Tag Archives: relationship

Falling in Love

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I’ve been hearing about that little phrase an awful lot lately. Emphasis on awful. Hear me out on this. I do not have anything against love. It’s the “falling into it” thing that bothers me.

I'm not the only one who thought of it...

I’m not the only one who thought of it…

Multiple people have asked me lately how I would feel if I fell in love and [had to tell everyone I was getting married, decided to move, gave up my cat lady blog, whatever – complete the sentence however you would like]. My verbal response differs, depending on who I am speaking to and how well that person knows me. But my inward response stays the same every time: I don’t fall in love.

“Falling in Love” carries with it an attitude of romance and euphoria for most. Unfortunately, in my experience, it doesn’t live up to its glamorous reputation.

I usually hear the term used to excuse responsibility for making stupid decisions. You know, the usual stuff:

  • I’m moving across the country to live with [that weirdo creeper] I met online. I’ve fallen in love.
  • We didn’t need to wait to get married. By the end of two weeks we knew we had fallen in love!
  • It didn’t matter that he had no job, no savings, no home, and no car. [It didn’t matter that his mother kicked him out for being a lazy slob.] I fell in love.
  • I knew he had a drinking problem and some anger issues. But I never thought he would hit me! I fell in love.
  • I wanted to be a good mother. I never planned on leaving my husband. But I fell in love with someone else.

I could continue. But I won’t. It drives me crazy. When people tell me that a couple fell in love, and that is why they are acting the foolish way that they are, I kind of want to mutter under my breath, “Well if they were paying any attention to where they were going – they wouldn’t have fallen… Morons.”

It’s not that I don’t like romance. It’s not that I can’t be influenced by sweet gestures or charming words. It’s just that love is a very powerful four-letter word. It’s not something that I want to just fall into. I prefer to gingerly step or perhaps cautiously slide into it. I feel as if a relationship should be entered with wisdom. Where there is not an abundance of wisdom, there is typically an abundance of foolishness.  As I’ve made clear, falling into love too often ends poorly. After all, if a person falls in love, completely by chance or by accident, that person can just as easily fall out of love. If they couldn’t help themselves on the way into the relationship, it stands to reason that they won’t be able to help themselves on the way out of the relationship. Hence, the divorce rate in America.

On the other hand, if one carefully plants a foot into love, and then steps more fully into it with the other foot, that same person must knowingly step out of love in the future if s/he ever wants to leave the relationship. The silly excuses disappear. When a choice to love is made, the person who made that choice accepts responsibility in that relationship. It’s no longer a coin flip as to whether or not the relationship will last. A relationship entered by practical choice still has room for butterflies and warm fuzzies. The wonderful feeling that most associate with “falling in love” can still be found when two people “step into love” instead. How do I know? Although my expertise is in singleness, I have been in love. And I didn’t fall into it. I hesitantly stepped in. And although things didn’t work out as I hoped they might, I would not trade the experience for any of my friends’ “falling in love” experiences. In fact, I find that conscious choice leads to a far more romantic situation. It’s nice to feel loved by someone who is temporarily blinded with giddy enthusiasm to all my flaws and weaknesses. But it’s absolutely fabulous when someone who can clearly see my flaws shows love to me. You mean, even after you’ve discovered all of these horrible things about me – you STILL want to be with me? WOW!

In fact, it kind of reminds me of Jesus and His love for humankind even after we rejected Him and crucified Him… Doesn’t the Bible suggest a husband should love his wife in that same manner? Hmmmm….

If you find yourself falling in love, please consider my words. Stop, catch your footing, and come to a decision. Is this relationship truly worth stepping into? Are you ready to be selfless? Are you capable of putting another person’s hopes, feelings, dreams, needs ahead of your own? Are you prepared to commit yourself to that one individual for the rest of your life no matter what hardships you encounter? Can you clearly see this person’s flaws and have you considered them? Has this person been given opportunity to see YOUR flaws and make the same consideration? If so, blessings in your relationship. If you’re not even close to that point, grab a hold of something and pull yourself out of whatever you’ve fallen into. It’s better to get those things over with now than it will be later.

Can't the brain and heart learn to work together?

Can’t the brain and heart learn to work together?

One last thing: if you ever see me “falling”, please scream these words back at me – or just beat me with a stick until I come to my senses. I’m sure I will appreciate the gesture someday. Just make sure you don’t confuse my “consciously stepping” for “falling”. Because if I’m consciously stepping, I might turn around and beat you back. 😉

Wrestling with God

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Thursday Night: Blog post titled “Looking for a Fight“. Nuff said.

