Tag Archives: Dating

eHarmonize This…

 I call 2008 “The Year I Dated.”  I’d dated before, but in 2008, I dated a lot.  I lost track of how many dates I had and how many guys I went out with.  I dated so much, I got tired of dating.  You married people out there who think it might be better to be single and going out with different people and trying new things, please keep reading… 

In 2008, I also taught a class called Chase the Lion, which teaches that taking risks, trying new things, and not fearing failure are important to our faith.  Many of our Biblical heroes were risk-takers, including Ruth who threw herself at Boaz’ feet and wound up with a rich husband and a famous descendant…  I liked the curriculum (by Mark Batterson) so much that I taught the class about six times over the next two years. 

Around that time I also picked up a book on dating by one of my favorite authors, Henry Cloud.  The basic principle of How to Get a Date Worth Keeping is that singles are afraid to take risks.  We should do everything we can to meet new people and get dates with them, dating basically anyone who asks at least once, and getting out of our comfort zones.  He says it’s a fun social experiment, allows us to gain new experiences, and challenges our preconceived notions of people.  This very godly man challenged singles to go on dating websites, give our numbers to people we meet at social functions, and stop sitting alone at home on Saturday nights crying into our pillows. 

Well, I didn’t often find myself sitting at home alone on Saturday nights (unless I was tired and wanted a break), but I was still single, dateless, and ready to take a risk.  I decided to give his method a try.  I joined eHarmony and match.com and told my friends that I was going to make dating a part-time job.  I asked them to set me up on dates with anyone they knew.  And I got bold about giving my contact information out to anyone who might be a possibility. 

My efforts worked and I soon started dating.  A few of the guys I dated that year stand out to me.  The first one was a really nice, Christian guy who took me out on some amazing dates.  He was a perfect gentleman and I enjoyed his company.  But he didn’t seem to know what he wanted.  At times he’d be very attentive and seem totally interested.  At other times, he pushed me away and acted like a jerk.  Yet he kept asking me out on amazing dates, so I kept going, at one point making a kind of game of it in my mind.  Who would I get that night?  After a couple months of his craziness, I decided I’d had enough.  I missed the fabulous dates, but not the emotional roller coaster! 

Another guy I dated was wealthy and fun, going to great lengths to plan dates around things he knew I would like.  What girl doesn’t like that?  But after going out for a few weeks, he started complaining when I went out with friends instead of seeing him, then told me to change my hairstyle…  He eventually told me I should just quit my job so I could go with him wherever he wanted.  Oh, and I found out he had a bookie and only met when one owed the other a large amount of money.  I decided he wasn’t for me! 

Probably the most memorable date I had that year was with a guy I’ll call “Steve”.  His pictures showed a professional, clean-cut, attractive man.  But right before we met, he texted me to say he was afraid I was better-looking than him and other really insecure things.  Huh?  One of my only requirements during this dating experiment was that a man be reasonably attractive.  He didn’t have to be McDreamy.  My only expectation of him was that he looked like the man in the pictures. 

I drove up to Starbucks and parked next to his car.  I got out of my car and then he got out of his.  As he stood up, I looked down at just the right moment to see him nearly lose his pants.  And he wasn’t wearing anything under them!  Trying not to show my shock and horror, I looked up to see his face.  He was in bad need of a haircut and had a beard.  He walked around his car to greet me and was wearing old jeans and a ratty shirt.  I wasn’t sure if I was meeting the same man I’d met online, pictured in suits and ties. 

We went inside and talked for a few minutes.  His voice was the same and I could see some similarities, but the pictures he posted must have been several years old.  Unable to get the image of his butt from my mind, I was grateful when the barista came over and told us they were closing just 20 minutes after we walked in the door.  He invited me to get a drink at a nearby restaurant and I made up some excuse and got out of there.  I probably would’ve met him anyway if he’d put up accurate pictures, but the fact that he so blatantly misrepresented himself bothered me almost as much as seeing his butt.

Most of the guys I met during my dating experiment were nice, good guys who wanted to get married and have a family.  I was surprised by the number of times they brought up marriage.  But none of them were right for me.  After all that dating, all I felt was tired.  I didn’t feel like I could go out with one more random guy.  I got off the dating websites and started working on become the best person I could be.  I hired a personal trainer and started spending a lot more time on my relationship with God. 

I learned a lot that year.  I got to go to some amazing places I never would’ve gone to any other way.  I met some really interesting people.  I’m glad I did it.  And I’m also glad I didn’t marry any of the guys I dated that year. 

Have any of your dates made the Hall of Fame for worst dates ever?

