Photo Cred: Madame Noire Online
I’ve been witnessing and reflecting on a rather disturbing way of relating between guys and girls in our society today – and most especially in the church. Particularly how girls allow themselves to become entangled with a guy who is leading them nowhere slowly. I’d like to call this kind of man “The Illusionist”. No, I’m not talking about a magician. I’m not referring to a movie or a book. I’m talking about a young man who has no real plan for his life and wants to drag you along for the ride. The reason I am focusing on the Christian brother is because they have become skilled in leading church girls on. They use the fact that we’re all at church to their advantage because girls let their guard down (believing they can trust a Church guy over one outside the Church) and not to mention some of these brothers throw God into the mix of messing with girls. Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way an article bashing Christian brothers. I just believe that the truth needs to be said as it is and also so that the Christian sisters catch a wake up call cause they can’t just blame the brothers.
Anyway, let’s begin by painting a picture of what tends to happen: Guy meets girl. They hit it off. They realize they have so much in common and they enjoy chatting for hours; exchanging ideas and poetry or books; accompanying each other to different outings/gatherings with friends etc. Soon they begin to flirt and “connect” – catching each other’s eyes from across the room and giving a knowing look when something happens that they’ve spoken about before. They become comfortable around each other and sometimes find themselves standing/sitting very close to each other or occasionally brushing hands and/or other body parts.
Then one day someone (usually the guy) suggests that they go out to do something together (just the two of them) that they enjoy or have spoken about. It’s all so exciting! They “hang out” a couple of times in this manner. They begin to talk about their dreams and wishes for their life – the kind of person they want to marry; where they would want to live; the kind of holidays they will take with their family and and and. They can no longer go a day without talking and people around them begin to make jokes about how cute they are together and they giggle it off by saying indignantly “we’re just friends!”
But the truth is, they are now way past “just friends”.
At this point, feelings have been caught. Castles have been built in the air and intimacy has developed (usually at a rapid pace). It is here that one of these two begins to desire more out of this “friendship” and I’ve found that most times it is the girl. It becomes clear that the woman is interested but the guy starts to become hot and cold – calling and flirting and caring sometimes, then becoming aloof and a bit distant at other instances. And this is where the cookie crumbles. The girl starts to question whether or not this guy likes her, and cue confusion, anxiety, fear, insecurities and all their aunties and uncles. It’s a hot mess. It usually doesn’t end well and it usually goes on for much longer than it should.
Eventually, the guy (from experiencing pressure from the girl) decides to tell her that they are just friends and have always been so why the big fuss. It indirectly becomes her fault and they “break up” and things become super awkward.
It’s a terrible place to be in because you are lying to yourself, to each other and to everyone around you. Sooner or later, that lie catches up to you and knocks you way off your feet. You go through excruciating thoughts about your worth and you resent men again and have to get over that. Also, you lose what could have been a really great friend. I decided to write this post because I speak to so many different young women and this topic comes up a lot lately. It seems that this is a pattern amongst young people and I think we need to break it. At all costs ladies, we must try our best to avoid “The Illusionist” and wait for a more genuine and godly man. You need to be able to recognize the characteristics of this kind of guy so as to avoid him – after all, you are responsible for your own life and heart. We can’t only blame the guys. So, here are a few signs of an “Illusionist” as I have come to understand them:
- He’s Overly Familiar Pretty Quickly: This guy treats you like you’ve known each other forever! He’s really comfortable with placing his hand around your waist or giving you a cute nickname. The thing is, this makes us as women feel seen and wanted. It’s a fact – women want to be loved and part of being loved means to be given special attention. However, I think it is problematic when a guy has not known you long at all and he’s already acting like you’re married. It is an indication of his inability to pace himself. He will soon run out of steam, even if you were to enter into a committed relationship.
