They Do Exist.

Being Single: Turning Down The Perfect Man

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Therese Schwenkler. Therese writes for the young & confused at, proving that good advice doesn’t have to be boring or uncool. Her mission: to bring more & better direction to today’s mainstream. She tweets at @tschwenkler & is uber cute. Also, you should find out why she’s getting naked for 3,373 people every week. – Lauren

About a month ago, I turned down the perfect guy.

He was sweet and trustworthy and strong. He loved dogs and kids and he was ready to settle down. This guy had his stuff together.

Oh, and he was sexy, too.

But I just knew that I had to break things off.

For one, I’d met him mere weeks after my ex and I had split up, and my heart was still just as broken as my faith in love had grown to become.

For another, despite all the great things about him, I just knew he wasn’t it. For a month or two we’d had our fun, but there came a time when, for reasons I won’t detail here, I just didn’t see a future. Yes, there came a time when I knew I had to break things off.

Let me tell you – the old me never would’ve done this.

In fact, the old me has never broken up with anyone at all — not ever. Not when she knew that the relationship was wrong. Not when she was lied to. Not even when she was cheated on. You see, the old me was incapable of standing on her own. She clung to others as if her life depended on it, as if she couldn’t survive without another. This is all the old me knew.

The new me, though – the new me knew differently.

The new me remembered how I had hurt people in the past – how I had kept one guy around who I never saw a future with simply because I couldn’t stand to be alone. This was a guy who’d adored me and who would’ve done anything for me, but I could never appreciate who he was. When I was lonely, when I was bored, when I was sad, I would call up “the guy.” The rest of the time I would blow him off. At the time I didn’t realize how inconsiderate and how selfish this was. My attention was never completely there; I never treated him with the respect and consideration that each one of us deeply deserves.

The new me thought of all these things and more.

A few nights later I was out with the perfect guy, smiling as he wrapped his perfect arms around my waist. I stared up into his beautiful eyes and I just knew what had to be done. As much as I didn’t want to be alone – as much as I wanted to have him there for those lonely nights when I needed a hand to hold, I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to like him “enough.” I didn’t want to keep him around just for the heck of it. He didn’t deserve that, and it wouldn’t do me any good, either. I wanted to become the new me, that person who was stronger and wiser and kinder, even if it meant hurting someone in this moment – and even if it meant being on my own.

So I told him the truth. It wasn’t an easy thing to do; I can tell you that much.

It also wasn’t an easy thing to be without him. Some nights, I felt like I needed someone to lean on. I wanted to call him up, to fall into his embrace, to hear him say he wanted me near.

But I didn’t. Instead of leaning on him, I leaned into myself. I leaned into my sadness and my fear and my loneliness. I leaned into life. I leaned into God.

A month later, it’s still hard for me to be on my own. There are still days when the sadness washes over me and when I find myself aching for the completion of another, for the comfort of a warm embrace. More than anything, I miss having somebody.

At the same time, though, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. When everything was said and done, I felt proud of the woman I was becoming – a woman who, for the first time in her life, was learning to stand on her own. A woman who was capable of treating another with the dignity and respect he deserves, and who was no longer content to keep a person around to lean on instead of to love. I came to see that only in standing on my own for a time could I be molded into that person I was meant to become, into that person who’s whole and complete and who’s deserving of the man that’s waiting patiently in my future.

In the end, being single doesn’t have to be a loathed event that’s forced upon us. It can also be a choice – a choice that we make not only to strengthen ourselves, but out of respect for another. In making this choice, and in taking the path that’s harder when we know it’s the path that is right, we are becoming better women..

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36 Responses

  1. Mary Jane

    Wow. This is literally me this week. Wow. Thank you. I’m so GLAD I’m not alone!

    September 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm

  2. Total respect on this. People ask me often about why this or that "perfectly normal" guy didn't work out, and I often have no real "dealbreaker" or list of character flaws. It takes courage to turn down someone who just isn't the right person, and many women drag these relationships on hoping somehow it will become right, and in the meantime avoiding loneliness at all costs.

    It is an act of incredible faith to stay single when you do meet a good man who is not the right man for whatever reason. Nouwen says "a waiting person IS a patient person." It's not that people who wait are stronger or missing the loneliness gene, which people seem to assume is true sometimes. Very few people will admit to being a patient person; but lots of people admit to feeling they are in a waiting mode. I am encouraged that it is the waiting that makes you patient, not the other way around.

    No matter how alone I feel at times, it is worth it. It is worth finding out who I am alone, it is worth pressing into God's presence to find out what his plan is (because He has one, and it's good. that's the promise.).

    and oh hey…got that guy's number? just because he wasn't right for you…. ;-)

    September 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm

  3. Megan

    Thank you for being real and posting this. This was me last week. An awful conversation to have, but a necessary one. It's nice to know I'm not alone. Although I am becoming more comfortable with that each day.

