(Photos courtesy of Mary Hannah Harte Photography)
Book Preview: Kristin Fry (Beyond the Swipe)
By Sarah Komisky
There are a million self help books, especially on relationships. When it comes to online dating, it can be hard to find a book that guides us in honoring God. That is why author, speaker, and consultant, Kristin Fry is tackling this very relevant subject. Interviewing several people on their experiences with dating apps, Kristin sat down to chat with me on the subject of struggles, female indicators, displacing identity in a guy, and why it’s important for guys to outline expectations. Enjoy!
Sarah: So as we get started, I thought it was really interesting that you interviewed so many different people from so many different walks of life about the subject of online dating. One of my biggest questions was what did you run across as far as common struggles or frustrations this generation is running in to when it comes to online dating.
Kristin: That is a really good question. There are a number of common threads. I would say one of them was that girls in particular felt frustrated that they would make these connections with guys through dating apps and then they would end up in this back and forth dialogue sometimes for days and maybe weeks and it would never manifest into anything. And so I ran into that a lot. Like basically these girls created digital pen pals is what was happening. So it was this lack – of them being frustrated about making these connections that seemed like they would go somewhere, but then the guy would never initiate anything. So there was almost a call to action. There was so many conversations that girls were having, feeling like they needed to initiate the call to actions. So I was like, that is fascinating! What did that look like? And they said that a call to action could mean communication, whether it was through the text or the app or whatever. You were having this conversation and immediately the girl would say, and this is a stupid example by the way, but the girl would say, ‘Hey, I notice you like books, why don’t we get together over coffee and talk about that?’ So that would be a call to action. Like right away, immediately. And I was like, ok, a call to action, that’s good. So here is the interesting thing, is that what that also does is puts the girls in control and they are feeling frustrated because they don’t want to do that. And so it is this double edge sword where it is this tension of, ‘Gosh, I am looking for the respectable, God honoring men, and it seemed like there is potential to meet them this way. But at the same time, if they are not going to initiate, now I am, but I don’t want to initiate, and so there was definitely a common thread around that.
Sarah: Right, that is really interesting, and such a big problem. So how do we even begin to do that as women? It is such a big temptation to want to initiate, especially if you have been in the single bracket for a long time, to want to go out on a limb and do that. So how do we begin to kind of not take those steps that would not be God honoring?
Kristin: Sure. Well, here is what I always say to girls. And again, this is not the only opinion, it is just my opinion, is that you need to set the expectation on the front end for what you want. And so, if your expectation is that the guy will initiate spending time with you or the guy will initiate setting up something to get to know you, then you need to have that expectation. So what that looks like is two things. Number one, you don’t get involved in weeks of texting that go nowhere. Because we all know that, for girls, even though it is a stranger, we still allow our emotions to sort of get swept up in the moment and we will create a story around this text dialogue. So the more time that passes that is in this digital communication, we have a pretty significant story that is going on. And for a guy, it is just texting a girl I have never met. And so, either you make the decision that I will text X amount of times, and then if he doesn’t initiate, you move on and say it doesn’t seem like we are a great match and move. Or, the second thing is, if you are on a dating app, then just write it in my profile. I have an expectation that if a guy wants to spend time with me, then he will initiate, or that my expectation is that you will ask me out. People just need to get more comfortable with saying what they want. When you don’t say what you want, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. And then you have all these expectations in your head that you have never communicated to anyone so then you are mad at the men, but you didn’t tell them that you had that expectation. I totally understand what I am saying seems foreign and uncomfortable and like, no, guys should just know. I totally get that. I think guys should just know. But the problem is that they don’t, or they just don’t think it matters anymore because they have so many experiences with so many girls who don’t hold them to that standard. So, one of the things I am passionate about is sort of helping these younger woman change the level of expectation for themselves and for guys. And hold these guys to a different standard. Because the truth is that men, the good men, and the right men, and the men that love Jesus and want to be respectful of woman, will rise to the bar that you set for them. They will. They just will. But the problem is if we keep the bar so low that they think, ‘Oh, that’s easy to get over’, and if we raise the bar and a guy thinks that is really high, that’s not the right guy for you.
