The Unrequited Love Saga Pt 2

High school passed with a few crushes rolling by like tumbleweeds in the barren desert that was my love life. Two years of college produced little more than a friendship my freshman year that was almost something more until I realized I didn’t want it to develop beyond that, and meeting a couple of guys I would have considered had they not already been taken. Women outnumbered the men at my school, which made the odds worse. So I studied and socialized and worked hard, with a gut feeling that I wasn’t going to meet my future husband at college. Or even that anyone would catch my interest. I was right and I was wrong.

I saw him first perform in an improv show my junior year. He was cute and absolutely hilarious, but not cocky about it, and I was immediately attracted to his warmth and liveliness. I’ll call him George.

Some time later that fall, my roommate (whom I’ll call Lara) brought George back to the apartment and introduced us. They invited me to hangout with them. This turned into the three of us together quite often that semester.

My time out of class was mostly divided between hanging out with Lara and George or hanging out with my two best friends – the guy I turned down my freshman year (I’ll call him Gamer) and Reader. In the midst of this very busy semester I was blindsided when Reader announced one day that she and Gamer were dating… as in not just going on dates but actual boyfriend and girlfriend. It totally threw me. After the somewhat short conversation I skipped my next class and walked the campus to try to wrap my head around it. These were my two best friends, the people I considered closest to me in the whole world at the time, and suddenly they were dating!? How had I not known? How had I not seen it? Were we not the close trio that I thought? And then came the shameful thought of, how could he choose her over me? Even though I knew I had no right to that thought since I had passed him up. He really was over me. And then the realization that Reader! Awkward, abrasive READER had a boyfriend before me!

After a few hours I was able to accept it and get over myself, but felt a sense of loss. Things wouldn’t be the same anymore. Their dating had changed things.

And in this I was definitely correct.

Reader was a very selfish person. In many ways she was a bully. And I am naturally a peacemaker, and at that time in my life I was one to a fault. So having a differing opinion from her was something I tended to avoid unless it meant enough to me to be willing to argue with her. She almost never lost an argument.

Part of what had made me realize that I didn’t want to be with Gamer was that he put the people he cared for on pedestals and saw them, not as they were, but as glorified versions that he made them out to be. His love was extremely blind, which scared me because I wanted him to see me for who I was, not as a paragon of something I could never live up to. What was scarier was that his brand of devotion gave me way too much power, and I knew I would take the lead in the relationship and could steer him however I wanted. This was not the kind of relationship I was after, and not the kind of love I wanted.

Add the two together and throw me in the mix and our trio quickly became all about Reader. Gamer would never back me up on anything now that she was in ownership of his unwavering devotion. We did only what she wanted, catered to her every desire, and I lost my voice even more. I didn’t know how bad it was until I got out of those friendships, how much I was loosing myself to cowardice. Looking back I don’t wonder that my college years were the worst of my life so far.

And so I lost my place in the trio of my best friends and became a third-wheel. A lesser party. I watched his need to give and give devoured by her insatiable selfish taking and felt so unseen.

So I spent more time with Lara and George, who weren’t solely wrapped up in each other but welcomed me. I saw that George liked her. It was obvious. But when I asked her about it she annoyingly denied it, stating that they were just friends. The more time I spent around him the more I liked him. He had such a great sense of humor and not at the expense of others. Nor was it to gain attention for himself. He simply loved to make people laugh, enjoyed bringing a smile to their faces. He was interested in their lives and an active listener. His mere presence brought me joy.

I asked Lara if she was interested in him.

“If you are please tell me, because I’m starting to have feelings for him and if you like him I want to reel them back because he likes you and I don’t want to get in the way.”

“We’re just friends. I really don’t think he likes me.”

“He definitely likes you, but that’s beside the point. Do you like him? Please just tell me and I’ll take care of my feelings. I won’t be mad at you at all. I just need to know.”

“No, I don’t think of him that way.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, well if that changes please just let me know and I will be fine, I promise.”

“Ok, I will.”

“Thanks.”

