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My Adorable Acquaintance,

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you over the past few weeks.  You have a great sense of humor, and I really enjoy the conversations we are a part of.  In addition, I respect your dedication to Jesus, and want to get to know you better.

To that end, I want to take you out to dinner.

Now, let me be clear.  This is just dinner.

Is it a date? Yes, I’m buying.   Am I madly in love with you? No.   Do I have a crush on you? Maybe a small one, but not necessarily.   Do I think we have chemistry a future as a couple?  That’s what I want to find out.

Our Christian subculture puts far too much emphasis on a date.  Our language shows it:  “Are you dating?” is synonymous with “Are you an exclusive couple?”  which always seems to carry the implication of “when are you getting married?”

The unfortunate casualty of this hyper-seriousness in Christian romance (I will tell you another time about how hyper-causal pagan romance has negatively affected this dynamic) is the social event that is the dinner date.  The truth is, I really enjoy going out to dinner and getting to know people.  I do this in groups, with one of my guy friends (aka a MANdate) to talk and catch up, why not with a female? It will allow us to get to know each other in a way that a group setting cannot, and give us actually useful experience to decide whether we want to start a romance.  If so, great!  We cut out a bunch of the posturing and confused wondering and replaced it with honesty and maturity.  If not, it’s ok.  We don’t have expectations riding on this dinner, so worst case scenario we deal with light disappointment. Contrast this to the heartbreak that comes from idolizing and fantasizing about someone if we were to instead spend the next four months manipulating our group of friends into allowing us to “safely get to know each other” (or at least the personas we want to project), and agonize over every word and action that the other makes before we finally, fearfully, make the smallest of hints that we might be interested.  Then, once one of us has planned our whole future life with the imagined personality that we barely know except for an isolated and rare environment that allows them to easily put up a false-mask to portray ourselves as something we aren’t, the other will be unable to immediately imagine themselves marrying, having children, and growing old with the first, and will consequently reject the advances, causing heartbreak.  Let’s be adults, go out to dinner, and have a fabulous time.

If it turns into something, great.  If not, we had a great time conversing over a meal, and leave on good terms, as better friends.  Either way, it’s a Friday night well spent.

If your Aunt Martha flips her Mennonite head-covering because you are spending time alone with a guy, kindly remind her that it’s just dinner.  I am not aiming to hook up with you, I probably won’t even kiss you, I definitely won’t be coming in for a quick drink at the end of the night.  Single people aren’t defined as a raging ball of horny adulterers; we have enough self control to keep our pants on for a few hours before I drop you off back at your apartment.  The point of romance isn’t to keep your virginity until you finally get married so your life can begin to have meaning.  The point of romance is to search for kindred souls following the same Father on the same path, and eventually find one you will commit to walking with, growing closer to God together, and showing grace and love to in the tangible, small, every-day things.

Expectantly yours, and thinking Italian,

A Christian Guy