An Introduction to Dating

I really don’t know why I’m suddenly talking about dating here. For a while, I thought this was going to be a topic I would avoid on Spirited Life, even though it’s actually a subject I’m quite passionate about. I can go on and on and on about dating and love and singleness and relationships. Perhaps it was the collective 10-hour drive from my home in Southern California to my parent’s place in the Bay Area where I binged on the podcast “Why Oh Why?” by Andrea Silenzi. Maybe it was the recent conversations I had with a couple really good friends and my younger sister about how much dating can suck. Or maybe I’m just realizing that more of us need to be honest about this life stage and the dating culture we are confronted with and are trying to navigate through and I might as well chime in with the chatter. So if you’re looking for a how-to date, sorry, but that’s not what you’re about to get. Consider this the first of many posts on this subject matter, and this is only the introduction.

I have a few friends who I’m just starting to realize will never experience what being single in their mid-twenties is like. They’re missing an entire life stage that I’m living through right now since they got married between 18 and 23. It makes it hard to relate. It makes it hard to take their advice. Sometimes I wish they would just listen and not give their two cents. Hey maybe they have divine wisdom and discernment, or maybe not. Oh I know they have my best interest at heart. Friends and family just want me to be happy. But since when did my eternal happiness equal being in a relationship?

I’ve stopped talking about my dating life with some good friends because they just don’t get it. They look at me with gaped mouths as I retell a story about my most recent ambiguous male interaction. Was it a date or just coffee? I feel judged for not having it together, and let’s be honest “having it together” means you have a boyfriend, are engaged, or married. I’ve even gotten flack for saying “no” to guys that I just wasn’t interested in. “Just give them a chance!” They urge me from across the table, waving their engagement ring around, its dazzling light blinding my eyes, “you may never know who God has in store for you!” And that’s true. But sometimes, I do really wonder where God is in all this mess we call dating.

Dating is ubiquitous, and yet there are so many philosophies and thought processes and ways of actually dating that it makes my head spin. Not to mention the added layer of confusion when we dive into “Christian dating.” Seriously, go read Christian articles and books about dating and put them side-by-side and you will see outrageous contradictions. I’m not even talking about courtship here people. It’s all based on opinion and subjective experience and the fact that no one knows what they’re doing but no one will admit to it.

But I will. I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to be doing. We’re all just kind of dating in a haze until someone who’s only a little crazy, sticks. Finding another person who mutually likes you just as much as you like them is an anomaly these days, which seems far fetched given the amount of wedding invitations and baby shower invitations currently plastered across the front of my refrigerator. But it is. Having a lasting relationship is in its own right a miracle. Navigating the wide world of dating is daunting, when at the end of the day, I think all anyone is really looking for is someone who puts up with your own crazy. It almost seems like the longer you go without finding that person, the harder it gets.

I’d be nice if I could say that because of my community, guys I date are different from those outside of the Christian realm, like they know what they’re doing, but like I’ve said, and it’s worth repeating, no one knows what they’re doing. Christians are just as bad at dating as those outside of the Church and sometimes, we’re worse. Sometimes we over spiritualize things: “God told me we were meant to be together.” Run for the hills and don’t look back. Or we don’t even date at all, I kissed dating goodbye anyone? Or we date and date and date and date, going through person after person after person, always looking for that Barbie Doll that fits everything on our must have list that we miss a million great people because we are so focused on finding “the one.”

To be honest with you all and to go forward with this whole transparency thing, I think the real reason I’ve been avoiding this subject matter is that I feel really messed up when I take a look at my love life. I have tons of failed relationships, most of which weren’t even given the opportunity to get off the ground. Looking back on a lot of them, I’m grateful, thankful even. I have some pretty bad dating stories, and while I can laugh at them, it does something to you. It all starts to mess with your head. I’m having to constantly combat these lies of inadequacy. The world and the church kind of unanimously tell you in so few words that without a relationship, your life hasn’t started yet. At least, I feel this way from the constant onslaught of unintended pressure I feel on a regular basis. I’ve even had my Pastor ask me why I’m not dating anyone. There seems to be something wrong with me because I’m in my mid-twenties and single and okay with it, so I question if I’m really okay. If I’m really accomplished. If I have value. If what I’m doing would be more important if I was married.

Being single, almost 25, and a female in the Church community is difficult. There are times when I feel like there isn’t really a place for me, like I’m just being used to babysit on Friday nights or that I can do tear down every Sunday because I don’t have anything better to do. Even though I do not see my worth and value in a relationship with a man, sometimes I’m inadvertently made to feel inadequate by my community because I’m not in one. And while I do enjoy helping out where I can and see my present unattached life as a means to that, it’s disheartening, and I have it good guys. I have gal pals who have the relentless “why aren’t you married yet?” buzzing through their heads and are constantly being reminded that their biological clocks are ticking and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I know so many bright, beautiful, unattached gals that any man would be lucky to have in their life. Yet so many of us are staying perpetually single, and being reminded of it and for many girls, no matter how much we want that relationship, there isn’t much we can do about it. At the end of the day, we can’t force anyone to love us and we can’t force ourselves to love someone we don’t. It’s a hard place to be and the dating culture we have to navigate doesn’t make it any easier.

But I have hope that goes beyond the system of dating. I believe in love because love already conquered the world. And while I don’t buy into that whole “Jesus is my boyfriend” crap (we can chat about my beef with that another time) I know that my worth and value and validation comes from Him. I’m accomplished. I’ve done a lot with my life and I’m still going. I think it’s about time that everyone else started seeing all women that way, as accomplished individuals, regardless of their relationship status.

Let’s face it guys and gals, I can keep going, though I know I’ll start talking in circles. Just know that I’m not done with saying my piece and God only knows I have a lot to say. So we’ll just set this aside, I created a whole new category so we will be revisiting the dating topic. Rant over, which is what I say when I’m stepping down from my dating soap-box. I’m off it. I’m done. For now.

Thoughts, questions, concerns? Tell me what you think! Let’s discuss! Leave a comment below. Get a little heated. Agree. Disagree. Throw your opinion out there. Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right. It doesn’t really matter, I’m just glad you decided to join the conversation.