They Do Exist.

Dating

Making Out Isn’t A Date

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Hilary Sherratt. Last month she wrote “Singleness: They’re Never Going To Like Me” for us, and she blogs here. What is your definition of dating? Do you just ‘hang out’ or do you wait for a man to ask you out on a date? How is this affecting the way you value yourself (or don’t)? – Lauren

Of course it is! I told at my reflection in the mirror after returning from a hours-long, super-romantic, sitting-on-the-beach-where-the-stars-feel-aligned night in early August before college. It has to be!

I told my friends I was dating that guy. The one with the hair that flopped on his forehead, who met me at Starbucks three times, who made out with me more than that, who whispered in my ear that he thought I was sexy {and who doesn’t swoon over that?}. I told myself that it was just growing into a relationship, that the making out, the suggestive text messaging, the thrill of the unknown… it was on its way to dating. It was basically there. Isn’t kissing someone in your car essentially asking them out? Wasn’t his desire to lock lips just another way of saying, “I think you are beautiful and smart and interesting and funny. Can I take you on a date”?

My dating mistake? Calling a lot of things with guys dates that aren’t.

Making out? Not a date.

Running into each other on the sidewalk and talking for what feels like forever about everything under the sun, and staring deeply into each other’s eyes? Not a date.

“Hanging out” on my couch laughing and talking while I bat my eyelashes and he looks kind of oblivious? Not a date.

Shooting each other looks from across the table in poetry class, trying to communicate that oh, my, yes, you look amazing, so do you, what are you thinking, what are you thinking? Not. A. Date.

My story is littered with these encounters. Some of them were fun. Some of them were intense. Some of them made me believe I was really beautiful. Some of them made me believe I really wasn’t. But when I look back on the crumpled notes tied with ribbon I used to get in my school mailbox, or the empty Starbucks cups from the many passion tea lemonades I drank in late summer, or the little black dress I wore to Boston to go out to dinner and walk through the Public Gardens, or even the eyeshadow I picked out that makes my eyes look like thunderstorms and that I wore to impress them…None of that was dating.

Those weren’t dates. I don’t know what to call them, or how to hold them, or what kind of story they tell about my love life in high school and college. But I can tell you that there is a mistake in dating called, “That isn’t a date.” My heart has tried to build more hope in reading between lines, sandy kisses and midnight texts than it has in the idea that I am worth actually asking out.

I have taught myself that guys won’t see me, like me, and ask me on a date. Instead, I have made myself comfortable in the non-date-but-let’s-pretend routine: lots of flirting and attraction, a casual hanging out, a few phone calls, a few passionate moments, a familiar ache in the pit of my stomach that says, “Maybe this one is it” followed by the even more familiar ache of disappointment when he disappears, starts kissing another girl, starts dating another girl, or simply looks at you with a dumbfounded, “But we’re just good friends!”

I don’t know a lot about love. I know even less about dating, about what a real relationship looks and feels like.

I could write a book about the tangled webs of hopeful conversations and flirting and eyelash-batting and playful banter and walking close together to class and catching each other’s eye during a lecture and making out and being salsa dancing partners and emails and texts that I’ve gotten into with boys.

But I can’t write a book about dating, because as weighty and good as some of those things have been (and as educational) – they aren’t dates.

Making out isn’t a date.
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Christian Dating: Do’s And Don’ts

Editor’s Note: I almost re-titled Nicole’s post, “How To Get A Guy.” So much of our single and dating conversations revolve around being content on our own, but it’s also necessary that we start a conversation on the right way to date. Today’s post is written by Nicole Cottrell over at Modern Reject. She tweets at @ModernReject and has a pretty some pretty blunt (and much needed) advice on dating. – Lauren

Recently, a few girls I know in their twenties wanted to talk with me about “being single.” They asked me an array of questions like, “Why do I need to be single? How can I be content while being single? How do I let a guy pursue me?” and so on.

