DATING: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL (part 2)

Wowowowow loves!

I received such immense response + support from my first post about dating + I am BLOWN AWAY! I cannot emphasize how grateful I am that you all would read + find the time to thoughtfully respond to my personal experiences + stance on the struggles of dating. Being vulnerable isn’t easy, but as the good ole Brene Brown used to say, "What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful”. So to that I say, thank you so much for listening, reading, + responding... it means so very much to me. This is the first time I have gotten in depth on my blog, + it is so exciting!

Last time we talked about one of the biggest reasons I have heard for why there is a lack of dating in our culture right now. Reason # 1: “I am just not dating right now”. While I stated that this answer has become more + more perplexing to me, I also want to address some of the comments I received that taking a hiatus from dating can be necessary especially when there is specific healing purpose. If you have just gotten out of a relationship, or are significantly healing from a past wound that has been brought to the surface, it is without doubt wise to seek counsel + healing from the Lord for these things before allowing someone into your life. Healing is beautiful + SO needed, 100% of the time. We do not want to stuff our open wounds with relationships to try + mask our pain or previous hurt. Just like a tree, as roots grow they become stronger + deeper. When you do not deal with hurt, the root of the hurt will only grow deeper + stronger + hence be more painful to dig up + deal with over time. Ideally, we would deal with the pain + hurt immediately after it occurs so as to be at a great place emotionally + mentally before entering into a relationship.

Now, let’s dive into the good stuff! The second biggest reason for why there is a lack of dating in our cities. Oh, this one is a good one you guys...GET REAAADYYYYYYY!

Reason # 2 Girl: “There are just no good single men out there."

Reason # 2 Guy: “There's just too much pressure."

OY VEY! Believe it or not, these two reasons feed into one another. Girls have too many expectations about what their perfect man should look like + want to find that in date 1, + men see these expectations + run far, far away. What have I learned about all of this? SO MUCH. I’d love to share my thoughts with you loves, if you will allow me. Let’s start with the ladies here...

One year ago I was just like many of the girls in Reason #2. “I’m not dating because there are no good single Christian men out there.” I had it somewhere in my mind that God would magically drop Prince Charming on my doorstep wrapped in a perfectly manicured silver box with a gorgeous silk bow. You know what I am talking about ladies, this is called having a LIST. We all have one in some capacity. Don’t get me wrong, having standards is not a bad thing. But rather, having such rigid standards that we think we know what we need better than what God knows, is a problem.

"He doesn’t make over a certain income? Boy bye." "He isn’t over 5’10”? I just can’t." "He doesn’t use emoticons in texting? Oh heckkkk nooooo." "He drives a beat up toyota corolla? I’m not riding in that.” I mean, these are serious things I used to look for when it came to men. If you are judging me right now, don’t tell me you haven’t at some point had a rigid list of exactly what your man is supposed to think/say/do/wear/drive/make. Most of us have been there even if we are afraid to admit it!

What I want to introduce you to is the idea of this: God knows far better than us. WAY WAY WAY WAY better than us. We may know ourselves to a healthy degree, but we do not necessarily know EXACTLY what is best for us. 

I want to share one quick example of how this played out in my life for you loves. One year ago I got asked out on a date by a man who did not seem like my quintessential “type”. He physically did not look like what I had envisioned [aka not David Beckham], nor did he have the exact career I thought I would be interested in [aka a successful musician turned entrepreneur], nor was he interested in going shopping like me [he was an outdoor wildnerness man]. The night before our first date, I almost cancelled....but I felt the Lord pushing me to break the barriers of rigidness I had formed over the years. I kept hearing “Give it a try Kait. Let me surprise you.” I knew the Lord had something up His sleeve, so I listened + didn’t cancel.  Objectively, I knew he was an attractive, amazing man, but my ridiculous list of qualifications was getting in the way.. 

I was not nervous for our first date. In fact, I did not even glance in the mirror beforehand. I looked him in the eye + shared honest truths about myself as we shared a bowl of kale chips [#soLA]. I was not nervous in the slightest. At the end of the first date, he asked me on date 2. I was SHOCKED. I hesitantly said yes [because who wants to commit to a second date when you don’t even know how you feel about the first yet!]. Over the course of the next month I felt my flesh finding all sorts of reasons why I did not want to date him. But as I dissected the reasons, I found them to be based solely on aesthetics. When I looked at his heart, he was intentionally pursuing me, communicating clearly, affirming me on very level [shoutout to words of affirmation peeps!], + protecting my heart in the process. He was honoring me, + it was beautiful. I found that what God was doing was breaking my barriers + showing me that He would surprise me in how my heart could GROW for someone.

A few weeks after our first date, he was my boyfriend + a few months after that, I fell in love with him. It may not have worked out in the end, but God totally rocked my world on what I thought I needed versus what HE wanted to show me about myself. Moral of the story, have standards, but don’t let your standards blind you from what could be God’s will for your life.

