I just finished reading through Gary Thomas’ Sacred Search, a valuable book for single Christians that challenges a lot of our society’s conventional wisdom about dating. Here are just a few (pretty random) highlights:
“In 1967, a study of college-age women found that 76 percent of women said they would marry someone if the man had every trait they were looking for, even if they didn’t feel ‘romantic love’ toward them. In more recent research, 91 percent of women said ‘absolutely not.’ That’s a huge shift. People have been pursuing such pairings for several generations now, and I’m asking you to be an astute and honest observer: how’s that working out for us?” (pp. 23–24)
“The average life span of an infatuation is almost always less than two years. Sexual chemistry and romantic attraction can remain. . . . But God simply did not design our brains to sustain a lifelong infatuation (for some very good reasons).” (p. 29)
Dr. Helen Fisher (a preeminent biological anthropologist) identifies some universal features of infatuation: (p. 30)
- The lover focuses on the beloved’s traits and overlooks or minimizes flaws.
- Infatuated people exhibit extreme energy, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, impulsivity, euphoria, and mood swings.
- Relational passion is heightened, not weakened, by adversity.
- Partners experience separation anxiety when apart.
- Empathy is so powerful that many report they would “die for their beloved.”
- An infatuated person thinks about their lover to an obsessive degree.
- Sexual desire is intense, and the relationship becomes marked by extreme possessiveness.
“I’ve rarely had a wife complain to me about her husband’s looks. When wives send me emails, it’s almost always about character issues: ‘He shouldn’t do this thing. He should do that thing, but doesn’t. How do I fix this?’ Yet most women are not seeking men of character first. They are seeking men with whom they feel ‘in love.’” (p. 43)
“Science has established that attractive women can literally derail a man’s cognitive functioning. . . . One of the researchers of the study I just referred to—a published, high-degreed professor—met a stunningly beautiful woman at an academic conference. As they talked, he was eager to make a good impression, but when she asked him where he lived, he literally could not remember his street address.” (p. 46–47)
“Women, if you’ve got a group of girlfriends and want to let some guys know you exist, the answer is so easy: it’s called ‘food.’ Throw a party. Feed the guys. They’ll figure out who put food on the table.” (p. 79)
“Some Christians find themselves in a dating dead end. . . . Instead of putting themselves in social environments where they might find someone, they start to feel bitter and angry and blame God for not bringing the right one alone. But your passivity is not God’s fault.” (p. 80)
“Most of the common misconceptions about gender roles aren’t at a biblical level. Who handles finances, who cleans and cooks, who chooses where to go on vacation, or even what will constitute 99.9% of the general household decisions—biblical gender roles don’t usually speak to such issues. But the notion of gender roles does affect marital expectations, how to raise children, what church you will attend, and how one views Scripture, all of which matters deeply.” (p. 151)
“Marriage doesn’t solve emptiness; it exposes it, so marry someone who has a solid core. If someone can’t live without you, he or she will never be happy living with you either.” (p. 209)
“Never marry for mercy.” (p. 231)