This post could go into a million different directions. The topic of “singledom” is always a hot one, especially in Christian circles. I’d like to hone in on one particular facet of the single Christian life: Dating.

To those who are married, “dating” sounds almost like a four letter word. My skin kinda crawls and I think, “Man, I’m so glad that’s over.” Terrible, right? I mean, I don’t know many Christians who actually enjoy dating. They are so focused on “finding the right one” and “hearing from God” and looking out for “lightning in the sky” that they suck all the fun out of it.

Dating should be fun. Why is it that so many single Christians turn dating into some kind of checklist and interviewing process? Ladies are the worst with the checklist. Here’s a tip girls: if you have a checklist, look it over, count up all those necessary character traits, then crumple it up and chuck it in the trash bin—’cause that’s where it belongs.

God doesn’t care about your list.

He cares about your holiness and whichever man can help grow you in the holiness department will be on God’s list.

I also always hear girls saying things like, “I want a man to pursue me.” Well, that’s swell. I’m all for pursuit. Except that the girls spouting this line are then the same girls who sit on the sidelines and don’t do anything while expecting to get a date. Or then complain when they aren’t asked out.

You want a man to ask you out? Then be around. Go to parties, hang out with friends in group settings, get to know other single people. And here’s a scandalous idea that I’m sure someone will disagree with, but oh well: try flirting. I don’t mean wear a push-up bra and sit on his lap. I mean smile, be interested, be interesting, ask questions, touch his shoulder, laugh at his jokes. It’s like bees to honey, baby.

There is also a camp among Christians who fear dating. They think it will turn into a tempting situation (which it could), or that God hasn’t “called” them to date anyone (which may be true). More often than not, though, guys are chickening out and pulling the ol’ “I’ve kissed dating goodbye” bit. In order to have kissed dating goodbye, you have to have actually dated.

Dating doesn’t inevitably lead to sin. And God may not be calling you to date someone in particular, but that doesn’t mean that He has said to not date anyone at all.

Dating, also, does not inevitably lead to marriage. Many people refuse to get a cup of coffee with someone of the opposite sex for fear that sipping a caffeinated beverage is a precursor to chapel bells and flower girls. Just because you went on a (as in ‘singular’) date with someone does not mean they are the person you are going to marry. And if they think you are their future spouse as the result of one date, run away—quickly. You wouldn’t want to marry a kook like that anyway.

All too often, believers over-spiritualize dating and try turning it into some kind of holy act. It’s not. It’s a date. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Boy asks girl on a date. Simple. Over-thinking it leads to discontent single people who wonder when and where the “right one” is, instead of going on a date to actually find out.

What did I miss in the Christian dating world? What are, or were, your frustrations with the Christian dating scene? What have you learned that works or doesn’t work?.


Dating Mistakes: Choosing Dishonesty

Editor’s Note: One of my dear, bestest friends surprised me with a submission for us this month. She has been blessed with an unbelievable love for God and humility I see in very few people, and she is a gift to me. She blogs at kellyasummers.blogspot.com, and tweets at @kasummers. Please take what she has to heart. – Lauren

When Lauren started the Good Women Project, I didn’t think I would ever be able to write for it. Women have written stories packed with guidance and advice that will take me years to fully comprehend. I’ve only been married nine months, and I don’t feel qualified to give even the newest of newlyweds advice. Women submit stories of struggle and triumph, pain and redemption. My story is pretty plain and safe. Not boring, but not epic either.

When I found out that October was all about dating mistakes, I knew I stood a chance to write something. I know about mistakes.

After hearing God’s call on my life to be a single young woman and pursue only Him, I chose to remain in a relationship that was comfortable. Mistake.

After ending said relationship, I got overzealous and promised God I wouldn’t date anyone for an entire year. Mistake.

About three months into that year, I met an amazing man who turned every aspect of my life upside down, and I could not resist growing closer to him, even though I said I wasn’t dating. Mistake.

When it was obvious that we were more than friends, I spent months denying our relationship, estranging friends and causing immense guilt in my heart and stress on Robert. Mistake. Mistake. Mistake.