I’m not one to compete. I don’t play games. I’m honest. And I valued her friendship and her feelings too much to compete with her over a guy. If she liked him then I wanted them to be together. George and I were very unlikely due to his crush on Lara, I knew that. And what’s more, I wasn’t blind to his flaws and would have to seriously pause if he did ask me out. I never expected him to, anyway. And lastly, he was graduating that semester and moving far away to Chicago so there wasn’t much point anyway.

Yet my feelings did grow and I stopped fighting them.

In the years previous, I’d started wondering if it was even possible for me to fall in love. I think it was mostly because I had friends who fell in and out of love constantly, and also (now understanding myself better than I did then), I think I was suffering mild depression during my college years.

My feelings for George showed me that my heart still beat and it could love. My love for George wasn’t like the crushes I’d had before. Infatuation fueled by my overly romanticized imagination. I didn’t care that he and I had no future together. I just wanted what was best for him. I wanted him to find peace with his faith and see himself as God saw him. I wanted him to go after his dreams and succeed and I wanted him to keep laughing and making people smile. I wanted him to have joy and for his life to be full, whether I was in it or not.

And I think I would have been fine if things had continued this way, but things didn’t. Hope intervened.

People dogmatize hope. Scripture places it amongst love and faith in importance and I believe that.

I also know that hope can be one of the most painful things in existence.

 

(To be continued…)

 

The Unrequited Love Saga Pt 1

My periwinkle blue sweater brought out the color of my tear-filled eyes as I watched the desire of my 8th-grade heart walk hand in hand with another girl under the starry October sky. I’d bought the sweater to wear to the bonfire because I knew he’d be there and I wanted to look pretty. I was taken aback and pleased when he said hi to me and our mutual friend, Molly, with a, “Hey! Nice shirt!” at the start of the evening, but I had no chance to be around him after that. He was spending all his time, energy, and efforts on her.

A year older, Gleam was the girl who had that thing about her. That elusive thing that made her irresistible to the guys and envied by the girls. Never seeming to go through an awkward adolescent phase, at least by all appearances, she had it made. He felt about her the way I felt about him, but until that evening I thought he was simply dreaming. She was gorgeous. He was a year younger and round with baby-fat. She wouldn’t be interested in him, right? But I stepped away from the party to sit on the front porch swing for a moment to myself, and witnessed them walk through the yard hand-in-hand, laughing and speaking softly. Apparently Gleam saw what I did. A guy who was fun and kind and easy to laugh with. Someone who actually cared about people. And just like that I was crushed by disappointment. My little dreamer heart was shot out of the sky to come crashing down to the reality that I didn’t have what she had. That I was passed over for something better. That in order to attract the kind of guy I liked, I needed that confidence or that personality or that type of beauty or whatever that damned thing was…and I didn’t have it.

What’s more the magic of my shirt/eye combo didn’t work. I mean, he actually noticed my shirt! Which meant that he saw me at my most beautiful and it had no effect on him.

Molly confessed to me the next day that she’d told him that I’d bought it just to impress him. I was angry and embarrassed both at her lack of discretion and that I’d been so excited that he’d complimented me in the first place.

To this day the incident sticks out in my mind. I remember so vividly sitting on that swing in my blue sweater and the heartache I felt hearing their laughter.

Silhouette

This post is titled after the song which currently has me under its spell. Check it out here.

was enjoying it for it’s own merit, but after yesterday I’m afraid it will be associated with a certain person and certain feelings that overtook me yesterday.

For a while now I’ve had a very minor crush on a guy in the band (I’ve never mentioned him before). Not even a crush, really, because I would just dismiss my attraction to him as the result of loneliness or just the lack of eligible men in my life in general. As well as the fact that I’ve been determined not to crush on someone unless I have reason to believe they are actually pursuing me. I spent my young life falling for guys, seeking out fellas to crush on, until the big, heart-rending, unrequited last one toward the end of college. After that I was done. I’d had a number of big, pointless crushes that left me longing and feeling unseen, not to mention wasting my time, thoughts, energy, and affections on someone that had done nothing to deserve any of that from me. After that last heartache, I realized that I was done with doing that. I could be interested in someone, but I wasn’t going to silently pine, throwing my heart at someone who didn’t think of me the same. If he pursued, then I’d consider letting my emotions get more involved. So, I’ve had a few almosts since then, but I was very much in control of my emotions and never in any real danger of getting hurt.