Friday Night: I don’t feel like reading my Bible. I don’t really feel like praying. God, I’m just kind of sick of thinking about You, right now. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I want a break. I am usually more alert at night than I am in the morning, so I do my devotions just before bed. I skipped them that night.

 Sunday Morning: I spent Saturday night at my parent’s house [warmed the bed in my old room which is now very different, but still somewhat familiar] and awakened Sunday morning to the bustle of my family members as they prepared for church. Yawn. At home, with no one but my cat to wake me, I often sleep through the morning church service. With no excuse, I rise out of bed and wind up at church only slightly late (as opposed to the 30-45 minutes I usually come in late to my own church if I get up at all).

 

So I stroll into my parents’ church, and after the worship service comes to a close the pastor approaches the front and the powerpoint displays the following passage:

Genesis 32:24-32

“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him.

Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.’

But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’

And he said, ‘Jacob.’

He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.’

Then Jacob asked him and said, ‘Please tell me your name.’

But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’

And he blessed him there.

So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.’

Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.”

 

Pastor’s point? God invites us to wrestle. He’s not afraid to fight. He wants us to get close to Him. You must get close to wrestle.

 

 

 

Looking for a Fight

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I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been begging for a fight. Maybe it is just my confrontational nature. Maybe my inner Lady Thor is getting restless. But I practically yearn for disagreement.

A lot of people hate to fight. They avoid arguments at all costs. I’m not one of those people.

I’m not saying I want to bash anyone’s head in. I’m not saying that I like to be vicious.

What I am saying is this: a fight isn’t always such a bad thing.

It’s amazing how context plays such a huge role in a sentiment. For instance:

“She’s a fighter!”

What do you envision when you read that statement? Does a picture change your perspective?

 

Sometimes a fight is completely uncalled for. Sometimes a fight is okay. Sometimes a fight is absolutely necessary! It all depends. What are we fighting about? What are we fighting for? How are we fighting?

As pessimistic as I am about relationships, I have a confession. Unlike most people, I am actually attracted to a man who is willing to fight with me. I’m not saying that my dream-man is abusive. I’m saying that I’d like a guy with a backbone. I cringe when I hear my friends say that they’ve never really disagreed with their significant others.

Never? Not about anything?

“Well, we disagreed about something once. But we chose not to discuss it. It’s not really that big of a deal. We see eye to eye about everything else.”

Right. Everything else. No other differences of opinion. I believe you – really I do…

Some people fight all of the time about everything. That’s definitely not healthy. But other people refuse to fight about anything ever. I submit the notion that that isn’t healthy either. You see, as evidenced by the picture of the cancer patient above, some things are worth fighting for. I feel like a relationship – if it has any lasting potential whatsoever – is one of those things.

While others look at a couple who always get along and say, “They are going to make it in life because they have so much in common!”

I say, “They obviously aren’t communicating. No two people agree on everything always. Unless someone gets brave enough to disagree out loud – they are doomed!”

So when I’m feeling the way I do – hungry for a fight – it’s not just because I’m hostile or confrontational. I’m wondering if anyone finds their relationship with me important enough to fight for. I’m wondering if anyone thinks my opinion is significant enough to disagree with. If communicating is a struggle, will you give up on me and move on? Or will you exert the effort necessary to understand and to be understood? I’m searching for someone with a bit of self-confidence.

In a man, confidence is a huge turn-on. (Note: I said confidence, not arrogance.) A man is supposed to be the leader in a marital relationship. If a man cannot even stand up to me, how can I possibly expect him to lead me?

Do you value my thoughts enough to consider them and reflect upon them? Do you value your own thoughts enough to voice them if you disagree with mine?  Do you have the self-assurance to stand up to me? Is a relationship with me truly worth fighting for?

Or would you prefer something more surface-level? Let’s not make waves with a disagreement. If that’s what you want, then I suppose that’s okay. But don’t be surprised when I walk away. Cuz I’m looking for a fight.

Commitment-Phobe? Moi?

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Scenario 1

“If we hire you for this position, are you willing to commit for at least one year?”

Wave of terror passes over my face.

“Why is it so important that I stay for a year? Even if I only work here for a short time, I will still be a good worker,” I questioned the man interviewing me. I’m not good at sucking up during interviews. The blunt, confrontational side of me never backs down.

“Sarah, it is a waste of our time to hire and train an employee who will leave the company in less than a year. I need to know if you will commit to at least one year,” he responded. He looked slightly annoyed – but overall he was very patient with me.

