Dating: Wonderful + Awful + Everything in Between11:10 AM
Occasionally, I lose sympathy for whiny single girls. I'm x-teen-years-old and I still don't have a boyfriend! Good. Enjoy it. Enjoy that, ladies. Because I'm 86% sure you'll get one. And when you do, you'll miss your single years. Badly.
I say that because dating is awful. It's wonderful, and it's awful. It's both at the same time. When girls ask me, a veteran of nineteen months, what it's like to date, I want to give two opposite reactions: IT'S SO FREAKIN' HARD. DON'T DO IT. AND It's literally the best thing ever. The best thing. Do it.
Nobody really writes about this awful/wonderful dynamic in dating. I just assumed it was all rainbows and butterflies -- the storm clouds meant something was abnormal about my relationship. (Awful Thing #1: Unnecessary, unceasing stress about whether you should be stressed about your relationship.) I spent most of the rainbow-and-butterflies part of getting to know my boyfriend freaking out over whether God would punish me for a wrong dating decision. Was this a sign we should break up? Was I ignoring the signs? Were the rainbows and butterflies causing me to ignore the signs?
Looking back, I wish I'd just stomped out the storm clouds, stuck to my decision, and enjoyed the ride on Cloud Nine.
Dating is awful because I'm an awful person. I'm a stresser, a planner, a control freak. None of that works well with a living human being's soul. Turns out my boyfriend didn't appreciate my attempts to clean him up into the perfect Christian boyfriend. Not that he complained. It just didn't really foster that spontaneous, gracious aspect of dating -- you know, the one where you just enjoy each other's company. (Awful Thing #2: Don't ever date a control freak. And if you are a control freak, go to Control Freaks Anonymous and be sober for at least six months before attempting romance. Please. For the love of all your hopes and dreams.) A few months into dating, I realized that all our failures to click, agree, get along, etc. were just as much my fault as his. My Dream Dating Experience got shattered because of my personality -- an analytical, moody, Type A girl just does not get the same experience as a more laidback, spontaneous one. I think my boyfriend enjoys dating more than I do simply because he can roll with the punches. Not I. I want to throw the punches. . .if that's a thing.
Another awful phenomenon about dating that nobody ever tells you about is that your life simultaneously becomes a fairytale and a WWIII zone. Beautiful things happen to you that never happened before. Your first kiss. Little love notes stuck in your backpack. Getting literally swept off your feet. A flower stuck behind your ear and sweet nothings to accompany that coronation. You walk around like a princess and cannot imagine life getting any better. At the same time, your life plunges into disaster. You're a crabbier person. You feel stressed all the time. Dreams that once interested you now aggravate you beyond belief. Life becomes boring, joyless, and frustrating. Your relationship with God plummets. Your friendships get wonky. Your life literally feels like it's crashlanded and will explode any second. And the explosion comes when you make the connection that -- no, no, no -- none of these problems occurred until you started dating. Life now becomes more miserable: My friendships, my personal aspirations, my spiritual walk would all be fixed if I went back to the time and the person I was before I started dating. I need to break up. I have to. BUT NEVER EVER.
It's because of mental space. Your mental space is a finite. Falling in love is infinite. It explodes your mental space. It crowds out everything else and takes control over every single emotion. It now becomes a struggle to fit anything else into that mental space: you begin to pray, and he shows up. You begin to write, and he shows up. You begin to plan, and he shows up. Nothing and nobody seems as interesting, wonderful, and worthy of your time as your beloved. (Awful Thing #3: College + dating -- it's terrible. For your studies, that is.) This also means that every little sad thing about your relationship can make you miserable. Being in love is an obsession. It controls all of you in a way that makes you feel helpless and isn't conscientious of other aspects of your life. Paul wasn't kidding when he said he preferred single people to married people for ministry: