Here’s part 2 from my friend, Charissa! You can read her first post here.
Hello again! Laura invited me to guest post on here to talk about some of the changes I made in order to pursue dating more actively. If you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to start there to get a better idea of the way that process began, how I asked Laura if I could pay her to coach me, and how that process eventually led to meeting my wonderful husband. For me, one of the hardest parts of working towards active dating was processing the discomfort of new behaviors – and persisting through that discomfort. Here are some of the most concrete changes that helped me persevere when the wait felt long…
- I changed my mindset about success to depend ONLY on actions I could control, not the outcome of my actions.
I couldn’t measure successful dating by if I found a boyfriend or a husband because it put too much pressure on early dates, and it also would have made me feel like I was failing often. Instead, success meant making progress towards goals that would create the opportunity to meet someone. Going for coffee with a guy I met online counted as success even if the date was less than noteworthy. If I was continually working my program trying to meet more people, I felt successful. Hiring Laura to coach me was one of the best things I did because she helped me make sure I was consistently taking active steps towards dating – just like I would towards any other goal in my life. If I was discouraged, she also helped me get out of my head, keep praying, and keep pressing forward. Finding a friend to walk with you on your dating journey is a great goal that I highly recommend.
- I stopped thinking about initial meetings as dates and started calling them meet-ups instead.
Early on I had an experience where I had texted with someone for a WHILE before it turned into a date. For the first date, the guy kindly invited me to dinner on a Friday night. I was excited – until about twenty minutes into the date. It was obvious to me that I wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with this guy, but I felt stuck for the whole evening and a little sad that I was talking to him instead of spending my weekend with people I loved. I needed a different approach to preserve my mindset and my limited time and energy for all the things in my life I already cared about. For me, coffee meet ups were the best solution. I usually enjoy talking to people – so I was entirely willing to trade one hour over coffee on a weeknight for the opportunity to meet someone I might want to be with for the rest of my life. Even if I didn’t want a second date, I embraced the chance to get to know someone as a lovely conversation with another human – or a horribly funny bad date story 😉 If a guy suggested something else first, I would express this weeknight coffee preference instead – though I did make an exception for my now husband because I had a feeling I would enjoy him a lot =) Knowing this approach would be the most efficient for me led me to my final point…
- I learned to invite guys to date me the way I wanted to be dated.
For me that meant communicating quickly that I wanted to stop texting and meet in person sooner rather than later. I wouldn’t ask a guy out directly because that just wasn’t my style, but I have found that learning to communicate my desires more directly has been an incredibly useful relationship skill – in fact, Rey would say it’s one of his favorite things about me and how we relate. I know zero men who really want to be married to a woman who expects him to read her mind – or who believes if he really loved her, he would instinctively know what she wants. A guy can’t possibly know what you hope for unless you tell him – and in a healthy relationship I believe it is my responsibility to communicate what is important to me.
Usually for a guy I met online, if the texting was dragging on longer than I preferred, I would write something like: “I’m really enjoying this conversation, but I’m not a big texter/e-mailer. I’m more of a coffee-in-person kind of girl, so whenever you want to take this thing offline, I’m in.” I found most guys jumped at the chance to arrange coffee because they didn’t join dating websites looking for a pen pal either. As I talked to some guy friends, I also discovered that they often took their time with texting/emailing because they didn’t want to seem creepy, and they weren’t sure how long it took for a woman to feel safe meeting in person. So as soon as I felt safe, I gave guys I met online or through apps permission to move forward with me.
I also drew a boundary for myself that I wouldn’t just keep texting for a long time because I knew that would not help me stay motivated to date, which ultimately wouldn’t serve either of us. If getting stuck in a texting cycle that doesn’t lead to dates is what frustrates you about dating, Matthew Hussey’s book Get the Guy is fabulous. This is not a Christian book per say, so you will need to sort through some of his ideas, but the book helped me learn to use texting to communicate interest, draw boundaries, and invite guys to date me the way I wanted to be dated.
A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my soon-to-be husband where he conveyed how grateful he is that he met me when he did. He expressed that even though it makes him sad that I had to endure a lonely season to get to him, he’s so grateful I persevered in dating long enough for that to happen. We are both beyond grateful for the gift of each other, for the ways God has been at work in both of our lives, and for the ways other people helped us in finally finding each other.
So today if you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated in your dating life – these are the questions that most helped me to persist during the dry spells:
- How am I defining success in dating right now? Am I using something that is NOT in my control to define success, and if so, how can I change my thoughts about that?
- What am I doing in my life to help me meet more new people? (i.e. dating apps, online dating, asking people to set me up, going to places where guys I might be interested in congregate, etc.) If I’m not actually meeting new people, what could I change in my life to make that happen?
- What is most frustrating to me in trying to date right now? How could I think about this differently, or what can I do to change this frustrating element?
- Given my particular life circumstances, how do I want to be dated? How can I communicate that well?
I hope sharing some of my story and the ways Laura helped me will bring you hope in your journey.