Yesterday I was blindsided by my own emotions. I’ve explained before that I have emotions and am actually slightly more of a feeler than a thinker, but most of the time I’m not even in touch with those emotions and it’s rare that they surface enough for me to feel them strongly. What’s more, they were so strong no amount of logic could budge them, which is abnormal for me as well. Basically logic tried to enter the scene and got its ass handed to it by the hulk smash my emotions dealt. It freaked me out!

See, this guy is younger than me. Like…7 years younger than me. He’s in college. I know that compared to other couples it’s not that big of an age gap, but where we are in life makes it seem pretty big, as well as the fact that I’m older than all three of his older brothers. So it weirds me out a bit. Not only that but I can be a pretty strong woman and I want to be with someone who balances that. My hesitation is that because I’m older and more experienced, established, and know who I am while he’s in such a transitional phase of his life, that I’d be…I don’t know…taking advantage or something? It’s just given me many pauses.

And yet it’s been strange over the past months. Like, we both gravitate toward each other but then we both dismiss it because I’m going, “I’m too old. He wouldn’t REALLY be interested in me,” while, perhaps at the same time he’s thinking the same thing. It isn’t just me either. I catch his glance. He takes care of me in little, adorable ways.

I’m not saying I think he’s desperately in love with me or anything. I don’t know the level of his feelings. But I can tell I’m at least on his radar in a way the other single women at church aren’t.

So it’s been fairly easy to dismiss my feelings, yet over time I’ve found myself having to do it more and more often. More and more frequently I catch myself thinking about him, or wanting to be close to him.

As you know (if you don’t know then you should read this blog from the beginning ;P), I’m no stranger to mere sexual attraction. Before I could also write this off as that, like I said. I mean, he’s simultaneously adorable and yet still manly. I won’t lie. He’s hot. But I’ve been merely attracted to guys before and was perfectly able to keep my emotions under control.

Last week I dosed off on my couch for a few seconds. In those seconds I dreamt a very simple dream. I was standing, facing a door and it opened and he walked in through it. He looked at me and smiled the way he always does, and in my heart joy and light blossomed at the sight of him, a smile growing on my face to mirror his own.

I woke up, a little freaked out.

I mean… wow, subconscious. That doesn’t help me deflect anything! I began to worry that maybe it wasn’t just desperation and loneliness that was making me consider him.

And then yesterday happened. Being around him I wanted nothing more than to hug him, talk to him, just continue to be around him. “Carelessly” handing him something so that our hands touched, realizing that I’d done it on purpose after the fact.

We were talking after the service was over when this lady came up to me to talk to me about a guy she wants to set me up with (I’m not interested in this guy. Everything she says about him makes me less and less interested) and she just started talking about this right in front of him and he suddenly walked away!

No! I thought, super frustrated, Why now!? Go away lady!

I wanted nothing more than the chance to roll my eyes at him so he’d know I wasn’t interested in that guy. But I didn’t get the chance and it really upset me. Then, just looking at him, a strong and powerful emotion nearly bowled me over.

It scared me.

My eyes welled up a little. I grew breathless.

I haven’t felt like that in a very long time, and I haven’t ever felt it despite my efforts not to. But yesterday I realized that despite all my dismisses, my logical maneuvering, and my sheer will not to like someone who isn’t pursuing me, I…well…I’ve started falling for this guy.

Bushbaby saw my eyes well up and, because she knows me so well, when I told her I was “having all the emotions,” she was like, “Would you just admit to yourself that you like him already!?”

Me:

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Her: “Just admit it!”

Me: “But I don’t!”

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Her:

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Me:

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Her:

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Me:

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run-and-hide

 

Ok I didn’t throw the Love-word around but I did admit that my feelings were real and they meant something.