When we were finally dating openly, we pushed every boundary there was to push. Over and over again. Mistake.

I know mistakes. But I also know that God redeems. He restores, He forgives.

I know that even when it seemed like I was doing everything in my power to mess things up, God was loving and sovereign. He didn’t ignore my disobedience, but He used my blunders to mold me and change me. He used my mistakes to teach me about honesty.

I wasn’t honest with my friends trying to keep me accountable. I wasn’t honest with Robert who was just trying to love me. I wasn’t honest with myself, and I wasn’t honest with God. That, of course, was the greatest mistake of them all.

Today, I can see how essential honesty is in any relationship. When I find myself in a place where I feel like I’m keeping secrets and hiding my actions or feelings, it’s certain that we will start drifting apart soon. I find that our relationship works best when I am honest with Rob about how I feel and why I feel that way.

It’s also important to know what honesty is not. Honesty is not calling your friend after a fight with your boyfriend to tell her all of the crappy things he’s done. It’s not bashing his habits in the form of a prayer request, and it’s not cutting him down as a man whenever he does something you don’t like.

First Corinthians 13:6 says that “love rejoices in the truth.” Love prevails when you are honest with yourself about your relationship. Love prevails when you can calmly and lovingly explain to the man in your life why you are upset or hurt. Love prevails when you listen to God as He teaches you to be open and real without being hurtful.

It’s not just important to be honest with your husband or boyfriend. It’s also necessary to be open and real with Godly women who can provide accountability. I know I’m blessed to have a small group of women who are willing to be truthful with me about what I’m doing or how I’m acting.

If you’re dating someone, one of the best things you can do is have an older, married woman you can turn to for advice, but the key is to be honest with her. You can feel bad all day long about how you slept with your boyfriend last night, but until you are honest about it, you will never be free of it. The beauty is that you are sitting right in the middle of a project that can help you find a good woman to talk to.

I cringe when I think of all the ways I could have prevented my own marriage during those years of dating, but I rejoice in the knowledge that my God knew His plan and that none of my mistakes could keep Him from receiving His glory..


Dating Mistakes: A Two-Faced Faith

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Natalie Soldano. She blogs at This Chickadee and tweets at @this_chickadee. Unfortunately, I have lived through this exact experience that Natalie shares with us. No one changes into another girl overnight. It’s little by little, step by step. And always not-in-the-light. Find someone in your life and ask them to be the woman you go to who knows everything you do in your dating relationships. You should never have to hide your love. And if you catch yourself hiding it, it probably isn’t the love you should be pursuing. – Lauren

When I wasn’t looking, I decided to lead a secret life. Behind my own back, I became someone else.

With my family, my friends, and my church, I was Prohibition Patty. I knew where I stood on drinking, drugs, premarital sex, and everything else in the “just don’t” category. And I was loud about it, judgmental even. Having walked the straight and narrow for most of my life, I thought my morals and values were solid. My convictions and principles were firmly in place. And there was no room for debate. I had chosen to walk with God, had swallowed His truth whole without question, and made it to college without even a stumble.

But only because my will had never truly been tested.

Now, that’s really code for “I hadn’t had a boyfriend before.” Then I met someone who did not believe in the same things I did, but I liked him anyway. I felt a bit behind schedule on the relationship front and figured I would stay strong, that it couldn’t do any harm. After all, I wasn’t going to do anything I didn’t want to do.

Surrender came quickly. And suddenly, at the first serious temptation and threat to the purity I never thought was at risk, I didn’t even think about it. There were no sirens going off in my head, no good angel/bad angel debates being waged on my shoulders.

We had gone too far.

He didn’t care about a higher standard or my identity in Christ. He started to take and, because he wanted it, I gave. His desires and expectations took my hand and led the way. I blindly followed.

“Why are you doing this?” I would wonder.

