I blame much of my dating issues on the media (that’s the trendy thing to do, anyway, right – blame everything on the media?)
But, seriously. Think of the number of romcom’s, sitcoms, pop and country songs, and novels where the bad boy just needs to be tamed by the love of a good woman. It’s a super common theme.
Here are just a few of my favorites:
Hart of Dixie – Wade and Zoe. His abs have caused him a lot of problems in the past, but now that he’s met Zoe, he’s a changed man.
New Girl – I love Nick and Jess. And just Nick. But, let’s be realistic. He’s a lazy, 30-year old bum who has never lived up to his potential. Somehow, though, a relationship with Jess will make everything work out fine in the end.
A Walk to Remember – Landon mocks the preacher’s daughter, then falls in love with her, and marries her despite the cancer which kills her a few months later. So, they don’t quite live happily ever after, but her love still transformed him into a completely different person.
And so it goes. I haven’t read 50 Shades, but I know that Christian Grey has deep psychological issues that fuel his fetishes; yet by the end of the trilogy, he and Anastasia Steele are married with children. Happily ever after. Even in Beauty and the Beast – our beloved childhood fairy tale – Belle’s love is enough to transform a beast into a kind, gentle, loving man. (I’m not even going to talk about Stockholm syndrome right now. Off-topic.)
Here’s the problem: THAT IS NOT REAL LIFE. Sure, we can all find examples of someone who converted to another faith after having met their spouse, or point at Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban and how she helped him get sober. But, as my favorite movie He’s Just Not That Into You so eloquently puts it, “they are the exception. You are the rule” (author’s paraphrase). Or, at least I am the rule.
I have tried so many times to missionary date – you know, dating someone who doesn’t have the same belief system as you in the hopes that they will come to see things as you do, and then you can live happily ever after. I know that this doesn’t actually work. It’s usually not their faith that is strengthened, but mine that is weakened – and with it, my convictions, attitudes, principles, etc. But, being the eternal optimist/hopeless romantic/indoctrinated American female that I am, I secretly still have that hope that MY love will be that magic key to unlock all the good that has been hiding in the misunderstood, bad boy. I tend to date for potential, but you can’t do that. Potential may never be realized, and then you’re 6 months/3 years/a lifetime down the road, and in an unhealthy and poorly matched relationship because you thought that he would change.
Of course, I always say that I know I can’t change him – only God can. But, still, I inflate my personal responsibility in the situation, thinking, “without me, though, how will he ever know God? Don’t I have an obligation to share Jesus with this guy, and maybe God will use me?”
Garbage. I never verbalize these thoughts because I know they’re ridiculous, but they persist nonetheless. Yes, God can use us in someone’s life – male or female – however He wants. But, He doesn’t need us helping Him along by making out with some guy in an effort to show Jesus’ love. I’ve read the Bible through a few times, and there is no recorded use of that particular conversion method in all of Scripture (possible exception: Hosea and Gomer, but that’s complicated).
Bottom line, we need to stop believing all of the fairy tales that culture is sending us and just avoid these entanglements in the first place (deep down, I think we know they’re not right for us, anyway). Of course, I’m not saying give up on romantic dreams. TRUST me, I’m going to see Cinderella this weekend and am quite certain I will leave that theater full of romantic dreams. But, let’s stop settling for less than God’s best for us under the guise of “helping” someone become who they were always meant to be. It’s not actually helping him, and it’s sure not helping us.
Have you ever tried missionary dating (or just dating the bad boy/girl that you thought would reform)? How did it go for you? Have you seen yourself influenced by the bad boy turned good philosophy, and has it had any actual affect on your view of relationships? Let’s talk!
Oh, and for a little light-hearted satire on the issue, check out DatetoSave.com. Hilarious stuff, folks.