend or changes appearance under different lighting, a partner who you do see yourself getting together with but you’re the best of friends and you’d rather be friends. All of which are full of witty banter and amazing one-liners. Serenity now!
Now it’s funny to think about in this TV show (and I certainly still find it funny), but it’s not so funny when we are the ones who are finding the dumb reasons to not date someone.
I am frequently asked, “Matt, do you have any suggestions for who I should date?”. “Matt, why aren’t there any good ones left?”. “Matt, why is it so hard?”. I have frequently been at the scene of the crime of people getting together and keeping up their relationship, and so I’ve garnered somewhat of a reputation in this field.
But I gotta tell you, when I ask a bit further, there are often a number of what I would call dumb reasons that keep people apart. Either a dumb reason why you wouldn’t date a good one, or a dumb reason why you’re thinking of breaking it off.
I know what we do and don’t like is highly subjective and often close to the heart, but I would submit to you that maybe you’re still single or unable to date well because of one of these.
You could replace the word “dumb” with petty, unfair, or silly if you prefer. All I know is I see these come up all the time and frequently standing between a lot of people and their own happiness. And it’s sad that a lot of people continue to sabotage their relationships by holding on to things that I would argue really don’t matter or are impossible to change.
So here are 7 dumb reasons to not date someone, or to break up.
#1: The colour of their skin
The issue of race is again in the headlines of our world as it always has been and likely always will be. At the time of writing, Black Lives Matter is again in the spotlight and I’m grateful for some of the lessons I’ve been able to learn as a result. It seems our world is very aware of the perils of racism and discrimination based on the colour of one’s skin.
And yet ironically in the world of love I see this attitude still running rampant, even amongst the people who frequently say they detest racism.
People cannot (easily) change the colour of their skin. And I’m scared to think of the number of times I have seen a relationship end or fail to start because the other person is white, not white, black, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Sudanese, insert their ethnicity or origin here.
And now while I understand that a person of a different culture or faith can bring very, very different life priorities and direction into a relationship, many of us live in multicultural environments with people who do still share the same faith background and priorities in life as we do, regardless of skin colour.
So then it really does become casual racism when you dismiss dating someone because of the colour of their skin alone instead of considering the content of their character (rest in peace, MLK).
I’m scared to count the times when I’ve seen this be the single factor in dictating whether or not a person will or won’t date this other person. And if this unchangeable characteristic about someone is the only thing preventing a relationship from starting or continuing, I would argue that this is one of the dumb reasons to not date someone.
#2: Being too busy
Ugh. We love to say how busy we are, especially as an excuse for why we can’t or won’t do something else. Sometimes rightly so. And sometimes we actually mean something different when we say this – I wrote about this in looking at what “I’m too busy” really means.
This is another frequent excuse when it comes to why we will or won’t date someone, let alone date in general.
But there’s a fundamental flaw with this approach. As one pastor I know and respect regularly highlights, you are less busy now than you will ever be. And if you think you’re too busy for it now, you always will be.
Business and performance tycoon and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar highlighted that tomorrow quickly becomes never as we continue to make excuses about why we can’t do it today – the kids, the weather, the economy, the things we need to do around the house, the whatever. “One day I’ll have time” is the mantra of someone who gets older without ever doing anything. You might be studying now, but then you’ll be working, and then you’ll get promoted, and then you’ll own a house, and then you’ll be managing your investments, and then…
If we can’t do today with someone, we never will. There needs to be space for love in our lives in order to be able to get to know someone well.
#3: Not wanting someone with baggage
Is it important to have a list of things you’re looking for? I think so. After all, to reference some Ziglar material again, “if you’ll aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time”. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you know if you’ve found it? Here’s a list I made semi-recently on things that make someone marriage material.
One of the issues is that our list often contains not wanting someone with issues.
Now here’s the hard part – people with unresolved, unrepentant, unaddressed issues in their lives will bring those issues unfiltered into every relationship they enter, and if they weren’t willing to deal with them before, they won’t afterwards. This can be dangerous with issues such as abusive behaviour, gambling addiction, or repeatedly returning deep into debt. Dr John Townsend and Henry Cloud observe that “more people suffer from trying to change others than from any other form of sickness”.
Here’s why that’s hard – all of us have issues. As the Scriptures of old remind us, all have sinned, and there is not one of us who is truly good. We’re frail, divisive, uncertain people, dividing in our emotions and approaches, regularly tempted and obliging in taking the easy road, no matter the cost. All of us carry disappointment and have blind spots around how we do and don’t behave, and unfortunately many of those are at their worst only when we try to attach our lives to someone else.
In the course of our travels, and especially true if you’re in an “older” age bracket in your dating ventures, we accumulate baggage from every place we’ve been and every relationship we have had. And if you’ve never had a relationship, that is also a form of baggage in some ways.
I love what TD Jakes says about this when he talks about Junk in the Trunk in the book and series Before You Do. He opens the boots of two cars and says they may look the same on the outside, but they may have more on the inside, and you can tell where someone’s been based on the junk in their trunk.
