Monthly Archives: August 2012

Reflections: Are you Dateable?

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A friend of mine steered me toward a new series regarding singleness. http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

I believe the first one I watched (Are you Dateable?) made a lot of sense, so I plan to watch and respond to each episode. Feel free to offer your own feedback after viewing.

The expert in the first episode refers back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:36-40:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

I have to admit, I have always wondered about these words. Each and every time I read them, I ask the same question: What if you don’t love yourself? That word, “as”, holds a lot of power. I felt like jumping up and down when this man immediately addressed my ever-present question. I loved his point and I agree.

We are all screw-ups. We all make mistakes. We all act viciously at times. We all say things we regret. We all do things we regret. We all look in the mirror and find things we don’t like at times. We all have issues. Issues often make us ultra-aware of how unlovable we are.

Then there is God. The Bible is funny in that a large portion emphasizes mankind’s flaws. In other words, it agrees with all of our self-conscious, regretful, shame-faced feelings and says God is good, but we are not. And then it goes on to show that God deemed us lovable anyway! Although, we aren’t perfect, He proudly declares that we are made in His image! We disobeyed His loving guidance, and He gave us grace. “Try again. I’ll send my son, Jesus Christ, to give you another chance. And I will give you My Holy Spirit to help you along as well. It’s going to cost a lot… My son’s life, in fact. But you are worth it.”

I tear up as I envision my heavenly Father and His love for me. He offered up His only Begotten, in order to adopt me in! I can give Him my lopsided, scribbly picture – my attempt to portray the sunset He created… and rather than point out my mistakes and toss out my artwork, He smiles at that picture and hangs it upon His refrigerator. “That’s what my daughter drew for me!”

The Lord infuses value into His people. When I go to Him, I can pour out  my flaws, my weaknesses, all of my ISSUES, and God turns them all around. He heals me, teaches me, works with me, blesses me, and after all that when I screw up again, He keeps on loving me.

When I see the way He loves me, I cannot help but begin to see things from His perspective, and love myself as well.

Just Do It.

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Just Do It.

My life is like a sneakers commercial. I kid you not. I am dumbfounded by the number of people repeating this phrase to me – “Just do it”. I understand that I have a tendency to overthink things… Particularly relationships. But in my defense, this blog is about singleness. If I were to stop this overthinking completely, my blog would fade into nothingness.

Before I accepted Matt’s challenge to start dating, I had mentioned that others gave me similar advice. Quit analyzing and gain experience. Those same people are still reminding me of this concept. And now a few others have jumped on the bandwagon as well. Everywhere I go, regarding every male I bring up, I hear these words: “Just do it.”

Now, aside from the fact that most of my prospects are dreary (see previous posts), I’m still having trouble adjusting to this “just do it” mentality. This past weekend I unexpectedly ran into a guy that I was slightly interested in. (On the bright side, the men in Nike commercials are always athletic and terribly good-looking. My life commercial is no different.) We had only met once before, but I actually know his parents quite well. In our time apart, my friends made my interest in him abundantly clear to his parents. Abundantly clear.

After spending some time together Saturday, he made an effort to keep in touch with me and my best friend. I did not think he would be too interested in us. But I could not really figure out why he would try to keep in touch (we live several hours away from him) if he were not at all interested in either one of us. With that dilemma in mind, I pondered the possibility of a relationship.

Although he has several great qualities, I am a cat lady. In other words, I excel in the field of “why relationships will not work out well”. Ordinarily, I would gush a little bit and enjoy my newfound crush, but remain secure in the idea that nothing would actually become of my crush. Likely, he would not pursue. But if he did, I already saw at least five possible reasons things would not work out between us. I had plenty of logical rejection material.

Unfortunately, my rejection material directly quarreled with my promise to stop thinking and start dating. He doesn’t have any of the major flaws my other options had (drug addiction, bad hygiene, etc.). He fit the major criteria. Crap. To be true to my word, if he pursued me, I would have to follow through and date this guy. “Just do it.” I was already dreading it. [Those five possible reasons I had accumulated were very convincing… Only a legitimate cat lady dreads pursuit from a guy she actually likes.]

Perhaps this is because I am a pessimist. Perhaps this is due to my cowardice. Perhaps this is pure wisdom that I have acquired from watching others’ failed relationships. No matter the reason, I was beginning to panic over the potential dating situation. I had already determined that he and I could become good friends, but probably should not become anything more.

