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“He will come when you stop looking for him”
“Pray about it”
“Have you tried on-line?”
“Have you thought about trying a new church?”
“You should meet my friend. You’re both really nice.”
“Find yourself first”
“You’ll find him when you..[move] [start your new job] [go on a missions trip] [start doing things you’re passionate about]…”
“Are you putting yourself out there?”
“Have you tried asking him out?”
“Don’t ask him out. Just wait..”
“What about a new hobby where there are lots of men?”
If you’re anything like me, single a little (or a lot) longer than you expected, then you’ve probably heard this list of dating advice more times than you can stand. You’ve probably also tried each one so many times that just reading it made you roll your eyes so hard they got stuck in the back of your head.
You’ve heard it all and you’ve done it all. And you feel like you’ve gotten nowhere.
That’s where I am.
Standing at the corner of “I took everyone’s advice” and “It didn’t work and I just don’t get why.” If you’ve been hanging out there too, thinking you’re alone, you’re not. I get you.
I get that when we feel like we’ve taken all of the advice, and still nothing has worked out, our minds run away from us while we just try to hold on.
The people offering me these solutions are in real relationships, so they must know best, right?
If this worked for them, then why hasn’t it worked for me?
Is God punishing me?
Am I doomed to be single?
Am I doing it wrong?
Do guys just not like me?
I’ve done it all and I’m out of options. There must not be any hope for me.
It’s so easy to assume that the problem is with us. That because we feel like we’ve “tried it all” and it hasn’t worked, that something must be wrong.
But I’ve started to think that maybe there is no “problem” at all.
After years of looking, not looking, looking-while-pretending-to-not-be-looking, on-line dating, blind dates, trying new hobbies, praying about it, asking guys out, waiting for them to ask me out (I could go on, and on, but you get the picture), I’ve started to realize that there are three reasons why no one’s advice has materialized the man I’m looking for. And I have a good feeling they’re the same reasons you’ve been feeling that way too, and not a single one of them are because there’s anything wrong, at all, with us:
1. People give advice from their own life perspective, and their advice doesn’t always take into account the uniqueness of who you are:
The easiest way for us to guide someone else, is often to tell them what worked for us, or to throw out any and every suggestion simply to try to help the other person.
But the reality is that we all come with different personalities, family backgrounds, time commitments, beliefs about relationships, and comfort-levels that will directly impact whether or not going about something a certain way will work for us. God has made us each unique in our own way, and sometimes things don’t happen for us the way they did for someone else simply because we aren’t someone else. And that’s ok.
2. Sometimes we don’t find what we’re looking for not because we aren’t doing enough, haven’t tried hard enough, or aren’t enough. It may just simply not be the time.
Sometimes, no matter what we do, we won’t find what we are looking for because it’s just not the time, or the circumstances under which it will happen haven’t fallen together yet.
I think that’s one of the hardest, but also most freeing, realities to come to terms with. It’s hard because we start to think “But why was it time for someone else, and not for me?” And I get that. But it can also be freeing when we realize that “not right now” doesn’t mean never, and there’s nothing wrong with our journey looking a little bit different than someone else’s.
3. Some advice is outside of what we know is best for us personally or where we feel God is leading, and when we fight what we believe is best, we often won’t find success:
The dating advice that I listed at the beginning of this post isn’t necessarily wrong. At all. I’m not against on-line dating. I’m a huge advocate for finding your passions. I think “putting yourself out there” and going on blind-dates can work, and can also lead to your own self-growth. That being said, if we find ourselves wildly uncomfortable with something (not in a “that makes me a little nervous” kind of way, but more so in a “I find that idea so unsettling” kind of way), or like it just isn’t the way we’re meant to go, then we will likely not achieve what we are hoping for.
It’s so easy for others to say “just try this” or “why aren’t you doing that?”, but there’s nothing wrong with saying “no” or “that just doesn’t feel right for me.” It doesn’t mean you aren’t trying, or that you’ve doomed yourself to be single. It simply means you’re aware of yourself, and in tune with God’s leading, and that’s better than any advice anyone could give.
All of this to say, I totally get it.
I know what it’s like to feel you’ve done everything. You’ve tried every tactic that people have told you works, and still you feel like nothing will give. And it’s so easy to believe that there’s a problem with you, or like somehow you still aren’t doing enough.
But the truth is, that this story is yours, and what worked for other people, doesn’t have to work for you. The timing in which it happened for other people, doesn’t have to be the same timing in which it happens for you. And where and how God is leading you, may be nothing like where and how He leads someone else.
So the best dating advice I can give you? Do what you feel is best for YOU, and trust in God’s plan for YOU.
That’s the very best any of us can ever do.