I don’t know what will come of them. I could feel different in no time. Or there’s a possibility I could feel for him for a very long time before anything comes of it. But I’ll stop fighting it. I’ll give it a chance.

I trust the Lord to give me wisdom and help hold me together. It is a chance to grow, to open my heart to what God might do. I won’t cower away because I’m scared and didn’t expect this. Life is too short for that. So I’ll listen to this song and for once let the feelings have their way.

A Confession of a Bad Excuse

I was texting a friend tonight who also struggles with masturbation. He was telling me about this video game he was playing that he’s been grossly invested in in the past couple weeks.

His character fell in love with another character and he said he was surprised when a seemingly innocent conversation option led to a graphic sex scene. He said it was really awkward and “bad bad bad.” To which, knowing the struggle, I gathered that it was fuel for his fantasies.

I tried to call him a while later about something else and he sent me to voicemail. Sadly, my thought was, “He’s either in the middle of playing that game, he’s asleep, or he’s masturbating.” Because, after him telling me about the sex in the game, I assumed about him what would very likely happen if it were me.

Often, when I consume the sex thrown at me in entertainment and advertising, I give myself the excuse to masturbate. “Well, I didn’t see that coming so now that it’s in my brain I’m going to have to get it out.” And of course in order to “get it out” I rationalize that the only way to truly do that is by getting off. Getting it out of my system. Like it’s some sort of food I’ve digested and the only way to pass it is by having an orgasm.

And in some ways this becomes a truth, even though it’s twisted. It is possible to consume sexual material and develop a hunger for it…a need for it. Ask anyone with a porn-addiction and they will tell you the same. But food’s main purpose is to nourish, and sexual material does nothing of the sort. It leaves you wanting, longing, itching for relief from the loneliness and the lack in the places you wish were being filled. It’s more like a drug.

But when it comes down to it, when you shine the light on it, it’s not that either because it’s not an actual substance. It’s a thought. An image. It doesn’t actually have tangible physical properties. Which means you don’t have to physically expel the material! It doesn’t require digestion like food. It doesn’t have to run through your veins like a drug. It absolutely can pass into your mind and back out with only a mental response instead of a physical one.

So basically my excuse to masturbate when I’ve viewed something that got me going is not really an excuse because I can change the channel, I can think of something else, or even rebuke the thought in Jesus’ name when it comes back later. And I don’t mean being aroused because that can happen really fast and is usually a natural response to viewing sexual material. But just because we were aroused doesn’t mean the material has to stay in our heads until we can satisfy that arousal. Because, again, it’s a thought. It has no physical substance and therefore needs no physical processing, only mental.

On the flip-side, when you look at a sexual relationship the way God designed it there is no lack. There is an actual physical person requiring an actual physical response. You physically consume one another while mentally processing real experiences instead of mere ideas. Seems a whole lot more satisfying and…well…natural, I guess.

I know that porn has always been around, but I try to imagine what it would be like to live back before TV and internet and billboards infiltrated every facet of our lives. Back when sexual material was something you had to go specific places to seek out instead of something you had to go to specific places to retreat from. I probably would still have masturbated. As I’ve mentioned before, my imagination is fantastic. But perhaps I’d have one less excuse.

(P.S. For my more literal readers…by “the places you wish were being filled” I mean need for relationship and also the vagina. In case that was too metaphorical for you I thought I’d spell it out. Again, Relationship and the Vagina. You’re welcome.)

Chin Up, Buttercup!

When Smiley and I were in public or talking about grown-up topics things were great. I enjoyed our time. I connected. We had the basics, the foundation of beliefs and values that is needed. He actually pursued and was a gentleman in a way that made me feel valued and respected. Where it broke down was in just hanging out and having fun.

Honestly, the more time we spent together and the more comfortable he got with me….well… the less I was attracted to him.

He’s goofy. I’m goofy. But it wasn’t the same kind of goofy. I didn’t really laugh much. I didn’t think he was funny and he tried so hard to be funny and it just made me feel awkward and bad.

