Tag Archives: Relationships

Do You Ever Miss Having A Man Around?

29 Jan

Image via Google Images

Still Single is stressed!  I took a good long break from work over the Christmas holidays and went back to work at the beginning of January feeling fully renewed.  Upon my return a mountain of work awaited me, including the trial of a case that had been transferred to me in my absence.  A David and Goliath of a trial where I am the featured David.  On a conference call to discuss the trial strategy, I got (unfairly) reamed by one of the top dogs in a different part of the company.  [Aside: my co-worker Jackie and I discussed the conference call afterwards and she was incensed on my behalf.  She went home and told her husband about my experience.  Her husband, who is from a different culture, wondered, “How could Mr. Manager talk to her like that?  She’s a LADY.” When Jackie told me this, ridiculously, I felt tears forming.]  So now all eyes are on me with this trial.  All month the start date was pushed back, until finally jury selection for the trial began this week.  Stress, I say!

This situation put me in mind of the last time that I felt so small in the face of such a big career challenge.  At the time I was working in the public sector.  I was with my friend Eric (now in his second marriage), in his car after work one day.  Talking about my day caused me to have a meltdown.  Tears, fears, and anxieties came spilling out in a semi-hysterical rush.  He calmed me.  Encouraged me.  Bolstered my professional esteem.  And then I was OK.

“I want that now,” I told the Lord.  “I really miss having a man in my life.”

For the first time that I can recall, I not only have no love interest on the scene, but also no male who is “just a friend” to me.  I pulled away from all of my “just friends” guy pals.  I want a husband, and my friendships with these men, I was convinced, was keeping me comfortably satisfied with not having a husband.  What pressure was there to date when I could go out with one of them on a Friday night?  And since we were “just friends”, I felt safe.  There was no risk of rejection, no risk of the relationship not working out; no risk of pain.  It was win-win.  Only I’d gotten to the point where I no longer wanted the prize of protracted singleness.  So somehow, one-by-one, I dissolved my ties with these men.

This week, though, dealing with a mountain of work-related stress reminded me of the kind of nurture that I was missing out on that only a man can give.  I find no compartment in my life where I am allowed to be tearful and weak and helpless on occasion–not with my girlfriends, not with my family, not in ministry, certainly not at work.  Also, being a professional woman in modern days, I forget, and never get any memos to remind me, that sometimes I need to be tearful and weak and helpless, if that is the experience that I am having.  But this week I remembered my frailty, and that it was God designed.  I missed having a man to hold me and speak gently to me, to just be strong for me.  And when I remembered I told the Lord about it.

Coincidentally, a couple of days ago, I heard from Eric.  Eric, who saw me through my meltdown in his car all those years ago, who has been my friend since age 11, who knows all my secret shames and is still my friend, Eric sent me an email with his new phone number and said, “This not talking has gone on for long enough.  I miss you. I love you.  Call me.”

I think, maybe, I will.

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What Will The New Year Bring?

7 Jan
Endless love
Image by millzero via Flickr

First, I was going to do a 2008 Year in Review-type post, but at this point it’s feeling stale, so I’ll recap here briefly:

In January I note that WB, for the first time in our history, did not send a gift, or even a card, to me for Christmas/New Years.  In March I practice getting over WB by letting myself love him without expectation.  In April I have a major breakthrough with the father-love issue.  In May I join eharmony.  In June I read a book that shined a great light on my fear of commitment.  Another major breakthrough followed.  In July I was totally infatuated with Mr. X.  In August Mr. X dumped me and my heart was broken.  In September WB stunned me by announcing his impending wedding.  And when I  panicked over not having a date, wonderful Chris waltzed into my life.  In November, after the wedding, I stopped seeing Chris, mourned the loss of WB, and had the thought that Mr. X seemed selfish, inconsiderate, and cowardly in hindsight (read: compared to Chris).  Why, I wondered, did I let myself become infatuated with that kind of man?  In December, when I wondered if I’d ever meet a new person without going online, I met someone at church.  More importantly, most importantly, I resolve that pure honesty, and truth in the inner parts, is how I have to live going forward.

