Ever since “just boys” became “cute boys,” I remember being more awkward than a three legged dog. It was around 6th grade when this change occurred to me and I decided I would no longer wear crocs to school. I also only wanted to wear Aeropostale/Hollister/A&F shirts, carry my school stuff in a bag, not a backpack, and I needed perfume from Victoria Secret. I also needed an iPhone 3 and Sperries with the bootcut MissMe’s. Hannah Montana shirts with denim skirts were out. Being cool was in.
In the back of my mind, I’d secretly hoped being cool would get me more attention from my crushes. However, I never got any of those things because Mom deemed them unnecessary when Old Navy, Gap, and a phone plan with only texting/calling (no data) did the trick. I also remember the conversation I had with my mom quite often when it came to having a boyfriend:
Me: “Yeah, he likes me and we text. I think he’s going to try to ask me out soon.”
Mom: “Are you ready to get married?”
Me: “Well, no.”
Mom: “Then what’s the purpose of dating?”
Me: “To experiment I guess. See what I like in a guy.”
Mom: “Then y’all break up? Sounds like you’re practicing for divorce.”
Needless to say, I never dated in middle school. Not because I was scared of my mom, although I kind of was, but because it was true; I wasn’t ready for anything serious. And dating is (or should be) a serious committment.
In high school, I like to think I’d grown out of my awkward stage. I could actually talk to guys without sweating, I didn’t really care about being as trendy, and my biggest concern was getting my FFA opening ceremonies right & making it to state in golf. By the time I was a junior, I’d still never had a boyfriend, first kiss, hand hold, whatever, which naturally made me a target for jokes every once in a while. One tease I vividly remember was being called “a Nun” for never having a boyfriend. I shut them up pretty fast soon after when I met a guy from out of town and we actually started dating. I figured why not, I’m 17 now. Mom can’t say I didn’t listen to her kind and gentle dating philosophies, right?
Well… I learned she was kinda right. After the initial “honeymoon phase,” I knew it wasn’t going to work but I was too stubborn to break up with him and let my mom say “I told you so.” I also wanted reputation of being super picky and “nun-like” to fizz out. It lasted two months; he broke up with me over text message. I vowed not to date until college because high school dating was over-rated.
Other than that almost two months, my high school experience was me 9th or 11th wheeling since all of my best friends were dating guys that they dated all throughout high school. But to this day, I don’t regret any of it. Not having a boyfriend gave me so much more freedom than some of my friends and I honestly loved it. Now, I’m not saying dating in high school was bad, it was perfect for several people I know. They’re all getting married and already planning to have kids. Several of my friends gained a lot of wisdom dating certain people. It just wasn’t what I chose to spend my time doing and because of that, I was able to do more. For example, I learned guitar, invested in other friendships, went dancing, played a lot of golf, had date nights with my brothers (their girlfriends will thank me later), and more.
College got here and I was ready for it to rain Christian, beautiful, mature, Aggie men. And well… it didn’t.
**side note: there are some great Christian guys here but they were either taken, not interested, or “not my type.” I’ll explain the sarcastic quotations later.**
Freshmen year was full of disappointment but it was full of so much more growth. There was a phase where I would think about meeting the right guy too often and it started messing with my view of reality. For example, one time I was standing in line at Chick-fil-a in the Sbisa Underground (I was in that line for like, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The freshmen 15 was real). There was this super cute corps guy in front of me. Tall, dark hair, good-lookin’ face, and I figured if I could just accidentally bump into him or strike up conversation, we could be soul mates. I thought of so many ways to talk to him, but I never had the nerve to do it. We made it to the front of the line, he grabbed his sandwich, and he walked out, never acknowledging me and my 10 minutes of quiet fan-girling. Later on, I told this story to the girl who was discipling me and I felt kind of ashamed because I was starting to feel desperate. The things she told me next changed my view on singleness:
“First of all, that’s normal. This means you have a longing for marriage and that’s good. If you’re asking for a husband, God’s going to give you one but for now, make it into an act of worship. Thank God that you have this desire for a husband and pray that he’ll provide the right one. Second, the season of your life right now may not include a boyfriend. Singleness is for your relationship with God. It’s a gift we all get. Plus you literally have the rest of your life to be married. We always tend to over-glorify the seasons of life we aren’t in so slow down, thank God for your desire and stay focused on the things that matter so you can enjoy your life now.”
**Side note #2: I’m a HUGE your-community-defines-who-you-are person and this is reason number 282494 why you need people to keep you accountable. We all need people who can pour wisdom out and save you from pain that can be avoided by being pointed in the right direction. **
After that moment, I was able to redirect the shame into worship and enjoy the season of my life God had me in. Like the Apostle Paul, we need to live without distraction, at least for a little while (1 Cor. 7).
The second piece of advice that really changed my perspective is from one of my favorite books I’ve read about dating called Single. Dating. Engaged. Married. by Ben Stuart. I’ve always been a sucker for a certain type of guy. I liked them to be country, put effort into dressing nice (it’s hard not to melt a little bit when a guy smells really good), hard working, funny, easy to talk to, Aggie (duh), good dancer, and respectful. Guys who were “city slickers”, well…. basically different than what I grew up around, got an automatic “eh” from me. My close friends, girls and guys, said I was too picky. In return I’d say, “Well, I’ve waited this long, why settle? The right guy is going to be perfect.”
