Today’s guest blog is written by my assistant, Emily Duffey. Emily is a counselor trainee and is about to take her counseling and theology exams. She is single, and has some fantastic thoughts for other single women. I know you will be blest. 
“What you win them
with is what you keep them with.” How many of you single
ladies have/had a list of the “perfect” man you are looking for one day? You
know those lists . . .  “Dark hair/blue eyes/ smile that makes me melt/
good kisser (that’s what everybody’s list says, right?) / good
listener/Christian” (like how the list ends? Oh, priorities…). Even if your
list is packed FULL of God-honoring motives, it is still easy to become
list-oriented instead of Christ-oriented.
I often find myself
saying, “Dating shouldn’t BE this hard!” It is as though
there are hoops to jump through, the correct prayer to utter while jumping on
one foot, all while balancing a Bible on your head. Often, though, the
difficulty lies behind the deception we put out there as our “true” selves in
hopes of snaring a guy.
When dating, the
individuals put their best foot forward at all times—the woman wears the cute
clothes, does her hair, wears the makeup (NEVER would she go on a date without
‘prettying herself up’ first!), and flirts like crazy with the guy in order to
get him to like her.  He likes video games? All of a sudden, so does she…
he likes having a pretty girl on his arm? Then she will strive to be the
prettiest one around. The guy is much the same—he will carry her purse, take her
shopping, listen to her advice on his wardrobe and buy that “favorite”
shirt—and wears it!… all because it makes her happy… all in hopes of
obtaining that goodnight kiss (or more) at the end of the evening. 
Fast forward
the picture— the “perfect” couple gets married. All of a sudden his affinity
for gaming is important again; she trades in her short skirt and Louie
Vuitton’s for sweats and flip flops; his “favorite” new shirt is now at the
bottom of the dresser drawer in a wad, and her makeup is a nuisance. He wonders
where the gorgeous gal who liked to pick up the remote control and play a video
game with him went; she wonders where her knight in shining armor who would do anything for
her went. Both are miserable. Both have to learn each other all over again—and
both have to actually like the other person with these new
complexities added to the relationship.
There is a myriad of
sin to be dealt with here. However, in the midst of this, both people forgot a
little detail: “What you win them with is what you keep them with.”
I heard this said in
reference to marriage not too long ago. Couples come in for marriage
counseling, and may be bewildered as to why their marriage is in the state that
it is in.  He complains she doesn’t bother to take care of herself, she’s
self-centered, nags all the time, and is keeping herself from him in the
bedroom. She complains he never wants to spend time with her, is more
interested in his gaming console than her, and only pays attention to her when
he wants sex. Both are miserable, and neither of them claims to understand what
happened to their marriage.  Basically, they won each other over with lies
and deception; they were devastated to learn the actual truth.
Now, as a single
woman, I started thinking about this phrase, and tweaked it a bit in my
thinking. It has changed my approach with men.  I started asking myself,
“What do I want to keep him with?” Romans 8:5 says, “For those
who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but
those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” This verse is
an excellent reminder of where to focus our thinking when considering this.
What are the most
important things, the things that I want to be a part of my future marriage?
All of a sudden, “Christian” moves from the tagged on criteria to the number
one priority. More than that, I’m looking for a godly man who is growing in his
relationship with Christ—someone I can grow with . . . someone who is willing
to lead his family in a Christ-honoring manner one day (Phil. 1:27).
It has become
important to do things with a guy that I actually like to do—not
things I will do to gain his approval. For example, I can enjoy a video game
with the best of them—in moderation. I am not a gamer. I enjoy hiking, but I am
more inclined for a mile adventure at a leisurely pace, not a 10 mile hike
uphill both ways requiring military grade climbing equipment. Don’t fake
interest to appease a man! To do so would violate Philippians 2:3–4, which says
to “[d]o nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind
regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out
for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
I want to be told the
truth—so I aim to be truthful in my communication. Starting off with strong
communication builds a relationship built on rapport, trust, and honesty. You
want to be able to communicate well while dating–it only gets
more complicated! 
I believe sexual
intimacy is to be for married individuals in a covenanted relationship;
therefore, I do not want to cross that line before I am married. I have heard
the question repeatedly asked, “how far is too far?” All I know is that when
that ball starts rolling, God never intended you to stop. Don’t put yourself
into a position where you have to force yourself to stop (Sgs 2:7). If you’re
asking how far you can go before marriage, you need to ask yourself if your
focus and goal is to honor Christ in those moments more than
it is to appease self. Sexual purity does not need to be compromised to gain a
man’s favor. When expressed within a marriage covenant, it is a beautiful and
God honoring act—when perverted and tainted, the preciousness is lost.
I want to protect his
integrity as much as my own; therefore, I will not dress in a way that will
cause him to stumble or struggle. Obviously, when on a date, I’ll dress the
part—I’ll aim to look attractive in a God honoring way. The best place to judge
your outfit is before each date begins—what are you trying to communicate? Who
are you honoring? Does your clothing show your inner beauty, or flaunt the
physical? If the physical is all you are after, you have earned your reward
(Matt. 6:21).
Continuing with that
theme, when married, it’s a good idea to keep that trend up—don’t stop taking
care of physical appearances! It’s okay to wear sweats and flip flops once in a
while . . . but remember to wear the cute clothes and put on the lip gloss,
too! Yet if you are not willing to dress up for a night out in the same type of
clothing you wore while dating because it would be inappropriate, you probably
wore the wrong kind of clothing on the dates in the first place. The same
principle goes for the guys, as well—if you wore nice clothing and spiffed up
for a date, don’t trade in the nice clothes for the ratty jeans and forget how
to take a shower once you’re married!
In short, what I want
to “keep” him with are the things that glorify God. In like manner, I am to
“win” him with the things that glorify God as well (1 Cor. 10:31). Remember
your integrity—be honest and truthful from the start. Fear God—honor one
another—and enjoy the process. Dating isn’t that hard when you
start with truthfulness and go from there.