I self-talked myself through the decision. Surely I could last a year. I agreed. I may have sounded hesitant; but my word is my word.

Next year will mark my five year anniversary with the same corporation. That interview question, although it threw me into a temporary panic, didn’t turn out to be such a big deal.

 

Scenario 2

Should I do it? Should I not? Should I keep looking? Should I wait? I don’t know. Will I find a better deal? Is this the right place?

On and on the questions soared through my brain. I had a lease to sign. Once again, someone was asking for a year-long commitment. Once again, I was not feeling so hot about the idea.

It’s the right price. Right distance from work. Good parking for my motorcycle. They will let me bring my cat. Why must they insist that I sign a year-long lease? What’s so terrible about month-to-month?

I signed the lease. It’s been a year and a half now.

I don’t really have any intentions to move. Nonetheless, I opted out of renewing my lease. Once I fulfilled the first year they allowed me to rent month-to-month going forward. Why place restrictions upon myself that are not absolutely necessary?

 

Scenario 3

“Hi, I’m Mr. BraveEnoughToAskYouOut. What’s your name?”

This is the kind of guy that automatically goes in for eye contact. I don’t dare call him Mr. CommitmentLover, because he may also be a total commitment-phobe in the typical sense of the term. He may dodge long-term relationships or marriage. He may only be interested in a night of pleasure. But he’s got me beat. Committing to that first date is even too hard for me.

Like I said, he’s brave and he goes in for eye contact. He’s searching: Is she interested? What will she say if I ask her out? Is she checking me out?

I dodge the eye contact.

Yes, I am interested. Yes, I am checking you out. But, don’t even ask that question in between. I dodge the eye contact in an effort to squelch your bravery because your bravery will lead to our dating and our dating will lead to me feeling attached and I don’t want to feel attached. You want me to flirt? Quit acting so interested. (I know I’ve adamantly proclaimed that guys should be brave and pursue. I’m admitting now that I’m a total hypocrite and don’t encourage men to pursue with my actions. Sue me.)

Should Mr. BraveEnoughToAskYouOut happen to continue despite my lack of eye contact… I continue to run. Hang out this weekend? I might be busy this weekend… Not really sure about all my plans yet. Dinner? How about coffee? Coffee doesn’t feel like nearly as big of a commitment as dinner…

 

Okay. In the first two scenarios I was practically forced to commit, despite my reservations. Neither situation turned out too badly. That goes to show that if I actually step out of my comfort zone and go on a real date with a guy I actually like, it may not turn out too badly either. If someone manages to get me past that first step – then maybe it will work out. Like the job and the apartment.

We may end up in a steady dating relationship and I may end up appreciating said relationship.

Or he may cheat on me. Or dump me and leave me desperately heart-broken. Or betray my confidence. Or use me. Or die. Or all of the above.

I think I’d rather dodge eye contact and whine about how men are cowards.

 

The Green Monster

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Over and over I hear single women bemoan the fact that their friends are coupling off, tying the knot, and popping out little ones.

“When is it going to be my turn?” she wines.

“Why am I having such a hard time finding a man? All of my friends seem to be finding decent husbands!”

“Is there something wrong with me?”

I’ve never really considered myself the jealous type. My friend enters a relationship, and if I don’t automatically assume it will fail (since I’m somewhat cynical…) then I wish them the best. I sincerely hope it works out well. I’m not jealous because I LOVE my life! I never get jealous. I never got jealous.

Until last week. That green monster within yawned and stretched his arms. Rise and shine, Jealous Streak!

You see, my bestie found an **almost-boyfriend. There has been a lot of tension between me and her for the last few months. But last week everything mounted. [Almost-boyfriend: a man who is not yet in a relationship with a woman; a man who is on the verge of moving forward in a romantic relationship; a man who flirts shamelessly and pays lots of attention to a woman, but has not made any formal commitment; the title of a man the week before he becomes an actual boyfriend.]

Mr. UnpaidTherapist walks by my desk at work and I throw out the update on bestie and her almost-boyfriend. He laughs at my snide comment with a comeback stating that I am jealous. He may as well have set up a couch in his office and called me in for an appointment. Minutes later I hurry to fill him in on the actual issue.

He’s right. I’m jealous. But he’s wrong. I’m not jealous. And I don’t have multiple personalities either.

I’m still content. I still enjoy my life. I am not, by any means, overwhelmed with desire for a partner in life. I don’t look at any of the couples around me and seethe with envy. I am not one of those girls muttering the questions and phrases listed at the beginning of this blog with an intense feeling of despair. I don’t covet relationship to that degree.

