I chose to approach dating differently after 12 years of getting it wrong
Sueann Tan // February 13, 2019, 12:11 am
Between the ages of 17-29, I was always with someone and was never single for more than 3 months. But after breaking up with my last boyfriend, I decided to intentionally be single for a while. No dates, no hookups, no relationships, no ‘maybe boyfriends’.
Being intentionally single showed me how much validation I had required from being with someone. I had no idea how to be alone. I settled for anyone who was willing to shower me with attention and affection. I didn’t even know what my values or convictions were because I had often compromised and wavered for the sake of keeping a man with me.
I was the girl with the foot on the accelerator. I was the one in control.
It was a tough 2 years trying to unlearn all my toxic dependency and identity issues, but I thank God that I stuck to it because it really made me grow as a person. During this no-guy season, I got to learn and define who I am, what I really want and what I really don’t want.
I was very intentional about evaluating when I was ready to date again, and I prayed a lot about it.
Not too long ago, my prayer was this: to be allowed to try dating again. I asked to meet someone like-minded: A man who loved God as much as (or more than) me, a man who was just as willing as I am to see this world and this life on earth differently.
And then I met someone.
He was introduced by a mutual friend who felt we could be connected by our similar interests. Even though we began to hit it off, I kept a loose hold on my expectations, learning from experience not to rush and to allow a genuine friendship to form.
A little-sparked interest gradually turned into nice warm fuzzy vibes, and this young man surprised me pleasantly by stating his interest in me on our second meet. Nonetheless, I knew deep down that we needed to take it slow.
In my previous romantic experiences, I was always, always in a rush. I flirted, cajoled and manipulated the man to make a move as quickly as possible. I was the girl with the foot on the accelerator. I was the one in control. I wanted things to go in the pace that I desired because if the guy didn’t respond fast enough, it exposed my insecurity of being alone and without any male affection.
Now this dude, he was a certain something. He was a good man who was falling in love with God, he was a wonderful conversationalist, he had a childlike heart, he loved children and animals, and he was definitely not a player. I saw that he viewed relationships and women seriously, and with respect.
My inner Disney princess was so ready to let this Prince Charming sweep me off my feet. But I knew if I wanted something meaningful – something that would last – I needed to take it slow.
I really loved his company. And though I saw his amazing traits, I wasn’t sure who he really was yet. And he didn’t know who I can really be too.
He hadn’t seen the way I can be on a bad day. He hadn’t experienced me spacing out when someone is talking. He hadn’t seen how needy I can be. He hadn’t seen the ugly snotty cry I can get into at church worship sessions. He hadn’t heard my loud and sometimes extremely intimidating laughter. (I was still doing the “feminine fun girl laugh” at our meetings, I think.)
So I said to my Prince Charming: “We should definitely be friends first, hang out more and then re-evaluate in a few months.”
I know that this is the moment where men around the world gasp audibly and remove their hats in reverence to the fallen bro who has just been friend-zoned. Allow me to clarify, though.
When I said this, this is what I meant: “I really like you and reckon we could possibly have an amazing relationship. In order for this to happen, we might want to build the right foundation first and foremost.”
I didn’t get the chance to really explain myself though because all of a sudden, things changed. I started hearing less and less from my Prince Charming. There were no more plans to meet up again. Not even for… friendship.
To date, I have not heard from him over Christmas and New Year’s.
It kind of stung. It made me regret my words.
Some people would probably say I had it coming. Many guy friends have told me that if the girl just wanted to be friends, they wouldn’t waste their time. Since most guys don’t want to be pushy and want to protect themselves from embarrassment and getting hurt, they back off.
I admit that my pride took a blow after the boy disappeared on me. I did spend a few (okay, many) moments in the last month wondering if this defined my value as a woman, or if I had sabotaged my own chances when I could have simply shut up and gone along with the ride. Maybe things would be different. Maybe.
I could be assured of one thing: That I had stood by my convictions to honour God and honour the guy.
But this I do know: I wanted to do things right.
When I saw this guy, I saw someone that mattered, someone whom I wanted to honour and respect as an individual, and not just a provider of a romantic transaction. For the first time in ages, I wanted the other party to receive the best from me, rather than do all the receiving. Yet, it seemed to backfire.
It then dawned on me that I would in no way be able to control any kind of result in these interactions. But I could be assured of one thing: That I had stood by my convictions to honour God and honour the guy, and I had chosen to do what I believed was right for us.
It’s true that a ton of people could disagree, and that this young man in question could be put off by such an honest decision. But I suppose that this is where we determine whether someone is right for us based on whether our values align.
If they don’t, that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.
I may not have gotten the guy this time around, but at least I have made progress by standing by my convictions.
I had prayed about meeting someone, and I’m grateful that God allowed this experience to happen. I know that God didn’t promise that this one would be The One. Rather, I know that He allowed it to happen because it meant that I’m ready to do courtship a little better now, starting with this one single step.
And this one little “failure” ain’t going to scare me.
This article was first published on Sueann’s blog and is republished with permission.