It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it? Just when I think life can’t get any busier…it does. So here we are, 6 months since my last post and a lot has changed. The ‘highlights’ include moving to a new apartment, my job moving locations, turning 30, and starting to date again [see title, above].
If you read my post from April, you may have noticed that I mentioned a relationship not working out that I really hoped would. Fast forward a few months and we’re dating again…but this isn’t the post you may be expecting.
Dating is weird, y’all. I feel like a lot of people talk about how much fun it is and how exciting it can be and while my relationship is those things (for the most part), it’s also awkward. And stressful. It’s full of ups and downs. Our story so far has not been ‘easy’ or traditional – we’ve struggled through hard conversations, through differences, through being on and being off and being back on again, through tough questions and even tougher answers…and you may be wondering why we’re back at it again.
The answer is messy and unresolved. My significant other and I haven’t reached the next chapter of our journey of either parting ways or deciding that this is the forever choice we want to make, so it’s harder to give you a nice-pretty-tied-up-in-a-bow answer for why we’re dating again. In a world full of highlight reels, smiling photos, and 140-character updates I haven’t found a lot of transparency in the hurdles couples face during the dating process, especially when dating as a Christian. We’re told that this is one of the most important decisions of our lives and we should take our time, but you should also date intentionally and work towards the goal of marriage (at what feels like a rapid pace). We’re told to set really clear boundaries (physical, emotional, and spiritual) but no one gives you practical advice on what those boundaries should be, how to have a conversation about them, or how to keep them. We’re encouraged to invite community into our relationship, but not told how to welcome feedback and insight from our friends and mentors. But how do you handle the tension of the not knowing and the ‘still-figuring-it-out’? As someone who has a very strong aversion to leaving things unresolved for any amount of time, I’ve struggled with how to deal with not being able to have the answers *right now.* Of having to take time to wait on my partner to think and pray about things, or for me to think and pray about things, or for us to see how things develop over time.
All of this to say: we’re working on figuring it out, one day at a time. I really like this person. Like reeeeeeeeeeeally like him. There are sooooooo many happy, fun, and exciting things that make me hopeful for the future. But then there are also sad, stressful, and disappointing moments that make me question if we are good for each other. I may experience the joyful moment that is sharing the bliss that is frozen custard for the first time, but I may also hear the same joke for the upteenth time and wonder to myself ‘can I really handle hearing this same joke for the rest of my life and not want to smother him with a pillow?’ For the majority of our relationship, I experience excitement and joy over this person, but I also have times questions and doubts. Is it ok for me to feel this way? Is this normal? How do I handle these thoughts and emotions?
If I’m being honest, I still don’t know. I’m lucky enough to be dating someone who is willing to let me be completely open with what’s running through my head and talking through things or affirming that he, too, is facing the same questions. He is so kind and loving and is thinking not only about if this relationship is good for him, but also if it’s something that’s for my good too, which I’ve never experienced before. I’ve been talking with a couple of trusted friends for accountability and guidance. I’ve been praying for God to reveal His plans for us – if it’s to end things, let that answer come quickly, and if it’s to keep going, make that abundantly clear. I’ve also been praying for a lot of grace and guidance on how to navigate the tricky world that is Christian dating in 2017.
I’m afraid I don’t have a great ‘lesson learned’ or pithy ending. It didn’t really occur to me to actually write about this until I was talking with a friend earlier today, lamenting over the challenges of dating and how I don’t really know of people facing the same issues, and she encouraged me to blog about it and share my experience with others (in the hopes that if there’s anybody else out there facing similar things, you’d know you have a friend in me). I’m working on taking one day at a time and reminding myself that I don’t have to know all the answers right this moment, I don’t have to have the 5-year-plan laid out today, and it’s ok to sit in the tension of the unknown. And, I think, the biggest takeaway for right now is that this relationship can still be good regardless of the outcome. Because we’re both actively working to date each other well, to keep God at the center of our relationship, and to help each other grow in our walks with Him, no matter how things end up, it will still be a successful relationship. I can only continue to look to God in all of the moments (those of happiness, of sadness, of doubt, and of hopefulness and excitement for the future) and persevere in seeking His will.
My questions to you, reader, are these: have you experienced those moments of uncertainty and if so, how did you handle them? How do handle moments of tension and things being unresolved and how long is it ok for them to last? I think it would be even more helpful to hear the answers to those questions from people across the dating spectrum – single, dating, engaged, married…in a time where we want to show the best parts/happiest moments of our lives, how do you practically work through the hard parts? I’d welcome any comments, stories, or feedback – thank you for ‘listening.’ 🙂