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The Dangerous Habit of Shopping for Guys

By: Guest Blogger

When I was in college I went shopping with some of my best friends every Thursday night. Like you might imagine I was evaluating the size, color, and qualities. The crazy thing is, I never purchased a single thing.

In fact, I wasn’t even shopping for clothes, shoes, or accessories.

I was shopping for guys.

Every Thursday night was my college small group. If there were new guys visiting, I would check them out. If I liked what I saw, I would immediately view them as a “potential.” Over time, I began forming a long list of “options” as I continued to evaluate and shop.  

I tried these guys out, so to speak, in my head. I imagined conversations with them, what character traits and talents would suit mine best, and how we could use them together.

I envisioned projects in ministry and even parenting. Did I think about the romance of it? Of course! And I wasn’t the only single girl doing this. It was a widespread habit among us single girls. We talked and giggled and it all seemed harmless.

But I didn’t stop there.

I picked out my crush for the semester, break, or summer and let my brain wear him everywhere.

It wasn’t long before I met the man I would one day call my husband. Jim and I had been attending the same church together for several months before we were married. We even went to the same small group as well. We eventually got married and I assumed my “shopping” would automatically stop. 

Fast forward a few years.

I am a happily married wife, but to my shock, my shopping didn’t stop. Why? Because I had made it a habit to live a make-believe life with other men.

By coincidence our current small group also met on Thursday nights.

I hadn’t been “shopping” in some time…and then it happened. A new man began attending our small group and it was not lost on me.

I took note of how he talked and the way he looked. I imagined. I dreamed. I shopped. It wasn’t until the car ride home that it hit me. I had just cheated on my husband.

Jesus puts it bluntly in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman [or man] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

I just committed virtual adultery against the man I loved.

The man I committed my life to. I cheated on him.

It didn’t happen because this new man was seducing me secretly; it occurred because many years before I had formed a bad habit and let it live and grow.

James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

I am praising God for the Holy Spirit and His conviction.

My eyes have finally been opened to the long term consequences of shopping for guys. I have recognize my need for the forgiveness of God, possible only by Jesus’ sacrifice, and I have the power to overcome this sin. My husband has also forgiven me.

My challenge to you and every single girl out there is this: stop shopping for guys.

I know it seems harmless now, and you assume it will never affect your future marriage, but trust me, it most likely will.

Habits are hard to break.

It is still a struggle for me occasionally. I find myself wanting to imagine how this man or that man might romance me or ‘fit’ me. I have to fight it.

Dear sister, be warned from a married gal and stop now.

The forever, unchanging, and deep love of Christ is worth clinging to today. Wearing His righteousness as a garment more precious than dreaming of a man for a moment.

Stop shopping girl. It is a waste of your time and a danger to your future.

I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

  • Have you been ‘shopping’ for guys lately? If so, why do you do this?
  • How do you think the habit of “shopping” might affect your current relationships with guys, and your relationship with your future husband?
  • What advice would you give to a girl who is constantly “shopping” for guys?

This honest and transparent guest post was written by Anna Hannigan – a wife, mother, and writer. If you are interested in submitting a guest post to GirlDefined, click here.

Photo credit: Here 

Girl holding guy's hand.

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  • Girlady

    Wow. This topic really spoke to me. I never really thought of it as “shopping”, but it really is. Not only we create expectations over man we have no relationship with…but also we objetify them. We create an image of them, we fantasize about them, regardless of what they really are. I assume it’s because we long for something we can’t have at that moment, and we fool ourselves by believing that dreaming of it won’t hurt anybody.

    Just like Anna said, it really started to worry me when I started dating, because it meant I was very likely to mentally cheat on my boyfriend. Even now that I’m single again I don’t feel good about dreaming about guys anymore, even the most innocent thought, because I realized some guys would approach me with expectations and fantasies I wasn’t okay with. You could say tables had turned then.

