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“Why You’re Not Married”–an article from Huffington Post

23 Jul

I find no fault with the author’s assessment.  Her six reasons for a woman’s prolonged singleness:

  • Being too angry and bitter
  • Focusing on a man’s quirks and not on his character
  • Being too free with your body
  • Being dishonest about the level of commitment you expect from the men you date
  • Being overly focused on one’s own self.
  • Believing that you are not good enough just as you are.

So it’s true then?  I’m pretty average in my struggles after all.    While I have no stuggle with casual sex, and little current struggle with focusing on irrelevant traits in a man (like how many languages he speaks), or with being dishonest about my desire for a serious relationship and marriage, I find that I am still fighting a a championship match against anger/bitterness, selfishness/self-centeredness, and believing that today, right-this-very-minute, I am enough and worthy of a good man’s love.

What a helpful piece.

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How’s Your Love Life?

3 Feb
Image representing eHarmony as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

The raw data:
o dates in December 2010
0 dates in January 2011

Since joining eharmony I reached the telephone stage with two highly possible matches. Things seemed to drag after we reached the telephone phase though. One of the men was quite reluctant to meet me. He wasn’t ready to commit to actually meeting in person on a specific date at a specific time, he said. (My brow is wrinkled again even as I think of this). Curiously, despite not wanting to meet, he continued to call me to talk. The other man whom I conversed with on the phone seemed distracted. That man lived in Philadelphia. He went home to Georgia for the holidays, where, he told me, his entire family and all his social connections live. On New Year’s Eve we talked. The conversation was pleasant. We were to speak again the next day. I never heard from him. And still haven’t. I have moved on from both of these matches, and am approaching the phone phase with a new set.

It seems to me that some men, particularly those who are over 35, use eharmony because they truly believe that they are open, seeking, and attempting to find a committed relationship, though really they aren’t. These men want to believe this of themselves, maybe, because it is easier to make ill-fated attempts to find a relationship than to actually be in a relationship. It’s easier to hang out online, than to tackle whatever issues that may be keeping them from participating in a committed relationship.

Case in point: a guy a know, who is a long-time eharmony member, told me recently that one woman that he met on the site last year was extremely appealing, and he regrets not moving forward in a relationship with her. He could have married her, he told me, but did not. Alas, one of her other matches proposed after knowing her for 3 months. It is many months later and the guy that I know still has not found anyone that he is willing to move forward with in a relationship. Another case in point: one of my girlfriends met her fiancé on eharmony and within a few months of meeting, her fiancé was ready to commit to her.

In my mind the men I am meeting are either ready, willing, and able to love, or they’re not.

Despite what I’m realizing about the men on this site, I am encouraged by my own responses and reactions, which are different from what they were when I first tried eharmony in 2009. This time around I do not feel so emotionally vulnerable to the process. I find that I am getting much less invested in the 100-word-profiles that I like. I feel much less troubled by acknowledged incompatibility between a match and me. Most importantly, though, I have noticed that this time around, I have shifted my focus with respect to men I want to date. Before, I was open to and willing to “work with” a man as long as he was a “Christian”. Happily, this time around my heart genuinely desires a man who loves the Lord and the church and who shows this love by how he lives. Before, I so wanted a relationship that I tended to downplay my relationship with Christ, allegedly out of sensitivity to my match’s spiritual position. Now, because I am not so afraid of rejection, or of being deemed too weird, I have no problem divulging the fact that my life revolves around the Lord and the church.

This new confidence to be myself, and to love God openly, means I’m growing, right? And if I am becoming healthier and more real, and if I am less willing to get stuck pursuing less healthy or compatible men, then, maybe, hopefully, God-willing, I’m on my way!

But enough about me. How is your dating life going?

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How Does It Feel to Have an Engaged Friend?

16 Nov

My friend is engaged. She met her future husband on eharmony a little over one year ago. He is not what she expected (pastor-type and father of two) but everything she hoped for (too much to list).

It’s wonderful to see marriage happening for one of my close friends who is 35-plus. At this point, which is the very beginning of the engagement, it feels pretty much the same as it feels whenever someone close to me marries. Bittersweet. (I’m sure I don’t have to explain.) But a few other things come to mind as well.