The man doesn’t make me jealous either. I am in no way attracted to the almost-boyfriend she landed. That issue is a non-issue.

Naturally, Mr. UnpaidTherapist wonders what awakened my green monster.

My best friend no longer needs me. She doesn’t call me on a daily basis, because she is more than distracted by this fabulous new love interest. She doesn’t feel the need to hang out because she spends all spare time with him. She doesn’t really care what I think of this guy because she is so deeply infatuated that other opinions have lost all value. She’s not interested in my trip to Jamaica because her path toward relationship is way more exciting to talk about than a tropical island. She discarded her super-tight Queen of Spades for that studly King of Hearts. As the Queen of Spades, I’m chilling out in the middle of the table, mingling with the rest of the cards, glaring at King of Hearts and feeling dreadfully jealous.

The fact that King of Hearts isn’t even a real boyfriend just adds insult to injury. I’ve been abandoned for an almost-boyfriend? Really?

That was last week. This week has been better. A little bit of prayer, a lot of feeling convicted for a being a terrible support to my best friend when she is super excited about this new turn of events in her life, and a swift kick to green monster’s head helped considerably. I was even able to feel some genuine enthusiasm last night when I called to listen to her gush about King of Hearts officially asking her out this week. (Almost-boyfriend stepped into official boyfriend category tonight. Injury still healing, but insult removed.)

Funny coincidence: Bestie said something on the phone tonight about how she no longer needs my input in her life now that she has this boyfriend. She has no idea that her lack of interest in my input is what threw me into an emotional fit last week. Good thing I’m over it this week.

Welcome Home!

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Mommy, it’s too early to shine a camera flash in my eyes!

<— I can’t imagine waking up to a cuter face. I was in Jamaica for twelve days. That’s it. My parents pick me and my friend up from the airport and give me a “welcome home” gift from two of my close friends. I drive to my apartment and find my kitty, delighted to see me, evidenced by mass quantities of cuddling and purring. I open up my refrigerator to discover more food than I could ever dream of eating by myself. I gave my brother some money and food to watch my cat and my apartment for me while I was gone and he blessed me with far more groceries than I gave him money to buy. He also shared all the stories of how miserable my cat was while I was gone and how Oreo would not let him sleep because he was not me.

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I’ve been home for four days now, and my cat is still acting ridiculously cuddly compared to usual. This is actually a beautiful thing – Jamaicans are such a warm people compared to Americans. I became accustomed to constant touch throughout the day… Hugs, handshakes, fist bumps, you name it. To have all that healthy touch ripped away from me is difficult. It sounds kind of funny, but my cat helps me cope.

Last night I went to play volleyball with some friends. At the end of the night, one of them apologized to me that everyone seemed to have paired off while I was gone. She mentioned how hard it must be to see that once I returned. She also noted how hard it must have been to go back to work after my trip.

But I don’t really feel that way. I feel pretty awesome actually. I may keep whining that I should have stayed in Jamaica [I do miss the friends I made, but mainly I whine just because I am a whiner baby.] But how many people go on vacation for less than two weeks and come back to welcome home gifts and a thousand “I missed you so much!”s from their friends? How many people return from vacation to find more food in their cupboards than when they left? How many singles come home to an animal eagerly waiting at the door for them because the house sitter just was not mommy? On the flip side, how many singles return home from vacation to an empty house with no pet to smother them with attention? How many women go on vacation and literally feel no reason to return home? How many people return home and wonder if anyone missed them at all?

I always go through a little bit of post-travel depression. I LOVE to travel, and each time I come home I wonder why I have not moved from this country yet. But it wasn’t so bad this time. This time I was too aware of how loved I am. My friends pairing off? It’s nice to see them happy. My job? There are worse jobs. I am blessed to have one that allows me these luxuries in life such as travel. Loneliness? What loneliness? God has surrounded me by people who love me. One of my new friends from Jamaica called me last night and he immediately asked me if I was okay. All I could think was, “Why wouldn’t I be okay?” No problem, Mon – life is good!

Yoke or Burn

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Okay – I don’t talk about sex on this blog very often… or in great detail. Mainly because I find it awkward to write about the subject. But it is important.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take this post as personal dating advice. I am not offering advice. I am simply bringing up a point – a point which may be slightly controversial in the modern church community.

Mr. UnpaidTherapist called me into his office this week.

“Sarah,” he said. “I know that you already know this. But I feel the need to tell you again. Do not marry someone who isn’t Christian…”

He continued by describing the failing marriage of a couple he counsels. Wife is Christian. Hubby’s not. Marriage is falling to pieces. He then listed three women we both know who struggle in marriages with non-Christian men. He doesn’t want to see me face the same trials.