17 Comments

Filed under Just Goofing Around

Lie to Me

He told me he loved me, but I kept noticing what he said didn’t add up.  I wasn’t trying to catch him in a lie, but I noticed one person told me one thing about him and another said something different.  They didn’t know they were contradicting each other.  I quietly observed his behavior, made mental notes, and compared stories.  I asked questions of others.  I discovered that he said whatever he thought I wanted to hear, then told someone else what he thought they wanted to hear.  He lied and schemed his way through life.  He lied to get our church to give him money.  He angrily accused me of all kinds of terrible things when I asked him questions.  He tried to convince me I was just stupid.  It ended in a big blow up with him shaking me in frustration, eyes bulging from his head, and screaming that I knew him and couldn’t actually think he was the monster I accused him of being.  (No.  Perfectly sane gentlemen shake their girlfriends and scream at them.  Really.) 

I threatened to call the police if he didn’t leave.  And when he finally left, I laid with my face in the carpet and cried for hours.  I wanted to call him back and tell him it was all a mistake and surely he wasn’t a monster.  It took me months to shake myself free from him, but I finally did it.  He was like kudzu, creeping in and taking over everything, looking pretty from afar, but full of poison. 

I met him soon after moving to Nashville.  I was 22 years old, ready to meet the man of my dreams and get married, and very, very lonely.  He was strikingly handsome – extremely tall with jet black hair and aqua blue eyes.  People regularly stopped us while we were out to tell us how good we looked together.  He adored me, pampered me, and made me feel like a queen.  We had fun together, seemed to have everything in common and complemented one another well.  Yet I felt constantly suspicious of him.  I knew I couldn’t trust him, but had no reason to suspect anything until we’d been dating for nine months.  I made it three more months with him, trying to work it out, unable to believe the truth. 

I was dating a sociopath. 

After this experience, I find myself very sensitive about lying.  I cannot stand to feel like someone is trying to manipulate me.  And yet, it still happens.  It happens because I am trying to be the sweet, kind, forgiving, gentle young woman who is gracious to all and doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause discomfort to anyone else. 

Many times in the past I’ve been guilty of glossing over someone’s lie and hoping for the best.  I’ve quietly resented the person who hurts me, rather than speaking up and getting to the bottom of things.  I use the word “guilty” here because the right thing to do is to go to the person and discuss the situation with them as soon as possible. 

It is possible I’ve misunderstood or don’t have all the facts.  In that case, what does it hurt to ask questions?  Rather than silently watch them to confirm my suspicion, I can go to them immediately and give them a chance to set the record straight.  That does two good things.  First, it allows them to explain their reasons for the behavior in question.  If there is wrongdoing, we then have an opportunity to work on the problem together, apologize, and move on.  If there is no wrongdoing, it clears the air. 

If there is a problem and the person confronted refuses to admit it, then at least it lets them know I’m aware of what’s going on and might prevent the problem from getting bigger.  Secondly, it makes our relationship more real, more open.  It makes it a real relationship, rather than an acquaintance. 

When I don’t confront a situation immediately, hurt builds on top of hurt until there’s an explosion.  The explosion doesn’t have to be loud, and the other person doesn’t even have to know it has happened, but once it happens there’s often no going back. 

The problem is that confrontation is hard.  How do you look someone in the eye and tell them you think, for example, they lied to you or they are trying to control you through anger?  I want people to like me.  I don’t want to cause offense.  It hurts me to hurt someone else. 

Confrontation also opens you up to accusation.  When a person feels defensive, they often come back fighting.  They may throw wild accusations your way, and then their accusations might not be that wild.  They may know exactly what to say to hit the sensitive underbelly, the thing you work so hard on and don’t want to fail in.  That is NOT fun.

I write that the truth hurts because it really does.  It’s easier to just walk away.  It’s not so easy to say the hard thing, ask the tough question, and handle the anger or hurt that comes your way.  But if hurt, confusion, or pain isn’t discussed, something inside the person who has been wronged dies.  Maybe it’s the love they once felt.  Maybe it’s the respect or their self-respect that dies. 

You’ve seen them – the couples eating their dinner in silence, scowling at one another and looking around the room for anything more interesting to focus on.  They look like they’ve been married forever and would be happy if their spouse disappeared for good.  They try to talk, but they just end up fighting, so they sit in silence.  What happened?  Were they ever in love?  What happened probably wasn’t one big thing, but hundreds of little things over the years that they didn’t think they needed to discuss so they could keep the peace for today.  Then one day they woke up and despised one another.  They can’t point to one specific thing, but it’s there.  Years of resentment and anger and hurt, and if they try to talk about it now it just turns into an all-out war full of acid words and no understanding.  They are cowards who couldn’t talk about the little irritations, so when the big problems came they had no skills to deal with them either. 