I can’t fake stuff very well. I’m just me. Occasionally I’ll humor people if I absolutely feel that I have to in the situation, but for the most part I suck at it. I’m just an honest broad who ain’t got no qualms about being genuine. And I’m not super great at schmoozing people. Needless to say, I can’t fake having fun and laughing for the rest of my life so this was problematic.

I know that no matter who I marry I will have to deal with him doing annoying things and he will drive me up the wall in some way. I acknowledged this as my mom, my sister, Dreamer, and Charmer filled me in on the various ways that their husbands got on their nerves (the way he chews, the awful clicky noise he always makes, etc.)….but the problem with Smiley was that his annoying quirks made him seem SUPER unmanly and were an enormous turn-off. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. Their husbands were just doing things that, yes, were annoying, but didn’t make them seem less manly in their eyes.

Now, please understand me. I think that Smiley is going to be a WONDERFUL husband to someone and make a really great girl very happy. I genuinely do. That girl just isn’t me.

As I’ve mentioned, I am an INFP (only a slight F though). I don’t express my emotions a ton, or at least not with words to people. Occasionally I’ll write a blog post to process. Occasionally I’ll try to put my feelings into words and it usually is a process because I don’t know how I feel the majority of the time, nor does it really concern me. I have emotions. I feel them. I don’t feel the constant need to express them.

Smiley is an ISFJ. The world of an SF-type generally exists in the now. Meaning, what they see before them is their reality and they will have an emotional response to it. They have lots of feelings and those feelings are powerful and dominant. Bushbaby is an ISFP. She needs reminding in a tangible sense (words or a hug or a smile) that she is loved and everything is good. She also expresses her emotions more often. Even if she knows that she is loved by someone, it’s hard for her to accept that and feel peaceful if she’s not sensing it and she will feel turmoil about the situation until she’s reassured in a tangible way.

Smiley was the same. Only, he felt the need to talk about his emotions ALL THE TIME. At first he was constantly bombarding me with texts about his excitement and his feelings and his feelings and emotions and feelings…until I told him in a very nice way that I needed some space because I don’t work like he does and I’m trying to figure out my feelings and that’s hard to do when I don’t have space to even process them. How can I know if I’m excited to see you when you are constantly telling me about your excitement. It’s hard to react to someone’s excitement and emotions when you don’t know how you feel, and yet there’s a pressure to react when someone is constantly emotioning on you.

This is what I learned that I need. It’s perfectly ok and good for a man to have emotions. I don’t want to marry someone who can’t communicate and is completely stoic. I don’t want a robot or someone heartless. Future Husband, HAVE emotions. FEEL things. But please don’t feel the need to express them 98% of the time. I can’t take it. I’m the girl. I want to be the more emotional one, or at least not have you be WAY more emotional than me. I can’t deal. I will be nurturing and take care of your heart, but I can’t baby you. And I’m not a gusher. I’m never going to go on and on about how I feel. Nor am I going to text constantly throughout the day. Need mah space! Nor am I going to constantly reassure you 20 million times that I do, in fact, like you and am glad to see you. I need someone who is also intuitive to know that I love them because I’m spending time with them. Who will know that I love them not only because I say it, but because they know me and they just know. They can have the fact of my love in their head and just trust it. Again, expressing love is important, but trusting it and not needing to say it constantly is important, too. To me anyways, because that’s how I’m wired.

He needs someone like him. I’ve met girls who, similarly, need to be reassured. Who need love expressed over and over all the time. Who love to share how they feel and who KNOW how they feel most of the time. I’m very hopeful he will find that.

I also learned that it is more important that I find him manly than that we are both nerdy. Smiley and I had many things in common, but when it was all said and done having those common interests wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of masculinity.

I’m sure you want to know what he did that was so unmanly? Well, he REALLY liked cutesy things. And, you know, it’s okay for a man to think things are cute! I’m cool with that. But how a man expresses it can really alter a woman’s perspective of him. For example, if you’re watching a movie and there’s a cute animal, it’s cool if the guy says, “Aw,” or, “That’s cute.” The woman goes, He’s secure enough in his masculinity to admit he thinks something is cute! But if he starts squealing like a little six-year-old girl over the cute animal and bouncing up and down on the couch…well…

WHAT IS HAPPENING!?