Looking back, I’m convinced that there is a plan and a process that I am living through (deal with baggage, be open to meeting men, let the past go, confront poor choices in men and glimpse the kind of love God has in store), and that I am well on my way towards finally, finally, being Not Single Anymore instead of Still Single.

Second, I wanted to tell you what happened with Chris that caused us to part.  It was sex. We had a falling out over the issue. You can imagine why. I wrote a long post that explores my state of mind in the weeks following our break up.  Stay tuned for the details.  As of this date, though, Chris and I are talking again.

Finally, before it happens, I want to go on record and say that I am on the verge of a major, life altering, paradigm shift.  I just know it.  Here’s where I’m coming from:  all last year I was in process; getting my heart and mind in fit shape to recognize and receive love, real love, when it comes along.  Now here I am at the beginning of a new year and a new decade waiting for the next thing relationship-wise.  On the 4th, completely coincidentally, I stumbled upon the news that the sequel to the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I ADORED, is being released on the 5th.  I was not really sure what kind of book the sequel is, but I love E. Gilbert’s writing so I ordered the book it on the spot.  The book arrived today, the 6th, one day after it was released.  It is the fastest book delivery that I have ever received, particularly as I did not request expedited shipping. The finding, ordering, and receipt of the book was so seamless and fast, that it feels almost like Someone Else wanted this book to come to me right now.  But why?  What is this book about?  It is about Marriage.  How E. Gilbert overcame her reluctance to commit and committed.  Married her man.  Indeed, the title is Committed.  This book is going to speak to me, and Light is going to flood my mind and heart.  And I am going to be that much closer to a committed relationship myself.  Just you wait and see.

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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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Am I A Gold Digger?

2 Oct
THREE LITTLE WORDS
Image by linda yvonne via Flickr

Another thing that I learned this summer in the whirlwind of meeting new men and dating, is how much a man’s means matter to me.  I’ve always considered myself to be egalitarian when it came to a man and his money.  I always thought that women who wanted to marry “on their level” were bourgeois snob types.  I preferred to see past a man’s pocketbook or degree or title and into his character.  How astonishing for me to realize that I, too, am looking for some level of pedigree.  Even worse, I must confess that I have unwittingly set certain numbers in my mind as ideal when it comes to salary levels.  I must also confess that these ideal numbers are quite high.  Quite high.

Does this make me a gold digger? 

Probably if I grew up with a loving father, it would not even occur to me to wonder about a man’s ability to provide for his family.  These kinds of men–family men, responsible men, hardworking men—would be normal for me.  Men who were not in this category would probably not register for me as possible candidates to marry.

It seems to me that this kind of question, “Are you a gold digger?”, ultimately says more about the one who is asking than it does about anyone else.  It says, “I don’t trust women, including you, and I respect and value my money more than I respect and value a relationship with you.”  Maybe I should embrace the moniker.  Maybe I am a gold digger.  But the gold I am seeking is not material, but in the heart.

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What Did I Learn From Eharmony?

28 Sep
The Summertime Blues
Image by Todd Kennedy via Flickr

My Summer of Socializing was a success, if by success I am measuring fun and purposefulness.  It was full of phone calls, first dates, more dates, excitement, hope and laughter; friends asking, “Now which one is he?”,  fun.  But along with the fun was disappointment and sadness, which ultimately led me to call off the online search for love when summer came to an end.

Having gone through the process of meeting men online, I’ve learned a few things:

