What taking a year off dating taught me

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I never realized the impact the ‘No Guys in 2018’ commitment I made would have on my life. There is something liberating about going against the grain. While most single females in their early thirties are focusing on the fact that their biological clocks are ticking, it’s not exactly the norm to quietly exit the dating scene. But I did. And I can say quite confidently, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

It forced me to spend time on what I really wanted. What’s really important to me as an individual, by myself. Instead of going out with multiple guys in case he was “the one,” the commitment gave me the confidence to say no to the guys I already wanted to say no to. Guys I would have been afraid to say no to in the past. I wish I could say it was courage, but I’m not sure I can call it that when I was somewhat hiding behind a wall of “I’m taking a year off of dating” rather than simply saying “I’m not interested at this time.” It’s as if we feel we owe people an explanation of why we aren’t interested. But do we? Can’t we just say we aren’t interested without opening up insecurities and self-doubt? I wish we could. But I think we feel guilty for saying no. We don’t want the other person to feel less than so we attempt to justify. Instead of realizing someone may simply not be the one person we are supposed to marry, we equate it to something being wrong with us- not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough. So we either make excuses for rejecting them or we go out with them “just in case.” The latter is how I spent my 20’s. Trusting that God would do his part. But adamant that I had to do my part.

If I were to remain single, at least I could say I tried.

For the longest time I tried to fix my behavior. Questioning something must be wrong with me if I’m not married yet while so many of my friends were celebrating anniversaries. I didn’t see singleness as a punishment, but more so a training ground to prepare me for who I was to be with. And it frustrated me thinking I was still perhaps not good enough or that I was simply too picky. It had to be one or the other.

But I think it had more to do with me, independent of any relationship. My identity. Ensuring my identity was in Christ alone, separate from an identity tied to a relationship, especially when two are supposed to become one. I have always longed for completeness that was independent from anything in this world. To be not only content, but joyful regardless of my circumstances, whatever season of life I was in. Complete in Christ. But how can that occur fully if so much of my energy centered on inviting another in in an attempt to feel whole? To say that I have achieved the next milestone? That I’m not behind and my timeline aligns with societal norms?

It took me a few months after the year was over to realize and understand just how much I had changed. How much I had grown. I’ve always had high standards when it came to relationships. Convictions that led most of my decisions. Relationships surfacing if marriage seemed like a possibility. Dating was the necessary means to that end- the end being marriage. So while my standards were high for relationships, my standards for dating were significantly less. Dating “just in case” is what I focused on while in my 20’s. My time, energy, conversations, thoughts revolved around my dating life. Dating occurring with not only guys I was simply attracted to, but guys I wasn’t attracted to “just in case” they had good hearts. This resulted in dating numerous guys and few actual relationships. On the surface this sounds normal. Expected. But I was dating potential. Not dating intentionally, decisively, or wisely.

I was living in the hopes of what if rather than in the reality of what is.

I’ve come to realize what making the most of your single life really means when not lived out intentionally. When lived with no concern for the future, and perhaps, most importantly, with no concern for others. We call these years the sowing of wild oats. Living without real responsibility yet. Shying away from commitments. A revolving door of who can feed my ego the most next. But what has really taught us?

We become dependent. We believe any man is better than no man. We can say we disagree with that statement but our actions often show otherwise. Compromising. Justifying. Believing any man is actually better than no man to pacify the fear of being alone. 
This behavior causing us to settle when we decide we are ready to actually settle down now. Oh, the irony. I’ve learned that how you spend your single years, has a direct impact on how much you are willing to settle.

The level of desire determines how far you are willing to compromise.

If you plan your life, career, education, community involvement around a potential family, discontentment will fester until you satisfy what you’ve laid the foundation for. If you live based on what you’ve been given and pursue dreams outside of a potential family, it’s easier to stay true to standards you’ve set for yourself. It’s as if some of us feel we can’t truly start our lives until our spouse enters the picture. And as a result, we miss out on some of the best years of our life.

As my time was spent more on knowing myself, more on knowing God, God Himself began to fill that void in a way I hadn’t known before. God has always been in my heart since I was little and first got saved but I wouldn’t say He completely filled it. I think when He does our desires go from “God and…” to simply “God.” I think it is then when we reach a deeper level of intimacy. Marriage and family so easily viewed as our purpose rather than as a complement to it. Those desires so strong, you know God wouldn’t deprive you. But over time, feeding those desires until they become an idol rather than giving them back to God and allowing Him to fulfill the true desires of our heart once we surrender.

