Ask Margot-Should I ask out a church member?

Two men are checking her out during services. Should she be bold and ask one of them out? Or both?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
What is the best way to approach faith-based dating? I’m a divorcee, no children, 40 years old. There are two guys at my church 12 to 15 years older than I am. I find them staring at me all the time during services. Should I wait for them to ask me out? Or do ask them myself? Can I date more than one person at the same time? Please advise me. What should I do?
– Wary and waiting

Dear Wary,
I know how you feel. After I got divorced, I wasn’t sure what the rules were, either. I had more
Try to put yourself within arm’s reach of a man who interests you.
questions than you do! The good news is, I now have the answers.

1. Should I wait for men to ask me out?
Waiting is a good idea if you’ve got the patience of Job. But you wouldn’t be writing me if this weren’t a cause of frustration, so I’m thinking Job isn’t your role model here. Let’s look instead at why these guys might not be asking you out.
  • Are you sending signals that you’re available and interested? I’m not suggesting that you flirt during the Eucharist or anything, but the time-honored tradition of smiling, looking away and looking back up with a smile is a serious indication that you’re interested. And since they are already staring, it’s not like you have to try to catch anyone’s eye.

  • Are you making yourself accessible? Try to put yourself within arm’s reach of a man who interests you. Perhaps stand near him during coffee in the fellowship hall, or sit alone during services. Join a service outing or Bible study one of them attends. When you put yourself in proximity to a potential suitor or two, it’ll be easier for them to ask you out.
2. Or just do ask them myself?
I don’t know much about you or your congregation, but if you’re a confident woman and your church isn’t seriously conservative or old-school, then I say go for it. We all like being pursued—just remember that if you make the first move, that can set the tone for you to be the prime initiator in your relationship. That’s not a bad thing, but if you’re the kind of gal who’s a little old-fashioned, this could be challenging. For me, it’s not a problem. Here are some tips on asking men out:
  • Start an innocent conversation. The good thing about meeting someone at church is that you already have so much in common and can use that as an ice-breaker. Walk up to him as you’re waiting to go in or out of the sanctuary and say something like, “My favorite part of today’s sermon was______, what was yours?” Try to steer clear of yes-or-no questions so you can get him talking. Repeat as necessary.

  • Be more direct. If you want to get right to the point, after you’ve got the conversation going, ask him if he’d like to join you for coffee after service or Wednesday night Bible study or whatever. Be clear that you’re asking him out so gets the message. If he says no, be gracious and say, “Some other time, then. Have a good day” and move on.
Taking either one of these approaches may be so successful that you have more than one man interested in you (and wouldn’t that be wonderful?). Which brings us, conveniently enough, to your third question.

3. Can I date more than one person at the same time?
Well, of course you can. And I generally think it’s a great idea because it helps you decide what you really want while having some fun in the process. But there are some things to consider before you go playing the field:
  • Know your dating style. If you’re good at casual dating, then going out with several people at once isn’t a problem. You keep it light and easy until you choose one you want to date exclusively—then you stop seeing everyone else. But this can be hard for some people, so if you think you’re likely to form strong attachments to any and everyone you date, it’s best to take it one at a time.

  • Be aware of societal issues. In some conservative congregations, dating around is construed as sleeping around—and that’s definitely not the message you want to convey. So think about how your congregation will view your dating several of its members concurrently. If it’s a big church, it probably matters a lot less than if it’s a tiny congregation. Also think about how you will handle seeing an ex-boyfriend every Sunday… possibly while with a current boyfriend.
Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to
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