He also would send me “Cutes” as he called them which would be various pictures or videos of cute animals. I can appreciate cute things but that is not how you woo me. Just…what? And he actually used the word “Squeee” in his text messages.

“I’m so excited to see you Saturday! Only two more days! Squee!”

Me:

and why? WHY!? Why are you a middle-school girl!?

Seriously, it makes me shudder a little just remembering some of these occurrences. And there were plenty of other things that added up but those effeminate reaction moments were by far the most painful.

When I ended it he got very upset and it was not a fun conversation. I honestly had done my best to do right by him and when I ended it I tried to be as kind as possible. But he was mad anyway. I know he was disappointed but he kind of accused me of leading him on (to which I replied that I told him as soon as I knew it wasn’t going anywhere) and then accused me of being very closed off and walled (which I didn’t respond to, but know is bull because I was as open and honest with him as I could be). I felt like he reacted as though I was ending a long-term and serious relationship when the truth was it was 6 dates. I knew he was speaking out of his emotion, but I wished he’d shown more grace or at least had the sense to not emotionally vomit all over everything. But he wasn’t done. An hour later I received a text from him. And if I needed any more reassurance that I’d done the right thing I certainly got it.

He told me he loved me. He said he needed me to know though I didn’t feel the same. He said he loved me “in the purest form of I Corinthians 13.” Then he said something about “thanks for the best of times.”

And then he added a weepy emoji.

A WEEPY EMOJI, GUYS!!!

This one!

Me:

I didn’t respond. There is no correct response to that Hail Mary or last farewell or whatever the hell it was. Thank you, Smiley, for embarrassing us both by rashly deciding to text before you’d managed to climb out of your emotions box.

I’m sad that I hurt him but overall I don’t regret dating him. I’m a little bummed it ended so unnecessarily icky but that’s part of dating.

It did help me see that, even though he wasn’t the whole package, there are still men of character out there who are single and who will pursue. And I got to know myself a little better and what is important to me and what isn’t when looking for a spouse.

So I’m going to chin up! Overall this dating experience was a win!

The Rapunzel Analogy

So two posts ago I referenced the movie Tangled to describe some of my feelings about dating. Since then I’ve discovered the best analogy!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce:

The Rapunzel Analogy!!!! *brilliant fanfare ensues*

You know how I was talking about being sparing with my affection unless I’m certain of my feelings?

So it goes like this: I’m Rapunzel at the top of my tower. A man comes along and takes interest. Well, I can see him. I’m even interested enough to let down my hair, but he’s still got to climb the tower in order for us to be together. I’m incapable of pulling him up on my own, and I do not have the patience for that kind of laziness. I’ve got the hair, you’ve got the muscles. If you want to be with me you’ve got to climb. It takes effort and time and careful planning of the next foothold.

When Puzzles put his arm around me he had not gotten remotely close to the window yet. He basically put his arm around the base of a stony and cold tower. I felt awkward and I know he felt it, too.

Different women have towers of different heights. Mine is particularly high, but I’m willing to let my hair down. I’m working on doing that. Other women need to stop jumping out of their towers in desperation. Their tower could be a little higher. Some women have super tall towers but refuse to let their hair down for anyone.

Also, women need to be pursued even after the tower has been scaled. There’s always a tower, always new heights to climb. And in different aspects of a woman’s being as well. It isn’t just emotionally. This is reflected in sex. You can’t just jump on her and expect her to like it. Got to climb that tower, buddy. Emotionally and physically. I know it seems unfair to always have to be climbing but that’s part of why men and women work. A woman can always present a new adventure, a new challenge, just by her very nature.

And if she is a good woman who sees your worth she will do her best to pull you up as well. To help you out a little. And to give you the enormous reward of her love during those special moments when you are both in the tower together.