To those married, embrace the beauty in two becoming one as you both fulfill your God-given purpose here on earth. For those still single, wait until you meet someone who will complement your God-given purpose. Be equally yoked. Keep your high standards and know what you want. If you lower your standards, compromise on what you want, you will no longer be single but you won’t have peace either. You’ll live in inner turmoil, conflicted over what to do, what to say, and how to live the rest of your life. Wait until you love your single life. It is then when you will marry out of love rather than desperation.

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No Guys in 2018: Sixth month update

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First off- how the heck have I made it this long?! I was a serial dater. Not a serial committer, just a serial dater. Jumping from one guy to the next. Giving guys the benefit of the doubt with no real commitment. Actually, if I’m honest, emotional commitment without the relationship label. But is that really even better?

If I could use one word to sum up how I’m currently feeling, it would be seasons. I think this word gets tossed around a lot without fully appreciating what it means. It’s like we are always hoping for the next season to come without fully embracing the season we are in.

I want to date.
I want to get a job.
I want to go off to college.
I want to be married.
I want to have a different job.
I want to have a kid.
I want to have more kids.
I want the kids to leave.
I want to have grandkids.
I want to retire.

Never fully satisfied and constantly searching for more. Aside from a few relationships, I’ve been single my whole life. But I think this is the first time I’ve been able to fully enjoy the season of singleness. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my single years in the past. But I fear I wasn’t experiencing the freedom I thought I had at the time. A relationship wasn’t consuming my life but guys still were. I have never, in all my years, fully realized how much of my time and emotional energy had been spent on guys. Guys feeding my ego, guys as potentials, going on dates just for the fun of it (which I’ve come to believe isn’t a real thing).

But this year feels so much freer. Like really free. What other word can I use to describe it? A control freak who has given up control. A planner open to new possibilities. A deeper trust allowing me to live my best life right now. And most importantly, a life so crazy and full of impossible moments, that only God can get the credit.

I’m surprised by how much I’ve done so far this year. But most importantly, I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown. It’s been a time for me to reset. To really prioritize and be intentional with my time. To push my limits. To say yes to scary moments. To figure out what I want most and what I don’t. To hear God, free of distractions. Knowing that whatever God has planned for me is far better than whatever I could ever hope or imagine. I know because it’s already happening.

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Why I am now 32, single, and still a virgin

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My 32nd birthday was this past week. And I realized I have so much to be grateful for. While I spent it sick in bed, in a weird way it made me appreciate my health and all the times I take for granted being well and feeling great.

So according to my childhood self, does my life look the way I thought it would at 32? Not.at.all. Society almost dictates when we should be in a relationship, a marriage. Maybe it’s because of our childbearing years. But I’m not married. And I don’t have kids. But these years have been some of the best years of my life, each year better than the last.

My family. Friends. My education. Career. Politics. Blogging and ministry. And most importantly, my relationship with God. Could I have achieved all that I have with a guy and/or kids in the picture? Maybe. But there is something to be said for what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 (MSG):

To be married… to be single…

Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others… And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life… The really important thing is obeying God’s call, following his commands.

 All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible. I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.

 So let me tell you why I am single. It’s not because I hate men. It’s not because I’m too picky. It’s not because I never want to get married. It’s because I value marriage and I know exactly what I’m looking for. I’m not willing to settle. I’d rather be single, pursuing the dreams God has placed in my heart rather than in a relationship that pulls me away.

At the end of the day, I’ve come to the point where I really don’t care anymore. I’ve spent so much time wondering where, when, or how I’ll meet the right guy because that’s what girls my age do. Sure, I’ve done other things with my time but this has always been in the back of my mind. How much do I need to invest in finding my future spouse? What is my role? But I’m tired. I’m just tired. I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to miss the gift of singleness because I’m so focused on the gift of marriage. I want to spend time on my blog, with my family, growing, learning, and giving back. There’s just something so selfish about feeling like I need to find a guy “because I’m not getting any younger.” But honestly, whether I’m single the rest of my life or I end up getting married, I will only be happy if I’m living my life for God. And fortunately for me, I can do that right here, right now, forever.