- He Marks You As His Own Without Telling You: Further to the above, “The Illusionist” is quick to make you his “person”. You know – he’ll be sure to sit with you in church or at social gatherings, and sit very close at that. He’ll say things like “Oh yeah Thando likes to do this and to say that” to highlight that he’s more familiar with you than others are. He will embrace you and linger with that eye contact during the people (in public) raising questions in people’s minds about who you are to him. Again, these are things that bring us such joy as women. But a man who treats you as his own when he has not even asked your permission, is a thief. He is not a gentleman. A true gentleman understands that you are a woman who belongs first to God and then to a set of parents or guardians. He will respect that about you, and will treat you that way until he has verbally requested to enter into a more exclusive relationship with you. Think about it, even God knocks at the door of your heart (Revelation 3:20). He doesn’t just make Himself welcome although you are already His. He wants you to agree first.
- He’s Got the Whole ‘Troubled Soul’ Thing Going On: So, “The Illusionist” has some serious issues. I mean, we all do. But his are intense and woeful and earth-shattering. He’s told you about his terrible circumstances growing up – how he grew up without a parent or grew up eating one meal a week or faced abuse and discrimination etc. He gives you all the details and it seems his life could fall apart at any moment. He’s such a victim. He tells you that you give him so much hope and encouragement. He doesn’t know how he would survive without you. As a woman, this makes you feel wanted. You feel special. I mean, this guy needs you! You soon become his second mama though, and you find yourself in a co-dependent situation. A genuine guy does not offload his issues on you with the expectation that you make it all better. Yes he shares his struggles and past hurts (at a certain level of relating – not from the get go) but he will not make you feel like you’re his only hope. Jesus is his hope. And he’s man enough to deal with his issues.
- He Gives “If You Were My Wife” Scenarios: As you become more familiar in your “friendship”, brother-man starts to tell you in passing what the deal would be if you were his wife. Maybe he’s making an example of what he wants in his relationship and uses you as the substitute for his wife. He’s basically building attachments in your heart without the actual commitment. He’s growing your affections with no real purpose to fulfil them. He is being a coward and he’s getting temporary pleasure without the pains of commitment. A good man will not mislead you. He will be clear about where you stand in his life. Whether you are his friend or someone he is developing feelings for, and he will not unnecessarily cultivate romantic thoughts in your mind that he is not ready to fulfil. Granted we sometimes get caught up in our feelings but a real man will take responsibility when he’s messed up and work at protecting you.
- His Life Seems Purposeless: The “Illusionist” may on the surface appear to be deep and have a greater insight into life. He can quote books and poems, and can debate politics and religion. He can even pray. He’s smart and engaging, and usually people look up to him and admire him in the Church. But. When you really pay attention and give it some time to get to know him, you realize that he’s all over the place. He’s not really sure if he wants to be a doctor or just go save kids in a remote country in Africa or hang out with friends at parties or become an Evangelist. He lives in the now while dreaming of a possible future, and he has no real understanding of his purpose or even a desire to discover it. He may be “working towards it”, but he’s been at it for the last 10 years. He may even be serving in the church and all, but there’s no real growth that you can see. Walk away from that brother before you get caught up in his mess. A genuine guy knows what God has called him to do, and if he doesn’t yet, he is seeking out his purpose in Christ. Often, he won’t want to include you in his confusion until he’s sure.
There is so much more to “The Illusionist” but I wanted to give you the basic warning signs to look out for as I’ve come to understand them. God has instructed us to guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23) sisters. Allowing someone access to your heart and personal space is no joke. So ladies, be very conscious of who deserves that airtime. We can’t be angry at these guys who lead us on when we naively and happily give them the room to do so. Leave that brother in the hands of Jesus to make whole. It’s not your job. My prayer is that God activates a discerning spirit within us and that we are vigilant ourselves by meditating on the good qualities of a godly man, so that we can avoid the wrong kind of men. Also for wisdom to know how to conduct ourselves in our relationships with the opposite sex.
Have you ever experienced an “Illusionist”? What other signs would you say are there to watch out for? Maybe you don’t believe there is such a person as an “Illusionist”. I want to hear about it all!