Don’t go on fun dates

35511399004_f692fd0df4

When I first mentioned this blog title to people, I got some crazy looks. Why wouldn’t you want to go on a fun date? Who goes on boring dates anyway? But hear me out. I am afraid of how our minds work sometimes. If we go on a fun date, we naturally equate the fun to liking the person we were with. But, I do think it’s possible to have fun without really liking the person. I mean, how can you not have fun at Dave n’ Busters?! While these experiences are fun, they don’t exactly help when it comes to deciding whether or not we like a person.

We crave fun. But we also crave love. We crave love more actually. And we desire someone that can be there for us when life just isn’t fun. When we lose our job, when our kid is sick, when we have no money. We want someone that will be there regardless. Someone we want to be there with us when the hard times come. Someone we can lean on. Someone we can trust. Someone we love.

You might find out which dates you love, but you won’t necessarily find out if you love that person. The fun masks the red flags sometimes. And unfortunately, I think I’ve stayed in relationships longer than I should have because I equated my love for fun with my love for him.

I loved the new experiences. I loved the traveling. I loved the food. I loved the activities. But I didn’t love him. I didn’t love the way he treated others. I didn’t love how he spent his free time. I didn’t love his passions. I didn’t love how he had no goals. I didn’t love his outlook on life. And the fog of fancy restaurants and new adventures clouded my vision. I got so caught up.

So what do we do instead? Is the answer really to not go on fun dates? Yes. Sure you can go on them, but not all the time- at least not until you know whether or not you love the person. Spend time talking but even then, that’s not enough. You have to spend time watching. Watching their behavior. One of my best dates was when everything went wrong and we just had to wing it. Olive Garden got replaced with Wendy’s and our movie got replaced with looking at Christmas lights.

Do boring things. Crazy things. Weird things. Dates that don’t cost money. Hang out with family. Work on homework. Participate in each other’s hobbies. Volunteer together. Go to the thrift store. Dance in the rain. Help each other with work.

Do life. Real life.

And then watch and see how things go. Is it fun doing life with them? Or do you get easily annoyed? Agitated? Maybe you need to grow. Or maybe the one you’re with just isn’t the right one for you. And that’s okay. Be intentional with your dating. When we focus solely on our happiness, when we just want to have fun, we can lose sight of what really matters most.

signature

photo credit: Giulio Gigante DSC_0421 via photopin (license)

Rejection or God’s protection?

16271317881_d274a1cedf

I feel like I could marry anyone. I really do. If I make up my mind that I am supposed to marry someone or I feel like someone is the one God has planned for me, I will commit to make it work. Through all the good, through all the bad. There have been several exes that I would have settled with. I realize the word settle may be a bit harsh but I don’t mean a settling of someone less than me, I mean settling for someone other than the one God has picked out for me. Some will argue God doesn’t have anyone picked out for us or that He isn’t even really all that interested in our love lives- it’s up to us to make our decisions and then ask Him to bless the relationship. But I think that is silly. Of all the things God can do and does, what makes us think He wouldn’t care about our love life? He cares about everything because He loves us so much.

There were several guys I had thought may have been “the one.” Honestly, every time I start dating a guy, there is that hope. Some of these relationships it became quite apparent they were not the one for me. Other times, my stubborn side came out and I was determined to try and make it work. It was during some of these times, I have been rejected in ways that would make anyone feel less than human.

I was talking earlier this week and someone was shocked to hear that I have been rejected. Of course I’ve been rejected. Jason, Shane, Mike, Dan, Patrick, Josh, Alex, I could go on… And their opinions of me didn’t make it any easier. Not fun enough. Not sexy enough. Not wild enough. A prude. A goody-goody. Too spiritual… Words that sting. Words that make you doubt your worth. Why do we begin to feel worthless if we aren’t wanted? Worth and want are not synonymous.

And it took me awhile to finally come to the realization: Not everyone will like me… and that’s okay!

It’s a hard pill to swallow. Because my pride takes a hit. Feeling like I’ve been rejected by rejects. People that I now wouldn’t give a second thought to. In the moment though, longing for someone else to come along to make me feel worthy. Someone to make me feel valuable. To tell me that I am desirable. That I matter.