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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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February Fakes: Why I’d date an atheist over a “Christian” pt. 2 Tom

 

February Fakes

You were the first guy I met I thought was too good for me. I didn’t know you’d end up being the worst guy I ever dated. We had met through mutual friends and it was fun flirting with you. I wasn’t attracted to you but I had just gotten out of a bad situation with a good-looking jerk and I told myself looks didn’t matter. When I saw how high your morals and values seemed to be, I told myself that was all I really wanted. Besides, I thought attraction could come with time. It didn’t. I wish that was the worst of it.

I remember when you called me up asking to do something together that weekend. I said yes and it would be our first time to hang out alone. I don’t like the word “date” but I guess that’s what this was. Why can’t there be a word for when you hangout with someone with no expectation? Because apparently there was expectation. You started calling me your girlfriend after our first date!!! This should have been a red flag but I chalked it up to lack of experience on your part. I always thought there was an element of sweetness in innocence, but yours was an innocence built on what you felt entitled to one day. Do you know those people that do so much good and then when people start to praise them for it they try to act like it wasn’t a big deal while eating it all up? Yea, that was Tom.

Things were okay at first. It was nice to have someone I felt I could trust, someone I believed to have a relationship with God. It wasn’t until we started to spend more time together and more time discussing the Bible that things got weird. I started putting pieces together and I was in so deep that I started to question whether or not my beliefs were right. It pains me to write that. You had studied the Bible more than I had so I was extremely confused. It wasn’t until later I realized you may have known the Bible better than me but you certainly didn’t know God more than I did.

For the most part, we agreed on scripture but certain things had me questioning other things. All of your family, all of your friends belonged to the same type of church. When I stated I went to a Baptist church, I got looks as if I was the devil. I was willing to look past that- after all you knew my beliefs from the beginning. And we did differ a little on certain scriptures. To me they weren’t major things even though they still bothered me. You agreed they weren’t major things, as well. You said we would work through them and that brought a sense of comfort to me at the time. I felt you valued my beliefs and loved me nonetheless; we would work through them- together. However, I didn’t know when you said we could work through our differences that meant I would have to change my beliefs to fit yours. That realization made for a rather rude awakening and a very painful day.

I didn’t realize how upset I was over this whole relationship until I started talking to my close friends and family about it- asking them if I was doing anything wrong. That’s how deep I had gotten. All of your friends and family tried to tell me how great you are. So part of me wanted to believe it. However, I had never felt so belittled, so less of a human than when I was with you. Of course there were good times. You did so many good things, it was hard for me to come to terms with the fact you weren’t a good person. Good works don’t make good people. Motives, love, the heart- that’s what matters.

I started to realize everything was calculated. Once I started opening my eyes, I started to see things more clearly. You would sacrifice, but you didn’t love. The scripture from Hosea became more real at this point- “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” -Hosea 6:6 When trying to work through this with you, I felt like I was talking to a stonewall. I couldn’t do this anymore. Everything I thought we had was built on hollow ground. I always feel there is hope for an atheist- maybe one day they will experience God’s love. But there is no hope with you. For you claim to have had that experience already while living a life that is devoid of any ounce of His love.

–> Part One & Intro <–

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Tinder Sam and more fam!


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Is that even possible?! For those of you that have been following along, you remember my boy Sam (Sam requested to have his named changed to Zak to coincide with Ben Folds’ Zak & Sara song, how cute). But we are already in too deep with “Sam.” You can read about our times together in the previous posts (here & here) but one thing that definitely stood out with Sam was meeting his whole family on our first date. I think I loved the “So how did you guys meet?” questions the best.

Sam came down recently (aka a few months ago- sorry, I’m a bit behind on these types of posts;) and we were able to hang out some. Though slightly awkward. I, unfortunately/fortunately, had started talking to a new guy right before his visit so it created a little tension between us. Hey, in my defense he was going to bring down a date! Okay, not really- but it was going to be someone that liked him who would help out with all the nieces and nephews. Who knows. Regardless, she didn’t come and I didn’t bring my guy. It just would have been too awkward all around. [Sidenote, new guy and I decided to just remain friends].

Our normal outings are typically held in St. Augustine but this time it was Daytona Beach. It was Stan’s 94th birthday party. 94! Stan is a family friend that is pretty much family. Sam, his grandma, Stan, Sam’s two sisters, sister-in-law, more nieces and nephews than I could count, his mom, dad, and I think that is all. That’s who was there this time. And me. Of course I fit right in. I think Sam’s grandma likes me more than she likes him. Amongst screaming kids, great BBQ, and amazing homemade cake from granny (I’m pretty much family, I can call her that), all I can say is I hope to be like Stan one day. He was so active- wanting to help, loving everything and everyone. It’s always such a joy being around people like him.

