Tag Archives: relationships

Cat in a Box

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It’s closing in on the end of the year. There has been a lot on my mind.

For one thing, my best friend gave me a time limit on The Challenge (https://sarahbux.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/the-challenge/). I know I haven’t really given any updates on The Challenge…

My thoughts have been… well… Define “date”.

That definition makes all the difference, really. According to some, I’ve been on a few dates since then. According to me, none of those outings were dates. But for the sake of completing the challenge I would be happy to call them dates.

The Challenge isn’t the only thing that has been on my mind, however. As a new year approaches, I cannot help but recall my New Year’s resolution for 2012. I stood in a group and requested prayer regarding my fear of relationship. Well, that is partially true. I asked for prayer regarding a specific fear – but never mentioned which one. Nonetheless, throughout the year I tried to move forward in conquering that fear.

And I thought I was doing well after I returned from Jamaica. At one point I thought to myself, I feel as if I am more ready now to be in a relationship than I ever have been before… Unfortunately, a few days later a friend of mine told me I was due for a boyfriend and I completely panicked. What do you mean I’m due? Why would I need a boyfriend? I’d rather just be single… I like being single…. Don’t tell me I’m due!

The fact is, I probably am due for a relationship. But stepping into a relationship would require stepping out of my comfortable box. My cat made himself at home tonight in a cardboard box that I have out. I feel like that picture may accurately portray my situation. Although my box is getting kind of small, and it is even starting to bust, I do not want to leave it. There is a certain level of peace inside those walls.

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The Runner’s High

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 My mom called me up one day to tell me she bought a book for me from the thrift store. She knows that I read tons of book about singleness and relationships and psychology. Sometimes I read them simply because I think I may write about them on here. Other times I read them because they truly fascinate me. She thought this one might pique my interest.

I glanced over the front cover: The Commitment Cure: What to Do When You Fall for an Ambivalent Man. What does ambivalent mean? I flipped the book over and was relieved to discover that I must not be the only person unfamiliar with that term. On the back, in dictionary format, I read the definition of “ambivalence” followed by the definition of “ambivalent man”.

How does the author, Rhonda Findling, define ambivalence? Ambivalence is “the existence of mixed feelings toward someone or something. Difficulty in reaching a decision.” As for the “ambivalent man”, he is the “one who exhibits or feels ambivalence toward women; one who plays games. He wants a relationship; he wants to break up. He’s confused, mixed up, inconsistent, and unpredictable. Yet he’s irresistable and easy to fall in love with . . . and almost sure to cause a broken heart.”

Good to know. I opened the book. To give some background, I already mentioned that I did not pick this book up by myself. It was given to me. With that in mind, I quickly realized that I am not the typical reader that this book would be directed toward. Findling’s target audience would be women who are unhappy in relationships that seem to lack commitment or a stable future. She calls to women who want the men they love to quit messing with them and marry them! As a cat lady, I don’t exactly fall into that target audience. I don’t want anyone I’m dating to take our relationship more seriously. That would be difficult, since I’m not dating anyone… I don’t yearn for a man to commit to me in marriage. I’m pretty happy while single. I’m really just reading this book for the sake of curiosity. Nothing more, nothing less.

Findling describes a handful of categories that ambivalent men fall into. Just like a criminal is more specifically labeled by his crime, she labels these ambivalent men more particularly by their behaviors. In Chapter 1, she describes the first kind of ambivalent man; The Runner.

As I sail through the first few pages, I’m dumbfounded by Findling’s description of “The Runner”. I feel slightly uncomfortable. Is it just my imagination, or does this Runner sound a lot like myself?

Although it is packed with information, and loaded with psychological observations (Findling is a psychotherapist), I found this book to be a quick read. As she describes and labels these men who avoid commitment, run from relationship, use women, manipulate others’ feelings, and criticize marriage, I picture several men I know and place them in the most appropriate categories. I’m amazed by how many I know who may be described as ambivalent. In fact, most of the men that I’ve found myself infatuated with could be described as ambivalent. Why is that?

Towards the end of the book, the author begins to address the reasons women are drawn toward ambivalent men. As she rattles off ideas, I find myself wondering why she doesn’t mention the ambivalent woman. After so closely identifying with the runner, I quickly realized that I find a noncommittal attitude attractive in men because I am also noncommittal. I am comfortable with his lack of stability because long-term relationships still terrify me. And yet, chapter after chapter, Findling neglects to mention the ambivalent woman. There are 18 chapters altogether. Finally, in Chapter 16, she directs her attention to girls like me.