I was the girl I never thought I would be: willing, permissible, compromising. Moments turned into habits and eventually, I was going through motions and creating a new normal. Time and time again, I pretended not to notice this new person I’d become, turned my thoughts away from who I was behind closed doors.

“What are you thinking?” I would ask myself.

Everything I’d believed, everything I thought I knew and stood by, turned fallible. Though on the outside I remained unchanged- not even my closest friends knew what I was up to – somewhere deep inside I ignored the wails of a girl who knew she was giving up what she would later wish she’d cherished and protected.

“What happened? How did I get here?” I thought.

I wish I could say that I awoke one day to realize the error of my ways and by my own Girl Power cleaned up my dating relationships with one wave of my God’s Word Wand. I have to admit that it took a wonderful man walking into my life, one who held me in higher esteem than I held myself, to stop the viscous cycle. He helped me remember who I wanted to be for a future husband – that I wanted to be a pure, Godly woman for a pure, Godly man.

It was with him, the man who wanted to know me and love me and wait for the joys of intimacy as God intended them within marriage, that I began processing my past. I was not proud of what I had done, was embarrassed to even say it out loud. I felt so disconnected from who I’d been and what I’d been doing. I wanted it all to have never happened so I could be the woman I was supposed to be for my family, my friends, my future husband. But I started to think about what went wrong.

I needed to retrace my steps and figure out where I’d lost myself.

I hadn’t taken God seriously when I read His Word. Though I’d been raised in a Christian home and had been memorizing scripture for as long as I could remember, the God in the Bible wasn’t speaking directly to me. I wasn’t who He was talking about- beautiful in His sight and perfectly created, worthy of the best. It took me a long time to truly believe that His Word was for real, was for me. That I was His bride and was to be treated as such.

I’d left God out of the men I was looking for, of that part of my life. I didn’t work to include Him and the guys didn’t either. I thought I could handle it on my own, how bad could it be? God wasn’t really paying attention to every moment of my life, wasn’t always by my side. I could simply leave Him at home. Or at church. In looking back, I finally understood that honesty with Christ and an intimate relationship with Him would mean He wasn’t going anywhere. And I didn’t want Him to.

I wasn’t being open with my friends and others closest to me. These things were happening, literally and figuratively, in the dark. It’s amazing the permission you can grant yourself in hiding – no one can question you if they are unaware of what is happening. I knew this was a challenging area for me and that I needed the trusted people in my life to speak into my dating relationships with good discernment. And I needed to ask them to provide that for me. It can certainly kill a mood, thinking about your best friend’s face and what you’re going to tell her tomorrow if you start getting carried away.

I wasn’t prepared with my boundaries, knowing my limits and why I wanted them. My perspective narrowed “in the moment,” avoiding any reasons to stop. I finally figured out that if I had to ask myself “is this going too far?” and even “how about now?” then YES, IT WAS. And I had to decide for myself beforehand why I wanted to remain faithful to a Godly standard and honor myself. Because goodness knows that “in the moment,” those reasons never came to mind.

God forgives, heals, and redeems. But He also strengthens us when facing our struggles, and let’s face it – physical relationships are a struggle for us all. We need to arm ourselves with defenses to use in situations where we know we are most vulnerable. We need to let those in who can hold us accountable and remember that God cares about every hair on your head, let alone what you’re doing with a non-believing boy.

And in case you need the reminder like I did: yes, in the Bible – He means you. .


Dating Mistakes: He Didn’t Love Jesus.

Editor’s Note: I wrote this post in June on my own blog. I’ve dated Christians, atheists, agnostics, and everything in between. I thought that chemistry, how he treated me, and his accepting, open-minded personality was enough. I was tired of judgmental, hypocritical, boring Christian men. Thankfully, God stepped in. Last month I married a man who loves Jesus more than he loves me. And I could not be happier. – Lauren

“Why don’t you date him? He’s a good guy.”

“Just give him a chance. You never know unless you take the risk.”

“Go on a few dates. Just because he isn’t a Christian doesn’t mean he will be a bad boyfriend.”