    September 26, 2011 at 8:09 pm

  4. Liz

    Thank you for posting this… this is me today. Except I broke it off months ago, but I still keep calling him and talking to him almost everyday because I don’t feel strong enough. Even though I know I’m putting ME first, not showing him Christ, esp when it was because I am a Christian that I had to break it off. I know I’m making his life hell by not letting him go. I’ve just never been loved so well!! Im that girl, like you, who gets lied to and cheated on and the Lord basically forces the relationship closed against my desire, but for my good. But this one was different. He cared for me well, but he didn’t know my Father, and doesn’t want to. So I tried to do the right thing, and end it. But I’m making a mess of it and everyday wonder if I should quit trying to resist and just commit to him!! I pray that I’ll be stronger!! I desperately want to be!! Thank you for this!

    September 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

  5. Rose

    I did this 10 days ago and we were engaged. To say it was HARD is an understatement. Ladies, do it as soon as you know! Don't hold on, it's dangerous and more damaging. It hurts 100x more for you and him if you leave it till later. And be honest with yourself, you both deserve your honesty. I am nowhere near out of the woods but I'll get there eventually.

    Reading this post was so encouraging because I really did think I was alone. Thank you.

    September 27, 2011 at 8:31 am

  6. I did this on Sunday, although I'm not sure if it was the right thing to do, and told him that as well. I was expecting a giant reaction from reading this – either I would fully relate and know that I did the right thing. Or I would say ack! no, I didn't do the right thing. I fully believe that life will sort itself out the way God intended it to be – it always has, even if the journey is crazy and full of heartaches – so it will this time too, I just need to be patient and let it.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

  7. Wow, this is amazing, good for you! I think at the moment I'm a little more like old-you, but I hope that if it ever came to it, I'd be able to do the right thing too. Thanks for sharing this!

    September 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  8. that is so amazing! So glad for you to have this realization – what a great beginning to learning to put others before ourselves. It certainly is not an easy step but I can assure you that as you continue to live this way you will find freedom you never knew existed! You will learn how to really truly love others in a sacrificial way!

    So cool!

    September 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

  9. I love the point you make of being in a relationship for the wrong reason. I have been single for a long time and I think I fall in the trap of wanting someone to have someone instead of being with someone because I love and respect them.

    Power to you! Thanks for making the right choice. Thanks for writing this!

    September 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm

  10. I've been there, too, and yes – turning down the perfect man is not an easy thing to do. Well said, and congratulations.

    September 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm

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  12. Awesome post. I've been single for a while now and some days the loneliness and sadness just washes over. Your post brings me strength and I will remember your words the next time I feel low. Thanks for posting.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm

  13. Cher

    I didn't directly turn down the perfect man, I just leaned on him for 21 years much as you described~ Were we both waiting for something better to enter the picture? And now that he's gone, admittedly thru no one's fault but my own I see he did love me and I was the one that did not know how to really love him back. Thanks for your insights!!! Congrats on passing this hurdle early in life! Yeah YOU!

    October 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm

  14. Deepa

    Hi, I am from india…I am 30 yrs old, single, financially independent, b'ful gal with a bf of 6 yrs who's almost perfect. We are to be married early next year. Recently, I met this amazing guy and we did end up getting intimate. I know its wrong but it just felt like it was the right thing to do since my almost perfect bf is horrible at romance while this guy swept me off my feet, everything b/w us seemed perfect except that I was already with someone else. Since then, I am finding it difficult to forget this guy and I can't even quit on my bf now that he has waited 6 yrs to marry me (there were some family issues on my side). At times, I try to rationalize it by thinking that this new guy and me do not have anything deep and it may never be deep too unlike my relationship with my bf. But then, I also find myself depressed about how I may be shattering my chance of a truly passionate relationship by staying with my bf whom I am attracted to only intellectually and emotionally. Besides, I am not looking forward to having kids, much rather prefer traveling the world and experiencing life however my bf does want kids although he too wants to pack in as much adventure as is possible. At this point, I am so confused. I really don't know what to do. It was nice to read your post in these circumstances. Do write back what you feel on this comment , would love to hear from you. Take care, God bless!

    November 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

  15. PeeGee

    I cant tell you how much weight has been lifted off my shoulders after reading this story. It's been almost a year since my bf of almost 8 years and I broke up. I cant believe how fresh the pain still is and when the holidays come around, it hurts even more. I give all the glory and praise to God for being my strength in times of weakness and for completing my joy when I am consumed by the pain and loneliness. This is such an encouragement to me, to hear your story and have the hope that even through this seemingly chaotic time, God is still in control. Thank you for this website. Thank you thank you thank you!

    December 3, 2011 at 11:48 pm

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  20. Olive

    I had NO IDEA how to handle the situation I'm currently in, until I read this. Thank you so much! It's that someone was able to help me sort my own mess out.

    December 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm

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