They Do Exist.

When You’ve Only Dated One Guy 10 Years Ago, And He Broke Up With You.

Editor’s Note: Today’s story is shared by Jen Rose. She blogs at jenwritesstuff.com and tweets at @jen_rose. So, so lovely. For more stories on dating and being single, visit our archives. – Lauren

I went on my first date when I was eighteen, if you want to call it that. I didn’t. My goal all along was the smart path of the forward-thinking, 21st century woman: go to college, make the grades, get the degree, and begin charting the course toward my perfect career. Radio and the music industry was my destination, and I had to at least get started before I could even consider any kind of relationship. Besides, as the I Kissed Dating Goodbye generation knows well, why even bother if I wasn’t ready for a ring? God’s perfect design, right?

But, well… when the boy you’ve known for years admits he’s crushed on you for most of that time, and the shy, quiet homeschool girl, all frizzy curls and acne marked, finally feels noticed, clearly God has changed his mind, right? I wasn’t ready to be serious, but I was open. So, jittery and aimless, I agreed to give it a shot, at least in the “let’s hang out and get to know each other” sense.

Our dating “relationship” consisted of several months of self-conscious phone calls, innocuous emails, and one really strange night at the roller skating rink in a sketchy part of town. I fell and slammed my head against the hardwood floor early in the evening. My main recollection of the whole experience is me, sitting on the sidelines and grateful for an excuse out of awkward “couple’s skate time” decisions. While pairs of teens drifted in circles to suggestive R&B songs, the sparkle of a cheap disco ball setting them alight, I pressed a bag of ice against my skull and felt like a failure beside my suddenly quiet date.

And this was how it was with us. He wanted to be a prince, but I was a stubborn, confused, and rather clumsy excuse for a princess.

During this time, our friendship/relationship existed in a perpetual “getting to know you” limbo. I believed we were just learning to navigate the murky waters, that we needed to take our time, so I plunged into my college studies like the bookish nerd I was becoming.

A few nights before Christmas, I checked my email and saw words that stung more than I could have imagined: “I’m sorry. It’s not working out.” My first thought was, “What’s not working out?” Then I knew.

I didn’t tell anyone, not even my mom, until I finally couldn’t stand it any more. I felt too ashamed. For the first time ever, someone wanted to take a chance on me, and I blew it. God only knows when that chance will come again.

A decade has gone by. I got the grades, the degree, and the job. I haven’t, however, gotten the guy.

I watch my friends grow up. I attend weddings and baby showers. And sometimes, though I love this time of my life, I catch myself noticing a dull ache for someone to once again invite me into his story. Occasionally, doubt creeps in, and we all wonder if we’re doing something wrong, don’t we?

I know I never had a reason to be ashamed. Actually, I’m grateful things worked out this way, because now I see there was nothing wrong with either of us. We were two souls pointing in different directions, our compasses leading us to opposite shores. If I tried to go and drag him with me, or the other way around, then only greater heartache could have followed. But at the time, to my young confused heart, I honestly believed there was something wrong with me, that he needed something I couldn’t fill, that I wasn’t enough. But I know something now that took me years to recognize.

A man cannot complete me. Only God can do that. And this same God that said, “it’s not good for man to be alone” prepares our souls to complement each other instead.

Do you know the feeling of being so in tune with someone a sideways glance speaks volumes, or you can have the same weird thought and burst into laughter? I do, with a precious few, and that is what I now know love to be. The proverbial “One” is someone who will help me be holier and more human than I am on my own. Not a white knight to rescue me, but a broken, lonely wanderer to come alongside and teach my pride to die.

Someone not to mold me in his image or make me feel good, but who will love me enough to let me be myself and challenge me to be more than I am.

We are not called to complete each other, because only God can do that. We are not called to rescue each other, or be someone’s personal Jesus.

Instead, we are privileged to carry each other’s burdens on this journey, our ships steering by the same bright star.

Before, I wanted to be rescued, and I wanted to be a savior. I couldn’t then. I can’t now. I’m not enough for that. But I can live a life of beauty — working with excellence, creating, writing, laughing, loving.

And perhaps along the way, my course will align with another’s, and we’ll sail toward home together.


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47 Responses

  1. Karlea

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know yours is one that is a reminder I need. No one can complete me. Only my Savior. Love your heart and bravery!

    August 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    • Thank you Karlea! I didn't feel very brave writing it… just freaked out. ;) I'm so glad that it's connecting with people. This is a good lesson for us to learn and remember, and totally changed the perspective for me.

      Thanks for reading! :)

      August 18, 2012 at 11:17 am

  2. acp1004

    I saw the title and immediately screamed, "YES!" Not that it applied to me or anything… haha.

    August 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    • ha! Well, I've done that lots of times, so I'm glad something I wrote caused that for you. Thank you! =)

      August 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

  3. Sarah

    Love this!

    August 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm

  4. I needed to read this today. Thanks. :)

    August 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    • Those are the best words a writer can hear… thank you!