“God can change people. Maybe he’s the one. You can make it work.”

“We’re just hanging out, it’s not serious. It won’t go anywhere.”

“You’re not deciding to marry him right this second. Just see how it goes.”

I remember being a freshman in high school and believing heart and soul that I would never date a “non-believer,” much less ever have sex with one. Fast-forward five or six years, and I’ve dated a couple. Fast-forward another year or two, and I’m sleeping with one that I’m not even dating.

No girl wakes up and says to herself, “I’m gonna fall head over heels in love with a man I’d never marry today” or decides over lunch that sex is just sex is just sex, and none of it is a big deal anyway. I didn’t. And you probably didn’t, but both of those things happen to us.

“Your first perfect Christian boyfriend broke your heart. You weren’t supposed to mess around with him, but you did anyway. Now you might as well mess around with the next one. You’ve been perfect your whole life. You deserve to have some innocent fun. It’s just going out for a drink – that isn’t committing to a relationship. Cuddling as ‘friends’ isn’t wrong. Marriage is like, a decade away. What are you supposed to do for ten years – be bored? Everyone has sex before marriage. And everyone ends up with a husband and happy in the end. You need to experience everything before you settle down and only have sex with one man for the freaking rest of your whole entire life.”

I don’t know how it happened to you, but that’s a glimpse of what happened to me. And I was the girl with the best intentions, the highest standards, and the most reasonable head on my shoulders. Maybe you got there a little differently, but it ended us both in the same place.

Why did it happen? Because we’re human. Because life happens. Because we get hurt. Because we’re built for relationships, but we’re born broken.

And because too often as Christian girls, we are given the rules with no explanations. We’re told the No’s without the Yes’s. We’re given the worst-case scenarios without a picture of the amazing fun-filled, purpose-filled, hot sex & crazy love filled marriage that we were created for.

As Christian girls, we’re told that sex gets us pregnant, ruins sex with our future husband & is SIN SIN SIN. The church has steered us away from sex by way of guilt, shame & fear. The problem with motivating by guilt & fear (instead of truth & life) is that the moment another area of our life collapses, we give up on everything. Because sin is sin is sin, right?

We say, “What the hell.” And we give up a little, settle a little, stop caring a little.

This is what I didn’t know about relationships. About men. About myself. About sex. About dating. About marriage. About life.

This is what I didn’t know, that had I known, I might not have become addicted to things that slowly began to destroy me.

This is what I half-knew, that I pushed to the back of my mind and heart, believing that I couldn’t have or couldn’t find.

This is why you can’t date a man who doesn’t love Jesus, if you have given your life to the God who created, treasures and adores you.

– Because Love isn’t enough to get you through anything. You have to respect him, too. There is something in the heart of a woman who loves Jesus that knows she can’t fully respect a man who doesn’t have God as his number one priority. If you don’t respect him as a man, get out. If you question it now, you can expect it to be wholly sabotaged when things get rough. A man knows when you don’t respect him, and there are few things more dangerous, problem-causing & explosive than a man without respect.

– When we evaluate relationships, we forget to set the stage at its worst – we just set it for now. Last week, my man hit rock bottom. As the woman who is promising to love & support him (and invest my entire life in him) no matter what, I HAVE to know that God loves, protects, will provide for, and will strengthen this man in my arms. If a man doesn’t love God with his whole heart, I can’t be assured that what I’m comforting him with is going to be delivered. I can’t have faith in a man who doesn’t have faith. I can’t strengthen the faith of a man who doesn’t have any to begin with.

– If you are a woman who loves Jesus, a man who doesn’t love Jesus doesn’t know who you truly are. Your identity is defined by God. You’re lying to yourself if you think that your relationship with Jesus can remain in a box, outside of your romantic relationship. For a while, I told myself that if he understood every part of me except for the God part – that was okay. When you are created a new creation in Christ, ALL of you is “the God part.” No part of you is untouched by your love for Jesus. And your man does not see that you – he sees a different woman.

