Surviving the Terrible Twos: Discussing Dating

dating

Creative Commons – ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser

 

Welcome to the second week of Sam and my blog series on getting through your twenties. Today we are discussing DATING (ohh hell), and last week we discussed careers. Share your stories in the comments!

Be sure to check out Sam’s dating post here.

I can tell you how to be in a longterm relationship, and what not to do in one. I can tell you how to be perpetually single. I can tell you how to awkwardly tell someone that they have the “X-factor” you’ve been looking for… Yep, it happened, but in my defense it was long before that damn TV show existed. However, I cannot tell you how to “date” because a) the obvious and simple answer is to go on dates, and b) my experience within that arena is very limited.

I’ve had two first dates. The first first was a dive into the deep end, and the start to a serious relationship that I probably wasn’t ready for. The second first was spent freaking out about what personal information I was allowed to omit and what I wasn’t, because I don’t really have an internal “too much information” filter. Whew, stressful stuff. After forcing a second date, we agreed there wasn’t enough chemistry to go out again.

Two first dates and two very different outcomes, both of which I learned a lot from. And there you have my adult “dating” history. Therefore today there will be nooooo advice giving, ’cause this sister is as clueless as the next. But instead I will bring to you four discussion points that I hope you will weigh in on!

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Is Love Earned?

love

This week, my friend Cory kindly hosted me on his popular blog where I wrote about my experiences with love. My own blog has been having some issues while I redesign it so I didn’t get to share it with you when the post went live.

So here is the beginning and I hope you will finish reading over at CoryCopeland.net

When I was 17 years old, I had a very unromantic understanding of relationships. I remember flicking through a magazine when a quote from Nicole Kidman caught my eye. Regarding her husband Keith Urban and their problematic marriage, she declared that “you can’t choose who you fall in love with.” I scoffed and thought, “Stupid famous people and their stupid romantic theories.” I believed love had to be earned, and that we all had 100 per cent control over whom we chose to love.

I was guarded and practical due to what I had seen of marriage and didn’t want to experience myself. I thought avoiding heartbreak was rather straightforward. All you had to do was wait for the right person who ticked all the boxes. Then you invested the time into getting to know them and eventually, with much deliberation and thought, you fell in love. Not rocket science, right?

Now here I sit some years later, having loved and been loved, and not sure what I believe.

Continue reading and share your thoughts at CoryCopeland.net

 

Reputation vs. Character

reputation

Reputations. They are built over time and can take years to secure, but are painfully easy to taint. To have a good reputation is obviously desirable; it gets you friends, romances and jobs. It sets you apart as trustworthy. Your reputation is what lingers once you’ve left a room (hopefully not in the form of odour, but atmosphere).

Reputations are unavoidable and inevitable. If you are consistently late, grumpy or forgetful, you will be known among friends for being this way. If you regularly prove yourself as reliable, people will appreciate that in you and probably discuss among each other your proven reliability with each other. People are watching us and taking notes in their head. If someone cancels on me every time we make plans, I don’t hold their word for much when they say “lets meet up!”.

I’ve always been protective of my reputation, which essentially means I care what people think. I care about how I’m seen in social settings and what people know about my faults, which is never beneficial. We will never please everyone, and sometimes people will form opinions of us regardless of our behaviour. Being too aware of the reputation I am building has meant I’ve struggled to be myself, to have grace for my imperfections and mistakes. To be human.

I’m sure there are some people with whom I’ve earned a black mark by my name. It could have been something I said or did wrong and completely legitimate. Or it could have been a rumour. I remember one instance when there was a misunderstanding and a pretty harsh rumour spread about me. It killed me inside to think that people thought badly of me. When I found out months later, I desperately wanted to make it right; to correct the corruption. But it was too late.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are and your reputation is merely what others think you are.” -John Wooden

When I think now of that situation, I shrug my shoulders. I know who I am. I know that people can vouch for me. I’m not perfect, but try my best to live openly and honestly. I’ve made some really bad calls, I’ve hurt people and I’ve hurt myself. That has inevitably tarnished my reputation with some people, and it’s a harsh fact of life.