Looking back, I don’t view it as rejection anymore. I see it as God’s protection. God stepping in. God intervening. God willing to watch me suffer a little pain of being rejected rather than watching a lifetime of pain married/joined to the wrong one. I broke up with the ones I didn’t see a future with, and God allowed the others to break up with me so I wouldn’t look back in regret. Because rejection is so much better than regret. God, being the best father possible, protecting me when I was too distracted to protect myself.

My life amazes me sometimes. It’s funny how the guys that have once rejected me always seem to find me again. A random text. A Facebook message. Wanting to meet up. Wanting to date. Wanting to try again. But things are different now. My rose colored glasses have been lifted. My worth not coming from their want. And I realize God knew what He was doing all along.

signature

photo credit: Marc_Nadal Loneliness Marc Nadal Love Sadness 13 via photopin (license)

You made her crazy

14272159511_8e0ebeb7d7

I was listening to the second date update on the radio this past week. Stories about people that have gone on one date with someone, never hear from the other person again, and want to know what happened. So on this one, a girl went on a first date with this guy, she said it went great and he even kissed her at the end of the night. Then bam! Ghosted. The radio calls him to find out what happened. He says he wasn’t really feeling it, the date was not that great, and that she went psycho and liked all his old pics on Facebook.

So here’s my question for the guy- why in the world did you kiss her if you weren’t feeling it?!

People tend to associate physical aspects to a genuine like or love of another person. So what is really happening here is a sending of mixed signals. You are feeling one way but acting in a different manner. Heads up- this will cause anyone to act crazy because they are trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. This is a lose-lose situation with no answer that can make logical sense. Her attempts of “not leaving you alone” are actually just her attempts to get some type of closure.

This leads down the whole “you lead her on” debate. Did you really lead her on or were you just trying to get to know her? Oftentimes both parties can feel guilty for breaking up with someone because they are now hurting the other person. This is unfortunately the risk we take sometimes when we choose to date. But are there ways to make this less painful, less crazy? Yes! You choose to really get to know her, not use her. If you really care about not hurting her and really care about putting her first, choose to put your physical desires to the side and get to know her. Her dreams, hopes, goals, likes, dislikes, and just simply enjoy each other. You’ll know much sooner whether or not you see a future with her if you leave the physical aspects to the side.

If you want to avoid any “crazy” behavior from girls, be sure to know yourself before inviting someone in. Not only knowing yourself, but being comfortable with yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. It’s hard for a girl to know if she likes you if you don’t even know yourself. I’ve had guys act like prince charming in the beginning, rolling out the red carpet, only for that behavior to change drastically. Once he hooks you, the true colors come out. Gaslighting is a popular tactic. Its goal is to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. You start to treat them poorly. You become secretive or evasive and then make them feel dumb when they start to question you for clarity. This creates chaos in their mind as they try to piece together the fragments. Wondering if the guy they fell in love with ever really existed.

It finally comes to a head when she tries to come to terms with reality. The fact that you didn’t really love her. She wants to believe you did, that you do, but she knows the truth deep down. There were both good and bad times. And she’s just trying to make sense of it all. So the confusion turns to chaos and the chaos turns to crazy. We all crave love so badly. So she either remains crazy, believing all the lies and hurt was really love. Or she accepts the fact that you never really loved her. Both are sad options in her mind. But one eventually allows her to move on. One gives her hope. One gives her the ability to leave all the craziness behind.

signature

photo credit: H o l l y. day 020. via photopin (license)

You don’t want their life

I hate it when we fight. Jonathan just turns away and pretends I don't exist.

So stop. Whoever’s life you keep looking at, stop looking. I promise you don’t really want their life. I’d like to blame social media, but we’ve had these issues long before social media existed. Look at their house, they have a maid, do they cook better, does their husband have a more successful job… I could go on and on. We question and wonder, why does it seem like the evil prospers while I keep struggling? What am I doing wrong?The problem is we think we know someone else’s life when we really don’t.