In the book, Ben talks about how we don’t know what’s best for us. We think we do but we don’t. We have a type of person in mind and they’re perfect but we never plan which flaws they will have. Plus, it’s unfair to have such high and specific qualities because no one is going to be your perfect person. If you do this, no one will ever be good enough. Ouch.
This kinda rocked my way of thinking about “my type” because technically, I guess I don’t have one anymore. I’ve got the things that attract me but it doesn’t matter as much when you’re looking for someone with a good heart. So, when I explain to my friends that I’ve lowered my standards, they freak out.
“Caleigh, you should NEVER lower your standards to be with a guy.”
But I’m not. I’m being more open minded to what God knows is best for me. Now, all this doesn’t mean I’m going to lower the qualifications to be my man entirely… values and morals have to be similar. But hopefully you get my drift. Maybe I’ll end up with someone from Dallas, wears skinny jeans & Birkenstocks, and the only horse he’s been around is something with horsepower.
Single people: This is my spill on being single. Especially with the holiday “cuff” season, everyone’s getting engaged or finding a boyfriend/girlfriend and it is t o u g h to watch. Trust me, I know it’s super lonely sometimes, but right now you have time to experience things you may never get to experience again. I’ve found that you can have just as much fun being the single friend if you surround yourself with the right people. I also found that you have to keep finding your worth in God and what He thinks of you because that’s the only fulfillment that will take the empty & loneliness away. Putting your worth in an imperfect person is setting yourself up for pain and self-esteem issues. Why not go ahead and put your worth in a perfect person rather than an imperfect one?
I’ve been doing this for 21 years and it hasn’t failed me yet. There are times my self-esteem hits the floor and I never want to leave bed but I promise that’s not God talking to you. He would NEVER say those things.
I firmly believe that when your number one relationship is between you and God, He’ll give you your next important relationship so it will be rooted in faith. I had a friend tell me one time, “If you’re perfectly satisfied with never getting married because the only man you need is Jesus, you’ll be ready.” I really love this but I’m willing to admit I’m not there yet (although I really want to be and it’s probably why I’m still single….). Plus you never know, God might be working on the other person to be ready for you. I like to think God is getting my man prepared to be with me right now. Anyways, Give it time, work on yourself, keep the faith, and stay positive. It’ll end up way better than you could’ve planned. That’s what I’m hoping for.
Dating, engaged, married people: You’re the people I vicariously live through by asking how you met, what your wedding colors are, best date you ever went on, etc. I’m also rooting for you because I know it’s hard to be in a relationship this day of age. I just hope that iron sharpens iron and you remember that you’re in it together — for His glory.
Singleness is a gift, no matter what the popular opinion is (finding your soulmate isn’t the main purpose of your life people!!) It’s disguised sometimes, yeah, but in the end I have complete faith that it’ll some of the best times of our lives!
P.S. Enjoy this song by Nickelback that I consider one of the theme songs to my life. It’s dramatic (but relevant) and really fun to sing in the car when you’re by yourself.
*November 2019 update*
One year has passed and I’m still single. Yay…? I did go on a couple dates, believe it or not, and they were nice. I didn’t end up officially dating any guys but I did learn something about myself: I LOVE clarity in pursuit.
In an era of Snapchat, texting, direct messaging, etc., knowing people’s intentions is as clear as mud. There is such a grey area of defining a relationship (mainly with the opposite sex) when you can casually chat all day long. It’s also super easy to overthink EVERYTHING. Let me paint you a scenario: a guy asks you to hang out and it’s just the two of you. At the end of the night, there’s obviously something happening between ya’ll but when you part ways, there was no talk of what is going on. Here are what my thoughts are like when I get home (probably as I’m spilling all the details to my best friend):
“He opened the door for me and paid for food. What a GENTLEMAN.”
“What if he likes me?”
“Nah, he’s just being nice.”
“I gotta chill with the flirting. I can’t let him know I like him yet.”
“Tonight was actually really fun. And he’s cute.”
“Maybe I should text him? See if he’s doing anything this weekend?”
“Nah. He’s probably busy.”
“But he does snapchat me everyday. That must mean something.”
“Nope, I know he has a lot of friends that are girls.”
“WAIT he texted me. And it has a smily face. Oh my gosh.”
“He still probably just sees me as a friend though.”
“I’ll just wait until he asks to hang out again. Then I’ll know for sure.”
Side note: to be clear, it is totally possible to just be friends with guys. But even if you are just friends, make sure you’re both 100% on the same page because that one-sided stuff can get messy.
MAIN POINT: Girls, you are worth being pursued! You are cherished, valued, and a daughter of a Father who pursues you every single day. If a MOG (man of God) who is upfront with his [good] intentions, clear of any confusions, and on the same page as you, girllllll it might be time to go on a date. This bold move isn’t easy but he values you enough to give clarity, which to me, is so honoring. In retrospect, we also need to be clear with our intentions once we see there is pursuit. It’s not fair to lead a guy on if he’s made it obvious he wants to take you on dates but you don’t feel the same.
I hope everyone has experience with clarity in pursuit of someone to marry. The complicated process of “evaluation” can be smoother than butter when everyone is on the same page. It is so refreshing, honoring, and doesn’t require you to try mind reading. I’m ready for the years to come because I just got another step closer to finding my husband!!