Posted on 13 Comments

Ten Truths about Dating as a Single Woman in Ministry

i_cant_even-faintingLet’s talk about my dating life for a minute. I say a minute, because that’s about all it will take.

I will preface this list with: You can’t make this stuff up.

  1. Male youth ministers think it’s appropriate to hit on you. Sometimes they use pickups that are spiritual in nature. One man messaged me on Facebook and quickly began talking about how in his spiritual upbringing, women were really celebrated in leadership; therefore, he was really turned on by strong women in ministerial positions. Huh.
  2. People are always trying to set you up. During a meet-and-greet at my first church as director, a mom tried to set me up with her child who just went away to college the week before. How is that okay?! One time an older man told me that I was “ripe” and that he was going to try to “get me some.” Like… I can’t even…
  3. Most guys are super intimidated. As a Millennial, my generation is trying to figure out our faith as it is. But to date a minister–a person would ask how could I be worthy of that? Most men, when they hear my occupation, don’t fully grasp what that means, or get freaked and dart. The guys who do have their act together spiritually may be more conservative, and not as accepting about women in leadership.
  4. The line of “missionary dating” is fuzzy. I grew up with a list of characteristics for my future husband, and decided I would never meander from them. However, that list is kind of unrealistic, which begs the question: Do I date a man who maybe needs some work?  Or do I hold out for the ideal? Does this ideal exist? Can I use my woman powers of manipulation to get the guy I want from a guy who’s available? Yikes.
  5. We don’t necessarily want to date pastors. This is confusing, because on one hand I would like a guy to have theological training—or at least be well read and conversed. But I didn’t sign up to be a pastor’s wife. I’m called to be a minister, not to marry one.
  6. Meeting other single people is tough. Honestly: where do I go to meet other single people my age? It’s tough just making friends—especially as a young adult—but a boyfriend? If you have the answer to that, you could make a fortune.
  7. Online Dating is (almost a necessary) mess. In our culture where meeting people is tough, most single people I know have tried online dating. It’s no longer taboo. Even people in their early twenties are trying it out!  The hard part is that our culture is extremely seasoned at giving false impressions online, and oftentimes online dating can become more of a disappointment than a decent experience.
  8. The ministry schedule does not allow for easy dating. A friend texted me a few weeks ago, “I just went on my first date in five years.” This friend of mine is very cute and very normal. Then she said, “It’s been a week and I already don’t think it’s going to work out.” Why is that? Because to expect a guy to fit into my ministry time schedule is hard.  Wait, you want to see me more than twice a month?  Sorry, but I work all day on Sunday, so I can’t meet your family. I work one, sometimes two, weekends a month, so there goes a few of our date nights. I don’t understand why you don’t want to date me…
  9. Being single isn’t always my choice.  Some days, especially after an atrociously awkward date, I feel like being single is the easier choice.  But I’m getting to a point where it really hurts sometimes.  Many of my friends and I talk about the terrible baby fever we have. We’ve even joked about adoption—and by joked I mean seriously entertained the idea. The truth is that it aches at times. But I have a cat to help with that.
  10. I don’t have a ton of time on my hands because I’m single. Yes, my Netflix patterns could be a little worrisome, but that’s after working two retreats two weekends in a row. And like I’ve already said–how am I supposed to develop healthy relationships if I spend so much of my time doing ministry? Don’t overload my plate because I’m single. I should have the same rights and privileges as any other person in ministry, whether they are male or female, single or married, parent or not.

During this season of life, I have chosen to treat my singleness as a gift in some aspects. But, I don’t want to stay single forever.

So, if you’re reading this as a single person, let’s collaborate and support each other (but that isn’t code for date each other).

And if you’re reading this as a married person, male or female, I ask that you be advocates for us single people. Our lives revolve around ministering to your family, and we would appreciate the same—even if our family is a party of one.

Posted on 13 Comments

13 thoughts on “Ten Truths about Dating as a Single Woman in Ministry

  1. Amen sister,
    I’m from Australia and am a 22yo youth pastor. I moved to the country for the job, it’s a struggle to even make friends, no chance of dating.

    And every guys you hang out with you get suspicious questions about or whatever,
    No we aren’t on a date, I’m just meeting this person for coffee in a public place because we are friends or we are talking ministry. Golly gosh.

    I seriously struggle but have a few good friends praying for the right guy to come, it’s cliche but it will be alright eventually in Gods time. I’m actually starting to not care what anyone else thinks and just enjoying peoples friendship and seeking for a dateable guy myself.

  2. Yes! I love this. I’m not a full-time youth pastor, but I’m a dedicated volunteer and many of these still apply!

  3. Amen, sister! I am 30. Being single in the church is like being an alien. Everyone knows someone who’s single and wants to hook you up. OR they want to push you off on this complete stranger so you can hang out w/ them!!! Really…? I want support. I want community. I don’t want another potential surface relationship!

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s so true for all single women in the church.

  4. do you feel it is a conflict of interest for the Youth Pastor and the youth Director to be dating?

  5. I am just entering into the world of ministry as a 21 year old young woman. What is even weirder, I work at a very conservative church and I think I confuse people more than making them want to be my friend. As well as dating being hard, finding someone hard, I also find that some of my kids don’t trust my dating advice because I am single. “Don’t date non-Christians” What do I know right? I found this o be very refreshing and an honest look into what I am getting myself into.

  6. This reflects my experience almost perfectly! As a divorced woman in my mid-40’s and a senior pastor of a church, singleness and dating are very tricky. Thank you for reflecting on and naming the issues so well!

  7. I am in a similar position as Rebecca, older, divorced and live in a relatively small town. It’s very tricky. I had a wonderful date last week and though he said he really like me and respected my calling he has since backed off, sadly.

  8. I am both newly single and new to ministry…I never imagined how much need for that kind of companionship I would have. Any advice?

    1. Hi Bri! Companionship is tough. Even when I was doing all the “right” things, I found myself lonely. I’d say—Find a group of people your age and get plugged in. Find a hobby—join a volleyball league or chess club with non-church people who will treat you like a human. Get a pet to care for. Get a therapist. Build relationships with your volunteers that are friendships—I’m working my way through the list and having dinners with their families right now. Be honest with your supervisor about moments you’re hurting and need extra love or space. Last, don’t be afraid of dating—if you’re ready, go on dates and don’t think too much about it. The worst that can happen is you walk away with a hilarious story. AND LAST: Join the “women In ministry” Facebook group! We will be your community!

  9. I am 53, and been in ministry for over 35 years. Please do not let that scare you. I can relate with what you have said.

  10. I totally relate . I’m a 34 year old female youth pastor. Point 8-10 hit a home run with me. Sometimes I pray God to at least reveal to me if I’m called to singlehood and take away this desire for marriage. It gets difficult as I grow older to have faith in finding a partner.

  11. As many have said above, I relate to a lot of this and appreciate your candid thoughts and feelings!
    Number 4 really resonated with me and of course, the online dating mess…which seems like a necessary evil these days. If it weren’t reality all of this would be such a laugh :).

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