Among other things, I’ve been bothered that I have a broken engagement in my history and worried that it will affect how people view me. To some people I’m the good girl, to others I’m a racy Christian with a past. To myself, I’m all of that and more. Just a girl who’s finding her way, tripping up and getting back up again. I’m a million things to a million people, and you might be too.

By paying attention to my character and how I treat everyone I meet, I will also gain a good reputation. But it’s just a bonus. I’d rather spend my time and energy focusing on my strength of character; on what I’m learning from the mistakes I’ve made and continue to make. Our reputation is something to be mindful of but not strive for. Our character is what we should be really concerned about, because our whole life flows from who we are.

Do you have a reputation for a reason? Do you care a lot about what people think? 

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When Emotions Lie

Emotions are what make us human; they let us know we are alive, they warn us of danger and allow us to feel and express joy. They are incredibly important. The same way that physical pain indicates that something is not right with our bodies, emotions signal what is going on in our lives. They allow us to empathise and connect with people.

Emotions do something your brain cannot; they speak the language of the heart. But it’s also true that the ‘the heart is deceitful above all things’ (Jeremiah 17:9). Which means that emotions in and of themselves are not wrong because we were created to feel, but they aren’t always right either. So, where the heck does that leave us?

I’m pretty familiar with the subject of feelings – I’m the emotional junkie that wrote this post! I feel a lot and I feel intensely, and that’s how I’ve learnt that sometimes emotions lie. When I was in a relationship this was most evident. I would get upset often about both big and little things, and before I knew it, I was spending most of my life in a bad mood. I was letting the way I felt control me and my relationship, and it’s no way to live.

One day I had a revelation that just because I felt something, it didn’t mean my reasons for being upset were legitimate or valid. Obvious as it may be, this was news to me. I thought that because I was upset, the person involved was in the wrong. It was automatic in my mind: it’s them, not me. I have been wronged, I would think. The truth (a lot of the time) was that I had a certain belief or selfish desire, and because that wasn’t fulfilled, I was frustrated/angry/hurt.

Sometimes it’s you in the wrong, plenty of times it isn’t. Often we are wronged against and our emotions are what so significantly signal that. Our core beliefs lead us to an emotional response in each situation, but often those exact core beliefs are subconsciously selfish or unfair. If we don’t want to be ruled by our emotions, it’s necessary to evaluate ourselves and our emotions on a regular basis.

Talking it out to someone or constantly asking questions of ourselves are good ways to do this. Good questions to ask:

Am I being unreasonable? Why do I feel this way? Is this feeling valid or am I exaggerating? What is wrong with this situation?

It’s like having an argument with a person, except this argument is with yourself. Because you can change yourself and no one else, so you may as well get started. There is no step-by-step guide to assessing this and you just need to pray for wisdom and guidance with each situation. Humility helps, a lot!

Emotions aren’t wrong; it’s what we do with them that can become wrong. Ignoring, harboring or releasing them destructively will harm yourself more than anyone else.

Anger can become bitterness and unforgiveness.

Sadness can become depression.

Annoyance can become constant irritation and unhappiness.

But they don’t have to. Open your heart and your mind. Refuse to let emotions rule you and ask yourself ‘why do I feel like this, and is it justified?’ Sometimes in the height of an argument or situation, we can’t see the woods from the trees, but take a moment to step back and be sure that your emotions aren’t lying to you.

What do you think about emotions? Do you agree that they don’t always tell the truth of a situation? Share in the comments.

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What’s Your Love Story?

I am petrified of love. What it does to me, where it will take me, who it will turn me into. For both reasonable and irrational reasons, I don’t have the best view of it. I do in an idealistic way and I know it’s a beautiful thing, but I feel like love and I don’t go well together. I’m working on that, because though my being single right now is amazing and purposeful, I don’t want to be single forever.

