They Do Exist.

Dating Mistakes: I Ignored An Abusive Past

Editor’s Note: So, so many of us women have had broken mothers and fathers in our lives, and it is crucial that we not sweep our past under the rug. If you’ve been hurt, you will only further hurt yourself and the men in your life if you do not get healing. What does “get healing” mean? I love Jen’s words: Replace your perception with God’s truths. Pursue finding someone to open up to and talk with about your past. And take it to God with them. – Lauren

There’s a lot of us out there who grew up with distant, abusive, absent, volatile, and/or immature fathers.

Fathers who didn’t cherish us the way we should have been cherished when we were little girls. Fathers who didn’t guide us in the right paths, fathers who didn’t tell us we were beautiful and worthy of only the best. Fathers who cheated on our mothers, looked at porn, or openly talked about women as objects.

Maybe it was our mothers who taught us to place far too much importance on our bodies, or who taught us to use our sexuality as a tool to get what we want.

A lot of us have scars from this, or even open wounds.

I don’t know about you, but looking back, I developed some serious self-image and sexuality issues from the way I was raised.

I was taught that I was a burden instead of a blessing, and that a woman has to give a man her body in order to make him happy. I believed that a woman was worthless to him unless she gave herself to him. I was taught that in order to be loved, a woman must be willing to do anything sexual that the man asked for. Otherwise, she wasn’t any fun and would be replaced by someone more adventurous.

Was I aware of these perceptions? Not at all. It was the only reality I knew, and it caused me to give away my body far too easily at far too young an age. I thought my body was the only valuable part of me, and that I couldn’t be loved unless the guy had it. I said ‘yes’ to everything asked of me, because I was too afraid that I would be rejected and unloved if I said ‘no’. To any of it.

And then I found God.

I thought that would be enough. I thought that along with my sin, my past thought patterns and perceptions would instantly be washed away. I wouldn’t need to work through them or acknowledge their existence, I could just hide in my new found faith. I thought that now, in my relationships, I surely wouldn’t have a problem with sexuality. It would be simple to just wait until marriage, because God was on my side!

Just because you find God’s love and have the best intentions, doesn’t mean you don’t need to face your past issues. God wants to heal you, and He is able, but healing is a process.

My point? Face these issues and find healing before you focus on dating.

As a brand-new Christian, I entered into a relationship with a guy without addressing and evaluating the “daddy issues” of my past. It was extremely difficult to break out of the patterns caused by those issues. I still had the urge to use my body to make him happy when he wasn’t happy. I still felt like I wasn’t worthy of being loved. I still felt like I couldn’t fully trust him, because every man in my life who came before him had hurt me.

God was trying to tell me differently, but I never opened myself up to true healing. I pushed my problems under the rug and tried to deny their presence in my life, because I didn’t want to face their existence. I didn’t want to think about the past, I just wanted to focus on the future. I found myself unable to be assertive in my relationship and unable to say ‘no’ when I needed to.

I needed to work through my feelings about sexuality, love, my childhood, and my dad with a pastor, therapist, or someone with some sort of wisdom and experience. I needed to examine my perceptions on these topics and replace them with God’s truth. And I desperately needed to do this before getting into another relationship.

Instead, I denied that my childhood had any lasting effect on me, and didn’t allow myself to be healed. I knew that God loved me and that I had more worth than just my body. I knew that in my mind, but I didn’t quite know it in my heart. I didn’t allow the truth to go as deep as it needed to, because that place was filled with pain and it was easier to ignore.

If there are issues in your past, if you have ugly perceptions of relationships or sexuality or your body or your heart, face these and replace them with God’s truth before you get into a relationship. Get healing.

A guy cannot “fix you”. He will not fix you.

God can fix you, but only if you open yourself up to it..

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8 Responses

  1. leeleegirl4

    So many of the lessons I have learned about dating can be summed up the statement that a guy cannot fix you, but God can. Each one of us carries around a certain amount of brokenness and hurt. Personally, I had to battle low confidence and insecurity. I thought I was worthless unless a guy called me beautiful. It has taken years for me to see myself as God sees me.

    October 20, 2011 at 7:41 am

  2. I love that this is the counterpart of yesterday's post. We cannot fix the man we're with and he cannot fix us. Only God can make those life-changing shifts in our hearts.
    "I didn’t allow the truth to go as deep as it needed to, because that place was filled with pain and it was easier to ignore." So true. It's so much easier to push that kind of pain away than to face it. Thank you for sharing your story of how God is healing you.

    October 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

  3. stephindialogue

    Thanks for this. It's encouraging to read your story and the truths you learned from it, shared so honestly and powerfully. It's so easy when you're single to long to be in relationship, and all too easy to neglect the changes that need to take place in yourself: processing and understanding and healing from past wounds and baggage. I've heard many memoirists say, if you don't address the past, it will resurface…which is often more damaging than confronting it head-on, painful though this might be.

    October 20, 2011 at 10:29 am

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