Image of young couple.

Father Knows Best: How do I convince a girl to be with me?

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Hey Rev!

How do I convince a girl to be with me?

- Daniel

Dear Daniel:

Image of young couple.

Image of young couple.

Picture the people whom you love. Maybe that’s your mom or your dad, maybe that’s a brother or a sister, maybe that’s a teacher or a coach, maybe that’s a friend. If church is part of your life, maybe that’s Jesus. And now ask yourself: what did these people do to convince you to love them?

Or let’s do the same experiment the other way around. Picture the people who love you. Many of them — most of them — will be the same people who were on your first list: your parents, your siblings, your friends, your mentors, Jesus. What did you do to convince these people to love you?

I’m going to go out on a limb, Daniel, and guess that not that not even one of the people on these two lists got there through “convincing.” Neither clever strategy nor brilliant negotiating nor gimmicks nor tricks played any part in the love that you and these people share.

The road to love is beautiful and varied and strange. Sometimes a father will speak of holding a child and knowing right away that he loves her. Sometimes a spouse will say that that the love that binds her with her partner was built across years. Sometimes love doesn’t have a clear beginning, and we are startled when someone asks, “do you love him?” and we realize that the answer is “yes.”

As varied as this road may be, three elements are common to every journey into love. They are presence, vulnerability, and choice.

Presence (and forgive me if this is obvious, Daniel, but I think that you need to hear this, I think that this is where you need to begin) means that people who love one another have spent time with one another. In a romantic context, that typically begins when one of them asks the other out on a date or when both ask for help from a friend or from the internet in order to meet.

That invitation to go on a date, to be present together, is an act of vulnerability (should the relationship last, it will be the first of many). Even as fear told the lovers to stay on the side of the dance floor, even as they were left slack-jawed by the shining wit or the easy beauty of the other, even as the search for love struck them as embarrassing or hard or maybe even a little silly, they took a risk. I’m sorry to let you know that, if you want to love, this risk isn’t something that you can skip.

What the lovers were risking, what they were making themselves vulnerable to, was the painful possibility of rejection. You can’t insist that a girl be with you, you can’t convince her to be with you. What you can do is to offer her a choice to be with you. She might say “no.” In that case, you may get to spend some time with the great and difficult teacher which is a broken heart.

But how amazing, how wonderful, if she said, “yes.” How amazing, how wonderful, if one day your presence and your vulnerability inspired her to make the choice to become one of the many people whom you love and who loves you in return.

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