I really shouldn't be writing a How-To Guide on dating, seeing as the man I'm dating I met on Twitter, and our first 30 days together in person have been 30 days on a road-trip to nowhere.
I don't recommend this for everyone. Unless you want your first child to be a carplant that you name Howard and like waking up with no idea what city you'll be sleeping (or showering) in that night. I happen to want this a lot, but I understand that I'm "special."
But seriously. I believe that truths come over time, and they are to be learned in all places in all things.
And I've realized in the last 24 hours that I can tell you exactly how to land yourself a good man and a good relationship:
You let God do it.
You can't follow steps 1-10 and waltz through a neat little structure of dating rules, and find yourself in love. But you can cling whole heartedly to truth and fight for what you desire most.
My inbox is yet again full of girls and women who are asking me for relationship advice, and wrestling through some of the most both painful and apathy-ridden scenarios I could stage for you. And every single time I feel under-equipped and hypocritical in all of my answers.
But, in my mind, the years of confusion, frustration, high highs and low lows that I went through happened in order to put truth and empathy in my heart and hands. And I'll be damned if I waste all that pain and exasperation.
So, here goes.
1. Stop telling me that there are no good men left. What you're really saying is, "I know he's out there, but I can't find him, and I'm tired of being lonely." And about half of you are using that as a free pass to being less of the woman you could be, because you don't have a good man in your life. I know you're doing this because I've done it too. Stop saying this, and you'll find him. There are exceptions to everything, but it's much easier to find a good man when you're not swearing against them all.
2. You don't have to choose between What You Want and What You Need. If you are dating who you want but not who you need, you've either bought into the no-strings-attached ticking time bomb, or you've traded what you're worth for immediate satisfaction. And if you are dating who you need but not what you want, chances are you don't actually know what you need. Because what you need is a man who is everything you need AND want.
3. Give it back to God. I've always hated when people told me this. For me, giving a relationship to God always meant breaking up with a guy. Usually, this is an easy way for someone in the church to guilt you into singleness solely to get you to put a stop to the "ultimate sin": having sex. Or it's an easy way for someone to pat a desperate single woman on the head and say, "Well, God just has to fix a few things first in your life before he can bring you the perfect man." No. What I mean is that your future marriage will fail and fail hard if you don't put it in God's hands, so you're much better off learning how to keep your heart and someone else's in God's hand while you're still dating. Or still single. This isn't about changing things, it's about deciding to want what God wants and believing with your body, mind and soul that what he wants is good. The exact kind of good that you want more than anything else in the world. Your God is pro-relationship. He wants that for you.
5. Everyone is allowed a no-strings-attached period of time. No. This is a lie. And it will wreck you. I would have given a limb for someone to walk up to me on the street at a very specific point in my life and just say, "no strings attached is a lie." Sex can either build or destroy - and it will do one or the other, not both. If you are sleeping with a man who is everything you want but not everything you need - or the other way around - get out. You're destroying yourself from the inside out. No more justification, logic, thought, giving-it-more time, excuses, or trying-to-work-it-out. Close your eyes and rip off the band-aid. Today.
6. You're single because God is still fixing you. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you're single because the timing just isn't right. For him, or for you, or for one of any 238520 possible life variables. I dislike this statement because it implies that you are more broken than you should be. And if you're on year three, seven, or ten of being single, this is devastating to believe. I've noticed that it begins to create brokenness that isn't actually there, "because it must be." The truth is that everyone is broken. And you don't need "fixing." You just need God, and the life he's already got planned for you. And God has a life-altering, fireworks-on-display, crazy-love plan for you -- which will come precisely when he wants it to.
7. I can save him. (Or I can fix him. Or he'll change.) Thanks to Max, I can end this entire discussion with his words on the subject: "You must run at the same pace. Otherwise, you will either slow the other down, or be slowed down." Life is too short. Date someone who is running at the same pace as you, or it will end up being very detrimental to someone's life. Also, don't pardon stuff like this. Yes, people can change, but you don't want to be the one responsible for making it happen. Plus, I'm a woman, and I really just don't feel like training a man. Not my job.
8. If he's not crazy about you, it's not going to work. I'm not married, and you could probably find some sub-par, dispassionate men that will get you 30 years of commitment and a wedding band, but after reading dozens and dozens of submissions to the Good Women Project, and investing some serious time speaking with married women this year, I'm pretty confident in my statement. My previous relationships back this up statement up too. Besides, when it comes down to it, do you really have what you want right now? Date a man who is crazy about you. Puh-lease.