    I’ve been teaching myself to know guys and look at them with godly eyes, after all that’s the way I expect them to look at me. It helps me to nuture healthy frendships with godly men, it inspires them to respect me, and it brings me to closer to become a woman whose mind and heart is set on God.

  • What an eye opening article! About a year ago I was convicted that I was viewing the guys around me as “potentials” and not my brothers in Christ. It’s hard to completely change a mindset as screwed as that, but through God’s grace I’ve been working on it and it helps A TON. I try to pray for them now, realizing that they have struggles, hurts, and pain in their own lives–which was something I often forgot.

  • Ana Yefimov

    All right, this is definitely true, however, you failed to mention how exactly to stop “shopping for guys.” Its really easy to tell anyone to stop doing anything, but actually doing it, is a completely different story. Perhaps focusing or thoughts on Christ, on a moment by moment basis would be a good start. A verse that has recently spoken to me is 2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
    Before any thought (that isn’t glorifying to God) takes root in your mind, ask God to take it away. Don’t let yourself dwell on the seemingly pleasurable thoughts. Make a habit of stopping the thought before it can turn into a sin. And I’ve always heard that a habit takes three weeks to form. Allow for the Holy Spirit to control your thoughts. (Phil. 4.:8)

    • Elizabeth Williams

      I love that verse! It’s been on my heart lately, and I’ve been trying to be on guard for my thought life 🙂

      • Jade

        2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)

        “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

        Proverbs 31:12 (ESV)
        “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

        Colossians 3:2
        “Set your affections on things above, not on earthly things.”

        Proverbs 4:23
        “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

        2 Corinthians 10:5
        “…and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”

        These are verses that I have memorised (mostly) and think of whenever my thoughts wander. Hope this is helpful!

        • Elizabeth Williams

          Thank you!!

          • Jade

            You’re welcome! I find that all the time when reading my Bible I come across verses that I know would be great to remember/refer to, but I forget where they are… so I recently wrote down that collection of verses! I was excited so when I saw this thread of comments about Bible verses about crushes (for want of a better term!) I thought I’d share them! Glad you liked them!

    • Olivia Scott

      Thanks so much for this comment!! Very helpful.

    • Anna Hannigan

      Ana,
      Thank you for the feedback. I agree that focusing our thoughts on Christ is an imperative way to stop bad habits. In addition, you cited some helpful Scripture. My encouragement to all would be to memorize Scripture. Psalm 119:11 tells us exactly what to do, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Other direction in the Bible from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
      Other than the two verses you listed, I would add Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance,for from it flow the springs of life”.

  • Katherine

    I’m confused on the shopping part?

    • Elizabeth Williams

      Basically, always looking at every guy that comes along as a potential husband. And then allowing yourself to think and think about him, where it consumes your thoughts! And after marriage, continuing to allow yourself to think about guys other than your husband. Basically, never being content with where you are and always looking for something else!

      • Katherine

        Ohhhh…..but when I see boys I don’t think of them as my husband well except for my crush
        Is it bad to think about my crush ? Does thinking about him to much like all the time count as Shopping ? I’m only 15 this is kinda confusing

        • Thinking about your crush is natural, but if you think TOO much about him, you risk getting obsessed with him to the detriment of your relationship with God, and eventually you won’t be able to see his flaws, which is a bad thing if you and he ever form a relationship! I had a huge crush on this one guy and I thought about him constantly – he was always simmering at the back of my mind even when I wasn’t actively thinking about him. Eventually I realised that my relationship with God had suffered a lot, and also that I was idolising the guy. I’m trying to let go of him but the thing is, it would’ve been MUCH easier to let go if I hadn’t thought about him so much.

          Just focus on your relationship with God and try not to worry or think overly much about your crush. 🙂

          • Katherine

            It’s so hard though I can’t stop thinking about him.

          • Elizabeth Williams

            It is! Especially because old habits die hard. But you CAN do it with God’s help! And ONLY with His help!

