I wanna talk about community for a second; more specifically, I want to talk about single guys within small groups. You may have heard of "small groups" before. They are the new way for Christians to get involved with each other. Essentially they are communities of people, normally of similar age brackets, having authentic relationships with one another and "doing life" together. Now I'm not going to sit here and knock on Small Groups. I love my small groups, and I think they work, and as a member of Gateway Church, which makes it a goal in pointing members towards small groups, I'd also have to consider myself an advocate. However there is one thing I've noticed in small groups, especially with college aged students, that I felt like addressing this week:
Single Boys and their fascination with the new girl.
(Disclaimer: Everything I am about to say in this post I feel like I have the right to, because I am/was a single boy with a fascination with new girls, and I've experienced it all first hand. True story.)
Picture it. A boy is heavily involved with his small group, a bunch of college student guys and gals that he has gotten close to within the past year and a half. Some of the guys he knows like brothers, and the gals he considers like sisters. He's struggled with being in broken relationships in the past. He's made mistakes he's not proud of, but he's past him now, he's been forgiven, and with the help of mentors and other guys he's learned how to have healthy relationships. Moving on he's gotten close to some of the girls. Some of them he may have talked to in the past, and others he may have even tried dating. Some he has gotten to know so well that he's already convinced it would never work out, and others he's entertained the thought but he doesn't believe he's ready to make that step. In any case he's weighed his options with all the girls at one time or another, and not because he's joined this group just to hook up or to find a wife, but because it's the smart thing to do.
It's justified. These girls are good Christian women. They love Jesus. They also have a community that is helping them grow and they're making good progress with their lives and moving forward with God's will. The guys have seen the girls grow, and the girls have seen the same thing. Ecclesiastes says in one verse to grab hold of what's in front of you, and to not focus on wandering desires. So it's with good reason that the boy pays attention to the women around him, that he has become friends with, he knows well, and shares the same beliefs as he does. When it comes to potential in a future wife - there's no better pool around. However he doesn't believe he's found the right one yet, and whether it's because he's not ready or God just hasn't told him to pursue anyone yet, he still remains single.
Then in walks the new girl. She's pretty, wants to get involved, and best of all - she's alone (and by that I mean she didn't get invited by another guy or come with her boyfriend.) This to single guys is equivalent to a new video game to kids. The boy has gotten used to all the girls in the group. He's not sure he sees any of them in his future or whether or not he wants to pursue any of them. He's doing what God wants for his life, sure enough, but the one thing he's always wanted, everyone wants, is to one day find that special someone. Except it hasn't happened yet, and it doesn't seem to be happening anytime soon, but this...
This is something new.
Guys will not admit to this, but when the new girl enters a group, it's an exciting change. It's our chance to start a new connection, and make a good first impression. In the back of our minds we're all thinking, "Could this be the one?" and before the end of the night all the guys will have found a way to migrate over to her.
This is potentially hazardous for a couple of reasons.
For one, there's a hidden competition that the guys might not even be aware of; because it's a subconscious thing. Every boy wants to be the first to get to know a new girl. They want to learn as much information about her before the other guys get a chance. So when another dude mentions something to his bros about the girl in question, the other can say "yeah I know" as a way to potentially "one-up" the other's facts. Because to a Christian single guy, "knowing" a girl is the same as figuring out who has a better chance with her. You see, Christians don't call dibs on girls, nor do they play games to determine who gets the first shot. No. Instead we use our "discernment", and silently we agree that so-and-so seems to be hitting it off with the pretty-new-girl so we might as well take a step back.
In other words, we each try and get to know her as much as possible at the exact same time, and then we let her decide who she likes the best.
But the girl. She doesn't know that this is going on. As far as she's concerned she's just entered friendliest group in all the world. She's nice, and she loves to get to know new friends, so she's not afraid of sharing her story or chatting it up with anyone who's willing. But my friends, we are actually playing a very dangerous game here. Our subconscious competition can have some very negative consequences. It's possible she may get into a bad relationship with one of the guys (possibly one who is farthest away from being ready for any sort of relationship), get pushed away from the group entirely, or just not find any growth like she may have originally intended.
Worst of all, drama happen, and no one wants that.
It's for these reasons that I feel the need to point these things out, whether you believe it's true for your group or not, because there are some practical ways we can make sure the new girl can get acclimated appropriately.
First off, guys need to back off. She's not here to find a date, and if she is here to find a date, then no one needs to be dating her for a while anyway.
Hopefully this will leave some room for the other girls to get involved, because instead of single boys migrating to the new girl, it should be the females that are making her feel welcome. Except the girls are always so shy, and it's a weird phenomena to me that girls are afraid of talking to each other. Regardless we need to be pushing the girls to becoming friends with one another, because if it's one thing that I've always seen as a red flag it's the girl who says "Most of my friends are guys. I dunno...I just get along better with boys than I do girls." (but I've mentioned this before)
The girls have probably experienced growth within this community, and if we're a group that challenges others to make the best of their lives and is continually working with them to pursue what God has planned, then it makes sense that the other females attempt to make friends with the new girl. It's that simple. Plus they already know the guys well enough to weed out the douchebags from the authentics, and I for one would rather have a good recommendation then to have to rely on my own words.
Anyway I hope I've made more sense of this topic than I feel I have. I hope that guys are able to check themselves and their hearts before trying to get to know a new girl or to make that connection. Let her get settled first. Let her try out the group and make some friends. Talk to her at appropriate times, but don't be one of the guys who is constantly trying to get to know her as much as possible. I hope that girls are able to spot when the boys are migrating to the new girl and can intervene, out of solidarity, so that they can build better friendships before talking about boys (like we all know you do...at slumber parties...before/after the pillow fights.) I hope that God can work in the new girl's life like he did with the other women of the group, and that she won't just be a potential wife to some lonely boy, but she'll immediately become part of the family that has been created.
Seriously though, back off man, I saw her first!