I’ve had people ask me since I was around 22 when I was planning to get married. I used to say “hopefully by the time I’m 25”. Well my 25th birthday has come and gone, and I don’t see marriage happening this year, mostly because you need a girlfriend to start the process. The questions keep coming, but my answers keep changing. I used to say it was because I haven’t found someone, or that the timing wasn’t right, or that I wanted to be more financially secure. But, the truth is, those aren’t the real reasons I haven’t really been pursuing a relationship.
I haven’t been really pursuing lately because I hadn’t felt ready.
I’ve had relationships in the past, both good and bad, and each one took a part of me that I will never get back. There are times I still think about those, what went wrong, what I could have done differently, etc. Now many different things caused those relationships to end, and while both parties share the blame, I’m responsible for my part, and I need to learn from those parts. I’m continually learning from the past, and that’s why I’ve been taking time from it. If I rushed into something before I was ready it would only end up hurting myself and others.
As a Christian single, I often feel there’s this pressure on me to get married, have kids, and send those kids to a private Christian school where they all get matching polo’s and wear Sperry Top-Siders, and I don’t know if I want that exact kind of life. Yet the pressure is there, or at least it feels that way. I see 19 year old kids getting engaged and people my age or younger getting married, and I often have to fight the voices that pop up and say that “you’re going to end up alone” or “everyone thinks you’re weird.”
Spoiler alert: We are all weird, but that isn’t what makes our relationships fail. It’s our flaws and insecurities.
The reason I didn’t feel ready was because when I looked at myself objectively, I knew I could be a better person than I had been. I my relationship with God needed (and always needs) to be more consistent, I had habits and personality quirks that I needed to work on, and there are areas where I need to improve myself. Basically, I needed to be working to better myself by myself, not dragging someone into it with me. I have better stuff in me, and I needed to be on a path of improvement before I start pursuing a meaningful relationship. Taking time to work on me was what I needed. And guess what?
There is nothing wrong with that.
Too many of us trivialize relationships, and it’s dangerous. As I’ve gotten older the impact they have on people, and the impact I’ve had on others, has become much more apparent to me. Relationships aren’t a game, and when we treat them like a game, everyone loses. In the past, I didn’t take relationships as seriously as I should have, and that helped hurt people, and it hurt me.
We often go into relationships thinking they will repair us, that the other person will fix us and motivate us to be better. This won’t happen under our own power. The reason we will never be able to fix one another is because we are all imperfect human beings. Yet we always fall into the trap of expecting perfection out of things that are incapable of it.
God is the great healer, not your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or wife. When a relationship is working, both parties POINT the other towards Christ, not try to take Christ’s place in that person’s life. You can’t be Jesus, nor should you expect the other person to be. You will inevitably fail to live up to that standard, and it’s going to kill your relationship.
Don’t feel rushed to be with someone. You shouldn’t feel rushed, and if someone is rushing you, tell them to politely back off. Running into a relationship or marriage because you feel pressured lays a foundation for a lot of hurt, pain, and disappointment. I’ve seen it happen and it’s not pretty.
Take an honest look at yourself and take stock. What do you need to work on? What can be improved? And ask yourself the hardest question you can in this kind of situation:
If I look at myself objectively, with all secrets revealed, would I want to date me?
Don’t think about dating until you feel you can say yes to this.
Am I saying you need to be perfect? Not at all, because you never will be. What I am saying is that you need to be pursing the right things and seeing personal and spiritual growth before you start putting yourself out there.
People need to feel safe before they can start sharing themselves, you need to make sure you’re safe for them. This doesn’t just apply to relationships, it’s also extremely applicable to friendships.
We all must be more intentional and mindful in how we live our lives and conduct ourselves. When we fail to do so, we hurt others, damage ourselves, and give a poor picture of the God we worship.
Don’t be afraid to take some time. You not only owe it to yourself, you owe it to the person you’re wanting to pursue. Rushing isn’t respectful to them.
Relationships aren’t a finish line, so stop running towards it as fast as you can.