Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dating and the Rule Book of Love

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

When I was a boy my friend Brandon and I got this Motown album from his dad that we loved. It had a bunch of the doo-wop songs from different artists. I still love those kinds of oldies to this day, and I think the kids need to hear more good music like that.

One of the songs we liked on there, and actually recently sang together to see if we remembered it (and we did), was called “The Book of Love.” It said, “Oh I wonder, wonder who… who wrote the book of love?” Maybe you’ve heard it. It was just a fun song full of random rhymes and cute little analogies. But the song begs the question, “Who wrote the book of love?” and it never provides an answer.

Years later, here I am asking the same question of those confused doo-woppers. “Who wrote the book of love?” There have been many books written about love. “Do this, not that” books. “The problem isn’t you, it’s them” books. We’ve all seen them. Every week somebody is producing a brand new 300 pages of guesses and fabricated nonsense and making tons of money off of it. Love columns in newspapers and magazines don’t even try to hide how stupid they are; they put it out there clear as day and people still buy into it.

Obviously, America is intrigued by these thoughts on love. We are all searching for a quick fix or magic trick to show us the one thing we’ve been doing wrong that will make it all better. The 50 percent divorce rate in our country should tell us it’s about time to start looking to some other sources because we clearly don’t know what we are doing. America gets glued to shows like “The Bachelor” and "Ready for Love" and whatever crap is on VH1. Love and reality do not seem to coincide in this country.

Who wrote the book of love? Who wrote out these rules that we’re supposed to play by and even know about? I’ve had so many conversations with guys that try to give me their wonderful insight into how to pick up women. I’ve heard it all.

“Bro, you gotta neg a girl for a while.”


“Yeah, it’s where you tell her something negative about herself so she gets unsettled about herself and frustrated. They eat it up. Then they are intrigued by you.”

This was actual advice from a real, live, breathing human being. And maybe some of you dudes are nodding your heads agreeing with that advice. If I were there I’d punch you as hard as I can in the face. Now, women, if “negging” works on you, then you might as well wear a shirt that says, “Hi, I am super insecure,” because that’ll save all the bro’s some time.

This is the advice that is thrown around like facts, when really it was just made up by some person who saw it work one time. We like to call things facts that aren’t actually facts in America. Have you noticed that? It’s a cool game we invented called “Stupidity.”

Tainted Love

Now, if it seems like I am cynical and annoyed, that’s only because I am cynical and annoyed.

Go ahead and say it, though, “Hey man, what do you even know? You’re single!” Look, I don’t claim to be someone who is a love doctor; clearly I have my own issues and vices. I merely come to you as someone who is, as we acknowledged, cynical and annoyed. And single. I’m annoyed with the system. I’m annoyed with the games I’m supposed to know how to play. I’m annoyed with the rules that someone made up. I’m annoyed with people that think they have it figured out and spread lies to my friends. I’m angered at the TV shows that praise shallow relationships and screwed up marriages. I’m saddened by the marriages I have seen end so many times when they shouldn’t have.

I’m not simply a lonely guy making a desperate plea for a date here. I am making a desperate plea to change the system. To change our way of thinking. And more importantly, our way of acting.

Love is not a drug.
Love is not always a pretty sight.
Love is more than we’ve been singing along to in pop songs.

So who wrote these rules? Where did they come from? Who was the first person to say, “Don’t call them until three days later”? Who came up with stuff like that and who called it a fact? I have a theory: The rules were written by idiots and followed out by bigger idiots.

Harsh? Well, maybe that’s because the truth hurts, baby.

Why does it need to be so complicated? I talk to guys and they say, “Girls are so confusing!” Then, I talk to girls and they say, “Guys are so confusing!” Did you know both sides are saying the same things? We are like a big game of bumper cars. Everyone is trying to drive but can’t make up their mind which way to go. We’re knocking into things and other people and inevitably getting nowhere. We’re trying so hard to follow these dumb rules and analyze frivolous words to death that we miss the open road.

Look, I’m not saying this love stuff should be easy. I know there are some complicated pieces to it all, but can we all at least admit that we tend to extremely overcomplicate things?

Stop in the Name of Love

Here’s a something I’ve had said to my face a few times, “When you stop looking, that’s when you’ll find someone.” We’ve all heard that one. Maybe we’ve struggled with it. Maybe we’ve tried really hard to follow it out.

Allow me to give my two cents on it. I think it’s a hokey line that married people say. I think they look back on their relationships and somehow remember it as being something that came as a result of them not caring anymore. Now maybe that worked for one or two people, but when most people say they didn’t care, they are lying or remembering it wrong.