          • Katherine

            Yeah, I know….. sometimes I wish I never met him in the first place.

            Then she was teasing me saying you love him now that stuck in my in do I love him or like him .sighs I know ot a girls instinct to have a crush on someone but why?

          • Julie

            Hi! I’d like to suggest something I’ve tried called “trampoline prayers”… It’s basically just whenever you catch yourself randomly thinking about your crush- PRAY!!! Pray for your future husband, contentment, and joy. I have found this very helpful. Also consider memorizing some Bible verses on contentment. I’m 15 also, and since I’ve started these random prayers, I haven’t been so obsessed with a random guy who probably won’t be my husband. I hope this helps!!

          • Katherine

            Thank you so much
            I find my self trying to impress him I’m like Katherine what are you doing and anything I do never works it’s just so hard

          • Jade

            2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)
            “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

            Proverbs 31:12 (ESV)
            “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

            Colossians 3:2
            “Set your affections on things above, not on earthly things.”

            Proverbs 4:23
            “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

            2 Corinthians 10:5
            “…and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”

            These are verses that I have memorised (mostly) and think of whenever my thoughts wander. Hope this is helpful!

            PS. I posted this comment below and I know it’s slightly strange to re-post it but I really really wanted to share it with you!!! God bless!

          • Katherine

            Thanks sorry it took me so long to reply my wifi has been bad

          • Yeah, I understand. Just keep praying. 🙂

  • Danielle

    Thank you so much for this post! This is a difficult struggle for me, and it’s so hard to break. Every time I see a guy, I immediately think, “Ooooh! Future husband, perhaps?” Eventually, as I get to know a guy, I then realize that he’s a good friend, but he would never be my boyfriend/husband. While it’s nice that I end up seeing them as just friends, it’s still frustrating that I have to control my thoughts when I first meet a guy.

    Any suggestions?? I will gladly take any advice! 🙂

    • Anna Hannigan

      Danielle,
      Thank you for your honesty. There are no quick tricks to stop this, but take a look at my reply to Ana Yefimov. The best advice comes form the word of God.

  • simplybeloved

    such an insightful and helpful article!! i have a major problem with this…and it has transferred to every guy, not only the ones who are single. it has caused major problems in my life. But getting saved last July, I am hopeful that God is able to change this habit in my and sanctify me. Thanks again for this article!!

  • Mia

    Thank you for this! To be honest, I find myself doing this a lot, and I always justify it by thinking there’s no real harm, it’s not like I have a boyfriend. But this really opened my eyes to see what problems it could cause when I am in a relationship with another guy. Great article 🙂

  • Olivia Hopper

    How do girls ever stop “shopping”?

    • Elizabeth Williams

      By denying the flesh! Pray that God would help you get your eyes on Him, and not be so distracted. And be on guard for when Satan WILL try to distract you. So whenever those thoughts come to mind, don’t let them stay there. As Martin Luther said “Birds will fly over your head, but don’t let them build a nest in your hair.” You can also choose a counter action. For instance, every time you’re prone to let your mind wander, say a prayer for your future husband, or and unsaved loved one instead. Hope that helps!

  • Princess4Hvn

    This hit me when I bought my first car. For a long time I had my eye on deals on the side of the road, or at car yards. When I finally bought my first car (which was better than what I expected, and an answer to prayer) I had to adjust my brain and learn to stop shopping. I did this by thanking God for providing such an amazing deal for me whenever my eye spotted a car for sale. It was from this experience that I realised – If I do this with guys, I’m setting myself up for trouble after marriage!
    There was a blog post on here which spoke about seeing guys as fellow pilgrims, rather than potentials. That helps. Also, praying for them as well as the guys that you don’t have an eye for helps. Keeping focused on what God is doing in your life and trusting your love life to Him is the best suggestion I can give. Hope this helps sisters.

