FROM A READER (A SINGLE WOMAN) – I appreciate her allowing me to share!
I don’t know if this question has come up, but I realize that the more I learn about respect, submission, admiration of men (single, godly men), I realize that the changes taking place in me also get the attention of other girls.
Do you ever get an evil eye from women who see your respect toward men and the positive response that it gets? I have even been told that I am a flirt…something that I definitely examine to make sure it’s not true (toward unavailable men). But, I notice now the disrespect of other women, and when I choose to be respectful – I see the contrast and it almost intimidates me, making me not want to be feminine, kind, or smiling.
I feel like I stick out.
I don’t know how to handle negative looks/attitudes from other women….especially women that I serve with. I even notice a particular wife get bothered by my positive attitude towards her husband. He jokes a lot with me (and with others in general), and so I try to be so careful even of how I laugh because I think I could so easily have a flirtatious/playful laugh.
So, I have felt less inclined to be walking around all cheerful (which is usually how I am) with the guys that I serve closely with because other women don’t particularly seem to like it.
And I HATE to say it, but I realize it makes them maybe feel insecure because they are not always respectful, but maybe don’t realize it. I guess I don’t know how to be on this end of things. If I even make a comment or reply to a comment made to me by married men, their wives are on it. I absolutely realize my need to tread cautiously, and marriage is something that I absolutely respect, but it is here that I am tempted to go into that pendulum swing…..becoming cold, distant, and seemingly rude in an attempt to not flirt or cross my boundaries with a married man. Any advice??
This IS an issue. Yep.
Your being kind, thoughtful, cheerful, respectful, and feminine in a godly way will very much contrast with some of the other women. Godly femininity is attractive to men and godly femininity can be offensive to certain women.
It is difficult for others to know your motives are pure. Women may think you are romantically interested – why else would you be so positive and respectful to their husbands? So, yes, I have to keep my respect knob turned way down for men to whom I am not married. Meaning, I try to be careful not to give too much visible honor, attention, admiration, respectful comments, and eye contact – because it could absolutely come across as flirting. I do NOT want to go there! It is critical that we don’t cross the line into flirting. I don’t want to create pain for my brothers or my sisters.
I DO respect my brothers in Christ and my sisters in Christ. Very much! But I must be very aware of the messages I am sending or what others might perceive in my behavior. I don’t want to have the appearance of evil. So there is the issue of men and other women interpreting you as flirting when you are seeking to be godly. That is possible, even likely.
I hold back a lot with other men. So, I will smile, be friendly, and seek to be encouraging. But there are certain lines I know I can’t cross. Still, I don’t lose my joy in Christ!
I try to speak to everyone – as much as possible – around me at church, in our Sunday School class, in the service. I speak to men and women. I smile. I shake people’s hands. If a man’s wife is not there, I ask about her and her health and their children. There are some personal topics I avoid like the plague. I keep the conversation relatively surface-level. I also try not to spend more than 2-3 minutes with one man at a time if my husband is not with me – like, if he is on the other side of the room.
If I am speaking with a husband and wife, I try to give equal attention to both, or more attention to the wife. I definitely want wives to feel included in the discussion if I am talking with their husbands. If I am in a group with men and women, I try to give equal attention to each person.
Where this is the toughest for me is if there is a man who is there alone. If I don’t see other people go talk to him, I feel compelled to go speak to him – just like I would with a woman sitting alone. But I know that I have to be careful because it could look like I am interested in him. So I have to limit my interactions. But I don’t want to see anyone sitting there and have no one speak to him! That breaks my heart!
If I realize that a man is getting too interested in me or that his wife/girlfriend is taking things wrong or I notice any kind of spark – I back off. Immediately. If my husband would rather me not speak to a certain man, then I honor his wishes and I don’t talk to the other guy.
WITH OTHER WOMEN:
We are called to love and respect our brothers and our sisters!
There is the issue of the conviction/discomfort/confusion other women may feel with your respect toward men they may feel because they see the contrast and don’t understand it or don’t like it. Many women today have never seen a woman genuinely respect men – particularly without some hidden agenda. A woman who respects men totally stands out. Other women will try to tear down and undermine the respectful one, in my experience.