– You need an anchor. One day you’re going to fall apart. And you’re going to need him to come to your rescue by way of God, not by himself. God is our rock, and our foundation. Max cannot be my savior. I cannot be his. And both of us need one. If you date a man who doesn’t know his Savior, you are forced to fulfill that role, which as a human being, you cannot. And he will try to be your savior. And he can not. Everything will be okay because you believe in God, not because your boyfriend “believes in you.”

– When you’ve made the decision to follow Jesus, your perception of everything becomes wildly changed. Lifelong friendships are built not on similar interests, but on similar views of the world. Marriages are no different. It is said that marriages do not fail for lack of love, but lack of friendship. You’re choosing a partner to take on the world with together for the rest of your life. You can’t make it through the battle if he’s seeing differently than you are. And you can’t live with someone you wouldn’t be friends with in the first place.

– He can’t love you to the best of his ability if he doesn’t love Jesus. I’m talking about the kind of love you need to survive a marriage. The love that lasts a lifetime. The lay-down-your-life-for-someone-kind-of-love. The world’s definition is but a pale imitation of love. If you want to truly be loved by a man, you need to find one who has experienced unconditional, sacrificial love as is defined by God, the author of it. God created marriage as an image of Jesus’ relationship with the church, and Jesus laid down his life out of love for his bride.

– Believing in God is not the same as having a relationship with Jesus. Telling someone that your boyfriend “believes in God” is a cop out answer. Believing or not believing is irrelevant; what matters is their active relationship with Jesus.

– You can’t marry them, so why date them? Let’s say you’ve already decided you won’t marry a non-Christian – but what’s wrong with “just” dating them? Your body is designed to bond utterly & completely with someone, through the release of dopamine & oxytocin. Dopamine is the chemical that drives you back to pleasurable things. In its most innocent form, it teaches a small child that puppies are awesome. In its most powerful form, it creates a natural addiction to the person you are physically involved with. You were created to be addicted to someone for the rest of your life. The addiction starts the moment dopamine is triggered and begins to flood your brain. The question is: are you created an addiction to something healthy, or unhealthy? (When Oxytocin is triggered, it teaches your mind to trust, and reduces fear. Consider the repercussions of programming your body to trust someone you know you shouldn’t, and to be safe around someone you plan to break up with.)

It hurts. It’s hard. You love him.

I’m not telling you to leave him because you’re sinning, I’m telling you to go get addicted to a man you want in your life forever. .


Dating Mistakes: We Asked, You Answered.

Editor’s Note: Over the last couple days, we’ve been asking you guys on Twitter and Facebook what your biggest dating mistake was! We’re posting your answers here, as well as opening up the comments for those who haven’t already shared. Conversation time, ladies! – Lauren

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Dating Mistakes: Chase Me If You Can

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Katey Kerman. She blogs at Stretching Faith. She describes herself as a self-diagnosed serial flirt – a phrase that I am far too familiar with. For years I was caught up in the game, only to realize that the game kept me from being myself. Read, and listen. – Lauren

“Stop following me, Katey” he spoke assertively, and yet still in his soft tone. He had turned around to face me now, and all I could do was stop, frozen in my tracks. It was a stare down now, and he was determined to win. So, in the game that I often played with men, I let him. I began shifting my weight, walking tentatively backwards toward my room to show I had listened, eyes still fixed on his gorgeous, tan and freckled face. I felt like I was swimming in his brown eyes as my heart sank, realizing that this would probably be the last time I’d ever see this new friend of mine.

And before I knew it, he was walking toward me.

“There. Doesn’t that feel better?”

My heart began racing, my cheeks burned a deep red as each cell in my body felt as though it would explode from excitement. I could barely breathe. It was as if time had stopped. In an instant I could feel the heat of his body near mine, posing such a vague question.

Doesn’t that feel better…?

If you don’t already know me, let it be known here and now: I am terrified to let men chase me.

