Friday, May 20, 2016

What's the Issue, Dear? || Why I Am Single


A few months ago I sat down with a friend over coffee and we had a conversation. It was a good conversation that amounted to mutual feelings of friendliness and understanding. See, this friend of mine was a young man who I had grown acquainted with through my church community. We had several mutual friends and so naturally had ample opportunity to get to know each other. Over time he began to think he was interested or at least could be interested in me as more than a friend. So he talked to my dad. My dad talked to me. And then we talked with each other.

There is something amazing about sitting down with a friend and talking openly and honestly about your feelings, even if your words are not necessarily what the other person wants to hear. I know I ultimately disappointed him, but I was glad he was willing to listen to me anyway and share with me how he felt. At the start of the conversation, my friend said something to the effect of, “So, I talked to your dad and he told me you’re determined to be a single old maid for the rest of your life.”

I laughed and replied, “That’s about right.”

I have received similar phrases and questions like this from several friends and acquaintances over the last couple of years, questions like, “So I guess you have decided you want to be single for now?” As if deciding to be single forever is an unfathomable decision akin to resigning yourself to a life of agony and despair. But I can see why--to an extent--why I confuse people because my life is not void of eligible single young men, though they are rapidly becoming an extinct species, as are my single young lady friends. And if I am not overtly pursuing one of these aforementioned and soon-to-be-extinct eligible single young men, then there has to be something wrong with me, right? I’ve signed my life away to singleness.

First off, signing my life away to singleness does not sound like a fate worse than death, to me. I like being single and I'm not lying when I say that. Second, I haven’t signed my life away to being single, but I also am not dead-set on not being single and finding a husband as soon as I can. Desperation doesn't look good on anybody. Finally, I have standards and they are high standards. My standards are not superficial, materialistic standards (well, not all of them anyway). They are also not simple “check the box” standards, such as, 1) must be a Christian 2) must not live in parent's basement, etc. I guess the best way to describe my expectations is this:

The moment I meet the right man, I will simply know. It will not only be everything about him that is perfect, for me, it will be everything about the circumstances, the timing, our friendship and relationship—there will be no doubt in my mind and try as I might I won’t have any excuse to not fall in love with him instantly. My family will love him. My friends will love him. I'll love him. He'll meet every expectation I never knew I had! (I know, sounds realistic, right?) So far all the men who have come and gone in my life have been ifs and maybes. They have been nothing more than possibilities. If only he would change this about his character. If only his beliefs were different. If only he wasn’t such a loser. If only he would fight for me. And so on and so on...

I never, ever want to settle. I have said this before and I will say it again. I would sooner be single than settle because, to be honest, being single is pretty awesome.  I have met unhappy singles, singles who can't stand being single, singles who walk around with a chip on their shoulder because they’re tired of “not being good enough” for anyone, singles who inevitably settle because they are desperate, singles who rebound and rebound again because they’re not comfortable in their own skin. Maybe if I was a little more desperate, I wouldn’t be so single, but I never want to be desperate. Because I know the minute I become desperate, that’s the minute I compromise my standards and expectations. And when I say compromise my standards, I am talking about the standards I have set for myself as well as the standards I have for my hypothetical future husband.

So when I pass up the chance to start dating someone and choose remaining single over the opportunity to pursue a relationship, it’s usually because of one or more of the following reasons:

1.  I’m not ready to be in a relationship. Period. I still have a ways to go, dreams to achieve, my own expectations to measure up to, that kind of thing.

2.  I simply don’t see us together. I don’t see me making you happy, so please trust me on this and move on.

3.  I might have a crush on you, but let’s face it, we wouldn’t last in the long run, so thank you, but no thank you.

4.  You don’t meet my expectations one way or another and that might be nothing against you. It might just be my necessarily principled idealistic self.

Our culture loves to make fun of chronically single people, but the fact of the matter is bullies only call names and throw stones because they’re insecure in their own skin and they can’t stand to see someone else walking alone with confidence. I would rather be the one walking alone with confidence than the person who stakes all of their happiness and self-worth on something that can’t provide any of that, something like a relationship status. So before you go crazy trying to find a significant other, learn to walk with confidence alone. Learn to measure up to your own expectations and don't sell yourself short.

What are your expectations for your relationships? What are some of your expectations for yourself? Are you/were you happy being single or do you find it difficult? Are there any ways you have been tempted to settle? 

10 comments :

  1. I echo your sentiments about single life. I enjoy being single and I have this idealistic idea that I'll know when I meet the right man.

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  2. We can only be happy in life when we are happy with ourselves...and that includes being single. If we cannot be happy being single, then we most certainly cannot be happy in a relationship. And, as you said, desperation is not an attractive quality. The most attractive people are those who are perfectly content being single :)

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    1. I've always believed that joy has nothing to do with our relationship status. It's a habit to build and ultimately it begins with realizing that my identity is grounded in Christ and not in my circumstances, status, etc. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Perhaps, the moment you know the right man you will know, rather than at first meeting. Certainly, don't settle, but say yes to the one God has for you. I could see turning down amazing men, because they were not a good fit personally. Keep being content where you are and being gentle with those who are drawn to you.

    Personally, I never had this problem. I have always wanted to marry and was hurt that no men in my life ever expressed interest. There is something pleasing about being wanted. Now I know God was saving me for someone so uniquely suited to me. I never even asked for all I received, and though I was content being single, am happiest now.

