There’s a lot to be said about relationships, dating, and being single. Personally, it’s just not for me. I’m really bad at all of it, and I tend to make a lot of stupid mistakes. Then again, I also don’t have a lot of practice in the area. I’ve had two long term relationships, and two very different broken hearts. (I mean weren’t we all a little crushed when we found out Channing Tatum was married?) I prefer to be in a relationship, and the role of girlfriend has always just come much easier to me. Growing up I was never the girl who had crazy high career woman dreams. I always just wanted to be a Godly wife, mother, and homemaker. I think that’s why I prefer a committed relationship rather than the dating world our culture seems to totally love.
The dating game is hard and fairly new to me. Yet, I already feel so tired of it. If you don’t want the personal story of my failed love life you can just skip to the fun points below. If you’re like me and love getting to know each other, then keep reading. My first long term relationship began while I was in my senior year of high school and went into my sophomore year of college. I’d “dated” (if you even want to call high school relationships dating) before, but this was the first serious thing to come my way. I learned a lot from this relationship, and if I’m honest, it wasn’t the healthiest. We fought and bickered a lot and almost always over stupid things. It didn’t end well, and he started dating someone very quickly after which lead to him quickly getting engaged (but that’s another story and may God bless their marriage). The fact that I hadn’t been single while my peers were learning to date was very clear to me. I didn’t know what it was like to bring someone home to meet your parents, or be taken to meet others. Getting asked out on a first date and never getting a second…it was all new and I quickly discovered how little I knew about dating. There was only about 3 or 4 months in which I was single before my next relationship. I maybe went out a few times with a few guys during that time. It wasn’t a lot. I then met my college boyfriend which was honestly a really great relationship. I learned what it meant to be a team, and to be truly happy in a relationship. If you’ve been a reader for a long time, then you’ve seen that one’s face on the blog before. I truly thought this was it for me. I had found the one for me, I was happy and ready to be married. We were working in that direction when one day things came to an abrupt halt and it not only shocked me, but everyone else too. My world was really rocked by this ending, more than I even realized at the time. The heart ache I felt was a lot more than I could even handle. It’s hard to even really describe the pain that I went through, and God is honestly the only reason I got through it. It’s my only explanation as to how I moved forward. Now that was a about a year and half ago.
Over that year and half, I’ve been on some really great dates (hello star gazing), and some realllllyyy bad ones(like that one time I made a grown man cry from simply parting ways after like 2 dates)! Some make for pretty funny stories (to the man who showed up in sweats on a date with a fashion blogger). Once again I was thrown into this dating world that I really knew nothing about. Even better, all the sudden I was graduating college and trying to figure out how to date while not being in school surrounded by eligible men. My seemingly very big ocean had turned into a very small pond to fish in. It was all very new to me, and honestly, not all of it was bad. There are some fun things about dating and being single (free drinks, compliments, and flowers…yes please). And yes, I have learned a lot about myself. I’ve overcome a lot of baggage on my own, and yet I’m still discovering that I carry things I didn’t know would be a problem. I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t like in men (
gambling), and what I do (outdoorsy). I’ve learned what I’ll compromise on (country music) and what I won’t (church going). There’s been a lot of important, and unimportant lessons I’ve learned from being single and dating the last year and half. That’s where the idea of this post comes in. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned, and hopefully they’ll be helpful to you. I’d love for you to share your stories with me and what things you’ve learned. Talking to y’all is my favorite thing ever! So please share!
I should also mention in here that dating to me is a very big deal. I don’t date just to date…or I don’t date seriously just to play games. We’ve all made mistakes and put up with someone we can’t see ourselves marrying for too long (that’s one of my lessons learned below), but dating for a purpose is important. My parents raised my sister and I with the knowledge that you date to marry. There is a point in dating. You get to know someone to see if you can be in a relationship with them. That relationship has a point as well. Marriage. So as I date, I’m looking to see if I can potentially marry this person. If not, well then why continue to waste time, money, and feelings on someone who isn’t going to be your future spouse.
Distance…It’s a real thing.
I’m serious here. This is one of the first lesson’s I’ve learn when my first long term relationship ended, and it’s the biggest advice I give people. Cut ties! *snip snip* It sucks and it’s part of why a break up hurts so much, but it helps you heal. You can’t move on from someone you talk to everyday. It’s just not possible. I know it’s hard. Usually when a break up happens you don’t just lose a significant other, you lose your best friend too. So not talking is just difficult. It’s totally out of the norm, and that’s even harder too. Your normal has totally changed. Yet, you have to let that normal change. If it doesn’t change, it doesn’t end and you can’t move forward.
Now, I’m not one to unfollow on social media. It’s just not necessary to me (and it seems sorta petty). However, I know it is for some people. So if that’s you and you need them totally gone from your everything, then unfollow away. Delete their number even. Whatever helps make that distance real, do it. Because trust me, it helps. My first break up we didn’t talk or see each other. We ran in different circles near the end anyway. The second time around though, I realized that a small Baptist school is not a fun thing to try and share! And it did make moving on harder. For about the first 6 months of my singleness, I ran into my ex frequently. We didn’t talk, but seeing someone is still hard. It brings memories and memories suck too. So in my experience the more distance the better!
Time will become your friend and your enemy.
“Time heals all.” We’ve all heard that before, and it’s annoying. I remember some days thinking this was true, and some days totally hating on this stupid cliché saying. It does hold some truth though. As time passes things do get easier. You don’t miss them as much, and your new normal does become normal. As time passed though and this new normal set in, I think it also made me sad. When you come out of a good relationship moving on sucks too. In a different way than the hurting did, but it still sucks. Moving on means forgetting things. Good things too. So as helpful as it is to forget the sound of someone’s voice the fact that your forgetting is a little sad. Yet, deep down you know it’s necessary.