I listened to his lecture and chose not to respond. I’m not terribly comfortable sharing what I am going to post on this blog with a 45 year-old man at work. Nope.

But I’ve really been pondering this whole dating/marrying non-Christians topic lately. The entire basis for this advice against marrying someone with no faith or a different faith is that verse in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6. Verse 14 declares, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Now before anyone who doesn’t follow the Bible gets offended, let me explain that this is not saying that Christians should cut off all contact with people who do not agree with us. I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ’s entire lifestyle would argue that concept. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors [who were infamous for cheating people].

“Yoked” essentially means joined, united, or brought together to accomplish a specific task or purpose. A yoke pulls two animals together to push a plow. Harnessed together, they create a more powerful force.

Okay, so when Christians quote this verse, they often continue to the “joining” of a married couple. They say that a believer and unbeliever should not be unequally yoked. Mr. UnpaidTherapist did not quote the verse. But this is the sentiment he was getting at. Believers and unbelievers should not unite in marriage… it will only cause problems…

Here’s my problem: If you read that verse in context, Paul was not writing to the Corinthians about marriage. Instead, he was discussing teachers. He was telling them not to become involved with false prophets and idols. Not once in this chapter does he mention marriage or anything closely related to marriage. If Paul intended to advise believers not to marry unbelievers, why didn’t he bring it up in one of the chapters that actually talked about marriage?

On the other hand, in passages like 1 Corinthians 7, where it would make a lot of sense for Paul to give advice about whether or not Christians should marry non-Christians, Paul gives no such command. Instead verses 12-16 indicate that an unbeliever who remains in such a relationship is sanctified by his or her believing spouse and that their children are made holy rather than unclean. As a whole, I do not believe Paul encourages believers to unite with unbelievers, but I do not see where he actually says it is wrong.

Apparently I like to go backwards… so if we jump back in Chapter 7 to verse 9 we see the reference I made in a different post recently. “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am, but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Glance over 1 Corinthians and you will quickly realize that Paul warns these people up and down to flee from sexual immorality because it is so detrimental to their bodies and their spiritual health. Over and over again he tells them to avoid it. If you can’t keep it in your pants, get married!

If you will notice, he did not say that if you are struggling to control your sexual appetite you should wait until you find the godliest person alive and then get married. He did not say that you should only get married to someone who will accentuate and empower your ministry. He did not even say you should at least hold out for someone of the same faith. All Paul said was that if you really want to have sex you should get married. Period.

If a believer marries an unbeliever, they will naturally disagree at times. And yet, every married couple disagrees about some things. Mr. UnpaidTherapist is right, I’m sure, about the trials that come with these types of marriages. However, my question is this: Are those potential trials easier or harder to face than the desire for sex while I am still single?

The church community teaches that Christians should not date or marry non-Christians as a general rule. However, the church community also has a sucky divorce rate and a lot of extramarital sex scandals. I don’t buy this sentiment that all non-Christian men are skunks (and yes, that sentiment is rampant in the church realm). I also don’t buy the idea that all Christian men will make good husbands (don’t even get me started on that one…).

If we place two scenarios side by side, which one wins?

Scenario 1 shows a girl who is holding out for the right Christian man to come sweep her off her feet. This guy is hard to find. Therefore she remains single until she is about 36. Needless to say, a typical woman in her twenties and thirties has some significant sexual hunger. These are her most fertile years; she was created to desire sex. Although she waited to marry until she found Mr. Right at age 36, she was sexually active on a number of occasions prior. From ages 18 to 35 she slept with 9 different men. Each sexual encounter left a mark.

Scenario 2 displays a young lady who married her high school sweetheart at age 19. Although she was always a church-girl, he never showed much interest in the things of God. He gets irritated at how she “lives” at the church and how she always wants to give away their money to those dumb missionaries. But he loves her and he is loyal. They have their struggles, but he would never dream of leaving her. He is her one and only and she has made a choice never to leave him either.

Well? Who appears to be better off? I’m not telling anyone to lower their standards. I’m not advising anyone to marry the next jerk that asks them out just because they’re feeling kind of horny. But I raise the question: Is being “unequally yoked” in marriage really such a big deal? Is the common advice of “wait for Mr. Right – no matter how long it takes” really such a good idea in this sexually charged world? Is this ever-popular Bible lesson about believers only marrying believers actually biblical? What do you think?

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…]

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.