One of my close Texas friends just sent me this article in World Magazine, and I think it’s spot-on about the dating culture among young Christian college students and professionals. Along with asides on the shift from marriage-for-family to marriage-for-fulfillment among Americans in general [cf Jenell Williams Paris], the author considers the shift toward extended waiting followed by speed courtships among young Christians.
The author, Susan Olasky, highlights the dichotomy of waiting and detachment in cross-gender relationships, which can last for years, followed by a strong emotional attachment and pressure to marriage that can occur when people finally start dating:
Graduate student Stephanie Nestor told me that in the past year six of her friends have gotten engaged. In each case the guys had never dated before: “Guys want to be sure before they date that this is the one. In Christian circles, girls aren’t getting asked out.” Nestor described a social scene focused entirely on group activities, where guys observe the women over time and then make a choice. That leaves most of the girls waiting.
I’ve heard this from female friends across the nation. And it’s made worse by the demographic imbalance in the church, in which there are two single guys for every three single girls (great discussion of that article here). As in black communities, where an even worse demographic imbalance makes it hard for our sisters to find good husbands, this puts the relationship market strongly in the guy’s court, allowing a guy to be even more selective while a girl finds herself waiting and her ability to be selective for an appropriate peer — if she wants a Christian man at all — much diminished.
I’ve actually been having conversations with friends recently about life as a single Christian woman, and recording the results, as a kind of journalistic research project. I’ll hopefully be posting some excerpts on this blog soon…