A couple weeks ago a new man presented himself at the base of my tower (he contacted me on EHarmony). Almost offhandedly I thought, “Eh, why not?” and replied. And let me just tell you. He’s climbing.

That’s right. I’ve actually got a love interest!

Just dating but I’m actually excited about this one. When dating Puzzles Mom would ask “Well? How are you feeling? Do you like him?” And I’d always reply, “I don’t know.” Like this:

But after I met this new guy I answered “I dunno…” like this:

Okay, maybe I wasn’t THAT girly about it but it was a much more optimistic “I dunno!” and that’s saying something.

He’s a good man. He’s a man of character. He’s a communicator. He comes from a very similar background and I have yet to have any red-flags about values and beliefs. And he’s kind and full of joy. He sees people and loves people. And conversation is definitely way more natural than with Puzzles. And he’s fun-loving and goofy.

I don’t know what to nickname him…oh wait! Yes I do! My 5-year-old niece met him (that’s another story for another time) and told my sister out of the blue, “I like Aunt Ace’s friend. He’s really smiley. They should be friends for a long time and then they should get married.” How cute is that!? So I’ll call him Smiley. Thank you, Neice #1.

On the second date I definitely had moments of “Oh, crap! This could actually go somewhere!” Which of course terrified me. We’ve been on four dates by now and the last one was really good. I’ll explain why with another story.

This story is a confession because it’s really embarrassing.

In college I dated this guy for about a month. Didn’t get as far as calling him my boyfriend or anything, just going on dates. Well, the whole time I dated him I was trying hard to figure out if I liked him romantically. Same sort of situation as Puzzles.

Again, I must reiterate how inexperienced I am when it comes to actual real-life romance and dating. And back then even more so!

We were watching a movie at his house and while sitting on his couch poor innocent inexperienced me gave him the “Hold My Hand” signal without realizing it. He reaches over and tries to take my hand. Right as he gets to my hand, I clench my hand tight in a fist.

What have I done!

I gave him the signal! I totally just gave him the signal! But I closed my fist so now I’m sending the opposite signal…why isn’t he getting it!?

The guy took the unintended hint #1 but refused to accept hint #2…well a tightly closed fist isn’t even a hint! He wouldn’t take handholding rejection! He kept trying to pry my hand open!

We struggled this way for a moment and then I finally pulled my arm away from him and mumbled SUPER awkwardly, “Don’t hold my hand.”

How. Mortifying. So painful even after all these years.

It was really tense until after the movie and then I had to try and explain that I didn’t mean to give him the signal and then reject him, I just wasn’t ready. Which is in itself embarrassing.

Also, when I was “going out” with a boy in 8th grade I broke up with him when I found out he wanted to hold my hand. Apparently holding hands is a big deal to me based on my reactions. Some of my favorite movie romance moments happen when handholding is emphasized such as Ivy and Lucius in The Village and Wall-E and EVE. Not to mention countless Doctor Who hand holding moments.

Sigh.

Well, on our last date I was sharing something kind of vulnerable and struggling to find the words. He reached over and placed his hand on mine. It was perfect. He knew that it was exactly what I needed in that moment.

What’s more, I make him really nervous most of the time (which, I have to admit, is pretty darn cute), and he’s usually kinda shaky and tense with nervous energy. But when we held hands he was so calm and sure and it was so sweet!

Later he tentatively reached for my hand again and grabbed two of my fingers. I looked at him with a smile and said shyly, “You can have my whole hand, Smiley.” He smiled back and we talked for a while while palm to palm.

(By the way, I’m a total girly mess right now)

He’s climbing the tower and I’m doing my best to let my hair down and help him along. He may not be Future Hubby, but he’s definitely worth giving a shot and getting to know and taking the risk for.

It’s terrifying but also really nice at the same time.

“Why are they still single? What’s wrong with them?”

Even I am guilty of saying this.

Let’s be honest, the assumption that there is an undesirable reason someone is still single is an easy assumption to make.

Because we’ve all known those perpetually strange folks who are socially awkward. Or those guys who never want to grow up and act like teenagers into their thirties. Or those girls who are super insecure and will date anyone and end up just being used. Or that guy who is stalkery toward women and creeps them out. Or that girl who is painfully shy and can’t even have a conversation with the opposite sex.