Silence kills.

If I had stayed silent and continued dating the beautiful man with the luxurious lifestyle and black heart, what would have become of me?  I might have married him.  I might have had children with him.  And something inside of me would have died.

What’s your story?  Have you experienced anything like this?  I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

12 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Life

Out of Debt

I never considered the possibility that I could grow up and become a minister.  Girls didn’t do that.  I didn’t really consider the possibility that I’d do anything more than get married and have babies.  I wanted to be in ministry, but I thought the way I could do that was to marry a pastor.  When I graduated from college and moved to Nashville, I felt sure that my husband would be here waiting and sweep me off my feet.  That didn’t exactly happen…  The guy that I dated for the first year I lived in Nashville ended up being at best, a charmingly handsome compulsive liar, and quite possibly a sociopath.  He was really good at lying, so it took me about nine months to figure out what was going on.  After that, it took me three months to get it through my head that he wasn’t going to change.  To say I’m loyal to a fault would be an understatement.

After that gem of a man, I fell in love with a guy from church whose friends I knew and whose faith was secure.  He had some great qualities, but in the long run was not a good match for me.  Let’s just say that we did not bring out the best in each other and after some really hard work to try to fix our relationship, we realized it shouldn’t be that hard and ended things before it got worse.  That was an extremely painful time in my life, but I’ll admit that a big reason I went through all that with him is because he was wealthy.  I was not financially secure and that frightened me so much that I was willing to go through misery to find a way to get there.  Not one of my shining moments…

Since then I’ve earned a seminary degree, changed careers, and rebuilt my life.  I haven’t been in love since then, but I’ve learned some important lessons to prepare me for the next (and hopefully last) time around.  I also accumulated a lot of debt.  Going back to school isn’t cheap, even with scholarships.  I worked as a graduate assistant while in school, a very good networking job, but not lucrative.  Then I didn’t work much at all for nearly a year while finishing up my degree and looking for a full-time job.  After I got my full-time job, I never got caught up from the time I was out of work. 

Sometimes I freaked out about my finances, but I always had this romantic notion that my future husband would be a wealthy man who could rescue me from my black hole of debt without batting an eye or questioning my ability to manage household expenses.  I am definitely an optimist!  That has seriously narrowed the dating pool, by the way…  Not too long ago, I finally realized that I was going to have to take control of my finances and make some difficult decisions.  In an act that I can only describe as feeling like I’d just lost my right arm, I cut up my credit cards and made a promise to God that I would never rely on credit again.  After a month of wrapping my brain around my new circumstances, I made more difficult decisions.  I took drastic measures, admitted my problem (so humiliating), and found ways to begin actively paying off my debt.  There is now a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel and God has provided some amazing things to help get the ball rolling. 

Something else has happened through this process of confronting my debt and dealing with it head-on.  I have confronted a darker part of myself that I didn’t want to face.  Even though I consider myself an independent, (fairly) successful young woman, I still believed that I was somehow special.  I believed that the rules did not apply to me.  I could be in debt, I could use credit cards to live on, I could be financially irresponsible – and because I was so special, I would never face the consequences.  In hindsight, it’s hard to believe I was so blind, which makes me wonder what else I might be missing…  hmmm…  Anyway, the truth is that as a Christian, as a minister, and as a mature adult, I must be financially responsible.  I must be a good steward of the things God has entrusted to me.  Duh.  I know.  I’m a late-bloomer in this area.

I think as girls we are taught to believe that we will be rescued.  I’ve often heard my godly, single friends say, “when I marry my rich husband…”  I used to join in that conversation with no reservations.  Recently a new idea has started rattling around inside my head.  What if God has placed within me the gifts and ability to become financially secure and I’ve just not tapped into them?  What if something I can do will bring financial success to my family?  When I am pressed, when I can’t afford the things I really want or even need, what will I do?  What am I made of? 

These are the questions I’m currently trying to answer.  The DECISION to be financially responsible has been eye-opening in many ways.  I’m looking forward to what other things God has up His sleeve.  Of all the things I’ve learned about His character, the one that stands out to me the most is how surprising He can be.  All I know to say is, “sneaky, sneaky…” while I look up to heaven and smile. 

By the way, the dating pool is much wider now that I’ve lessened the restrictions from “wealthy” to “financially responsible”. 

8 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Life