I was read this quote the other day by a friend and I adore it. It made me look at love, something that has perplexed me and confused me for years, in a completely new light. It is the best definition of romantic love I have ever heard:

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

― Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

This quote is both romantic and sweet, but incredibly realistic, which is why I love it. Now, I put out a call for your voice and input. What do you think of the above quote? Are you single, dating or married? I would really like to hear your love story in the comments section, whatever it is. Sorry to be a little cheesy but I like these stories because they give me hope. I love that every person’s story is different, and the same way no two people are the same, no two love stories are the same either. That is a very good thing and your love story, messy or simple, is to be cherished!

Will you tell me your love story? Or just share your experience, view, or definition of love?

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To Somebody That I Used To Know

To Somebody That I Used to Know,

Sorry to be another person to use that damn song title, but I couldn’t help it, it’s just so perfectly fitting. And I mean it quite literally; I used to know you and now I don’t. Unlike the song (which I happen to like a lot), where Gotye is actually talking about someone he used to love. Gotye’s poor ex, being the person he is nonchalantly referring to. Where is the credit for her putting up with such an emo-hipster-musician for a boyfriend? Anyway, I digress.

It’s best that you know now rather than later that you’re not just one person. There are a bunch of you, so I’m sorry if you thought you were special for the first paragraph of this letter. You see, I have this uncanny ability of growing incredibly close to people incredibly fast. You could say I’m a connector. I loves a good connection, I does. Or I used to, until I got sick of having so many ‘old friends that weren’t friends any more’ and decided to start collecting some long-lasting, forever type friends. Such a romantic notion, which I think I’ve successfully achieved. I have a spectacular inner circle of friends whom I love dearly. Tick. Now, back to you.

As I mentioned, you’re many people. Some of you I really fancied the pants off of (not literally, I was much too frigid for that). Which yes, means that a good portion of you are male. Of which another good portion just stopped talking to me, and quite abruptly. Ouch. Guys tend to do that, or is it just young guys? I don’t know but it rather hurt. Until I wrote to one of you years later, a hateful and angry email that felt great to get off my chest. The response was hauntingly obvious and helped me understand; guys don’t do ‘friends’ if they actually would prefer to date you. They want all of you or none of you at all, and I had my rule of being single until I was 18. I wanted you to wait for me, I wanted you around. How utterly naive and selfish I was.

Right, that’s one of you out of the way. But you were the first and there were many to follow. No boyfriends, just emotional, coy and flirtatious flings. We liked each other a lot, and talked/texted/hung out, but never dated for one reason or another. However, lets be clear on one thing: I was never a wild or promiscuous teenager. In fact I wore the title of ‘Virgin Mary’ among my school friends, not so proudly but definitely with dignity. There was the year that I went a little bit overboard on the meaningless kisses though. Like I said, I was frigid for a long time. But it seems I then discovered the art of kissing at 17, and I just took off! Making up for lost time, maybe? I don’t know but it’s funny when I think about it now. My point is that from the age of 15-19, there were a few of you that I absolutely adored. You could say I was an ’emotional harlot’. I wore my heart on my sleeve. I wanted love and I was looking for it in you young men, the wrong people. I’m so glad it didn’t work out with any of you. Though I am still single now, it’s all worked out for the best. Most of you are happily married now, which is nice.

The rest of you somebody’s that I used to know are friends that didn’t stay friends. We changed. I know, another cliche, please forgive me. But we did and you really do need something in common with friends for it to work. Whatever that may be. I do like to think some of you were around for a special season, that maybe God blessed me with you then took you away again. You were good to me and had great impact in my life, at the perfect time. I hope I returned it adequately. I was sad when you left my life but not willing to chase it, because it was obvious it wasn’t meant to last. I know I sound like I’m talking about a romantic relationship, and not just regular girl friends, but I’m a little bit lesbian like that. I take all relationships in my life very seriously. All that matters is people, which makes this letter quite ironic. Oh, life.

