By far my most popular post is my Top 10 Dating Tips for Pastors. And just look at the search engine terms that brought people to my blog in the past 7 days:
Over half of the people who found me were looking for pastor-dating advice.
And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t pander to what the people want?
Answer: The kind of blogger that gets no hits. And I am prideful and terrible, so here I am, PANDERING!
Thus, I present to you: So You Want to Date a Pastor?
Look at you, you’ve spotted a single pastor and you’re enamored. He or she is so cute with her or his reading glasses, nevermind that you can’t even pronounce the name of the author she’s reading (for your information, here’s a helpful guide from my friends over at Profligate Grace:)
Some helpful suggestions for these early days:
Don’t show up at Church unannounced. This may seem romantic in your brain, but if you show up out of the blue, a number of things could happen:
- S/he notices you while s/he’s preaching and it totally throws him/her off. Now s/he hates you and is embarrassed. Relationship over.
- In the case of a small congregation, you have now prematurely announced your presence and the rumors will never end. NEVER END, I tell you.
- In the case of nearly any congregation, you (especially if you are young and fresh-faced) will be bombarded with questions about who you are… and you don’t want to have to look a bunch of little old ladies in the eye and say, “I’m trying to impress and woo your pastor.”
Don’t swing by the parsonage or leave flowers or love notes at the door. That house belongs to the church, wo/man. The chances of your pastor-crush finding those things or being home when you stop by are probably a lot lower than a member of the Property Committee being there. You don’t want that, trust me.
Do plan for all G-rated dates. Oh, now I’m sure you’re a very upstanding gentleman/lady, but just don’t plan on heading down to the local bar and grinding the night away. If your pastor friend is interested in this, be alarmed. S/he may not be a pastor for much longer. A pastor lives pretty centrally in the plot from Footloose. Go to the next town over, or better yet, just have a picnic and ice cream and call it a night (she said unrealistically).
Once You’re “Official”
Hey gal/fella, you’re officially in a relationship with a pastor! Congrats.
Welcome to the Fishbowl. Everything that you do now is closely monitored by your beloved’s congregation. Getting a lot of Facebook friend requests from people older than you? That’s the Church for you. Getting a lot of winks and awkward conversations in the grocery store? You guessed it: Church folk.
Ah, Church folk. They love you! They wish you didn’t have that photo of yourself holding a Bud Light on your Facebook… and they surely think your plans for full tattoo sleeves that you tweeted about aren’t great…. but if their pastor likes you, you must be okay!
You now have a lot of future in-laws. Depending on the size of your sweetie’s congregation, you have acquired at least a few dozen new grandmothers and overprotective dads looking over your shoulder. Also teenage children, if the church has a youth group. Expect a lot of advice. Expect a lot of probing questions. Expect a lot of pressure to pop the question– I don’t care if you’ve only been dating for a month. (I should pause to note here that with the exception of someone leaving a love note and a Property Committee member finding it, all of these examples are true life things that have happened to pastor friends of mine.)
And, oh, the desserts. Hallelujah, the desserts roll in like manna! You find yourself blessing the names of Saints Ethel and Marna for their coconut cakes and fat peanut butter brownies. Ah, Church folk, indeed. You may find yourself wanting to become a pastor yourself, because life with the old ladies is the best life. They’re even keeping you on the straight and narrow with your Bible study! I’m telling you, #bestlife.
As Time Goes On
You’re such a good sport. You’ve gotten used to being up at 6 am on Sundays to calm your honey’s nerves before s/he preaches. You’re even used to Saturday nights being school nights. I bet you’ve even checked out Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Disicpleship from the library and got to page 2 before closing it and googling the major points (just remember: cheap grace, bad; costly grace, good). Good for you, bro/sis!
If you just want to keep dating, that’s cool. The cake and brownies will slow down, though, most likely in an effort to lure you into getting engaged. But at least this way you can postpone that inevitable awkward conversation of, “Is the whole congregation coming to the wedding?”
If you pop the question, the entire town will freak. out. There may be a parade. Finally, that poor young pastor no longer has to live in that drafty old huge parsonage alone. Glory! Glory! Wedding planning will begin instantly. All of your ideas are immediately thrown out. Just kidding. But really, it’s happening here in this church not taking no for an answer, k?
If you break up, you must move. Simple as that. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Get out of there. There’s nothing left for you here. Suddenly the kind ladies who gave you free haircuts are all booked up. The gentlemen who loved having you as a fourth for golf all have suspicious back injuries and won’t need you to play with them anymore. As for your former love, hopefully s/he won’t deny you Eucharist if you come back to church there, but it’s in our blood as Methodists to do so (search: Hopkey).
So there you have it, ladies and gents out there who have your eye on a special clergy. I hope this has been helpful, and that you take it for what it is: joking. Seriously, there’s nothing scary about us men and women of the cloth. We just come with a few extra guardians. Nothing great is ever easy, right? That’s how I’m choosing to look at it (she said, single-ly).