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After the party, Sam and I decided to go to the boardwalk since neither of us had ever really been. I drove us since he rode with his family there. Big mistake. We almost just decided to go somewhere else. Parking was the worst in my truck. Awful. Sam is a little passive aggressive in that he won’t tell me what to do until after I didn’t do something and then lets me know what he would have done (now that it’s too late). Thanks. Sam was firmly upset my truck did not fit in certain spots and disliked the fact I did not feel comfortable parking in sketch situations. Then he got mad and said I yelled at him. I can neither confirm nor deny what I did. I ended up driving into a bar parking lot that had spots and we discussed the parking situation for a good 10 minutes. I saw other people parking there and walking to the boardwalk so I told him we should just do that. He thought it would be too obvious what we were doing since we had been sitting in their parking lot awkwardly doing nothing. During this time, a guy in an orange vest came out of the bar to start selling spots. Great. I thought we would be okay since we were already there but I was still nervous. We decided to ask permission from the guy. Well Sam did. I like that about him. He has a manly, take charge, side to him that makes me feel safe. For someone who is somewhat bossy, it’s nice to relax every now and then and let somewhat else take charge;)

BeachcollageWe walked around the boardwalk as Sam complained about the rides and the prices. Sam was too cheap to buy me water, which was free. I know right. Okay he wasn’t that bad, he just didn’t want to stand in line to wait for it even though I was soooo thirsty! On top of this, he was texting his “girlfriend” and making fun of my guy interest with side comments. I remember passing by some people who were passing out Christian tracks, asking people if they were saved. Normally I will pass on by, let them know I am saved, or say something to the effect of I like what they are doing. Sam, however, stopped. He engaged in conversation with them, made them feel valued, and encouraged them. Among all of our play fighting and jokes, it was nice to see this side of Sam. He inspired me more than he knows.

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We ended up stop at a place for drinks while watching a concert that happened to be in the amphitheater that night. We talked about a lot of stuff. I remember asking Sam if he thought we’d still hang out like this once he got a girlfriend. Without hesitation, he said we better. I guess I didn’t realize how scarred I have been from lost friendships with some of my guys. I’m not expecting things to stay the same and I’d never want to come before a guy’s girlfriend but it’s somewhat sad that there’s this underlying theme in society that guys and girls can’t just be friends. It was reassuring to hear Sam say that to me. It made me realize he valued our friendship. Me. Beyond wanting me, if that makes sense. A lot of guys have stopped talking to me once they realized I wasn’t interested in dating. While I understand to a degree, it doesn’t hurt any less. So I try not to get too attached.

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I ended up driving Sam back to the condos where all of his family was staying. It was pretty late and I was hungry. Per usual. Sam made me steak and then gave me ice cream. I didn’t even have to ask. He knows what makes me happy. I hope he’s planning another trip soon because I’m starting to get hungry again.

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The good guys scare me

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This is going to be difficult to write. As I look back at the guys of my past, it was the bad guys I engaged and the good ones I pushed away. You scared me. Because I wasn’t ready. I needed to be single. I needed to grow. I needed to establish who I was in Christ and fall in love with my One True Love first.

You scared me. In some ways you still scare me. Am I ready to be loved? Am I ready to commit? You see, it’s easy with the bad guys, the ones I know aren’t really right for me. Though I truly fall for them and care for them, I know deep down it’ll never work so it’s safe. It’ll be easier to walk away because I know the pain is only temporary.

But you. You are decent. You are kind. You make me feel special. You listen to me and you remember things about me. My imperfections you love. My ugly is cute. Because you see through me and you love me for me.

You make me feel loved, needed, wanted, secure. You’re consistent and reliable which are two of the qualities I admire most. You don’t play games and you make it clear through your actions I am what you want.

But that’s not fun. Not exciting enough. I want a challenge. I want to make the bad boy good. It’s all about me. You see, these were the qualities that made me not worthy of you. Yet, you still pursued me. What love.

It’s so scary. You have so many good qualities but. But what if I haven’t discovered the bad ones yet and it’s too late when I do? But what if you really are perfect and I didn’t fully enjoy being single like I should have because I was so worried about you?

You nice guys keep being nice. Because the problem has never been you. The problem was me. And I’m just scared. Scared I might actually like you.

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