I remember going out with this guy a couple times. They were fine dates but nothing special. He ended up going back to his ex. And it looks like they have the perfect relationship. Perfect marriage. Both have successful careers and they are always posting pictures of their exciting memories. But few people know he broke it off and dated other girls. Even fewer people know he’d drink a little too much at times and complain about how he is not happy in his relationship and doesn’t really love her. These are the things we don’t see…

Another couple I know. Gorgeous photo shoots all the time. Lots of money. New adventures almost every month. Posting pictures of how in love they are. But there’s one thing few people know. She desperately wants to have kids. He doesn’t. She thought he’d’ come around but he hasn’t. It’s been several years. He’s getting older and isn’t changing his mind. You would never guess looking at them. She cries herself to sleep every night…

There’s another couple I know. The guy seems to adore her, worship the ground she walks on. Buys her whatever she wants. And I start to wonder if I could have a man shower me with perfect gifts. But there are strings attached. He has anger issues. There are certain people he’d rather her not be around. There are certain things she can and cannot do. As long as she follows his lead, his commands, they are great. But if she doesn’t…

These are just three situations I happen to know. What about the people I don’t know on that deep of a level? We don’t always get to see their full story. We don’t get to see the bad stuff. It’s too vulnerable. And we want to believe our lives are better than they really are sometimes. We imagine others have this perfect life in our head and then began to compare our imperfect lives to it. We try to make our lives appear better on the outside while an internal struggle begins on the inside. This is how we see the world today. So many lies that lead into even more lives.

Maybe we can’t force others to be honest but we choose to be honest with ourselves. We may never know their life. But you know who does? God. And He knows our lives too and just what we need, just what we want. Amazing things happen when we start to look away from the façade we see from others and begin to look above to the One who gave us life to begin with.

signature

photo credit: Ed Yourdon I hate it when we fight. Jonathan just turns away and pretends I don’t exist. via photopin (license)

Why I stayed with an abusive man part 2    

5448338716_292fd4e997

For the last two weeks I’ve blogged about abuse (Why I stayed with an abusive man- part 1 & 8 reasons people stay in abusive relationships). It’s something we don’t talk about often. Maybe we are ashamed. Maybe our definition of love has become so distorted we afraid to face reality. Afraid to admit we’ve been living in a fantasy world we created to help cope with the pain. Society and Hollywood only helps with confusing us more as we attempt to figure out what love is.

We can go back to Shakespeare. Hamlet drove Ophelia to suicide and yet, at her funeral, states that 40,000 brothers could not make up the sum of how much he loved her. Othello kills his wife in a jealous rage and tells us he loved not wisely, but too well. What does this teach us today? That love and violence goes hand in hand?

Abuse can mask itself in many different ways. Here’s 7:

Guilt

Promise you’ll never leave me.

You need to adjust your behavior and make promises to cater to his upbringing, to his baggage. So your desire to initially stay with him slowly changes to staying with him out of pure guilt. You don’t want to hurt him so the only option is to stay with him.

Control

Him: Hey, you’re not going to wear that shirt out tonight are you?
Me: Why not?
Him: Because it’s way too tight. Guys were looking at your earlier…

He’ll start to make you feel uncomfortable about your decisions. Get you to start depending on him as to what decisions you should make.

Obsession

He calls every hour and expects you to answer. Do you have a life outside of him? Sometimes this behavior is masked as love, devotion, the fact that you are soul mates… He can’t stand the thought of you having fun without him.

Don’t forget to leave your phone on…

And you make sure you don’t because he will freak out on you if you don’t.

Him: Hey, I’ve been texting you. Why haven’t you answered.
Me: In class.
Him: Well leave it on silent.
Me: I don’t want the teacher to see us talking.
Him: If you love me, prove it- leave your phone on.

Disrespect

He has no respect for rules in general. Then it becomes no respect for the rules you are supposed to follow. And then no respect for you…

My dad was right. You girls get together and you talk trash about guys and tear them down. My ex was a terrible person, always trying to accuse me of stuff and make me feel bad. I thought you were different. If you don’t trust me what’s the point?

You’ll soon see this disrespect toward you is actually hate. But sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow. It requires us to admit we were completely wrong. Not only does it make us doubt our judgment, it makes us wonder if we can trust our decisions ever again.

Self-pity

You begin to cover up for him. After he hurts you, he attempts to paint himself as the good guy, the one that should be pitied.