Then my best friend told me that this man was not interested. During one of their conversations, he clarified his lack of romantic intentions for either one of us. I’m betting my sigh of relief was audible. In fact, I feel so relieved, I could hug him. Ironic, right? Maybe next time I see him, I will just do it.

How About A Hug?

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She called my name. I turned toward her and smiled. Then I walked across the aisle and leaned into a hug. She completed the embrace. I began to straighten and pull away. She did not let go.

Panic. Why is she still holding me? Why hasn’t she let me go? How do I get away? I have to get away! I have to get away now!

She released. I’m away. What was that?

It was an elderly lady who went to my church. She’s about the size of my left leg – but not as strong. I hope you are getting a clear idea of how terribly threatening this woman could be to me. That specific panic attack awakened me to another of my fears. I am afraid of hugs.

I despise that sentence. It sounds so weak and pathetic. But it’s true. I mentioned in a previous post that I would be talking about fear. The fear of touch is on today’s agenda.

That day marked the beginning of some intense self-psychoanalysis. From then on I paid closer attention to situations that make me uncomfortable due to physical touch, experiences I avoid because physical touch would be necessary, and the people I seem to react most vehemently to in physical situations.

What have I discovered? I seem to react mainly when I sense a lack of control.

I was comfortable hugging that woman until she acted outside of my expectations. When she did not respond to my sense of control (the moment I pulled away), she caused me to feel endangered.

I have no problems with children or pets. In all reality, I am an extremely cuddly and affectionate person. Although children may climb into my lap (which is also outside my expectations) and animals may rub against me without any warning, I never panic. Although I cannot really figure out how an old lady from church posed a threat, I can understand why a child or a puppy never has. I feel no hesitation whatsoever when I am aware of a child or a pet touching me.

I am more comfortable hugging black men than white men. The only thing I seem to be able to connect this phenomenon with is a discussion I had with a black friend during high school. We seemed to attract toward men of different nationalities than our own. During one particularly deep conversation, she admitted that she generally felt safer around white men than black men and I admitted that the opposite was true for me. We ultimately concluded that this probably had something to do with the fact that she was abused by black men as a child and I was abused by a white man as a child. We automatically felt less comfortable around men who resembled those who had mistreated us.

Although the last few paragraphs explain some of my behavior, I haven’t completely figured myself out. As I learn more about myself, I am able to work through irrational fears. I am now more attentive to my “control factor”. When I feel like the situation is beyond my control I am usually able to wait out my feeling of discomfort. I no longer panic. I am also less prejudiced around white men than I used to be. I have retrained myself to recognize that every nationality is made up of people who are good and people who are bad, people who can be trusted and people who cannot be trusted.

Unfortunately, there are a few things I still cannot figure out. This weekend my fear of touch reared its ugly head twice.

Scenario #1 (Saturday)

My friend and I spent half the day talking with this man. Quick description: smart, kind, handsome, hygienic, and he seems like a really good father to his adorable daughter. (I can say all this because apparently my interest in him is abundantly clear to the rest of the world already… I’m really not sure how it became such a big deal to so many people… C’est la vie.)  All of that is said to emphasize the fact that this man is NOT in any way a creeper. There is nothing about him that would cause me to feel physically repulsed by him. There is nothing about him that would cause me to feel unsafe. Nothing to make me feel like I cannot trust him. There is absolutely no reason I should logically fear hugging this man.

And yet, when my friend (who is very much a hugger) went in for a hug goodbye, I bolted toward the door. I did not want to hug him.

Scenario #2 (Sunday)

I met a group of friends at the park. After hanging out for a while, I was the first to leave and one of my male friends hurried over to give me a hug goodbye. I accepted without hesitation. Then another friend came over and stretched out his arms. I wanted to tell him, “No”, and walk away. Much like the guy from the day before, there is no reason I should be afraid of this man. He is not a pervert. There is no rational cause for my fear. I wasn’t angry at him or offended by him. For some unknown reason, I am more comfortable accepting hugs from the other guy who came to me immediately prior. I can’t really figure it out.

 

Both scenarios ended in hugs. Both hugs were fine. Both situations leave me wondering, “What on earth is wrong with me? And when will it change?”

