5 questions to ask yourself before committing to a relationship

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I have a hard time committing, I’ll admit it. But part of the reason is it’s hard for me to commit to someone if I don’t see a potential future with them. The break-up process is a painful one no matter how it happens, so if there are ways to avoid that, you better believe I’m all about it! In an effort to minimize heartbreak and stay focused on what matters most, there are five questions you should ask yourself before committing.

  1. Would I want my kids to be like them? This question allows you look beyond the outer layers of attraction and excitement and really see a person’s character. Are they kind? Loving? Giving? Value humility and purity? Do they show respect and honor? Or are they rebellious? Rude? Selfish? Or easily angered? It is so easy to be blinded and want to nurture infatuation feelings, but the truth is, the person you marry will have a significant amount of influence over your kids- and you! You want to trust that they will be a good role model and train up your children in the right direction.
  2. Would I want to be with them if we couldn’t have kids? This is a hard question to ask but a much needed one. As I started to get older, I started to question whether or not I should attempt to compromise on my standards for the sake of not letting my best child-bearing years pass me by. And then I realized how horrible this thought process is. And I also realized how many people I know who did get married because they wanted kids so badly and are now divorced. While kids are a blessing, having kids with the wrong spouse can be detrimental. Furthermore, there is no guarantee on even getting pregnant so it is vitally important to be with someone you would want by your side to help you through that process should it happen. The person you commit to should be a commitment for life, someone you want with you through all the good and bad.
  3. Am I growing closer to God or further away? There are people that will come into our lives that you will help and mentor, others that are acquaintances, and others that’ll challenge you to be the best version of yourself. The person you commit to should fall into the third category. This is why it is imperative for believers to be equally yoked with other believers, those who will help them with the temptations in this world. You want someone who will pray with you, call you out, and support you. If the person you are with is pushing you in a direction of compromising your faith, morals, and/or values, it is not a good sign.
  4. Do I feel more myself around them? This is oftentimes why people say the best relationships start out as friendships. You want to be able to be your true, authentic self without fear of rejection or judgement. Some people have a way of calming our insecurities, while others heighten them. If your relationship with someone starts out with a date, do your best to alleviate the pressure of a looming relationship no matter how old you are for the sake of building a stronger foundation should things progress. A relationship built on attempts to impress will not be able to withstand the challenges of everyday life. Furthermore, when you are with the right person, the pressure to perform should diminish as their passions and words ignite your passions and words, resulting in a fire lit deep within your soul. This is not something you can force, and no checklist can accomplish this.
  5. Do they love Jesus more than me? This is crucial. So many people seek someone who will love them most, not realizing the need for loving Jesus most in order to adequately love you. A love for Jesus will naturally result in love for you because it will become part of who they are. Jesus is love so a love for others is a natural result. When someone seeks to love outside of these parameters, love then hinges on who you are, your actions, and their feelings toward you, thus resulting in an unspoken pressure to perform. This environment is the breeding ground for insecurity, with no true stability. Someone who is able to love, honor, and respect God will be able to love you the only way you truly desire to be loved.

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Rejection or God’s protection?

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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.

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You made her crazy

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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.

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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.

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Concern versus control- 25 ways to tell the difference

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I’m finally able to finish and wrap up my posts centered on abuse. For some reason I couldn’t finish but now I can. This one is hard to learn and navigate because I’m so independent. How do you know if someone is genuinely concerned for you or is just trying to control you?

Getting out of an abusive relationship can be difficult and dangerous. You sure you didn’t do something to make him mad? He looks so sad. Forgive and forget. When you love someone- you stay with them through the bad stuff and you know why they do what they do (their childhood, etc.) so you excuse their behavior. We forget it’s possible to forgive and still leave. We forget it’s possible to still love and say no more. You don’t allow yourself to keep being abused.

A simple internet search shows us signs of abuse. Does your boyfriend act in ways that scare you, does he act jealous or possessive, does he try to control you or need to know where you are at all times, does he check your email, phone messages, or texts? Does he tell you what to wear or make you change your clothes? Does he call you or text you excessively or insist that you answer his calls within a specific frame of time? Does he shove, hit, or kick you? Does he blame you for the hurtful things he says or does?

Concern for your well-being is good; control is not. Sometimes it can be very difficult to tell the difference because the difference may be in motives and not necessarily actions. Here’s 25 ways to try and help you navigate:

Concern wants to make your life better; control wants you to make their life better

Concern encourages your own identity; control gradually steals your identity

Concern wants you to pursue your dreams; control finds reasons for you to pursue theirs

Concern helps you to seek God for answers; control tells you they already have the answers

Concern wants you to be happy; control wants you to be only happy with them

Concern convicts; control condemns

Concern is protective; control is suspicious

Concern feels pain when he’s hurt you; control feels empowered

Concern feels bad for mistakes made; control tells you we all make mistakes

Concern guides you; control guilts you

Concern helps to bring out the real you; control suppresses the real you

Concern cares about your convictions; control cares only about theirs

Concern is open and direct; control is secretive and vague

Concern talks rationally; control talks in extremes

Concern protects; control threatens

Concern accepts responsibility for their actions; control excuses their behavior and twists it back to put the blame on you