Him: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Me: Stopppp.
Him: I can’t help it, I’m scum, I don’t even deserve to breathe. I didn’t know it was coming. When you started saying that crap about me, wondering if I was telling the truth. I never thought I could hurt you. I still can’t believe I hit you. At least I know now all that messed up stuff that is inside of me because of my dad- I can watch out for that. You could have told your parents but you didn’t.
Me: I don’t understand how everything could have been so perfect…
Him: I had one bad minute, actually 2 bad seconds. It’s not like it was for no reason- you were acting all suspicious of me- you were talking about me behind my back. It hurt me so bad that you didn’t trust me. The way that I love you I’m wide open. I mean you have the power to kill me. It’s worth it for me I mean even if I get hurt sometimes. I mean don’t you feel the same way?
Me: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I should have thought about what I was saying. I didn’t mean to make you think that I didn’t trust you. Sorry. Sorry.
Him: It’s okay- I’m not mad at you. I could never stay mad at you.

Crazy how the tables turn so quickly…

Manipulation

You begin to piece together the pieces. Maybe you have enough strength after all to leave.

Him: Why haven’t you answered? Can you sneak out? If you really want to be with me you’ll find a way.
Me: I have a lot of homework.
Him: And that’s more important than me. I’m calling you right now where’s your phone. I asked you a question.
Me: I’m breaking up with you.
Him: Are your parents listening?
Me: No. I’m serious. It’s over I’m breaking up with you.
Him: But you love me.
Me: I know but I’m still breaking up with you.
Him: Why?
Me: Because I don’t want to be scared anymore.
Him: Why are you scared? I haven’t hit you again.
Me: You call me constantly. You try to control where I go…
Him: Where is this coming from.
Me: It doesn’t matter.
Him: Well then I’m going to kill myself. I can’t live without you.

Hate

And then you cycle back to guilt. You start doubting. You start remembering the good times. And part of you wants to go back. Not because you miss him but part of losing him also consists of losing some of yourself since you’ve bound yourself so tightly to him. And sometimes we go back. We dug ourselves in a hole and we feel that we can’t get out. Do we really deserve something better? At least we know what his faults are… But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we may get a text so shocking that it wakes us from our trance.

You are a liar. You just want to be with some other guy. You don’t deserve to live.

This isn’t love. You don’t control, hit, kill people you love.

We aren’t stupid for falling for these guys but I think sometimes we have to be honest enough and ask ourselves- am I sure this is how I want to be treated for the rest of my life?

(Points are taken from the movie Reviving Ophelia, showcasing the subtle, calculated takeover of sweet innocence.)

signature

photo credit: Mitya Ku 167 via photopin (license)

Why I stayed with an abusive man- part 1

6563902327_80f08226a2

I used to judge women who stayed with abusive men. I wish I could say I didn’t but I think I did. And then I realized how easy it is to stay. How hard it is to leave. I finally realize what Shakespeare meant when he said “the prince of darkness is a gentleman.” Because with all the bad, deep and hurtful experiences, there are also great, wonderful and amazing times. And this mind game twists our brains, our hearts, into an uncomfortable delusion.

His manners made everyone think he was a southern gentleman. Looking back, instead of respecting boundaries, his pursuit made me feel loved, wanted. He was slowly worming his way into every area of my life. It was control masked as care. He would discuss our futures together, each word igniting hope for our happily ever after. The mind manipulation, the passive aggressiveness, the guilt began to eat at me. I was frantic to save what I didn’t even want.

Him: You made plans for Friday night without even talking to me?
Me: I’ve been ignoring my friends for a month.
Him: So have I but that’s because you’re the most important thing in my life. I guess that was pretty stupid to think that you felt the same way about me.
Me: I do feel the same way.
Him: No you don’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t be putting me in second place. I never realized how self centered you are…

And there I am. Left wondering, left thinking is he right and am I the one in the wrong? I didn’t realize he was telling me how I felt when he didn’t know me yet. But that’s what control does. He was working to control my behavior by responding in a negative way. A way that would make me not dare to act the way I did ever again. We do this to children when they are little to teach them right and wrong. Only we typically do it out of concern, not control. And I wasn’t his child.

But the mind control continues and leaves you second-guessing even further. He comes back apologizing and encouraging me to do what I initially wanted.

I love you way too much to stay mad at you. I know you didn’t mean to hurt me and I know you aren’t going to make plans anymore without talking to me first.

