The other day I had a conversation with two of my friends about problems/issues/struggles/whatever you want to call them single people face. One of these friends is single, and the other is in a great relationship and would like to see more of her single friends dating. We talked about everything from why people don’t date within “the group” (which is apparently a common problem outside of our group) to dead end friendships—the ones we hope will lead to something more but never do.
In all of this, it is so easy to blame the other sex for our own heart problems.
If the guys would only step up…
If the girls would only stop reading into things and acting crazy…
We’ve all said things like these statements. We all have our list of “If only” statements. I could probably fill an entire book of “If only” statements I have said throughout my lifetime.
If only he would notice me
If only he would get a clue
If only he would realize I have a great rack
If only he would ask me out
If only he would realize how wonderful I am
If only he would talk to me
If only he would realize how perfect we are for each other
(Girls, you know we’ve all said them. Guys, don’t laugh—I have a whole list of ridiculous things I’ve heard you say)
Not only are these statements completely ridiculous once you actually write them out, but they also put a lot of pressure on someone who may not even know how you feel. If you have been single for any length of time or are married and it was not an arranged marriage, then you realize and understand not everyone you are interested in or date becomes your spouse. And aren’t we all glad? If you are like me, most of the people you have been interested in over the years would make terrible spouses—they may be wonderful people, but they may be a horrible match for you. Often, it is not until much later that we actually realize how bad a particular person would actually be for us.
In that conversation between my two friends I mentioned above, we were passing around several different articles on dating and relationships. One on dead end friendships really spoke to me. The author wrote,
“Men and women who find themselves in a dead-end friendship, should take responsibility. A woman is responsible to be wise with her heart. Solomon said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). If a woman feels her heart longing for a man who’s not pursuing her, indulging those feelings is unwise.
Song of Songs puts it this way, “Do not awaken love before it so desires.” As a generation of women drunk on chick flicks, we want romance to happen so badly we allow ourselves to fantasize about relationships that have no founding.”
I think this author sums up nicely (and somewhat painfully if you are honest to yourself) one of the biggest struggles women face. We make ourselves miserable by imagining a relationship that is not going to happen and then are completely devastated when it doesn’t work out (as if it’s any surprise to us). We read into everything. While I don’t think you could ever get a women to stop reading into things completely (it’s kind of how we’re designed to function), I think those of us who are of the female nature should be aware of and wise about what we are reading into. We need to be conscious of what has actually happened as opposed to what we think an insignificant event means. I think we need to be better about taking things at face value, especially when we are interested in someone.
I personally am excellent at reading situations, picking up signals, etc. I can usually who likes whom, who’s dating (even if they haven’t told anyone), who’s had a fight, and the list goes on. I can read all of these situations quite easily except when it comes to me and accurately reading what is actually happening in the interactions I have. If I am involved in any way, all my skillz go out the window. Knowing this about myself, shouldn’t I be careful about how I perceive what is actually happening in my life? Shouldn’t I be better about realizing that a friendly hello was simply a friendly hello? Should I be better about not talking for hours on end about what some guy may have meant when he said some random off handed comment? Obviously, the answer is yes. However, I am really terrible about being honest with myself, the current situation, whatever it may be, and being responsible with my heart.
I could go on ad nauseum with “if only” statements that make me quite miserable because they are unfounded and unlikely to happen. Or, I could be an adult woman and be responsible for once. It isn’t easy. The feelings and emotions we have are intoxicating. It feels good to be miserable. Except, when we are actually honest with ourselves, being miserable is not what we want. What we really want is someone who reciprocates those feelings, which we will never find if we are pining away over someone who is not ours to have. It is up to us to make the choice to be wise. Making that choice does not mean we will suddenly no longer have feelings for someone. In fact, it may be sometime before we are over that person. It’s ok. There is nothing wrong with being interested in someone. There is nothing wrong with being interested in someone who isn’t pursuing you. What is wrong is when we allow those emotions to completely rule our lives and take over. It is wrong to indulge those feelings in an unhealthy way by building up a whole scenario in your mind about what might be happening or what he might be feeling or thinking. It is wrong to dwell on those feelings and allow yourself to get hurt because you had unrealistic expectations.
So, where do we go from here? I think first of all we need to clean house—get healing for those times we were hurt and ask forgiveness for the times we took things too far in our own minds. Second, we should identify triggers which send us down that dreaded path of pining and be able to recognize when we’ve taken a step in that direction. It’s better to only have to backtrack a few steps than pull ourselves out of the ditch . . . again. Third, I think we all need to find women who will be supportive and, most importantly, honest. We need someone who will tell us if we are being a little crazy. We need older (not old, just older) women who can give us sound advice. Fourth, we need to be honest with ourselves about what we are feeling and what we do with those emotions. Lastly, I think we need to be a little more brave and honest with our male friends. If we are uncertain of their intentions, maybe we should just ask? As awkward as it may be, wouldn’t you like to know early on rather than several months down the line when you have already picked out the colors for the wedding (you know we have all done it)?
If I’m being perfectly honest, that last item is the one that scares me the most and the one in which I am least likely to take my own advice. I don’t like rejection, and I don’t want to do anything to “jeopardize the friendship.” In all reality, I’m just a scaredy-cat who loses all confidence (ok, not all, but a lot of it) when it comes to men. I have my reasons for why I am this way—some of them are legitimate and some of them are ridiculous.
Maybe the first step is realizing I am being ridiculous and slightly crazy so I can actually deal with my own insecurities.