First, I feel gratified to be a part of this love story. It makes me only too happy to believe, whether or not it’s completely true, that my crusade in favor of getting myself and the 30-somethings around me married has not been in vain. It is happening. At less than one wedding per year it is happening at a trickle currently, true, but I am hopeful that this trickle will turn into much, much more in the future as I continue to beat my drum.

In the beginning I wanted to sound some kind of an alarm and shout from the rooftops, “This state of marriagelessness all around me is unacceptable! Do something! Anybody!” My friends were in inertia thinking “If I’m a good Christian and I wait patiently my husband will come.” Church leaders were either silent or 25 years behind on the issue.

Like a woman crazed at times I urged whoever I could to take a different point of view. I gave books to read. I talked, and prayed, together with others and alone (I do not minimize the impact of my prayers), and I went outside-the-box and took risks that my friends were as yet not willing to take. “See, you CAN talk to strangers,” my actions said.

And things changed. My friends– nearly every single dateless one–began dating. Some married.

And now this friend is marrying. This friend who was a sounding board for a few of my incubating theories concerning Why We Are Still Single. Her reactions to my more unorthodox points of view still bring a smile to my face. “But we really do want to be married! It is not our fault that we aren’t. It’s circumstances, or God, or men, or all thee!”, insisted this friend. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t circumstances, or God, or men that changed during the time between our discussion and her engagement. She changed. She took steps to intentionally bring about change in her mind and heart. In the course of her transformation she met her Boaz.

So in addition to bittersweet, I feel proud. Satisfied. Like a momma bird whose baby bird is flying from the nest.

Do I Dare To Be Beautiful?

27 Oct

The glory days.  Remember those?

Lately I have been remembering my glory days, which, I might add, the Lord did not see fit to inaugurate until I was 29.

At 29 I became beautiful. Not the “you’re beautiful” kind of beauty that really only friends and family, who know and love me, see even now. No. The Lord gave me, in those days, the kind of beauty that sparkled and glittered and caused strangers to take note.

How fondly I remember the cute little suits and matching heels, the purple eye shadow, and the green, and the blue (I loved the blue!), the long straight hair cut to flip up at the ends just so. I remember being slim. Walking Everywhere. Having a super hero’s confidence. And I remember, of course, the men.

Men who just seemed to be around. Men trying to engage my attention. Men giving me things–seats on the train, rides in their cars even to locations hours out of their way, access to restricted or overcrowded places, pastries-tea-double portions (gratis), flowers, etc. I remember learning to accept these kindnesses; to say, sincerely, “Thank you.”  I learned, also, that beauty is an alternative currency, like gold or coupons, and that it is accepted everywhere, though at varying rates of exchange.

I remember captivating. And then being held captive by my own heart. And then fearing. How I remember fear. Fearing men, myself, and, most especially, my beauty. Being beautiful would lead to my ruination, insisted an insidious whisper.

So, without intending to, I moved away from the place where I became beautiful. I bought a car and walked no more. I cut my hair and put away my eyeshadow. And I ate. Bye-bye beautiful.

And in this place I have lived ever since, Ichabod.

But…

Lately fear has been giving way to faith. I have named my fears out loud and I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

Lately I have been remembering the glory days.  Remembering the glory of God in my life, and pining for it.  I don’t want to live in Ichabod anymore.

I want to be beautiful.  A planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. Yes. I do.

So let the journey to splendor begin.

Waking From My Dating Snooze

12 Feb

I got the best wake-up call I could have asked for.

I talked to a friend recently who has a not-going-anywhere relationship that she will not end. Listened to her talk about how she loves and needs this man, particularly in light of the emotionally difficult time she is going through right now.  She needs him as nothing more than “a friend”, she claims loudly. Naturally, right now she does not want to let him go. This after her assurances that her last break-up with him a month ago was the real deal for real.

To me, my friend’s situation is clear, she will never be married if she wants to marry this man. But my friend does not see it.