The last part of that sentence says it all. We get excited at the thought of a love that’s “way too much” only to be left feeling beat down, feeling like we did something wrong when we didn’t. I was so focused on the good, that I didn’t realize he was telling me what to do. How often we think about the good in order to drown out the bad.

The ideas above are all too real. Points are taken from the movie Reviving Ophelia, showcasing the subtle, calculated takeover of sweet innocence. Check back next week or subscribe with your email to be notified as we pick up next week with part two. For more signs of abuse, check out last week’s post 8 reasons people stay in abusive relationships

signature

photo credit: ☺ Lee J Haywood Alone via photopin (license)

After 15 years of mediocre Valentines, I now have the perfect one

I don’t know what it is but I could never master one of my favorite holidays. Oh, how I desired love so badly. Maybe this year would be my year as I recalled all of the fights, the pain, and the loveless dates year after year. Hanging onto broken relationships. Going out with complete strangers. Would I ever experience true love?

Last night I went out with my boyfriend to celebrate our first Valentines together. The first time I ever felt truly at peace, truly at home. If you would have asked me last year that I could feel this way, I would have probably rolled my eyes and said you’re crazy. But I hope to give you hope. That maybe you can look at my life and see. See that it’s not always easy, not always perfect. But God is paving a way for something so much better than your wildest dreams. Looking back, I am so glad I didn’t settle something less, for something no where near what I have today.

Age 17: I baby-sat my niece. Try to contain your jealousy.

Age 18: A guy I just wanted to be friends with was ruining things with a new guy I started hanging out with.

 Age 19: So I ended up dating the new guy I started hanging out with. He was my first official boyfriend. It started as just wanting to hang out and quickly progressed, as he was 8 years older. We were in another fight. But somehow I let the flowers and candy left on my doorstep, with sidewalk-chalked hearts drawn all over my driveway and sidewalk, get to me. It’s funny how we equate these gestures to love. And then watch how that feeling of love seems to somehow makes things okay temporarily. If only it actually lasted permanently.

Age 20: A guy I had been flirting with wrote back to me “I have a girlfriend, by the way.”

Age 21: An excerpt from my journal- “There is nobody I like right now. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to find someone that can love as much as I do.”

Age 22: After an awkward friendship/love triangle, I ended up going out with a guy I thought I liked. When we actually tried to date, it didn’t work. Besides, he actually hated Valentine’s Day. So while the idea was nice, I couldn’t really enjoy the reality as much.

Age 23: A new guy ends up coming into the picture. This ends up being the most serious relationship to date. Unfortunately, also a very volatile one. We actually end up going to dinner the day after Valentine’s Day because we were fighting. This marks the beginning of the end.

Age 24: An excerpt from my journal- “Things are going okay (with the same guy I was dating).” At least they were at this point. We would soon break up.

Age 25: Same guy wants to see me later. But I’ve already moved on. I can’t go back to that.

Age 26: I had a secret admirer this year- a huge card, flowers, and candy left outside my house. To this day, I still have no clue who it was.

Age 27: I had been going back and forth with one of the worst manipulators I’ve seen. At this point he wanted to know if we’d be just friends or friends with the potential for more. Life does not have to be this complicated. This was the worst emotional roller coaster I had been on.

Age 28: An excerpt from my journal- “All I did was watch chick flicks and get fat lol.”

Age 29: I went on a first date with a guy. Yes, you read correctly- first date. First time ever really talking and first time meeting in person. We had a bunch of mutual friends in common and thought why not?! We had a nice time. But we both knew nothing would come of it. We’ve never communicated since that night.

Age 30: An excerpt from the journal- “I have no desire to be with someone I really don’t want to be with. #mature”

Age 31: And here I am. Celebrating this special day with the one my soul loves. Maybe I had finally gotten it all out my system. Maybe I finally reached the point where I was fully and completely content with the life God had given me. Done searching for love and choosing to trust God more. Instead of trying to force love with the wrong guys, freeing my time to allow God to bring the right one in. All I can say is wait. Don’t settle. I look back and see all the times I almost did, wanting to make it work because I didn’t know any better. But someone will come along. And they will make you realize exactly why it never felt right with anyone else.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you feel God’s love more than ever!<3

jamessarahvday

signature