I also want to address the very serious issue of finding your perfect man on date 1. We have to redefine what dating is meant for: it is meant for two different people to get to one one another and find out what they are like. A year ago I read an incredible book called “How To Get A Date Worth Keeping”, by Henry Cloud. Trust me when I tell you, I. was. this girl. The one with the rigid laundry list who thought I had to know on date 1 if I was going to marry someone. Gosh those days were so exhausting.... reading this book by Henry Cloud opened my eyes to a whole new perspective. If I am just waiting for God to deliver my perfect man, unless I am going to marry the FedEx guy, God is not going to hand deliver this man to my doorstep in the silver box of my dreams. I had to actually go out there and TRY. But not only try, I had to rock my current tunnel vision mission of finding “the perfect man” on date 1. 

Ladies, if you are still single + find yourself putting so much pressure on dating so much that you think there are no good men around, I have a reality check for you. There are plenty of great men around, you are just putting on blackout blinders that are restricting your vision. It’s time to relax + loosen your grip on the extensive list of expectations. Instead of seeing dating as the ultimate means to find your partner in the first few dates, let’s try something new. Let’s take some lessons from Henry Cloud for a moment + re-define our view on dating.

1) Date to find out about other people + what they are like. There are so many interesting + amazing individuals around us. Let’s see dating as an opportunity to learn about someone different from ourselves.

2) Use dating as a time to find out more about yourself. Discover what you need to change to better equip you for your future spouse. 

3) Date to do FUN + interesting things with interesting, cool people. If you want to go to a movie because you love movies + there is an awesome movie playing, then go to a movie with someone else who also loves the movies. 

4) Date to love + serve others in the process. You never know if going out with someone will help them in their journey to discover more about themselves.

5) Use dating as a means to practice key principals such as communicating directly + honestly with someone of the opposite sex. 

There we have it. Throw out that giant laundry list [of mostly aesthetic requirements] + instead narrow it down to your key standards. Then, have an amazing time, enjoy the process, learn a lot, + let God do the rest. 

Now it’s time to address the guys. Guys do not want to date because "There's just too much pressure. After everything I have said up to this point, I can understand where they are coming from. It is hard to want to date a woman who is immediately trying to figure out if they have a 401K, will provide for their children, + propose within the next 12 months. Talk about immediate retreat.... "Run Forest Run!" Okay so we know ladies need to RELAX, but can we also talk about something that can be extremely frustrating? Communication. If women can get their act together + see dating as a means to get to know someone else + enjoy the process, then can we ask something of men in return? Communicate to us the moment you discover that you only want to be friends.

Men, do you even take a girl out + then after 1-2 dates decide you just want to be friends with her? My question to you is, how do you respond when you decide you just want to be friends? Hint: the answer should NOT be ghosting. Urban dictionary actually does a pretty amazing job at defining this thing called ghosting.

Ghosting according to Urban Dictionary: "The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just "get the hint" and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.

There are some key words highlighted above that are integral when it comes to the issue of ghosting. Ghosting is a reflection of an individual’s maturity + willingness to communicate. As a result of ghosting, the other individual will always end up MORE hurt + confused than before. Moral of the story, if you are not interested in a girl [or a guy, women this goes for you too], please do them a favor + communicate your feelings clearly + honestly. If after date 2 you know firmly that you only want to be friends, this is the moment in time to call up that individual + be honest, kind + considerate. It could be something like this, “Hey [insert name here], I have so enjoyed spending time with you + have had some incredible conversations. You are truly an amazing person. At this point in time, I am not interested in a romantic relationship and would like want to pursue just a friendship.” Clear, thoughtful, honest + to the point. No more ghosting. No more avoiding. Let’s put on our grown up hats + treat one another with love + compassion.

Avoiding your obvious feelings during dating by ignoring the other person, also known as GHOSTING, only serves to provide further confusion + ultimately hurt to the other person. 

In conclusion....men, ask the ladies OUT! Ask them to coffee. Ask them to a movie. Ask them to a nice dinner [if that’s your style]. Be clear upfront about your intentions + that you want to get to know more about them. Again, just as I mentioned before this is a time to simply get to know someone different from yourself + enjoy the process. If in getting to know that person, you see them only as a friend, be communicative + clear with them that you are not interested in a romantic relationship. Do not beat around the bush. Do not make up excuses. And especially do not avoid them altogether. 

One last point here to the ladies [+ this is SO vital!]. If you are being approached by a man who is clearly communicating that he only wants to be friends with you early on... do not take that to mean that you are not beautiful, loved, or worthy of having a boyfriend. YOU ARE ALL OF THOSE THINGS. You are affirmed IN CHRIST. You are spotless + blameless + lovely + beautiful + wonderful. A man telling you he wants to just be friends does not make you any less worthy, it simply means he is not the man for you. It also does not mean that all hope is lost + that no men want to date you at all. I can almost guarantee that they do, but it is possible your laundry list is too long [see above], OR, it is also possible that God’s perfect timing is just around another bend. Be patient, but know that you are worthy of love in relationship.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Well, friends, here we are again. The end of dating: #thestruggleisreal part 2. I know this was a long one but if you have gotten to this part I applaud you + likely owe you a glass of wine. Thank you for bearing with me + listening to every word, I adore you.

Live Loved -K

Top: Nordstrom | Pants: Zara [also love] | Shoes: Soludos | Bag: Zara [similar here] |Sunnies: Forever 21

Photos by Kat Hennessey

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