Concern is humble and looks for ways to improve; control highlights their strengths

Concern cares about your desires and needs; control has to have their way

Concern makes you feel safe; control makes you look for ways out

Concern makes you feel free; control makes you feel in bondage

Concern brings clarity; control brings confusion

Concern leaves you with peace; control leaves you in denial

Concern is always honest; control lies if it’s in his best interest

Concern respects your boundaries; control looks for ways to invade them

Concern loves you, control wants you

Because some of these do have to do with motives and not actions, one of the best things on your side is time. Does he do what is right to avoid negative consequences, to maintain his image, or for admiration or is he motivated by Christ’s love? Don’t refuse to look at all angles of a person or take the time to observe their behavior objectively because you are afraid to face the truth. It’s easy to watch their behavior when everything is going great but what happens when you disagree? What are they like under pressure? If there is something they are hiding, there is something they haven’t dealt with yet. And if they haven’t had time to heal, they will attempt to go through the healing process at your expense. A person needs to be complete in Christ or they will end up abusing you in an attempt to find wholeness.

Honestly, at the end of the day, concern doesn’t even look like control. Not when you take the time to step back and look at it objectively, putting your emotions to the side. Concern will feel like love. A love that puts you before themselves. And control will not. So if you’re already questioning, you already know.

– the virgin heartbreaker

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Why I stayed with an abusive man part 2    

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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.)

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8 reasons people stay in abusive relationships

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched women stay in a relationship with an abusive man. My words of “leave” “press charges” or “come with me” seem to have always fallen on deaf ears. And I never knew why she couldn’t see what I saw. Is it possible to get in so deep, we’ve lost all sense of reality? Have we distorted the meaning of love into some definition that fits our circumstances because we don’t see anything better? We don’t see a way out?

It is so easy to fall into this trap and not even realize it. Here are eight reasons why we choose to stay when we know we should leave.

  1. We excuse or justify their behavior. They are only acting this way (insert something from their past or circumstances here). Our pasts help us to understand where each other is coming from; they are not an excuse to treat the ones you love poorly.
  1. When they are nice, they are really nice. They make you feel so loved by the things they do for you and the things they get you. We have to understand that motives here are everything. We enjoy the nice things but we have to be mindful of the strings that may be attached. If you think someone loves you because of their nice behavior, what does their cruel behavior tell you?
  1. We blame ourselves for their behavior. We know we aren’t perfect so we start to rationalize. If I was a better boyfriend or girlfriend, they wouldn’t have reacted that way. He/She wouldn’t have gotten mad if I didn’t do that. I really could have said that nicer. The truth is sometimes we all mess up and act in ways we shouldn’t. But we should never blame ourselves for someone else’s decisions.
  1. We take responsibility for their life. This one is closely related to the one above but instead of taking responsibility for the way they treat us, we take responsibility for the way they treat themselves. We don’t want to hurt them. We don’t want to cause them pain and we blame ourselves when they call crying. They say the pain is too much if we were to leave them and they may even threaten suicide. If this is the case, they are manipulating you or they need professional help. It is not healthy to stay with someone because of fear.
  1. The jealousy is cute at first. We like the attention. We like someone fighting for us. And we justify it because at least they care. But oftentimes this jealousy can become obsessive and possessive. And then they start to blame us if someone else flirts with us. It’s nice for someone to care about us; it’s not nice be afraid of how much they “care.”
  1. We think they will change. We believe the best. They just don’t realize how much we love them yet. Maybe when they are more secure. They apologize and say sorry so at least they know it’s wrong. They felt really bad. So we hold out for another day. Another week. Another month. Another year. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. Sometimes people do change. But sometimes they just mask their behavior temporarily until it’s safe again. See if they change for themselves or see if they change for you. Know the difference.
  1. They give us ultimatums. They threaten that you don’t really love them if you don’t do something they want you to do. They want you to prove your love to them by doing certain things. They play subtle mind games in an attempt to control you and your behavior. No one who really loves you should ever threaten you or make you feel less than because you do or do not act the way they think you should.
  1. We become dependent on them. This is probably the scariest of them all. They slowly remove everyone and everything from your life and make it so they are the only good thing in your life. You don’t even realize it because you become so caught up in what you think is love. You look around and you realize you have nothing else. And you don’t want to lose the one thing you have left.

These are so so powerful. They slowly strip away every ounce of our self-confidence until we forget who we really are. But I think there is a way we can see more clear. A way for us to be above this trap. And that is total and complete dependency on God. I think sometimes we make people an idol and don’t even realize it. It’s during those times we are able to be controlled and manipulated because we found something other than God to bring us what we feel would make us happy. It’s our attempt to better our lives, we lose them. But God tells us, whoever will lose their life for His sake, will find it. I pray we are humble enough and strong enough to let God take over and never ever fall into this lethal trap.

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