Every Wednesday leading up to that Holiday-Beginning-With-A-V-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named -- inspirational, hilarious, and ridiculously-relatable Christian Post contributor Joy Beth Smith is offering a fresh perspective on flying solo, in a 5-part series, based on her upcoming book Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness (available for pre-order now, and wherever books are sold on February 6). This week...Congratulations! You Intimidate Men!
Do men avoid eye contact with you? Yes.
While on a date, do men make excuses to leave early? Yep.
In general, do men grow more competitive in a conversation with you? Sure.
Do they look away after you make a joke instead of laughing? All the time.
I was killing this. I'd always loved the quizzes in the back of those trashy magazines that sit by the register, and I knew I had to pay the $2.99 so I could take this quiz (plus, there was a killer recipe for pizza rolls).
The results? Congratulations! You intimidate men!
Tell me something I don't know, Cosmo.
When my dates don't go well, almost inevitably someone will suggest something along the lines of: make the man feel smarter than you, make him feel like you need him, make him feel strong and capable. As opposed to empowering our men to find more purpose in a relationship outside of being the sole provider, we're telling women that they're the problem. It's not about equipping and challenging men—it's about teaching women how to compensate. We could be teaching that women are supposed to be strong, that intelligence is admirable, that ingenuity should be praised. But instead, we hear a sermon on women once a year on Mother's Day, and even then, it's probably extolling the virtues of only gentleness and humility all while lauding the accomplishment of mothers.
Any man who chooses his wife based on who he believes will bend most easily to his will isn't looking for a marriage partner but rather a parrot. If, in his insecurity, he'd prefer to live with a woman who will allow him to make mistakes rather than voice her own opinion (or have an opinion to voice), he is choosing a dictatorship, not a partnership.
I have a scar on my heart from a boy, and mushy holidays always make me think of him. It was one of those friendships where we had prolonged stretches of time together. We had mutual friends. We liked the same things. Our time together was rich and full and enjoyable.
Well, let me rephrase; it was rich and full and enjoyable to the extent that I admired and fawned over and praised my friend and his accomplishments. And because I so appreciated his company, I played this game. I asked questions I knew the answer to. I allowed him to do things half as well as I could, and then I applauded his efforts. I built him up with my words and time and respect.
When I got tired of this—because it's very exhausting to pretend to be something you're not so someone else can be more comfortable—our friendship was lost. I was easiest to be in relationship with when I was small and tractable and predictable. When I didn't challenge or question. When we both executed our expected parts. He wanted the quieter, slighter version of myself.
And that's where I see God's sovereignty. I came to realize that when I pretend to be smaller and lesser, my muscles atrophy and I'm actually both smaller and lesser than I was before. I can't live that life. I can't make myself less so someone else feels like enough. My ambition, confidence, and sense of humor are not liabilities—they're assets. And it took me a long time to realize that in preferring me when I deferred to him, my friend was actually only drawn to what I could give him rather than who I was.
If the only way to erase how intimidating I am to men is by making less of myself, by choosing not to publish books that worm their way into my heart, by laughing a little quieter or expressing love a little less, what would that make me? I'd be a shell, a husk of myself, and all that effort just so I could make a man more comfortable around me. That's not a compromise I'm willing to make. And you shouldn't either. We're better than that—even if it means we don't end up with the guy.
Joy Beth Smith (@JBsTwoCents) is the author of Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness (Thomas Nelson, February 2018). She is a managing editor with Christianity Today and winner of the Evangelical Press Association's Higher Goals in Christian Journalism Award. For more information, a free chapter download, and LOL-worthy memes, visit www.PartyofOnetheBook.com.