Doesn’t that feel better…

Let’s get this straight: Women deserve to be chased. Not because it’s fun or because we love playing games, but because we, as human beings, were all born with the innate desire to be loved and adored – and with this desire, comes the proving of worth and intention. It’s so complicated in this day and age to know whose role is whose in the chase, but I have recently found how truly clear a man’s intention is when he is allowed to take the lead in chasing a girl he truly respects and admires.

Before you go all feminist on me, let me explain myself – I am a self diagnosed serial flirt. I’ve journaled about it, written blog posts about it, talked to my priest and prayed and worried over it. In many ways this terrible habit blossomed due to my lack of trust in God’s plan for me, but even more so because I never truly learned to love myself with the grace of God as a young adult. As I grew into the awkward teenager, I felt so unsure of the ideal that a man could actually love and see me the way the Lord saw me. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a chunky, ugly theatre-geek. I did not know how to embrace and love this girl that so easily despised herself. So, I made the assumption that most self-deprecating teenage girls make: If I saw myself this way, surely no man would ever respect and adore me the way my creator had intended.

But…there was one hitch.

…Self diagnosed serial flirt, remember?!

This is where things got messy. I, being the brilliantly broken child of God that I am, took matters into my own hands. I decided that the most sensible way of finding my self-worth would be chasing every boy that I ever found remotely attractive. I know, brilliant, right?!

I followed, pined, pushed, cuddled, dated and eventually smothered man after man. If I realized one wasn’t for me, I simply picked up and moved on – but more often, I found the men disappeared on their own accord. Instead of seeing this as a red flag, I found it motivated me to work harder to keep their attention.

It wasn’t long before it stopped being about finding the one God had created for me, and was replaced with a game. It was as if I thought ‘You know, I won’t miss out on love if I try out everyone!’

I was finally living the life that society said would make me feel full!

…so why did I feel so empty?

Eventually, in trying to find my self-worth by chasing, I became someone I did not recognize – a person who hurt other people with flirting, put strain on friendships with constant pushing and even pressured men into dating when they weren’t ready or truly interested. In the end, I hurt myself, because while I was continuously being rejected, I never had the common sense to understand that these were not relationships that should ever have been pursued. I did not understand that God had kept those men from asking me out because they did NOT have pure intentions or genuine care for my being.

When it came down to it, I was the only one who perpetuated the idea that I wasn’t good enough by pushing situations that were never truly meant to be. I was my own worst enemy.

Fast forward a couple of years to that great question: “Doesn’t that feel better?”

“NO!” I screamed.

In that moment it didn’t feel better! I was terrified, scared, self-conscious and worried that I would simply fail to be worthy of such intentional care and romance. The very idea of a man seeing me, finding me enthralling or beautiful and choosing to pursue me seemed only a fabricated myth that Hollywood had led me to believe as a child. I felt like screaming how I had proven that this concept was not true! How, at the ripe age of twenty-one, I had watched boy after boy, man after man, soak up my chasing them and then, as if I were nothing but a nuisance, disappear without a second glance while I stood blue in the face, salty tracks upon my cheek and more desperate for love and affection than ever.

No, being told I was worthy of love, after years of convincing myself that I lacked beauty, grace, talent and femininity by chasing the wrong boys did not ‘feel better.” It just made me nauseous.

“No?” He smiled, almost not surprised.

I had met this boy with the beautiful brown eyes, handsome face and heart of gold only mere days before this encounter. When I first met him I could see immediately that he radiated sincerity. I felt no fear in placing my authentic self before him. I laid my cards on the table on day one, telling him my fears, mistakes, dreams, problems…and half expected him to run for dear life. Instead he took my brokenness, held my wounded heart in his hands and had me understanding something I hadn’t even begun to fathom all through the simple actions of walking towards me and asking: “Doesn’t that feel better?”

And when I blatantly lied, cheeks flushed and heart pounding…he didn’t call my bluff. He smiled.

