Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Dating/Singleness (with Anonymous Girl)
with Anonymous Girl
The post below is a deeply vulnerable and honest response to the five questions. Because it is a little longer, I included an excerpt here with a link to the remaining questions. You won’t want to miss the end!
1) Describe your relationship to/experience with dating/singleness. If it has changed over time, describe the change.In high school, I fell in with the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “True Love Waits” crowd, of my own volition. I dated a boy for 6 months, but we never kissed. (Years later, he came out as gay, but that wasn’t a shock.) In college, my idea was that I wanted to be friends with a guy before I started dating him. I had serious crushes on a few guys, but they never seemed interested in me, and I wasn’t too concerned about dating. Dating was only for when you were actually interested in getting married and had time to invest in such a relationship, and I knew I wasn’t ready for that in college. Post college, my time opened up dramatically, and I was really mad at God that I wasn’t dating anyone. I thought that was a perfect time to meet someone, date them, and then get married. Nothing else in my life was working, so couldn’t God at least throw me a bone on that front and let me meet my husband?! I went through some serious depression (due to a lot of issues), and eventually started my life moving in a better direction, with more hope. Still no one worth dating came across my path. From time to time, someone VERY interesting to me would appear, reminding me that somewhere out there, there IS someone interesting whom I will meet and marry, at least I hoped so! At 25, I moved to California and developed a huge crush on a new acquaintance. Who two months later started dating my polar-opposite roommate. And two months after that, they were engaged. I was hurt and disillusioned, figuring that I obviously didn’t have a clue what kind of man could ever be interested in me. Since then, my perspective on God, on life, and on love has changed drastically. This helped me to understand better what kind of a man I’m looking for, and that someone who previously I wasn’t interested in could actually fit me well. I tried eHarmony for 4 months and was bitter and angry that none of the men I was interested in messaged me back, and only men I was clearly NOT interested in messaged me. A year and a half later, I tried another 4-month stint on eHarmony with a much more open mind. If the profile interested me at all, I initiated conversation, and anyone who messaged me I replied to, even if I wasn’t the least bit interested in them. I at least got one coffee date out of it, but nothing more. At 28, I had my first kiss with a man who was a friend of mine, and I FREAKED OUT. We remained friends, and 6 months after the kiss, we finally talked about it, and realized that maybe there was something real between us. I dove head first into that relationship, learning a lot about how relationships work (it was my first since high school, barring a few looking-back-that-was-a-date dates). But just a few weeks in, he got a new job in a city 6 hours away and we knew that was a closed door. It was definitely the right decision. I know we could have made a relationship work, but it would have been a LOT of work, and we probably aren’t the best complement to each other. But I learned a lot about myself, and had a lot more confidence in myself that I was actually attractive to someone, and that I could actually be a good girlfriend to someone! And then, 6 months after that, I started dating a very good friend of mine. We had been pseudo-dating for 6 months, spending a lot of 1-on-1 time together, doing somewhat romantic things. Most of the time we were hanging out, I looked around and realized that anyone who was watching us would think we were on a date, but we weren’t. He finally asked me on a “date date”, and I was thrilled. I really liked him, and was excited that something that felt so natural and started with the foundation of a close friendship was actually panning out into a real dating relationship! I was so excited, I told my 20 closest friends. I had a LOT of confidence in the relationship because we already knew each other so well. I knew he was a keeper because it would take us at least to the 6-month mark to learn something about each other or the relationship that we didn’t already know. We even talked about how awesome it was that we started out as such good friends and that was the perfect foundation to build a future together. A few weeks into the relationship, he asked if I wanted us to be a “couple”, which I readily agreed to. One week after that, he said he “wasn’t feeling the romance of the relationship”. I was floored, and we haven’t really spoken since. He was kind about it, but I’m still very confused why, if he wasn’t actually attracted to me romantically, he asked me out to begin with. That was several months ago, and while I miss his friendship and the time we spent hanging out, I don’t really miss him. That’s probably a sign that maybe we weren’t right for each other, anyway, but knowing that doesn’t make me any less lonely. I think the hardest part is that in my life, I have some professional ambition, but the only thing I KNOW I want out of life is to be a wife and mother. When everything else is confusing, it is really easy to focus on that one aspect of my life, and blame God for my being single. I don’t necessarily regret the freedom I’ve had, nor do I want to trade places with my friends who are already mothers. I just wish I were a step or two closer to that being my own reality. I’ve had seasons where I’m very content being single – having the freedom to drop everything and go out of town for the weekend, or extend a business trip for a few days of vacation. But there are other seasons where all I can think about is finding my husband. I scan the pews at church, looking for cute men of an appropriate age, then checking out their left hands and being disappointed that “all the good men have been snatched up!” So I don’t really know what to do about all that, except trying to keep an open mind, a grateful heart, and a full schedule so I don’t sit at home and mope about how lonely I am. 🙂
