Getting Yourself Sorted Out

As a guy wanting to meet girls and hoping for a more serious relationship there is one thing you really need to do. Get yourself sorted out.

Where are you going?

As a young man you have the important task of working out what you are going to do with your life. What kind of work do you hope to pursue? Do you want to get married? And most importantly, what kind of man do you want to be? It is a challenging time of life, but also an exciting one.

One of the important things at this time of life is to work out whether you are being called to marriage as a vocation. This can be a long and challenging process, but it is also exciting and full of promise. As a man you need to learn a certain kind of leadership by taking the initiative in seeking out the company of women with a view to finding that special one to whom you will commit your life.

In order to do this you will need to get yourself sorted out. That means gaining clarity of purpose and firmness of purpose. Why is this so important?

Being your own man

You need to become your own man. This does not mean being selfish, nor being an isolated individual. It means being able to stand on your own two feet so that you are in a position to fully commit yourself to the vows of marriage. If you don't even know who you are for yourself, how will you know who you can be for another. You cannot ask a woman to work out who you are. That is your responsibility. That doesn't mean defining yourself as an autonomous individual, but it means having clarity about who you can be for others.

If a woman is going to risk her future by putting it in your hands, what will she base that decision on?

She will want to know what kind of man you are. Are you strong and dependable? Are you courageous and unselfish? Do you know clearly who you are?

These are things you need to work out, and then you bring this to her as your gift to her. When you give yourself to her in marriage it will be with the character you have chosen to become. It is your primary responsibility to make that choice and to set about becoming that kind of man. Naturally you won't be the 'finished product', but you should have a solid foundation.

Although it is your responsibility it doesn't mean you can do it alone. Part of becoming a man is learning to rely on others, and so you need to develop good judgement about who to trust. And you need to believe in something bigger than yourself, and be under an authority higher than yourself.

In the meantime

You might be thinking, that's all well and good, but I'm nowhere near having all that worked out! I look ahead and think - it could be years before I've got that stuff figured out. Does that mean I can't date girls and try to learn more about them? Do I have to go off somewhere by myself for 5-10 years to figure myself out? But I really want the company of girls, and I really need that precisely as part of the process of working these things out.

That is a very good question, and is an important part of what "Man+Woman" is about. It is about that 'in between' time when you are still working yourself out, but still wanting the company of young women with a view to understanding them better and clarifying your own feelings. So no, you don't have to go off for 5-10 years to figure yourself out. In fact a lot of the learning you will need to do involves women.

However, it will mean gaining greater understanding and developing boundaries that will develop your own character and protect women's hearts from hurt and confusion. It is not about waiting till you've got yourself all figured out before you even begin.

It is about growing by stages so that your ambitions at any given stage don't overreach your capabilities.

Working yourself out by stages

One of the most typical mistakes in this learning process is to get caught up in the excitement of getting close to a girl and becoming too physically intimate. This can happen even if you are not intimate in a directly sexual way. It is easy to spend too much time together in an undisciplined way, and fall into lazy habits of relating that mean the budding relationship gets stalled in unhealthy patterns and stops growing.

Then you might realise what is going on but not know what to do.

There are two extremes that need to be avoided, but you might just feel stuck and not handle yourself very well. One way is to simply cut off the relationship, thinking that it has been improper and you need to get yourself together again. The other is to stay in the relationship but just let it drift on indefinitely so that it becomes diminished and unsatisfactory. Neither of these are good options.

So there are two things you might need to learn. The first is not to fall into an unduly intimate relationship but to keep appropriate boundaries. The second is that, if you do find yourself in such a situation, how to disentangle and reestablish the relationship on a more positive footing.

The first of those might sound easy, but how do you work out what is 'not too close' but 'not too distant'? You can easily lurch between extremes. You might avoid undue intimacy by not having any closeness at all, and then you don't get to learn some of the lessons you might need to learn.

Trying to 'recalibrate' a relationship that has got too close is not easy. You might have absolutely no idea how to do that.

It is not uncommon for young men to be completely clueless about any of these things, and to have never had any clear thoughts on such things at all.

If you see yourself in that boat, be assured that you're not the only one.

Decide what kind of man you want to be

There is only so much that can be said in one short article. Over time this kind of question will be addressed from different angles here. So for now I will just make one main point:

You need to make a clear, serious, conscious decision about what kind of man you want to be.

No more drifting. No more giving yourself the benefit of the doubt. No more leaving it to girls to make things happen. You might decide that at this stage in your life you are just not ready to ask anyone on a date. If that is the case it doesn't mean having nothing to do with girls or not doing things that will help you learn more about them. But there might be too much that you don't know about yourself at this stage.

If this is the case, it is best to maintain a reasonable amount of reserve with girls, and look for opportunities for more formal kinds of social opportunities, such as dances and group outings. There is no downside to biding your time, as long as you use it positively to establish clear boundaries in your own mind and in your behaviour, and commit to treating women with respect. You don't have to be the smoothest and most romantic guy in town. But everyone can act in a respectful way. There is no excuse for crude or disrespectful behaviour towards women.

Character before Personality

Get clear in your own mind the lines you are not prepared to cross, and hold yourself to that.

Focus on character first, and personality second.

It is more important to have a good character than a pleasing personality. Naturally you'll want to work on that too, but get the order of priorities right. Being a decent, upright man is foundational. Being pleasing in manner is something worth working on, but it is not an alternative to building character.