By showing me what it meant to be chased, what it meant to be taken care of, he demanded that I see myself as God saw me. He reminded me that God literally takes delight in my existence…and that God created me because I am worth loving, fighting for and chasing.

We all are.

And, no, it doesn’t feel “better.” It feels…amazing. .


Dating Mistakes: I Had A Plan For My Life

Editor’s Note: This month we’re talking about dating and mistakes we’ve made. If you’ve read our mission statement, you know we’re most passionate about sharing our mistakes with one another! Our first post is by Brianna Sky Stevens. She blogs at Shine Or Set and tweets at @brianna__sky. – Lauren

I always had a plan for my life. I imagined I would find my future husband in college, get engaged after graduation, and be married a year later. It was a silly plan, but one I had seen acted out before by other couples, whether they were real or simply characters in a story or film.

I thought I found my future husband in college. He wasn’t like my past boyfriends. I guess you could say that I had a type, but something about him made me want to stray away from the usual. He seemed like the “nice” guy. It was everything any relationship starts out as: the honeymoon stage, the banter through text messages, the silly gifts given, the meeting of the parents. It was puppy love. Looking back, I don’t know if it ever grew up and turned into real love.

The arguments started before it had a chance to mature. Both incredibly stubborn people, our disagreements were heated and often left unresolved. He would selfishly shut down, leaving me to pick up the pieces. Our disagreements continued for months, which led to him using ugly words, such as “fat” or “slut.” The mental abuse eventually turned into a push or a shove.

However unhealthy it was, I couldn’t let us fail. It was my longest relationship yet, which led me to think he was the one. If he weren’t then my whole plan would go awry. I was forcing him to be what I thought I wanted, when he couldn’t be further from it. I believed that if I pretended we were happy then we would be. I let everyone else believe it too. My friends and family were blind to what was going on, only due to the charade I had worked so hard to keep up.

On the night of our breakup we were out for drinks with friends. At one point in the night I remember looking at him and thinking, “I’ve had enough.” Every bit of my insides was pulsing, just wanting to be free. I knew it was my gut talking, and I knew I had to follow it. I ended the relationship right then and there. A loud, crowded bar probably wasn’t the best place to do so, but I had to come to a breaking point.

Being fresh out of a relationship that I had once believed was it, was scary, but exciting. I was free, but I was also alone. After a little time, I stupidly thought I was ready for the next one. Deep down I knew that I wasn’t ready, but I was too scared to venture without a companion. I stupidly expected to quickly find someone else, but I didn’t realize that I had to find myself before I could find another.

This realization took a whole year of little heartaches, a whopping total of six dates, and bad judgment calls to get to. I was so busy searching for someone else, that I forgot to search for me. I do thank those little heartaches for assisting in that search. I could have done it the easier, and possibly shorter way, which would have been solely on my own.

I chose the harder and longer way, which was dating when I wasn’t ready.

Now? I have no regrets because I know who I am, what I want, and what I most definitely don’t want. I won’t expect others to change into what I want them to be. Those who have commitment fears won’t string me along. I won’t be mentally or physically abused. I will not settle because I’m fearful of being alone. I will not settle in order to fit him into “my plan.”

My mom sent me this quote in an e-mail just the other day, and it hit me hard:

“It’s kind of strange, but first you have to know what you want, defined in terms of the end result. And then you have to physically move towards it, without defining the hows. At which point, the thing you want actually starts coming to you, on its own terms, from a direction completely unexpected. Just carry on, detached from the details and timing, and perhaps act like you just couldn’t care less.”

I realize now that getting wrapped up in “the details and timing” isn’t going to get me closer to what I want. I just have to keep the “end result” in mind, and stop worrying so much about the when’s, the why’s, and the who’s.

I know that being myself will pay off, I will find someone who loves me for me, and I will be in the happiest relationship I’ve ever been in. It might not be tomorrow. It might not be next month, or next year, but eventually it will happen to happen.

The timing of it doesn’t weigh on me so heavily anymore. The most important thing is that I will be ready for it when it comes..