Alright friends, it's dating confession time, so here I go: the truth is that I've been single for over six years, and have never been on a proper first date. You know, the kind where you have to get to know the person over a potentially awkward meal or cup of coffee. And some may ask: why? Well, because I've never been asked, but don't feel sorry for me. I've been so busy and focused on my personal goals that I'm pretty sure I've given off a big ol' "NOPE" vibe for much of the last six years, and I'm okay with that. I mean, I don't think that I've missed my window of opportunity or that I am past my prime — I'm only 28. Plus a big result of the last few years is that I now know more of who I am, I'm debt-free, and I've saved enough money to travel for a bit, so I think I'm doing pretty well in spite of not having been on a date.
While I am by no means an expert on this topic or a pro at rocking my single status, I have spent many years watching countless friends get engaged, married, and start having babies all while I've been single. And here are a few of the things I've learned:
- Refuse to settle. I often feel as though the thought of settling is the antithesis to my being. Maybe it has to do with being an Enneagram 4, but something inside me believes that the idea of settling is tied to not knowing one's worth or what they deserve, and I just think it's so important to wait or fight for that best thing. So please, don't settle for less than you deserve (especially if you find that you're lonely, you don't know if there's anything better out there, or you think he'll change). And be realistic, too. If homeboy isn't trying to really get to know or spend quality time with you, let his sorry butt go. I came across a quote a few years ago that has stuck with me: "Don't let someone take up emotional real estate if they aren't paying rent." PREACH.
- Be yourself. Whether you're meeting people IRL or doing the online dating thing, be yourself. Present who you truly are, quirks and all! To be honest, dating apps and sites kind of terrify me (anyone else?), but I did have a Bumble/Tinder profile for a hot minute once, and my profile said something along the lines of: "I'm a blogger and photographer who loves to travel. Other loves include: Harry Potter, a good burger, and binge watching Stranger Things." All true! I really am a nerd at heart and I wanted to make sure that came across, while still showing that I've got things/hobbies I am passionate about. So be yourself, because you're spectacular.
- Breaking off social media. It can be way too easy to start the comparison game when we have insight into others' lives right at our fingertips, and in moments when I've found myself jealous or comparing what another woman has to myself, I've had to shut. it. down. In some more extreme conditions, I've even had to unfollow a few people whose posts I found were especially triggering for me.
- "But it feels good." I'm just going to be straight up here: seeking validation from men is never a good idea. And trust me, I totally get that the attention feels nice from time to time, especially if you haven't had that kind of attention in a while. But the thing is that those good feelings are always fleeting, and can even lead to making dumb choices that have the potential to end up making you feel terrible. Trust me. On the other side of the coin, please don't just date because you're lonely. I've seen some gals treat dating like a buffet, with a new date every night of the week because they like the attention or company. I'm not trying to shame anyone here, I just don't think it's fair to yourself or the other person if either one knows they're not actually interested in the other but "going out is better than being alone." You both deserve better than that, I promise.
- Love Languages. I've heard from a few gals who mentioned that their number one love language is physical touch, understandably making it even more challenging to be single or dating knowing that you may not get that need fulfilled romantically. While it's not my number one love language, I do think that there are other ways of getting that need met, like by hugging a friend! Sounds silly, I know, but I really do believe that our love tanks can be filled from good, quality friend time. So invest in your girlfriends!
- The grass is always greener. It's so important to remember that this is true in most "or" situations of life, but especially with being single vs. being married. There are things that a single woman can do that might be more challenging for a married one (and vise versa). But some perks I've found to singleness are: financial independence, having the ability to go anywhere at anytime or pick up and move when you feel like it, not having to consult with or think about another person when making decisions, only being responsible for yourself, etc. It also means you have the ability to travel whenever (and for cheaper!), you can spend more time volunteering with a local ministry or community group, and you can even spend a whole day to yourself doing nothing (I'm v good at this).
- Savoring what I do have. Learning real and true contentment hasn't been easy, but I can honestly say now that I actually oftentimes enjoy being single. I see it as a real gift and a time to be singularly focused, with the space to grow more into who I am. That doesn't mean that I don't struggle with loneliness or wanting a partner to do this life with, but it does mean that I am able to not dwell in it, because I know that I have important things to do right now.
The biggest thing I want to make sure my fellow single ladies know is that you are not less than without a partner and you have not been left behind. I, too, battle with these feelings from time to time, but trust me on this one: we are not less significant as human beings nor are we unable to do incredible things for the Kingdom of God because of our relationship status. You have to recognize that notion is totally absurd, right? I mean, the most important guy that walked the earth was single (Jesus!) and He did a ton of stuff for the glory of God, so what makes us think or believe that we cannot do things for God right now, single or otherwise? Rebuke those thoughts, because they're not true, not healthy, and shouldn't be allowed to take up any residence in your head or heart. We have the honor of living in the presence and power of God right here and right now, and I beg you to refuse to settle for less than that kind of life regardless of whether or not another person is currently walking alongside you.
And here's the tough truth: nowhere in Scripture does God promise me (or you) a husband. What He does promise is comfort, peace, and sustenance through our relationship with Him. So for my gals out there who deeply desire to be married and have a family, I get that this can be a hard truth to stomach. But this is a broken world that we live in, one in which we are not guaranteed all of the things that we want. And in the light of that truth, are we able to still trust that He is good and that He loves us, even if we don't get the things we desire in this life? Whether that's a partner or kids or to write a book or fill-in-your-blank, will we cling to Him when that is not our reality? I'm praying that we will.
I'm with you, sisters. I know the struggle of being single in a culture, especially within the Church which — whether they realize it or not — often glorifies marriage. It can be lonely and heartbreaking to not be in that "camp" when it's something you deeply desire, but remember that you still have a purpose and a call: to make disciples. Your current or future relationship won't change that call. So get after the things that God is putting in front of you right now, whether that means investing in teen girls through youth ministry, moving to a new place, or starting that blog. Say yes to God in your singleness. Say yes to God in your marriage. Say yes to God regardless, and then see what He will do. I'm cheering you on!
For a much more in-depth and eloquent reading on singleness, especially as a believer, please pick up a copy of Party of One by Joy Beth Smith. I recently read her book, and found myself laughing out loud, nodding my head, and highlighting a ton. She's a great writer who gets to the tough stuff of singleness, so check it out!