We may have spoken recently, old friend, on Facebook. I’ve been reconnected with a few of you and its the darnedest thing! To see how you have grown up and who you have become. That some of you have even had children! Facebook aye, the site where everyone is ‘friends’. But we’re not friends anymore, are we? It’s a weird and awkward thing to navigate, friendship. We would still call eachother a friend, it would be harsh not to. But the fact of the matter is that we aren’t friends any more and that’s okay. It’s mutual.

Whoever you are, friend or flame from the past, I pray that you’re happy. I truly and genuinely hope that your life is swell. I also hope that you remember me, for one reason or another. I imagine it will be a particularly embarrassing reason that will keep me alive in your memory, that would be fitting and is fine with me. Just remember me, okay? Because I remember you, all of you, even though I don’t know you anymore.

May the Lord’s face shine upon you,
Micaela

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The Truth About Love [according to me]

We all love the idea of love. The word triggers pretty thoughts and the word rolls off our tongues pretty easily:

“I love Ryan Gosling, he is so fit!”

“I love strawberries, they’re delicious”

“I love my Mum, she’s the greatest”

 “I’m in love with you”

We all need to be told that we’re loved, sometimes we may struggle to say it but ultimately love is a good thing to us. It offers hope, restoration, freedom and encouragement.  But like all truly good things love isn’t always easy; in fact sometimes it’s really hard.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The above scripture sets a pretty high standard of what love is, and I think it’s safe to say we all fall short. For me, it is so hard to forget; it keeps no record of wrongs’. I like to remember people’s mistakes – people that I supposedly love – and use it as ammo when I need to. Yep, that’s what it’s like to be loved by me (at times) and I’m sorry if I have ever done that to you. If I haven’t said it outwardly, it has probably been simmering inwardly and it may have even affected our relationship. Again, I’m sorry, I’m working on it.

What this part of the scripture is really saying is that Forgiving = Forgetting. This baffles and challenges me to my very core because it goes against my grudging nature. So maybe to forget those wrongdoings I needed to forgive them, even the smallest of them. Funny how I never thought they were big enough to forgive, yet I can’t seem to forget them. Because I haven’t forgiven. But how much has Christ forgiven me for my wrongs? He wipes my slate clean every single day. Who am I to hold so much against people that I love?

I may not be able to forget in my head, but if I choose to I can certainly forget in my heart. When we let go of that emotional memory we let go of the anger and sadness too.

Love, which is meant to bring hope and freedom, can bring so much pain because it is loving despite flaws (and worse). I’ve seen it first hand with people close to me, I’ve seen love bring hope to the receiver and pain to the giver. This is either because the receiver keeps on taking without giving back, or because the receiver is what I have judged as undeserving of love. Which I’m realising is pretty harsh now that I’ve written it down. WHO am I to judge who deserves love? None of us do and all of us do. We all need love, regardless of how deserving we are of it. Hopefully it does eventually change the receiver’s heart and they begin to give back, but that’s never why we love in the first place. We love because we were created to.

To be honest, I really struggle with this; with loving imperfection. Because if truth be told, I only expect to be loved when I felt I’ve done enough to deserve it, when I’ve earnt it, when I’ve deemed myself worthy. Yet in reality that’s not how it works, and though I continue to fail, the people in my life still love me. How? Why? Instead of just accepting it and loving others the same way, I wrestle with trying to understand it. That’s the stunning and downright haunting thing about love, especially Christ’s love; we don’t deserve it or always understand it because it’s too damn big for us to comprehend.

My mum always said when I was younger ‘I love you, but not because you’re a good girl’. Fast forward more than a decade and I am still grappling with this concept of love. Except that it isn’t a concept and maybe that’s where my problems lie, in this one tiny truth: Love isn’t meant to be understood.

Love sees your best, forgives your worst, and always believes in you. I may not be able to get my head around it, but I don’t have to. I just need to get my heart around it.

What do you love and hate about love? What do you struggle with the most? Please share in the comments and help me know that I’m not alone!