2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?I’ve never been an overly girly-girl, probably as a reaction to the fact that I’ve never been the “hot” or “cute” girl, and being 5’9″ and 200 pounds, I’m bigger than average. I’m usually okay with that, I am just acknowledging that it takes a certain kind of man to find someone with my body shape and size attractive. I don’t believe I’m ugly, I’ve just come to terms with the reality that I’m not a stunner, either, and that looks do matter to men, to probably a greater extent than they do to me. (Just about any man in the -2/+10 year range who is 6’3″ or taller is attractive in my book!) I had a season in the post-college stage where I thought my gender was invisible. I was a jeans-and-a-t-shirt kind of girl who hung out with both the guys and the girls, and it didn’t seem to matter what gender I was, I was treated the same by both. My only measurement of what a woman was, or what femininity was, was defined by her relationship to a boyfriend or husband. I didn’t know how to be a woman and be single, I just was androgynous, and felt that no one cared if I were male or female. I went on a backpacking trip to Europe during that time, and I had a list of things I was praying for that I wanted God to speak to me about on my trip. The first week in to my 9-week trip, all of them were either answered or proved irrelevant. This question, of why am I in this gray zone of gender, was both. I was treated like a woman, and my questions was proved irrelevant. It was answered in my heart in such a way that it didn’t even matter anymore. I am not sure I can explain it more than that. Since then, my ideas of femininity have matured some, and I have worked on ways of appearing and acting more feminine, somewhat in line with traditional gender roles (finding myself more and more comfortable with more feminine clothes, like skirts or blouses, and wearing make-up), but a lot of that has to do with wanting to present myself in the workplace as a professional. I work in a business environment, so wearing the appropriate clothes and paying a bit more attention to the appearance I give off has been a natural response for me. More personally, I found the fact that someone wanted to kiss me, and did kiss me, incredibly encouraging. For the first time, I was attractive enough for someone to want to pursue me. Perhaps the way that worked out wasn’t the best, but I felt pretty and wanted, which was great. When the short relationship ended, I was crushed, however, and so incredibly frustrated that this new-found sensation ended just as quickly as it came. (When my high school ex-boyfriend came out of the closet, it made a lot more sense to me why we never kissed. It wasn’t something we discussed, it just never happened, either, though there was a lot of hugging and massages and spooning. I asked him why he ever dated me, and he told me, “You made me want to be a better person.” Awww! We’re still good friends to this day.) When my most recent boyfriend broke up with me, I wasn’t into it so far that I was shaken to the core, but it did strengthen my insecurities that no man will ever find me attractive enough to date, much less marry. If I can’t even capture the attention of someone who does know me well, knows my good qualities and other attractive (non-physical) traits, how much luck am I going to have capturing the attention of any man, ever again? I know I’m a catch in other ways (and that I’m going to be tough in still other ways!), but physically, I’m easy to pass over. I don’t know how to reconcile that, either. I do have self-confidence that there are things on my body that I like, or that I think are attractive. My eyes, for one, I love and get compliments on all the time. I’m also fairly large-chested, and think that someday, I’ll make a “breast man” very happy. I know I’m overweight, but I also try to take care of myself and be fit and healthy, so I’m not super self-conscious about that aspect. In general, holistically speaking, my self-image is on the positive side of the spectrum, but in the dating world, it’s on the negative side of the spectrum.
3) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you relate to others?I’m certain my “on the hunt” mindset has limited some relationships in my life, and strengthened others. When meeting other women, I either talk about dating and men as a bonding topic of conversation, or I view them as a threat or competition and avoid them. The latter mostly only happens with women who are dating men I find attractive. Once they’re married, they’re both off the market and not so much of a threat! Like I mentioned before, I look for attractive men in a crowd, then check for a wedding band. Some men I’ve talked to and started to get to know a bit, then their girlfriend comes over and I quickly end the conversation and never speak to them again. I know this isn’t loving, and probably isn’t the best way to build good community, but I’m being quite honest here. When I joined a new church, I only looked for small groups/Bible studies/life groups that are co-ed. I want more opportunities to meet single men. So far, it hasn’t worked (even if labeled co-ed, they’ve been all women, or the men aren’t single), but I’m still trying!
4) How has that relationship/experience affected your spiritual life?I have had to forgive God for not bringing my husband or even a boyfriend to me yet several times. I know that can sound ridiculous, but I do feel hurt that this supposedly loving God hasn’t done for me the thing I’ve consistently wanted most in my life. He HAS been good to me, and I’ve had SO MANY incredible opportunities and blessings in my life that I have so much gratitude for. But there are certainly seasons where I’m the small child who is angry that her mother didn’t buy the toy for her at the store, and I throw a fit. She forgets she has plenty of other toys at home, and friends to play with, all she wants is what she doesn’t yet have. It’s a tough balance to learn to practice gratitude in all things, yet still pray for a partner to share my life with. Lately, I’ve been reminded time and again that love is patient. In 1 Corinthians 13, that’s the FIRST thing love is. This is true in my friendships and in my family, too, but it was also true in the relationship with that most recent ex-boyfriend, as well as the wait for the next one. I’ve had several friends express to me their confidence that I will indeed one day marry, but the waiting is just so damn hard sometimes. It’s so easy to want the shortcut, the quick fix. Just some guy at a bar to make out with, or even a good friend I can coerce into snuggling with me. Neither of those options, I’m certain, is God’s best for me, so the times when my self-control wins out, I sigh and try to let God sit with me in the loneliness. It still sucks, but I try to remember the blessings and freedoms of singleness and learn to rely on friends and family for my emotional needs, not a non-existent boyfriend.
5) What word of wisdom or encouragement would you offer other people on a similar journey?I’m not at a particularly encouraged state of my journey, myself, so I don’t have much to say except to continue to practice gratitude, no matter what relationships are or aren’t in your life. There is always something to be grateful for. And when it doesn’t feel like it, there is at least a hope that eventually, God redeems all things. My true home is heaven, and whether single or in a relationship, my heart will never be satisfied on this side of eternity. Having a boyfriend or husband won’t cure the deep loneliness and longing for love in my heart, only God can do that. It might just be a bit easier some days, and more fun some days (but harder and more work other days!).
What about you?
Have your own answers to these questions? Why not share them? Email your responses and a recent picture to bodytheologyblog at gmail dot com. You can also post anonymously if you wish.
Posted on May 17, 2013, in Body Image, Community, Guest post, Identity, Physicality, Spirituality and tagged Advice, Body image, Dating, eHarmony, Friendship, God, High school, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Intimate relationship, Relationships, True Love Waits. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.