After talking to her the light went on in my own brain. I myself, StillSingle who ought to know better, am falling into this same blinding inertia in my relationship with RN. I am holding on to his friendship, contorting it into potential romance,  for the safety and emotional support it provides. Even knowing that any romantic relationship with him would be a dead end. Even knowing that I will never be married if I wait to marry RN.

WHEW!!!

Ready or not, back into the dating fray I go.

To Be Or Not To Be A Liar?

27 Dec
Still-Life with a Skull, vanitas painting.
Image via Wikipedia

At the beginning of the year I stopped writing for many days.  Aiming for kind understanding, and supportive consideration of my friends’ feelings, I was not able to speak honestly with them about matters of their hearts.  I said nice things instead of true things.  And I felt silenced.  My inability to speak honestly to my friends had the added effect of rendering me unable to speak (on the page), period. 

How ironic that as the year began, so it ends.  I have not been able to speak to the one whom my heart adores and tell him how I feel.  Which has led to my inability, these past many days, to speak (on the page), period.

From the time that I heard he was engaged up to this present moment, I have lied to him.  I pretended that I was indifferent, then that I shared his joy, that I prayed for the bliss of him and his bride.  I told him how wonderful Chris was.  I responded to his most recent post-wedding text, and gushed that his wedding gift was Chris’ idea-that we (Chris and I) had shopped for it together.

I lied not in the words that I said, but in the words that I did not say.  I lied because I am afraid. And as this year closes out I realize that this fear is killing me silently, moment by moment. Like cancer.

Fear that if I love him, I will miss a better choice.  But I do love him.  So what other choice would I make?

Fear that if I tell him, I will surely lose him.  But he was engaged, and is now married, and lost to me, for all intents and purposes, already.

Worst fear of all:  If I tell him that I love him, emboldened by my boldness, he up-ends his ramshackle apple cart (and it is ramshackle) and loves me back.  I would then have to, finally, commit to this love that I feel, wouldn’t I?

It seems the things, including love, that I want the most, are the same things that I fear the most.  And that the fear overpowers the desire in every case.  Or has.  But I have reached the point—petrified of having the love I want and at the same time distraught by the loss of this same love—of change or die a paralyzed, distressing, silent, and slow death.

I want to live and to love.  So help me God.  To change.

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What is Intentionality in Dating?

27 Aug
"Man Tickling Woman's Nose With a Feather," by Thomas Wade c.1860

"Man Tickling Woman's Nose With a Feather," by Thomas Wade c.1860

I have a confession to make, dear reader.  Judge me not too harshly. I am only a woman, after all.  This confession involves, of course, a man.  RN to be specific.  The abbreviated version of the RN story is that for many years we were friends.  Best friends.  But only friends.  Just friends.  Just friends who happened to engage in long sessions of kissing and making out, but still, we were not dating.  RN did not have a college degree, did not earn a lot of money, did not drive, and overall did not seem to me to be suitable marriage material.  But he was very attentive, caring, funny, and deep into the things of God.  We could talk about everything with each other, and we did.  Also, he was an extremely superlative kisser.  (Well he was!)

Four or five years ago, long after our relationship had transformed into a strictly non-physical friendship, RN dropped me.  Cold turkey.  He wanted to date me and knew it wasn’t going to happen, he said.  He wouldn’t so much as return a phone call or send a Christmas card.  It was like a death.  My sense was that God was behind the dissolution of our relationship.  Too entangled.  So I released him, and reconciled myself to missing him.  Then this past March a mutual friend invited me to church to hear RN preach.  I prayed and decided to go.  After the service RN came over to me and embraced me long.  He’d missed me too.

My confession is that, between March and August, RN and I have re-established our friendship (without getting physical).  I let him know that I am dating and seeking marriage.  He let me know that he does not intend to marry.  And week by week we have drawn steadily closer.  Closer like: after prayer meeting, around 9.30pm on a Tuesday night, RN calling to find out if I wanted to grab some dinner and me saying sure and us being out until midnight.  Closer like: me going on a date with an eharmony guy and on my way home calling RN to see if he wanted to go have tea somewhere.  Closer like: RN calling me right before he goes to sleep and right after he wakes up.  Close.