There is a 10 question test in this chapter to help a woman determine whether or not she may be ambivalent. The author says that any woman who answers “yes” to at least three questions is very likely ambivalent. My score? Yes to 8. Kind of to 1. I could only give a straight-forward “no” to one question out of the ten. At least I’m self-aware and pegged myself in the first chapter…

I am quite comfortable running. It’s easy. It’s natural. Habitual, even. I run before I even get the chance to worry. Selfish, perhaps. And hurtful to others. The book made that clear. But comfortable. Unfortunately, I came to the decision earlier this year that I no longer want to run from relationship due to fear. Remember? Singleness is okay, as long as I remain single for healthy reasons… Fear, however, is not a healthy reason…

The problem is that running is ingrained. I’m not sure if I know how to stop. I sabotage the relationship before I even begin the relationship. I’ve tried to get past my tendency to sabotage a few times now, in the past few months. Ultimately, it never worked and I walked away feeling tremendously relieved. How do I quit running when running feels SO good? I find myself approaching another potential relationship right now – and I already want to run. I am trying to be positive. I am trying not to be cynical. And yet, I can’t say that I have high hopes. I don’t really feel like putting forth the effort necessary to date this guy. I’ve already contemplated the kindest way to let him down easy. I’m not sure if I know how to not run. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m capable. Perhaps I am addicted to the Runner’s High?

The Practice Date

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Kissing is for real dates.

What is a “practice date”? A few weeks back, I read an article on a webzine. A reader sent in a question about “practice dating” and I scoffed. What the heck is a practice date? If two people like each other, they can go on a real date. If they do not like each other, they do not go out on dates. Isn’t that how it is supposed to work? There is no such thing as a practice date. Silly question, reader.

Little did I know that I would be invited to go out on one a few short weeks later. The conversation was nearly over. I had already said “Good night” when the question arrived. Quick response (I think I’d like to date this guy): I agreed with his proposition. Conversation ends. Life goes on.

A few days later, we talk again. All of the sudden I think back to that previous conversation.

What the heck did he mean by “practice” date?

Maybe I am old-fashioned. Or simplistic. But I never realized that dating and rocket science are comparatively complex. As I said before, I thought people who are interested in developing a romantic relationship go on dates and people who are not interested in developing a romantic relationship do not go on dates. Notice, I did not mention people who are ready to commit for life. I said people who are interested. I cannot figure out what kinds of people would fit into this brand new subcategory called “practice dating”. I also cannot figure out what the difference is between a date and a practice date. What is the purpose of this thing called a practice date?

Side hugs are more appropriate for practice dates.

What if two people went on this practice date together and a friend came up to one of them?

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in forever. How have you been? Oh and who’s this cute guy you’re dating? We haven’t met before!”

*Coughcough* “Oh, we aren’t dating. He’s actually just my practice date. Don’t worry, though. You aren’t the first to be confused!”

 

Should money be exchanged? “I haven’t had a date in so long… I just didn’t want to forget how to go about it. So I don’t actually like you or anything, but I was wondering if you might like to practice date me. Just to ‘keep me fresh’. I could pay you! … Unless you think that’s too similar to prostitution…”

 

Then, of course, there is the whole issue of boundaries. In real dating, there are enough questions regarding boundaries. Who should ask who out? When is the first kiss appropriate? How soon should we go formal? When should we meet the family? After how many dates do we become exclusive? The questions go on and on. The answers fluctuate with each and every couple.

What questions need to be answered in “practice dating”? Does it matter who makes the request since it isn’t a real date? Should the family ever even find out about a practice date? Is kissing okay as long as it’s deemed “practice kissing”?

 

Is practice dating intended to perfect that art-form known as actual dating? There is that age-old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Although, I’ve always preferred a quote I used to hear from one of my basketball coaches. She said, “Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.”

If I translate that concept over to dating, I could say that I’ve been practicing singleness for quite some time now. If I continue this way, I will likely wind up single permanently. I can deal with that. If I start dating, I will likely wind up in a relationship. But if I start “practice dating”, where will I end up? In an “almost-relationship”? I won’t really be single. I won’t really be in a relationship. I’ll just be frustrated.

 

Is practice dating like a safety net under the tightrope for real dating?

“I want to date this person but I’m not sure if this person wants to date me… I don’t want to face possible rejection.”

“I doubt things would work out between us… I’d rather not work at a real relationship with odds like this.”

“I find this person interesting and I would like to spend more time with her alone… But a date is a big leap.”

 

All of these thoughts bring me back to a guy I used to know. He pursued me almost immediately. I felt attached to him extremely quickly. He asked me out. I said that I would prefer to be his friend. He said that guys and girls cannot be friends. I told him that they could and that I would be his friend whether he liked it or not. After a few months I realized I could not be “just” his friend. As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. Once romantic interest has been established for either person, it is nearly impossible for a healthy friendship to exist. One person will always hope for something more, and ultimately feel disappointed.