 

I have a friend who struggles with this same issue, but to a higher degree. He was severely abused as a young child. He trembles when a person holds him. He told his girlfriend that when he begins to shake, she must continue to hold him. It is the only way he can train his body to recognize that her touch is safe. He and I both rest in the belief that Jesus Christ can and will heal us. But it may take time.

Alas, I will end this post on a brighter note. In my efforts to find a scientific name for this particular fear (Aphenphosmphobia: the fear of touch – this was the closest I came), I stumbled across another blogger’s post. Everybody wants to know that there is someone else out there with issues just as bad as her own (or better yet, worse than her own).  http://thegloss.com/sex-and-dating/fear-of-intimacy-a-hug-is-not-a-hello/#comments

I found her post humorous. I hope you do too.

[PS. I want a shout-out from everyone of his/her most awkward hug memory. I’ll start in the comments… hopefully SOMEBODY else has a memory to add…]

Dating and Relationships: The Church Rules

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The Rules

  1. A boy and a girl must never ride together alone in a vehicle. Not for any distance, any purpose, or any length of time. The ONLY exception to this rule applies to a boy and girl who are brother and sister. Obviously, any other combination of male and female riding in a car alone will lead to the car being pulled over so they can have wild sex in the backseat before they arrive at their destination. Obviously.
  2. Boys and girls must sit at least a Bible’s width apart at all times. Those tiny New Testaments the Gideons leave around don’t count. We’re talking regulation biggest-Good-Book-we-can-find size.
  3. A female must wear clothing which covers every portion of her body from her chin to her knees. If she has pretty legs, those should probably be covered also. Beauty tempts young men. Men should never have to face temptation. If clothing is truly “appropriate”, men may even forget women have boobs – which is exactly as it should be since men are incapable of controlling themselves around women they find attractive.

These are the top three rules pounded into the teen-aged girl’s head about dating or relating to the opposite sex by Sunday School teachers and youth leaders nationwide. Boys cannot be trusted around you. You cannot be trusted around boys. If ever you two are left alone together, babies emerge nine months later. No exceptions. None.

For a girl who actually wants to be pure, these rules are very intimidating. You see, when I was young and naïve, I believed I could accept a ride from one of my male friends. But by the time I was 17, I understood how inappropriate that looked and that he would likely rape me at some point during the five minute drive. At one point in time I believed that it was a good thing for a man to look at me and recognize my beauty. Before I exited adolescence I realized that my beauty is wicked and dangerous when noticed by men. When I was a little girl, I loved to cuddle close to the men in my life. But soon after puberty hit, I learned that all physical contact with the opposite sex is completely unhealthy and will somehow give me AIDS.

What’s really sad – is that I wouldn’t even call the churches I attended legalistic. It scares me to consider what truly legalistic congregations are teaching young people if I learned such skewed lessons where I went. Unfortunately, teenagers hear from their Christian leaders that they cannot be trusted – they cannot even trust themselves – to make good, healthy decisions regarding the opposite sex. Fear tactics are fired at them in the name of purity. Instead of being trained to enter healthy relationships, teenagers are taught to avoid relationships at all costs because relationships lead to sexual immorality.

According to the typical Christian youth leader, I am a success story. I escaped high school with my virginity intact. But if you ask me, purity is so much broader than virginity. And if successful means terrified of intimacy and unwilling to be vulnerable to a man, then I agree. I am very successful.

But sometimes success is overrated.

And the Fears Emerge

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I can think of at least four men who would help me complete this challenge this very week. And although I’ve been told not to think, just to act – I can’t turn off my mind.

#4. I have no doubts that he is out to use me. He is completely gorgeous. But he’s also a total loser. He’s hit on me several times – but he seems to think that I won’t go out with him because I am a lesbian. I’m not. But I really haven’t argued with him about it because it’s so much easier not to like him when he believes that. And I don’t want to like him. Because he’s a loser. If I hit on him, I’m fairly certain he’d jump at the chance to date me. But I really think he’d be dating me in an effort to take everything from me that he possibly could. Drugs have eliminated his soul and I’d rather not mess around with a guy who has no soul.

#3. He’s rather unreliable, so it might take more than a week to get a date. But I am positive he would make it happen by the end of the month. Probably by the end of the week – because I’ve refused him the last three times and I think he’s getting eager to see me. So if I made a move, I think he’d take the bait right now. He seems like a pretty decent guy, but I can’t count on him for much of anything. I don’t think he knows how to put a relationship first. And he’s made clear that he does not want to get married. I’m not going to stay in any kind of long-term relationship that isn’t geared toward marriage. So I feel like any effort put into dating this guy would just lead to exhaustion, pain, and heartache in the long run. Why bother?