      August 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

  5. Stephanie

    My God. This is so familiar. I was nineteen, also homeschooled, and I felt EXACTLY the same way when we broke up. Not many people knew about the relationship, so I didn't tell anyone about the breakup and I felt so alone. It's been nearly four years, not ten, but I still wonder why it happened, and why he's literally the only guy who's ever shown a serious interest in me. I comfort myself with all of the "wait for God's timing" platitudes, but I can't help wondering if I'm missing something. Thank you for sharing your story.

    August 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    • Oh man…. this sounds near exactly like my story too. Take heart! The platitudes rarely help, but there is indeed some truth to them. And I have to believe, even when it's hard to, that in the end it will all be worth it. Your life is a story, and God is excellent at writing plot twists. :) Hmm… sounds like a platitude too, but I believe it with all my heart.

      Thanks for your comment, Stephanie. It means a lot! <3

      August 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

  6. ash

    Thank you so much for this post. I too did all it took to be an independent woman in the corporate world, but haven’t quite found my special someone. After a crazy summer watching one of my friends have a baby, one get engaged, and be a bridesmaid in three of my other friend’s weddings, it is so reassuring that I’m not alone in feeling like I’m the only one left without a companion. I’m on the path God has created for me, and while it is taking longer than I thought it would, my companion is also somewhere on his journey too. Thanks for this reminder to be patient & again that I’m not alone. :)

    August 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    • Thank YOU for sharing your story! It is a strange feeling isn't it? And it's good to know we're not alone. Like, I know that in my head, but seeing the comments here is a good reminder that really, truly I'm not. :)

      August 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

  7. Bethany

    So glad somebody wrote this. Thank you!

    August 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    • Thank you for reading! So glad people are getting it. :)

      August 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

  8. Becky

    Thank you so much for sharing! :)

    August 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    • You're welcome! Thank you for reading! :)

      August 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

  9. Paige

    This was very encouraging. I relate in so many ways to your story. What a blessing to read this, thank you.

    August 18, 2012 at 2:28 am

    • I'm so glad to hear that…. thank you!

      August 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

  10. Awww, thanks everyone for your sweet comments! I have to admit, I was a little freaked out to send this off…. it was a hard thing for me to write, and weird knowing it was going out there on the Internet for everyone. But nothing is more encouraging to me than to hear, "I understand." Thank you so much! <3

    August 18, 2012 at 11:34 am

  11. Kelvin

    Hope this article reaches a young girl lingering in my mind… A guy from Singapore

    August 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

  12. Thanks for this… It took us 17 years and two kids to reach that place of knowing it wasn't working out, so I'm struggling a LOT with the "I didn't fulfill his needs" feelings right now.

    Only knowing that God has something better in mind for me and my kids is holding me together right now.

    Take care, and hold on. The right one is worth it.

    August 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    • Oh wow… I'm so sorry to hear that. I can't imagine how hard that is. No platitudes help, but it's true that yes, God is writing your story, and he has something wonderful in store for you and your kids. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      August 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm

  13. Erica

    If it helps at all, I went 17 years between dates before I finally found a good man who loved God and wanted me back. I told myself that if God was leaving this desire for marriage and parenthood with me if He didn't have a plan to fulfill those desires. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Hang in there, have hope! God knows the plans he has for you, for welfare, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I praise God for the husband and children he has finally given me, and I pray God will do the same for you and satisfy all the desires of your heart.

    August 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

  14. Sarah

    Oh my word. I also saw the title and squealed in delight that I had found someone who summarized how I felt. I seriously dated (or so I thought at age 16) this guy when I was 16 for all of 6 months. It was an incredibly toxic relationship – he was verbally abusive and shoved me once. Since the end of that relationship almost 10 years ago, I’ve not dated anyone since then. I went off to college and now in medical school, and I keep asking God where is the man I’m supposed to spend my life with. All the while, I keep asking myself what was wrong with me or what I had done to be left alone without a husband in the foreseeable future. After a lot of praying and pondering, I realized that it has to be part of God’s bigger plan for my life to make me wait. And now, I’m content with just that – waiting in the palm of His hand. So thank you for posting this! You have refreshed my waiting. :)

    August 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    • Oh wow… thank you for the encouraging comment! Yes, remembering your identity, God's beloved child living in his story, is so, so important!

      I'm really glad this was encouraging to you! :)

      August 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  15. This is cute. I hope I don’t have to wait 10 more years lol I just graduated xD

    August 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

  16. Jen

    Thank you for this. Sometimes it feels so lonely to be in your mid-twenties and not really have had any kind of serious relationship. Especially as so many people are getting married and starting families. I didn't think there was anyone else out there… so somehow this makes me feel a bit better. (Don't get me wrong, I'm living a vibrant life but… a someone would be nice. haha ^_^)

    August 18, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    • Single in TX

      I'm in my late forties and am still single so to you twenty-somethings – I'm not quite ready to invite you to the pity party. Talk to me when you're still single in your forties.