 

So when I told Mr. Practice Date that I either want a real date or we need to back away from this close friendship, he said to me, “You realize that you’re doing the very same thing with our friendship as you do with your relationship prospects? You’re doing that same thing where you protect yourself from pain unless you’re unbelievably sure that it will amount to exactly what you want it to.”

In essence, I responded by asking why protecting myself is such a bad thing. At least I haven’t asked anyone out on any practice dates… 😉

Reflections: Are You a Leader?

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http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

Episode 2 was more primarily aimed toward men. That being said, I’m still going to respond.

First of all, I feel the need to emphasize that more than any other thing – what I want from a man if I am to get married – is godly leadership. I can probably count on one hand the number of men I know that are still single and within my age range whom I can truly view as potential spiritual leaders.

With that in mind, I would like to voice a dilemma. Many of my Christian female friends and I have noticed a devastating truth in the Christian dating scene. Godly men are not pursuing. It’s past the point of “maybe this guy isn’t pursuing me because he simply isn’t interested in me”. It’s quite obvious that these guys aren’t pursuing any women. The ones we find most desirable happen to be the ones who haven’t, to our knowledge, asked a girl out in the last 3 years. The reasoning? They are just “so” into God right now that they don’t want to be distracted by women. I get it. I’ve used the same argument. Here’s the thing: God never said that all dedicated Christians should be single. Yes, there were some very influential singles in the Bible. Yes, Jesus was single. But no where does my Bible say that all the decent Christian men in this world should stop pursuing Christian women. Although I believe the man in the video had the best of intentions, I kind of want to tell him “SHUT UP!!!!!” when he said that men should work harder on “being the right one” than “finding the right one”. He said that becoming the right one will attract Christian women. As a Christian woman who has been “attracted” by these kinds of guys, I want to argue with him and say, “Do one without neglecting the other. Work on becoming the right kind of guy while you find the right kind of girl.” As a Christian girl does not want to have to completely throw herself at you to earn your attention, you are going to have to pursue in order to marry one of us. There is nothing wrong with wanting a wife.  Find one, would you!

Final thought: I kind of didn’t like when he said that non-Christian men will view women as nothing more than trinkets or toys. I think he has a serious point, and that in some cases he may be correct. But I don’t believe that the secular world is completely void of men who value and respect women. That was an overstatement.

Guys, as this video was aimed toward you: What did you think?

Baggage Claim

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There are two common analogies referenced in the dating scene. The first one involves “test-driving the car” and the second involves “baggage”. Both analogies piss me off beyond belief.

I’m not even going to start on the car analogy. Another day perhaps.

Singles, raise your hand if you have ever been asked, “Do you really want to date someone with all that baggage?”, or worse if you have ever been asked, “Do you really think that person would want to date you – with all your baggage?”

Why do these questions make me mad? Let me tell you.

1)      Everyone has baggage. Everyone. I don’t care if you’ve been married and divorced five times. I don’t care if you are like me – and have managed to dodge committed relationships for some time. Everyone has baggage. Different types, different sizes, shapes, colors, and so on. But baggage, nonetheless.

2)      Baggage is very vague. If I am going on a trip, a person cannot tell how equipped I am for the journey simply by eyeing my baggage. (We’ll say it’s a hiking trip. Something where a lot of heavy baggage does not seem preferable – as most people indicate a relationship is better without a lot of heavy baggage.) Without knowing what’s inside all of those suitcases – a person cannot say whether or not I’m prepared. They also cannot guess how heavy my baggage is. For instance, I may set a large piece of luggage directly next to a small piece of luggage. To the bare eye, it would appear that the larger bag is going to be heavier, and thus more burdensome. In all reality, however, that black bag may be full of cotton balls while the red bag is full of bricks. (I plan to build a house or something out of bricks and cotton balls on my hiking trip… obviously.) The person lugging around that black bag may appear to have “more emotional baggage”, but the person carrying that red bag may actually bring the larger burden to the relationship.

Just because the black one’s bigger, doesn’t mean it’s a heavier burden!

3)      Children are often called baggage. This is the big one – the one that really makes me seethe. How dare you compare a child [an emotional, valuable, vulnerable, and significant human being] to a carry-on at the airport! The reference is completely inappropriate. And yet, I hear it all the time. “You’re interested in a man with kids? Do you really want to date a guy with all that baggage?” It’s all I can do not to flip out at people who ask me these kinds of questions.

Ben and Benny: This is an old picture, but it is one of my favorites!