I have even had other women put words in my mouth to men to try to negate anything remotely respectful that I said by saying, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” “Don’t listen to her.” “She’s trying to butter you up.” “She doesn’t mean that.” Then they go right back to insulting the men. I have had other women try to insult my husband or other men for me when I wouldn’t disrespect the men. They will say things like, “Don’t be so nice to him.” That is frustrating. It is like they are trying to get me to fit in with their mindset. I am not hateful about it. I just don’t agree with them and continue seeking to treat them and the men with respect and the love of Christ. Sometimes I may have an opportunity to say something to address treating men respectfully.
It is not PC for a woman to respect men today. A lot of women don’t even like to see a wife respect her OWN husband – like for me to respect Greg, for example. That is offensive to many. But when some women see a woman who respects men in general – it is almost like they feel compelled to squelch the respect for men and to “teach” the respectful woman to stop treating men so well. It is as if some women believe that if we treat men well we are disrespecting women. That is not true! I pray we will be sensitive to what God may desire us to say in such situations.
We can respect God, ourselves, women, and men ALL at the same time thankfully!
THIS CAN BE A DELICATE BALANCE:
I believe it takes the wisdom of God’s Spirit and His prompting, as well as sensitivity to others, practice, and sometimes godly feedback from someone we trust – a godly dad, mom, mentoring wife, trusted pastor, etc… We want to show God’s love and honor to all people – men and women. We want them to experience God’s love through us. But we don’t want to create a stumbling block.
The more I have learned about men, the more careful I have to be.
I know a good bit about what most men need now. I know how to meet the needs. It would be easy to give a hurting brother in Christ a little bit of respect to lift him up. And I do treat my brothers with respect. I do want to encourage them, bless them, and lift them up. I want to point them to Christ. But – if he should be getting respect from his wife, and he is starving for respect – and then I give him a little too much tangible respect – I may draw him to myself like a magnet. That is a big problem. Or, if I give a bit too much respect to a single man who is starving for respect – I have to be careful that he is not feeling attracted to me.
I don’t become cold or rude. I am still thinking kind, loving, respectful thoughts toward everyone – but I respectfully back away or simply tone things way down if necessary.
We don’t want to try to get men to be attracted to us that are not available to us. And we don’t want to be seen as a threat to a woman’s relationship with her boyfriend or husband. We will need to be humble and willing to step back if people don’t understand or seem confused or offended in any way.
I also have to be sure I am not feeling tempted by any men around me. If I begin to feel tempted – I need to pray about it, remove myself as much as possible, and talk with my husband (in my case) and my prayer partners. In cases where there is temptation or you are concerned about feelings being an issue it is appropriate to say, “I need to stop communication. I’m sorry.” If totally stopping communication is not possible, it could be that a woman might need to emotionally and verbally take things way down a number of notches to essential communication only. Or she may decide prayerfully just back off without explanation sometimes. There can also be times when it is appropriate to say (especially if the man is a brother in Christ), “I apologize. I need to back off and guard my heart. You haven’t done anything wrong. I just need to stop emailing/talking with you so much.” This requires God’s wisdom in each situation.
At work, I don’t usually work with men. But when I have to work with men, I am friendly but I try to keep a good bit of space emotionally and physically.
- I try not to have many private conversations with other men
- I copy my husband (but you could copy a mentor or parent) on emails to other men for accountability and transparency
- I seek to be friendly and to smile with my brothers (and sisters, of course) – but I try to limit how much talking I do and what I talk about and try to keep my conversations fairly short.
- I try to avoid hugging other men.
- If I realize I am being tempted or a man is being tempted, I try to break off contact if possible or severely limit contact and talk with my husband and my accountability partners.
- I don’t want to do much confiding in men or allowing them to confide in me emotionally. I can get very attached emotionally and need to be careful.
- I don’t pray alone with men privately in person or online.
Great topic! What an important conversation for us to have! Let’s talk more about this if anyone needs to. It can be really surprising just how strong the reactions of men and women are as we allow God to change us. Do we need to discuss the difference between showing respect for men and flirting, ladies?
Lee Ann has written a post about her surprise that so many more men were attracted to her as her attitude changed and she began to respect men more.
I also have a post for wives about not expecting outside support. Single women can expect this, as well. Other women will generally NOT be supportive of a woman who wants to treat men with respect. I pray that changes! But this is pretty common right now.