  1. It is OK to be just friends.  When I first began my journey, my mind was set on romance or nothing.   This was a bad plan.  I am beginning to see that relationship building without romance is valuable and should not be regarded as a lesser outcome than relationship building with romantic overtones.  Particularly as a Christian woman, my ambition and great need is to encourage and build up others in the body of Christ.  Even, and maybe especially, single men.
  2. The world is small.  My friends and I, three of us, began eharmony around the same time.  On two separate occasions, with two different matches of mine, first one friend and then the other, realized that we had been matched with the same man.  Both times the overlap was revealed incidentally.  Both times the realization was only slightly awkward.  Both times each friend and I yielded to the other as far as the man was concerned–and we only minimally compared notes on the match in question.
  3. Being real is more important than being liked.  After Lake Placid, where I went on a mini-vacation this summer, I realized that it is not enough to be prayerful about eharmony and the matches that I communicate with.  I need to commit to making relationship with the Lord the focal point of what I am looking for in a man.  Though I worried that this might make me appear to be some kind of Jesus-freak and limit men’s interest in me, I concluded that it is more important for me to have a God-focus, and much fewer matches possibly, than to communicate with hordes of matches who do not clearly have Christ at the center of their lives.
  4. The heart is resilient.  My heart was broken (not shattered but definitely broken) this summer.  It took ample amounts of Kleenex for me to actually deal with the truth that I cared so much for one of my matches.  Ultimately this heartbreak, as much as I wished that it were not so, served to teach me the importance of risking my heart.  It served to show me that though the heart is fragile and prone to injury, the heart does heal.  This eharmony heartache that did not kill me, actually made me better able to handle the heartache that came later in the summer when I found out about my ex’s upcoming wedding.   I could manage that heartache because my heart, through the exercise of love this summer, had grown strong.  These days I feel much less afraid of loving the wrong person or of being rejected.  Both have happened and I have lived to tell the tale.
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How’s eharmony Going, You Ask?

21 Jun
The Nightmare

John Henry Fuseli, “The Nightmare”. Image via Wikipedia

If you had asked me last week how eharmony was going I would have said, “Great.” 

I was communicating through eharmony’s email feature with a few men that I liked.   Though I was somewhat uncertain about how long I should go back and forth emailing them, and I wondered that I didn’t have a whole lot of feedback from the rest of the “matches” that were forwarded to me daily, I was content with being able to converse online with my three long distance possibles.  I was in the game!

Then a couple of things happened.

First, I spoke to my old friend CB.  His opinion was that long distance relationships do not work. For a relationship to exist, he said, the couple must actually be together, spending quality time in each other’s presence.  His remarks caused me to think about taking my email conversations to the next level.  How would we reach the next level when the men I was communicating with online all lived between 5 and 15 hours away by car?

The next thing that happened was that I had an impromptu dinner meeting with two friends.  One of whom joined eharmony right around the same time as I.  She has progressed to the meet-in-person stage, I was surprised to learn.  Here I was, so pleased with myself for talking to three men, and it turns out that someone else, similarly situated, has already had phone conversations with men and is now meeting them in person.  

She asked:

“Do you initiate contact with any of your matches?”   My answer was no.  After all, shouldn’t they contact me first?

“Do you tell them the matches that you are communicating with that you would like for them to give you a call sometime?”  My answer was no.  Shouldn’t they take the lead in seeking  to talk to me on the phone?

“Have you set your preferences to reflect that you prefer local matches and not long distance matches?”  My answer was no.  The website says that you broaden your options with less restrictive preferences.

Bythe end of the dinner I felt like my friend was maximizing the eharmony vehicle, while I was only giving token effort to meeting men through eharmony.   No, not token effort, exactly.  It’s as if I was approaching eharmony the same way that I approached my dating life, with the same passivity, built-in distance, and all.  It occurred to me that different results in my relationships are only going to be achieved by me practicing different behaviors.  Signing up for eharmony is not enough.  I have to go about socializing in a whole different way.  Well.  After I got over the dejection of realizing that contrary to what I’d been telling myself,  I am not yet moving forward in the relationship compartment of my life, I took my friend’s advice.  I changed my settings to a preference for local matches,  I initiated contact with five or six matches that I thought seemed interesting and not too far away, and I also communicated via email with my open matches that I would like to talk by phone. 

The night that I made the changes I had a nightmare. 

The day after I made the changes I went to a church service at my married-guy-friend, EB’s, church.  I looked good.  Very cute shoes.  At the service I was introduced to EB’s friend Eric, a tall, handsome, single, minister.  Eric seemed interested, but I resisted his attentions.

That night I had another nightmare.

I guess nobody ever said that change was easy.

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