Instead I have to maintain my self-control and explain to them, “Parental skills are an important thing to consider in a serious relationship, and if the man does not already have kids, it’s really just a guessing game as to what kind of father he may turn out to be. To be honest, it’s kind of a turn-on to see that a man who already has a child seems to be a good daddy. Plus, just because I don’t have any children, that doesn’t mean I don’t have baggage. He would have to put up with mine as well.”

Just to add weight to my argument, I often reference my brother. Ben, I’m sorry if you don’t want to be referenced, but I often describe your relationship with Benny to others when we begin to discuss “baggage”. You are a great father! If anyone ever refers to Benny as “baggage”, they will have to suffer the wrath of his Aunt Sarah!!

Those are the primary reasons this subject angers me. There are a few other minor reasons. But I think those are the most important. Do me a favor, people:

  • Quit referring to children as baggage. It is never an okay analogy.
  • Stop calling divorce baggage. Ask the real question, “Are you okay with dating someone who has been divorced?”
  • Don’t forget that those are not the only two forms of baggage. Non-marriage relationships, family problems, and abuse, to name a few, could all be classified as “baggage” also. But don’t call them baggage.
  • Don’t ever use the “test-drive the car” analogy with me either. I may slap you.

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.

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.

Selfish Single

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I’ve expressed previously that sometimes the reason I remain single is purely due to selfishness. I don’t really know that I want to deal with all the stuff that comes with marriage and family. I don’t really want to give up the independence I have. I can travel on a whim. I can leave dirty dishes in my sink for three days straight.  I don’t have to share my kitty, my food, my apartment, my motorcycle… anything really… with anybody! And I enjoy that.

But I’ve also expressed previously that sometimes I get lonely. I was thinking about selfishness recently and I had a flashback from previous years. Allow me to share:

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill (and came down with all the bananas)

Here’s the thing… I’m at the point where I am wondering if I am doing something wrong. As a general rule I am content. But am I content for the wrong reasons?

I have to make some decisions. Should I give a relationship a shot? Is it really worth it?

 

How I Met You – Your Mother?

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Still haven’t gotten my computer fixed, unfortunately. I keep forgetting… But I knew the world would forget me and my singleness if I didn’t post soon. 

Just before Easter I met a young man. Late twenties or perhaps early thirties. He’s a chef. Had a motorcycle. Gorgeous blue eyes. Great smile. Sense of humor. Sounded very intelligent. Beautiful daughter. Single. My friend pegged him as “taken” simply because he had a child. I doubted her assessment since I saw no ring and no woman. He clearly announced his single status a little bit later. 🙂 Why would he point that out if he weren’t interested in dating one of us? 

Here’s the thing: I am friends with his stepmother. 

On the bright side, they get along well and she is in my corner. She was telling him that I would make a great mother and pointing out other strengths. The next day she told my mother that she thinks he and I would make a great couple. 

On the not-so-bright side, she is his stepmother. After he didn’t ask for my phone number and I assumed he just moved on… I got thinking about several of the fabulous young men I’ve encountered recently. I seem to keep meeting these guys through their mothers. Somehow, I think this inhibits my progress. Who wants to introduce their girlfriend with, “This is Sarah. She was my mom’s best friend!” 

Weird. I know. I can’t help it though. I hang out with a bunch of old ladies. “Old” of course is a relative term. No, they’re not 90. But they aren’t my age either. In all reality, these mothers would probably pick out excellent partners for their sons. They know those boys inside and out. If they recommend me, their sons would do well to listen. 

However, how many guys really want relationship advice from their mothers? How many guys really expect their mothers to set them up on hot dates? I realize I have the wrong approach. I need to work through other people my own age. 

I understand the hesitation these guys may feel. Even if they find me interesting, they probably stall over the concept that I hang out with their moms. I would. I almost automatically discard the notion of dating any man my mother recommends. Not because she doesn’t know me well. Not because she never meets young men. But because she does not understand my generation and the men she gravitates toward are complete losers… And they are often completely hideous. If she ever found one that I felt remotely attracted to, I would back away and assume he’s weird in a way I didn’t notice immediately. Just give it time – if my mother likes him he MUST be strange…

What am I going to do about this? How will I alter this pattern? I probably won’t. I work with people twice my age. I go to church with people twice my age. I’m resigned to the fact that I will continue to hang out with people twice my age. And I will meet their incredibly gorgeous sons. I will dive into infatuation. And when they neglect to pursue me because it’s completely weird that I’m their mothers’ friend, I will get over it. I will come home to my apartment and cuddle with my fuzzy companion, Oreo. And I will blog about life as a Cat Lady. Maybe if I were less comfortable with my life as a Cat Lady I would do something to change. Maybe.