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    1. I probably could have clarified that point a little better. I don't expect to know instantaneously from the moment I meet him, but I know that when the timing is right and it's God's plan, there won't be any doubt in my mind that saying yes is the right thing to do. There might be a lot of other doubts in my mind about a lot of other things (such as myself and am I ready?)

      I have always wanted to get married too but I have never felt like it's the right time, that I'm ready, or that I have ever met the right person. I think this is partially due to my personality because I know my sister Anna was much more similar to you but my oldest sister Libby was a lot more like me. It took her a little longer to feel like she was in a place where she was ready to get married and it also took her a little longer to meet the right person.

      To be honest, I have a great admiration for my friends who married young. Knowing your expectations and making the decision to commit your life to someone takes a vast amount of maturity I know I didn't posses when I was eighteen years old. Thanks for sharing, Hannah! :)

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  4. Love this post! Thanks for sharing!
    There have been times when I have liked a guy, but never got asked out by him and later I realize I was willing to compromise in order to have him, but now am thankful that God protected me from that. ;) I am realizing more and more what you have said here that it is not worth it to compromise just so I can get married because in the end it isn't worth it. And just as I said in My own recent post, singleness is truly a wonderful gift!
    Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. It amazes me how easily we slip into the traps we say we never will fall into. Emotions are easily deceived and in the end it's only by the grace of God that relationships succeed at all. And thank you for sharing, Hannah! Singleness is a gift. I think sometimes we don't take advantage of it as much as we should. This doesn't mean we should all stay single longer, but I think we could all reevaluate the way we view and utilize our time as single young adults.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

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  5. Old post, but I just came across it. I just wanted to point out a few things I've learned from life and God these last few years. Not critiquing, just giving food for thought! Going through your 4 points:

    1. I’m not ready to be in a relationship. Period. I still have a ways to go, dreams to achieve, my own expectations to measure up to, that kind of thing.

    First up, good for you! The truth is who you are before marriage is who you're going to be in marriage. The character and sin struggles you have today will only be magnified in the context of marriage, the strengths and joys you have today will also be accentuated. Focusing on serving Christ now will only serve to benefit you wherever the Lord sends you! Though a side note- no one is ever actually really 'ready' for marriage, so when the time comes, trust that God will refine you and guide you every step of the way.


    2. I simply don’t see us together. I don’t see me making you happy, so please trust me on this and move on.

    Perfectly fine to say to someone, but be careful. My now husband and I would look totally incompatible on paper, we have similar interests in music, acting, video and photography, but we come at it from entirely different angles, as we do all of life. He's extremely introverted, I'm extroverted. He needs alone time, I need people time. We think differently, we process differently and yet it works beautifully. We're both skilled in conflict resolution and don't allow our personality quirks to get in the way. Again, on paper, if we had gone at our relationship from a more 'dating' mindset (you make me so happy!!! and whatnot) and started out talking about 'lighter' topics such as favorite movies and that sort of thing, we might have ended it before we began!

    Here's the deal, each of us are masters of our personality. We control IT, not vice versa. So yes, while I may have the extroverted tendency to run 5 minutes late to everything, to honor my precise husband, I can work on arriving to everything right on time.

    Happiness isn't the ultimate goal of marriage (For this, I highly recommend Gary Thomas's books 'Sacred Marriage' and 'Cherish'). Happiness is a factor, certainly, but our culture can focus far to much on this side of relationships. And happiness can always be worked on and learned.


    3. I might have a crush on you, but let’s face it, we wouldn’t last in the long run, so thank you, but no thank you.

    Absolutely! Making decisions while battling emotional connections or interest is always a dangerous and challenging thing. Proceed with caution!

    4. You don’t meet my expectations one way or another and that might be nothing against you. It might just be my necessarily principled idealistic self.

    There is a balance to this, as I'm sure you realize. There are certain nonnegotiables that can never be compromised on. Beyond that, don't box yourself in too much! Expectations are sometimes dangerous things, it can set yourself up for impossible high views on your husband without holding yourself to similar standards. What you think you need may not be what God knows is best for your life and service to Him! I think that is one thing we, as Christian young women, need to work at. There are character standards that remain true no matter what, but our man's personality, interests, occupation, and leadership style? God knows far better than we do what we need! Trust Him to provide it in His perfect timing.

    I'm not an expert here, just as one sister to another, keep seeking the Lord. Whether single or married, in every stage and every season, He is working. Thank God for His grace!

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    1. Savannah, this is excellent! Thank you so much for sharing. One of my friends, when I first published this, also shared that there will never be that "right" moment when everything aligns and falls in place and everything about him is absolutely perfect. And over the past year I have come to a realization that everyone has their flaws, past, and their present struggles.

      I also have lately come to terms with the fact that immaturity can often be disguised in pretentious idealism. If our expectations for a significant other are always lofty, ambiguous, and inarticulate, then we will never, ever really meet that *one* person. So our ideals become a ticket out of every single relationship, a reason to never commit because someone simply does not measure up.

      I remember one of my friends always said he was looking for the girl with that "spark". What does that even mean? He met woman after woman who he thought had it - but then it turned out they didn't. Eventually I questioned if his ambiguous ideals were really an excuse to never really commit. I delved a little into this in a more recent article about the Lies We Believe About Love

      Thank you for such a thorough response to my article! I love to hear these kinds of responses because it means people actually critically read what I write and take it to heart. I never want to write into a vacuum or echo chamber. The goal is always growth. :)

      God bless!
      Dani xoxo

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