  • Kay

    This is probably my biggest struggle. And it’s not just guys I see anymore. I’ve ‘invented’ my own imaginary husband and family, and there’s times when I just sit around and daydream about them. It’s terrible. When I was in a brief relationship awhile ago, I noticed I stopped doing it and thought ‘oh yay, the problem just goes away on it’s own – nothing to worry about’, but as soon as I was single again, it started back up. And it’s not that I even want a relationship at this point – it’s just a bad bad habit. Thank you for the warning that it does NOT just go away when one gets married! It gives me incentive to try harder to stop.

  • Tiana

    so, what do i do when i find myself having the attitude that almost every guy i meet is a potential future husband? i know its stupid, but im just so like hungry for a guys love….

    • Lindsey Speer

      I think that’s when you have to ask God to remind you of His love for you and refocus your gaze on Him. I know that when I start focusing on guys and imagining how a relationship might be with this guy or that guy, it messes me up. I start feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled. We’re all hungry for love, but we’re only truly satisfied when we’re receiving our love and fulfillment from the Lord. He created marriage and relationships, but as a reflection of our relationship with him. So if our relationship with him isn’t solid and strong, none of our other relationships will be either. But if we seek first his Kingdom, everything else will be added to us (Matthew 6:33).

  • Lindsey Speer

    I know that I’m definitely guilty of doing this, so I’m so thankful for this article. I think I do it because I don’t want to waste my time on a guy if I don’t think things could work out for us in the end. So it starts out innocent enough. I’ll start looking at all his characteristics and seeing how we might complement each other. And think about his job and ambitions, seeing how they match up with mine. But before I know it, I’m planning a timeline for engagement and marriage, all before I’ve even had a long conversation with the guy or gone on a date with him. This article helped me to take the time to realize this about myself and see the need for change. I don’t want to carry this habit into marriage. And I don’t want to miss out on friendships with guys because I feel awkward around them after planning our imaginary life together. 😉 Thanks for your transparency and helpful warning in this article!

    • Amaris Lancaster

      You explain it so well. 🙂

      • Lindsey Speer

        Thanks, Amaris!

  • Amaris Lancaster

    This is a great article! This is a habit that is so easy to fall into, and I find that I struggle with this even when I consciously tell myself to stop thinking silly thoughts. I pray to God to protect my mind and heart (especially when I notice myself doing it again), but do you have some good tips on keeping your ming pure and at bay.

  • Gracey V

    Awesome !!

  • Jason Garrick Shirtz

    …. So let me get this straight.

    The guest blogger here “sinned” by daydreaming about a man that was not her husband, for what sounds like a matter of minutes to hours?

    And said “sin” has racked her with guilt for “cheating” on her husband?

    I understand the Christian interpretation of Matthew 5:28, well enough.

    But ah. Doesn’t anyone here find this as a bit of an excessive application of that standard?

    There is a decided difference between idle daydreams, and the action mentioned in Matthew 5:28.

    One of the ways I heard it explained; (in a christian men’s leadership group) is that while some natural attraction to women is inevitable (that’s how god made us); that attraction turns to sin, when and only when said natural attraction turns into an intentional plan to betray our spouse.

    In this scenario, her “shopping” is not something I would consider a sin, by that definition, unless she say, was going past idle daydreams, and planning on actually following through with them in some practical manner (whether or not she went through with it).

    Part of my logic here is that it is well known that men are in general more sexually attracted by *ahem* outward physical characteristics. Women however, in general are more sexually attracted by outward emotional logic, and evaluations of men’s character (although their outward appearance matters too; the weight of the two is just different for women than for men).

    I just can’t imagine a good christian husband actually responding to his wife’s “Confession” that she “committed adultery by daydreaming about another man” for 20 minutes with any kind of hurt emotions. My personal expectation would be for him to say “well honey, I daydreamed about -Insert Hollywood star here- for about 5 minutes while watching a movie, and then I reminded myself about how committed I am to you. Don’t worry about it!!”


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