Three strikes, you’re out!
*Heyyyy batter batter* This is a lesson that a mentor of mine told me while I was between my two long term relationships. Dating was very new and I had zero idea what I was doing, or what I was suppose to put up with and what I wasn’t. She used this analogy and it was so perfect! Pretty much in the first stages of a relationship a man gets three major strikes. My family calls them red flags, but in my head red flags are a lot bigger deals than strikes (see next point). Strikes to me are simple, but things that are important to you. Like a man telling you that you look nice, or opening doors. Two things which I’ve been on multiple dates with men who just don’t do either. Things I simply could not live with in my life. The beginning of relationships is usually when a man puts his best foot forward. So if there is already things in the beginning that you’re iffy about, it’s kind of a deal (not a big deal…just a deal). Strikes usually aren’t deal breakers all on their own, but get enough of them and boom! You’re out of there!
Termination. A red flag…just like a red card in soccer, means they are out of the game. Red flags in my own dating life are things like loving Jesus, going to church, partying all the time…things that I just will not compromise in and if someone else does, well we just aren’t meant to be. Know your red flags people! You really can’t skip over the important stuff, or the point of dating is literally pointless.
Time, it’s not worth giving away lightly.
*tick tock tick tock* No one has forever. So don’t waste your time on people who don’t matter. I’ve done this. Too many times to be honest. I’ve given people my time and pieces of my heart that I shouldn’t have. Being single can be very lonely and it’s tempting to spend time and effort on a person simply because they are there. I’ve had those people in my life, and I’ve been that person to others. The rebound, the shoulder to cry on, or the hand to hold when no one else is giving the attention we all so crave. Yet, cuddling and hand holding, attention and love it’s not worth coming from just anyone. And it only fills a temporary desire, not the long term longing we all have. If I could drill this into the minds of the young girls out there, I would. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way one too many times. Only spend your time on people who are worth it, and who will spend their time on you too.
Don’t watch ‘How To Be Single‘ on the anniversary of a break up.
It’s a really good movie, super inspiring…but time it right when you watch it. The year mark of a break up is not a good night to watch it. Trust me. You end up in a bucket of tears, with red splotchy skin, and you feel like a total failure. The girl in the movie really does take singleness and rocks it. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you, but it is inspiring. For me it really kicked me in the butt and made me realize that you can do a lot of things while being single and learning how to live on your own is not a bad thing at all. So yes, I say watch it, just maybe not on a significant day.
Dating someone twice is not a good idea.
This is not the case for everyone. It just happened to be in true with this one person and situation in my life. If you tried and had a good reason to end things the first time around, you probably will still have those reasons the second. But you’ll feel twice as bad when you end it because now you’ve hurt someone not just once, but twice. So if you have reasons why you didn’t like a person, or they had three or more strikes against them, remember those reasons. They are probably still there and it probably isn’t going to be better the second time around. You might also help pay for something significant and then you won’t get your money back…*insert face palm emoji here*
Learn to say no.
I’m preaching at myself here. I still have a really hard time with this one. For some reason “No” is just hard for me to say. I always seem to come up with an excuse rather than just saying no. I’m honestly just trying not to hurt someone’s feelings or be mean. Yet, in reality I’m probably just giving them false hope. “No thank you” is an answer and it’s okay to give it. Dating is weird and awkward already. Saying no helps you avoid anymore awkwardness.
You don’t have to hate them or be bitter to move on.
I think this is a common misconception. Hating someone is never the answer. I mean it. Never. It’s okay to look back at a relationship and still think good things. My last relationship was really great and I had a good time. Yet, it would not be the best thing to have it back. I’ve moved forward and am ready for the next good thing God has for me. Being bitter may help you move on quicker, but I think you hold more baggage that way, and you carry that bitterness into whatever relationship you are going to next. Let it all go. (Yes, just like Frozen). It’s not worth holding onto. You loved someone and they aren’t there anymore. It’s okay. You made good memories and you learned some lessons. Now it’s time to learn some more.
God really does have a plan.
This is a hard lesson. I’m still learning to trust God and let him hold my heart. It’s a constant prayer and battle for me. Yet, I think this is the most important lesson of all. When I was hurting and broken I was in a constant state of prayer, asking God to take the pain away and for strength to get through each moment and day. Then it got easier and I wasn’t in as much pain. Yet, I still am striving to be in that constant state of prayer. Asking God to guide my decisions and to only let me feel attraction where I should. I’ve found that it may be hard to read men, but it’s also hard to read myself. I don’t want to fall for just anyone, I don’t want to give my heart to just anyone, and I especially do not want to get hurt again. I don’t know God’s plan or the person who is suppose to have my heart. So I truly am seeking and asking God to hold my heart and only give it to the right person. I may not know his plan or why I’ve gone through all the situations I have, but I do know that ultimately He is good and He does know the future.
I’m no pro at being single or dating. Honestly, I suck at it. I’ve played games, I’ve been clingy, and I’ve given up. But I am trying and these are all just lessons I’ve learned through my experiences. I hope that the things I’ve learned the hard way can make your process a little bit easier. Like I said before, I do love hearing from y’all. If you don’t feel comfortable commenting your story or lessons below then send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). I promise I’ll answer comments and e-mails. What are some lessons you’ve learned while dating? Seriously we can all learn from each other!