And our ability to love and date rises and falls on our ability to accept and work with a failed and broken person, inasmuch as it depends on finding someone accepting and willing to work with the failed and broken person that is ourselves.
#4: Saying you want to date a friend but writing off all your friends
I think I’ve been asked about 10 times by 10 different people in the last two weeks what I think about dating apps or signing up for a service like eHarmony or Christian Mingle or an app like Tinder (which I’ve written about before). My answer is always the same:
I think it means that you’ve written off everybody you know.
Some of us have. But the problem is a lot of people want to be friends first with the person they date. In addition to the challenges involved with wanting to be friends first, is the challenge of actually being willing to date one of your friends.
When you date a stranger, you start with romance. But when most people become friends, they do so with romance completely off the table. To date a friend, you have to be willing to put it back on the table.
And it becomes an obstacle to potential happiness when someone suggests a person and you say (say it with me now) “they’re such a good friend”.
I would argue, well, exactly, and as Mark and Grace Driscoll put it in the book Real Marriage, friendship makes the ultimate foundation for love. And I think to dismiss someone on the basis of friendship is dumb and an obstacle to perhaps the best relationship you could ever have.
Maybe the best person for you is locked squarely away in your current Friend Zone? Maybe consider giving someone a promotion.
Here’s a list of people whom are or were regularly in the world’s most attractive/sexiest lists: George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Henry Fonda, Elizabeth Taylor. All of these people are considered some of the most desirable, hot, sexually appealing people out there.
And yet this very short list is charted by people who also have had a number of relationships break down with similarly attractive and successful people.
Why does this matter? Because it shows that physical appearance is not enough on its own. Or more than that, perhaps that physical attraction after some point becomes a choice.
And let’s be real here – most people are looking for their ex’s body, a celebrity’s physique or a sexual fantasy in person. The movies, casual relationships, TV shows, erotica and pornography that people consume is often the driving force behind why people say they HAVEto have a person who looks a certain way. The thing about sexual appetite and desire is you don’t discover it, you frame it.
Dr Kevin Leman writes about this in the book Sheet Music. He encourages couples (especially husbands) to regularly affirm the attractiveness of their partner. For one, it helps that person feel more confident and have a stronger body image, and the other I think was something that the writer of the Song of Songs must have known – that attraction is eventually a choice.
You could be married to the hottest celebrity or the world’s most amazing supermodel, and at some point, the world class level of their appearance will simply fade in your own sight… unless you make an active choice to see and enhance the beauty of the person you want to be with.
And perhaps the person who ticks every other box isn’t triggering a spark for you or is a bit of a Plain Jane or a Blob Bob. The reality is even for couples that do start with a spark, we need to be good at reigniting and sustaining the flame if we want to make it in life long love. So for that reason, to completely write someone off based on their appearance or your current perception of it is dumb and could be ruining what could be an amazing life together.
#6: Refusing to go first
This is a simple one, but sometimes dating doesn’t happen because someone is waiting for the other person to initiate.
But I would argue that you are the interested one then the onus is on you.
One of my pet hates in faith communities that I am a part of is a lot of people “wanting their Boaz”. It’s a reference to the Biblical story of Ruth, a young Moabite widow who is eventually wedded to a strong and rich man who redeems her from her loss. Beautiful story, but one problem – if you want what Ruth had, you need to be willing to do what Ruth did. And Ruth asked Boaz out.
But fellas, this is for you too. For all of us, if we are interested, we should let them know. I have seen so many relationships live in Lala Land and never eventuate or have no closure because someone never said anything. If you want a brutally real look at what happens when we don’t say what we mean or we continue to wait, have a watch of Something Borrowed or Love Rosie. They’ll make you angry in all the right ways.
#7: Breaking it off because of something you’ll see again in your next relationship
When someone tells me they’re thinking of breaking up, I only ever start with one question.
Will you have this problem again in your next relationship?
Many times, the answer is yes, and when the answer is yes, I usually tell them this is a dumb reason to not date someone. Why? Because if it will happen in the next relationship, you yourself are either the problem, or the cure.
The author of Hebrews charges us to press on towards the prize and lay aside every weight and thing that entangles us. Unfortunately many of us want to keep running and dating while still having a love affair with our issues, retaining our unforgiveness and bitterness, holding on to our abandonment issues.
But you can’t love another person and your issues at the same time. Eventually your love for one of them is going to eclipse the other.
And if you’re seeing it in this relationship and not doing anything about it now, you might be doing what TD Jakes calls the Sisyphus Complex and repeating the same problem in every relationship.
This is dumb, destructive, selfish and sad. If we really want to love someone well, we need to say goodbye to the past and hello to the redeemed form of ourselves.
So there you go. 7 dumb reasons to not date someone (or to break up) that I see all the time. I hope in sharing this that you may identify something that may have been holding you back from your best decision yet.
Love and life can be hard, but if we’re doing the right things for the right reasons and not allowing petty things get in the way, we’re bound to find success.
How about you? What dumb reasons to not date someone have you run into?