It’s hard not to judge someone when they are nearing middle-age and still single. You naturally just wonder what’s wrong with them. I get it. I do it. And then sometimes I wonder the same thing about myself.

What’s wrong with me? Am I unattractive? Am I awkward? Do I have a glaring flaw that I’m blind to?

But then I think of Reader and how she was socially awkward and not exactly the most attractive girl and yet she married WAY before I did. I think of other people who have numerous or significant flaws who have found love, people that you can’t help but raise your eyebrows when you hear they are getting married. I know this makes me sound pretty terrible but you know. YOU KNOW and don’t act like you don’t.

Your mom: Did you hear that So’n’So is getting married?

You:

And just when you are about to process that So’n’So…SO’N’SO of all people!!!…has found someone who is willing to not only put up with but also tap that…THEN the thought hits you–

If SO’N’SO can find someone then what the hell is wrong with ME!!!!!!?

And then your thoughts and self esteem kind of do this:

Your mom is the bird but she doesn’t know it.

But then logic and reason eventually return and let you realize that So’n’So is marrying someone equally strange and it’s nice that most of the time there’s someone for everyone…even the quirky ones, and so there HAS to be someone for you (as if you aren’t quirky at all, right?). And also that you literally do not KNOW anybody and don’t get out of your bubble very much and also you have high standards and you are unique and so it’s going to take someone awesome and unique in a way that compliments you and it’s all going to be okay. You are happy being single. You won’t settle for less than God’s best. You are open and optimistic but also patient and enjoying the time you’ve been given with your friends and the people He’s placed in your life to minister to.

Shut up, Satan! There’s nothing horribly wrong with me. I’m just waiting on God’s timing!

And then you hear that people have been asking if you and your roommate are lesbians.

And then you do a little this:

And then feel John Watson’s pain and inform the messenger:

Because someone is single does not mean they are gay. Because they spend time with their best friend a lot doesn’t mean they are gay. It means they are single and they have a best friend. No one would think a thing about it if I was younger, but because I’m single and nearing thirty…oh I must be gay. Nope. Sorry. I’m interested in men. Women don’t do it for me. Thanks for assuming that about me.

Also, thank you woman who watched me grow up, for not trusting me to drive a van full of students because “Are you old enough to drive a rented van?” “Um, yes. I’m 28 years old and I’ve driven it before, and I’ve never been in a wreck and have been a responsible driver in the 12+ years I’ve been driving.” I bet you anything that if I were married this wouldn’t be in question (I understand I look younger than I am and that that is a good thing, but being treated like I’m irresponsible is really frustrating when 20-year-old married people get more credit than I do).

Married friends, thank you so much for assuming that I’m miserable and worthy of your pity because you are one of the blessed married people while I’m a poor lonely spinster. Thanks for the frequent consolation that he’s out there or that “we’ll find you a guy” when you actually have never set me up with anyone. But, you know, you seem to feel worse about my singleness than I do, so when it comes to your pity, thanks but no thanks.

People assume you are too picky, or you need to get out more. People assume all kinds of things and it’s hard enough sometimes when you are having to fight the lie that there’s something wrong with you that makes you unworthy of love without others speculating and accusing you, too.

That’s not to say that you “Shake It Off” as TSwift would say, because in reality it’s just not that easy. In reality it isn’t bad to question and examine yourself to see where you need to change, where you need to become the person that the person you’re looking for is looking for. But in the end what matters is what God knows about you and what you know about you. You persevere though it feels unjust, trusting that God sees you and truly does have a purpose for the delay. Trusting that you’re life is on the course He set and that is the course that will bring Him the most glory and in the end, you the most joy.

In the end I think “What’s wrong with that person? Why are they still single?” is a harmful way of thinking. Singleness is not actually tied to performance or favor or worthiness. It’s not something that needs fixing. Some single people are walking the path God has laid out for them. Some people are still single because they are doing it absolutely right.