Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Transitioning Out of Singleness (part 3): How did you do it?

Recently a friend of mine sent me an email about her current single-ness, and asking me a couple of questions. I decided to include it here, as part of the series, along with my advice to her, because a number of my friends are single and hoping to be married someday and
1) She thought the advice I offered her was helpful, so maybe others will, too.
2) I thought that some of you out there might a) have advice that is in addition to mine, and b) have questions that we can all answer together.
I certainly do not think that I know anything about courtship, really, or that my experience is indicative of the experience of others. But I do hope that what I have to say below will bless you like my conversation with - lets call her Sally - blessed me.

(all communication posted with permission)

From Sally:
 I just ... I have to know how you did it. Each time I go on a date that seems promising, and then realize I've been duped once again I feel like my heart breaks a thousand times over. I just can't do it anymore.
And I refuse to believe that wanting something or not wanting something is what affects the outcome. Any tips you have on not feeling like shit for being single are welcome! Because at this point there's not enough glue in the world to glue the pieces of my heart back together.
 - Sally 

My reply:
Hey Sally,
My friend, may the Lord be with you! I feel for you so much. I wish I could tell you that I had a solution to the pain that comes with being single and wishing to be otherwise. But most of my answers will seem trite or pat, and I don't want to offer you such things.

I totally agree - "wanting" and "not wanting" are not the difference - that is "The Secret" kind of stuff, and it's BS. (Even though you'll hear Christians say things that sound eerily similar to that philosophy). Plenty of people in scripture wanted things and Lord withheld for a time. This was most often true of men and women who wanted children, but I think that wanting to have a loving relationship is a similar "want".

I don't know that I have advice that will be super helpful, but what questions and advice I do have, I will offer you:
advice #1 - be extra choosy. One thing I like about you, and that we have in common, is a predisposition to believe that the next thing is the best thing. Because of that, you have to raise your standards higher, so that not every cute guy who seems funny and smart gets through door. It will mean fewer dates, but the dates will be more likely to meet your expectations.

advice #2 - take a break from dating for a while, if you need, so that you can let your heart heal a bit. during that time, really think about why you want to be dating/married - what is it about being single that you think you might want to leave behind? what is it about being married/long-term-partnered that you would want? think about what expectations you have for dating and for a relationship, and then think about which of those expectations are ones that could be fulfilled before a relationship really gets going.

advice #3 - give it time. I know this advice stinks, but as someone who didn't meet the love of her life until she was in her mid-30s, I'm here to tell you that even though the intervening years were hard, both Curby and I would say that it was worth it to find each other. You might meet the perfect guy tomorrow, and you both know it! (that is what happened to Curby and I) or you might meet him in 5 years and know it right away. Or you might meet him tomorrow and not be sure for 2 more years. Or you might meet him in 5 years and not be sure for 2 more years. There is unfortunately just no way of saying. My best advice is to just keep doing what you're doing - go out to places where people are, meet people, be friendly, get involved in regular things and hopefully, when the time is right, you'll run into mr. right.

advice #4 - go to counseling. Seriously, I've done it a couple times - and many sessions were me sitting there crying saying, "why all my friends and not me!?" - but its nice to have a place where someone will listen to you say that weekly and offer helpful suggestions for any work you can do to make yourself more ready for dating/marriage when it comes.

Finally, take your pain and hurt and desires to God. Cry out to him in your pain and loneliness and bring your complaints to him. For me, the psalmist who said, "but as for me, my foot had almost slipped" best represented where I was when I met Curby. I had almost lost hope that marriage was for me - I had even started looking into single adoption, but I just kept bringing my request to the Lord and keeping my eyes open just in case. Even when you feel like your heart is broken into so many pieces its a puzzle that can't be repaired, the Lord is there and he loves you. Small consolation, sometimes, but still true. I love that Nichole Nordemon song "Small Enough" because that is what I felt so often.

Grace to you, friend. I hope this is even somewhat helpful. We can continue to dialogue - I'd love it. Blessings, Tiff

What do you think, friends? Do you have any additional advice/suggestions? do you have any other questions/thoughts?