Mercifully, I began to realize that all this closeness was not good.

Intentionality, living like you are planning to marry, is one of the four principles espoused in A Girl’s Guide to Marrying Well.  The principle of intentionality includes letting go of intimate friendships with the opposite sex that are not leading to marriage.  “No matter how clearly one or both of you have defined what’s happening as “just friends,” your actions are constantly saying, ‘I enjoy being with you and interacting with you in a way that suggests marriage (or at least romantic attraction),’” writes Scott Croft in A Girl’s Guide.

I think I got to this place with RN because he is a known, relatively safe, quantity.  Loving RN is not going to hurt me like loving Mr. X might.  But, loving RN will not lead to marriage like loving Mr. X might.  It’s the immediate gratification of having a limited love reciprocated vs. the risk and delayed gratification of having an enduring, loving marriage.  The root of my problem is that I have not completely believed that God has a loving marriage in store for me.  Hence, my wanting intimate friendship with a man now, as opposed to waiting for intimate friendship as part of the full package of committed relationship later.

One cannot practice intentionality, live like she is planning to marry, without fully, completely, and wholeheartedly trusting God that marriage is possible.  I am noticing that where there is doubt, there are dead-end relationships, datelessness, and worse. 

RN and I talked it over and have agreed to draw back radically.  I choose to trust God.  How about you?

Why Buy The Cow…?

30 Jul
Bachelors Walk

"Bachelor's Walk" Image by Antonio Rull via Flickr. Creative Commons License.

I’ve noted that a number of the men that I have met on eharmony are in their forties and single, never having married. These men, and others like them, have thoughtfully and deliberately chosen to remain single for a much longer period of time than is typical. Single, female, aged 35+ enquiring minds want to know why. Here are reasons that I’ve heard and observed:

Why Buy The Cow When The Cow Is Likely To Run Off To A Different Pasture Leaving You With No Milk, No Steak, And No Money Because You Now Have To Pay For The Estranged Cow’s Upkeep and Grazing Fees In The New Pasture?

If you’ve never heard of Marriage 2.0 perusal of an article or two on the subject would be worth the read. Men, apparently, are very, very worried about financial ruin in the form of lump sum settlements amounting to almost everything they have, and/or alimony payments that stretch into perpetuity. Why would any sane and reasonable man risk such a dire financial fate? The more a man earns and acquires as he advances professionally, and in age, the more he has to risk if he marries, and the more reluctant he is to do so. Thus, we have men who are single into their forties.

Why Buy the Cow When the Cow Milks Itself Without Any Help From You and Then Serves You the Milk?

When a woman will support herself, maintain the home (or agree to a man having the freedom of his own living space), share her body, and ensure that pregnancy and children do not become issues, what need is there of a marriage? Indeed, for many men who enjoy such full-service relationships, marriage will only result if and when the self-sustaining woman involved forces the issue on threat of leaving.  Sometimes the man will marry the woman because he values what she adds to his life. Other times, the man will balk at the woman’s ultimatum, the woman will then leave, and the next self-sustaining woman will be found to take her place. Thus, we have men who are single into their forties.

Why Buy the Cow When a Different, Better Cow Might Come to Market in the Coming Weeks or Months or Years?

The root of the root is that many men, most men even, want to be married.  Those who are not married in mid-life will tell you that they simply have not yet met the right woman.  They looked and did not find her in their twenties.  They looked and did not find her in their thirties.  They are looking and have not found her (yet) in their forties.  Thus, here they are, still single.

If you ask me, all of above reasons for why a man in his forties is not married are bogus.  The main issue is one of fear.  And the fear of losing money, or of losing freedom, or of making a mistake, are all clever covers for an underlying fear of making a commitment.   It’s been said that women fall in love and then decide to get married, while men decide to get married and then fall in love.  This sounds about right.  Where is the man who is ready to commit to marriage (which is different from simply wanting to be in a relationship), yet who is unable to locate a woman who would make a suitable wife?  I doubt such a man is out there.  Men who decide to marry, marry.

Men in their forties who have never been married probably will not be getting married, sadly.

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