      I dated someone seriously for many years and, thankfully, it didn't turn into anything permanent as we were not right for each other. However, it's been about 15 years since I've had a relationship. I'm close to giving up on meeting someone to share my life with. Maybe God has a plan for me, but apparently it's to be alone. Guess I better be okay with that.

      August 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      • I'm so sorry if the article sounded like a pity party. My biggest concern (okay, fear) with writing this article was that it's too easy to either drift into super happy platitudes or too much angst. I can only hope that I managed to tell the story as honestly and sensitively as I can.

        You are certainly not alone in this! I know quite a few women in their forties who are single. I'm sure it's tough no matter where you are, and no matter how vibrant and meaningful a life you're living, there are sometimes those moments of loneliness.

        But also… please don't give up! I also know someone in her 50s who married a wonderful person just a year or two ago. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

        August 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm

  17. So, there is more than one person in the world with a story like this? I've begun to be afraid that in my "single-hearted pursuit of God" I might just end up being "single". Thanks for the encouraging post for all us single ladies.

    August 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    • Yes indeed. There are lots of us. :) So glad it was encouraging to you… thanks!

      August 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm

  18. This is a very well written article. However, I have one point of disagreement where you said "A man cannot complete me. Only God can do that." This goes against what God says of Adam in Genesis, "It is not good for man to be alone." Based on this and my personal experience, I fully believe that the most completing relationship is a man, a woman, and God being close together in the same room.

    August 19, 2012 at 6:48 am

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Joe! That is an excellent point. i do agree that God designed us for relationship, that in some sense of the word, a man and woman can complete each other. But I don't believe this means that we are somehow half people until we find a relationship to make us whole.

      So I guess I both agree and disagree… and that's cool! :) This wasn't meant to be a "rawr, girl power! I don't need a man!" kind of article. Instead, by saying we complement instead of complete, I meant the right two people can fill each others gaps and encourage each other toward holiness. I once heard someone say, "Marriage teaches me to die to myself slowly, because I'm not man enough to do it all at once." That's the kind of story I want to tell someday.

      Hope this makes sense. Again, thanks for the comment! You gave me something to think about, and I appreciate it!

      August 22, 2012 at 5:31 pm

  19. Sarah

    Thank you for this post. I also have waited 10 years between dates myself… and still counting. But I have recently come to see all the things God does through me in my single state. However, there is nothing more comforting than to hear you are not the only one experiencing the weddings, births, and showers for others as you wait to meet that person to move forward with yourself.

    August 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    • I hear you! I do love this time of my life, and I am grateful to use it in ways I couldn't if I had a family. But yes, sometimes it's good to know you're not alone. Seeing that phrase over and over in these comments means a lot to me! Thanks for reading.

      August 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

  20. This is so close to my life – it isn't even funny. As another perpetual single girl , thank you!

    August 20, 2012 at 10:47 am

  21. Wanda

    In so many ways this could be my story. Echo the sentiments of others-it's great to hear someone else experiencing the same.

    August 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm

  22. Cea

    This is, much to my dismay, so much me!! Only my boyfriend was when I was just ten years old, so I've been pushing 15 years without one. Loving my life, and clinging to my Dearest Lord, but still longing for someone to share this all with!

    August 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm

  23. theatricallytrue

    Thank you so much for this entry.Your last words in it really touched me. You have amazing strength to be so transparent about something that a lot of us feel connected to. You have given me an IMMENSE amount of hope today, and I thank you for that!

    August 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm

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  25. You might find my blog of interest where I critique Josh Harris's book.
    http://www.ikdg.wordpress.com
    I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?

    Unfortunately Josh Harris is quick to point out the problems with dating but reluctant to share any of the problems with his approach.

    Hope this helps.

    August 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm

  26. moccy

    Jen, I know it's a year old thread but I'm amazed on the resemblance to my very own experience! I had never dated anyone until a guy who was my best friend for years told me he had a crush on me. I thought I met the "one" and put him at the center of my world. After few months, I received the message "I think it doesn't work. Let's talk", and that's it. 4 months later he announced his new girl and put lovey-dovey photos all over social media. My self-esteem plunged. He never published his relationship with me and I felt maybe he's ashamed being with me.

    But Praise the Lord, since then I started a new life. I cried on how he broke my heart reminds me on how I broke Jesus' heart. While Jesus is so good to me, I left him for someone else. I agree with you that we need to be complete in Jesus instead of waiting for someone to make us complete. Looking at my friends' marriage, I saw how wrong my past relationship was. It was a painful lesson but it's an eye-opening experience. I know what I want to have and it's completely different from what I expected before.

    August 29, 2013 at 4:07 am

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  28. ZoeScott25

    Hello. Such a nice article. I understand every word that you write. When I was eighteen I have the first date too. But also for the next day, I had to write an essay. I used https://prime-essay.net/essay-topics-for-students for my study and enjoyed the date. Also, that boy now is my husband)))

    April 13, 2021 at 2:25 am

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  30. Mati

    My Ex-lover is back.. Thanks to Dr_ma ck ‘ ‘__yahoo__.com, for making this possible…………………………….

    October 5, 2023 at 5:54 am

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