I think many times that phrase comes from a well-meaning heart and really they are just trying to get you to relax, but if you’re someone who analyzes things (like me) it can start to mess with your perception and actions. That phrase really is an oxymoron. It’s like saying, “Hey, never show up to work and you’ll make more money.” And if you stopped caring in order to get a relationship, wouldn’t that mean that you cared in the first place and that’s why you stopped caring… yikes, this is making my head hurt. Moving on.

Single folks, it’s all right to care. You are not wrong for being lonely sometimes or wanting to be in a relationship. That’s not an evil desire. Now, like anything, if you let it go too much it can run you, but the desire in itself is not evil.

I look at the Old Testament and women like Rachel and Hannah. Two women who wanted to have children and couldn’t. They were barren and all the women around them were having children. They were saying things like, “Give me children or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1) I’m not saying you should start praying, “Lord, give me a husband or shoot me,” but I’m just saying we are dealing with God-given desires here. Natural things. It’s natural for a woman to want to have children. And it’s natural for human beings to want to be in love. We were designed this way.

Do you think if Rachel and Hannah stopped trying to have kids that they would have had a bunch of kids? I don’t think that’s logical at all. In the words of my friend Kenn Kington, “I made a D in Biology… but I was there for the lesson that day.” To me, as stupid as it sounds to try to have children without even trying is as stupid as it would be to try to have a relationship without actually trying.

Some may debate me on this, and that’s fine. But let me tell you a little story from my life that you can believe or not.

I try to take a break from work once a day and go for a quick walk to catch some fresh air and so my eyes don’t fall out of my head from staring at the computer screen all day. I was thinking about this whole “stop caring” method and praying about it.

I said, “God, I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to not care and to stop looking.”
I felt like I immediately heard back, “Who told you not to stop looking? Did I tell you to?”

I realized quickly that I had been trying to pull off methods, rules, and advice that I wasn’t meant to. I was listening to people more than I was listening to God, hence the frustration. And that kind of methodology will give you frustration in all areas of life.

Could You Be Loved?

It’s frustrating trying to follow these rules and guidelines that people make up. Sometimes they can seem really convincing. It’s easy to get insecure when it hasn’t worked for you and it seems to be working for everyone else. And to make it worse, you have to process all the dumb advice you hear. Some of the worst advice can come from the best of intentions.

I talk to a lot of people who are beating themselves up over being single. Just frustrated with the system of it all. Frustrated that other people are getting it to click. I guess you could say jealous if we’re being totally honest. It happens. And as we’ve discussed, it doesn’t make it easier to deal with when you and your friends and family sit around and analyze your dating life to death. Humans have a good way of making up problems where there really are no problems because we always need an answer and some sort of proof. This has been going on for centuries.

When I think about this stuff there is a story in the Bible that comes to my mind from the book of John, chapter 9.

As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

The disciples wanted an answer to the problem. They wanted to know what someone did wrong to end up in a situation they did not enjoy. That’s the way our minds seem to work: If we’re not happy, then somebody is doing something wrong.

That’s a really old school way to look at it. It’s a cause-and-effect view on things. But cause-and-effect has nothing to do with the grace of God.

Sometimes there may be things we can improve on. Everyone needs to have a good introspection check up regularly; that’s a good thing. But sometimes the matter we are dealing with is out of our hands. It could just be a timing thing, and it could be that God is wanting to teach us or stretch us. In fact, I would go as far as to say that’s what I think it is 100 percent of the time.

All you single people out there, I write this simply to just let you know that you are not alone in this. Just because you might not be married yet doesn’t mean you have serious problems. It doesn’t mean that anyone else that is married did anything better than you did. I’d even bet that some of the people you envy today will be the people you come to pity tomorrow.

I’m realizing that as I get older, there really seem to be a lot less guarantees in life, and that kind of sucks. I’m past the age where my hard work in school is a guarantee that I will move onto the next grade. I’m not guaranteed a job or wife or much else. Things just take longer as you get older. And that’s all right.

Keep moving forward and don’t let other people’s happiness be what brings you down. That’s called being a punk and you’re not going to be a lot of fun to be around. Life is too short to spend it wishing you had someone else’s.

And truth be told… no one really knows what they are doing.

Still today, I’ve never really gotten a clear answer to who wrote the Book of Love. So why don’t you write your own story? I bet it will definitely be worth the read.


  1. my campus pastor said that the way to get a good date is to be a good date. God will not put you into a realtionship until you are ready. same goes for me and it has been 40 years in the desert.

  2. Love the comparison to Rachel and Hannah. Really thoughtful dialogue. Made me think on how our culture views marriage as something you earn in a way. Do this, do that and you'll get married. I can see how that framework would cause a lot of heartache and insecurity, as if not being married is only something that happens if you're 'doing it wrong'. Pretty sure there's nothing more biblically inaccurate.

    Thanks for the thoughts, friend!

  3. ...right on!!!!!!!!! Tons of wisdom here man!