Sarah: I love that. That is so true, because we can fall into those traps of just loneliness or whatever and settle for way less than God ever wanted us to have. So that kind of brings me to my next point. It is interesting because we have a lot of guy readers that I never thought we would have tuning into this. So we created a whole section for them, and so how would you speak into them? Now that we have kind of heard about the girls and their struggle, what would you say to them? And just about your book – how it connects to that.
Kristin: I think, for the guys, I would say, in the same way that I really want woman to be honest with their expectations and to be comfortable and to speak what is true in a way that is not mean, I would say the same thing to men. Like, it is ok if you are not interested in the girl. Tell her and move on. Don’t string her along. And the same way, if you are interested, you don’t need to play a game with her. Tell her, and ask if you can get to know her and spend time with her in real time, in real life, where real relationships live. That is ok, and that is really respectful. And as women, even if that makes us really uncomfortable because we are so used to the sort of digital shield that we all live with all the time. But it is so honoring for a female for a guy to take it offline and say, ‘Hey, I would love to have a face to face conversation with you’, and to be very direct and blunt. And when he is no longer interested, say that, in a way that is nice, and move on. Keeping her as an option in your back pocket, waiting to see how these other girls or these other dates might turn out, and then make a decision – don’t do that. We don’t need to play games. Dating is hard enough. We don’t need to add our own games into the occasion.
Sarah: So true, that is such a good word, I think, for them. Ok, so I am going to role-play on the opposite side. Our culture with dating is changing, has changed, but there are still people, as popular as it is, that still are a little unsure and a little skeptical and might even consider it bad, what would you say to them? Just the whole, in terms of your book, because you are talking about how to navigate through online relationships, and there are some people that are just completely against it or just a little afraid to kind of even go there. What would you say to them as far as why you should pick up this book and at least give it a chance?
Kristin: Sure, that is a great thing. Well, first of all, I will say that dating apps and online dating is not for everyone. And that is totally ok. The book is not a for or against dating apps. It is just more of saying, hey, here is the reality of where our culture is. Here is the realty of how people are trying to meet other people, and it is only increasing in popularity. So, if you fall into that category, what does it look like to sort of navigate this well. But, so much of the book isn’t really about dating apps specifically, but it is more about what does healthy relationships look like. And what does it look like to honor the other person? What does it look like to be respectful of yourself? What does it look like to set boundaries? How do friendships play into this equation? What if you are single with no prospects in sight? What does that mean for me and how does that relate? I address all of that because that is all part of life, and that is all part of this bigger picture of dating and being single and I think it is really important. The reason why I named it Beyond the Swipe is because the swipe is kind of the equivalent to say two people bump into each other in a restaurant and they are meeting for the first time and you kind of reach out your hand and meet for the first time. The digital example is you both swipe right for the first time. But there is so much that happens beyond that. The interpersonal relationships come in, and understanding yourself comes in, and understanding healthy communication comes in. So that is why, even if you are not for online dating, I hope there is still so much in the book that would be specifically applicable to someone who is single.
Sarah: Right, I think that is great. As we are getting closer to wrapping things up, what is your hope as this book launches out and people are going to start reading it. What is your hope for it?
Kristin: I think my biggest hope is that single woman would pick this up and at the end of the book they would feel confident in who they are, who they were created to be, and feel confident in how they have been uniquely wired. And when it applies to dating, I would hope they have 100% resolve to wait for the man who will make her his priority and to never settle for being someone’s option. Because the right guy will step up to the plate. And he will do that, and we never need to allow loneliness or lack of self-worth or frustration to cloud our commitment to that or settle for less than we deserve.
Sarah: Amen. That is so good, such a good quote right there. I love that. It has been so good talking to you. I love your heart and that you took on this project and are speaking into the lives of so many young people and single woman. I think that is so important.
Kristin: Thank you.
Sarah: It has been great chatting with you. Can’t wait to write this up. Thank you again for taking time to do this with me.
Kristin: Oh gosh, thank you!
Find more about Kristen and Beyond the Swipe at kristinfry.com