#2. This one also does drugs. But I’m confident that he still has a soul and that he actually cares about me. However, his addiction hinders his life from going forward. He can’t make much more than minimum wage where he works. But he’s told me he won’t really look for another job because other workplaces drug-test. I get along with him quite well. He’s a fabulous person to talk with. But it’s obvious that as long as his life is going nowhere, our relationship would go nowhere. I’d probably enjoy a few dates. But I would dump him quickly. He is the sensitive type. I would feel terrible afterward.

#1. He would follow me to the ends of the earth and do everything humanly possible to please me. I have never met a man quite so determined to be with me. One or two have come close. But he takes the cake. Nonetheless, we do not relate on an intellectual level. He is another one that I know I would dump.

I ran into a guy recently who asked me out months ago. When he asked me out, I tried to explain to him in the kindest way possible why we would not fit well together, and I rejected his offer. He is the type of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. I knew for some time that he liked me. His face lit up when I entered the room. He went out of his way to do things for me. I knew that eventually he would ask me out and I would have to explain my feelings of disinterest. Unfortunately, after that whole scenario played out, he did not miraculously change into a man who is difficult to read. He still wears his heart on his sleeve. Although it has been months, I hate running into him. When I see him, he looks so miserable. I feel like all he thinks when he sees me is, “There she is. There’s the girl who broke my heart.”

To sum this all up – I am pointing out the two primary reasons I do not date.

A)     I am afraid of being hurt or being used. (This is the issue with #4 and #3.)

B)      I am afraid of hurting or using someone else. (This is the issue with #2 and #1.)

I have a feeling that blog posts to follow over the next few weeks will get more serious than they have been for awhile… I am going to delve into fear.

Love-Struck (Emphasis on Struck)

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It was the day after I accepted the challenge. I crawled out of bed 15 minutes late, wobbled toward the bathroom to take my shower, and then rushed my morning routine in an effort to arrive at work almost at time. My workplace is exactly a 5-minute walk from my apartment. Sad truth is that when I’m tired and lazy in the morning, I often wait until I only have two minutes to get to work and I take my car instead of walking. If I could pull myself out of bed earlier I would walk each day. Or at least the vast majority of the time. I might drive in rain. However, it’s about half and half right now, and that particular day was an “I’m supposed to be at work in a minute and a half!” day. So I bolted out my door, fled down my steps, trotted toward the street, and stopped suddenly at the sight of my car. Insert *jaw dropping open*.

I was dumbfounded. I called work, told them I would be late, and basically panicked over the phone to my co-worker (I don’t know what to do! What should I do? What do you think I should do!?). Then I saw a note stuck under my windshield wiper.

First I assumed it was a ticket – which only added to the panic. I don’t really have the best relationship with PD in this town. But I mentally checked off every possible reason a cop could issue a ticket and cleared myself of that idea. I had done nothing to deserve a ticket.

Then I imagined a short note from the perpetrator stating something like, “Sorry I ruined your car. I don’t have insurance, so I had to go. Hope you get everything straightened out!”

I waddled my tired, but now terrified, body over to the car and grabbed the note. It was from a police officer stating that the person who backed into my car had reported the accident and was basically doing everything in his power to correct his mistake. A police report would be complete and available the next day. The name and number of the man who hit my car was also in the note. Relief washed over me.

I walked to work – feeling grateful for this unknown person’s integrity and also for the fact that I can walk to work.

On the way to my cubicle, I stopped in my friend’s office to show him my pictures and relate my morning’s adventures.  After listening to my explanation, he looks at me with eyebrows raised and says, “Maybe this happened for a reason. This guy sounds honest. Maybe you two were meant to meet…”

That was a guy talking. I thought women were supposed to be the romantics.

By lunchtime, two other coworkers had also suggested I date this random stranger who damaged my car. Might I add that I had not even seen this guy – had no idea how old he was – who he was – why he was on my street (which is kind of known for drug trafficking…) – if he is single – if he is straight – etc.

But apparently none of those details matter. He is obviously honest. So I’m told I should date him. Amazing how a wrecked car can turn into a matchmaking event in a cat lady’s life.