I am pretty sure that many of you can relate to those nagging, deep-rooted fears that creep up when you’re dating someone.
Here’s are a few examples of some of my totally unhelpful, self-defeating thoughts:
I hope he isn’t turned off by my big hair.
Maybe he won’t notice how big my thighs are in these jeans.
Will he think I’m too religious if I tell him about my relationship with God?
Will he even call after this? Will there be a second date?
These are my real thoughts.
It doesn’t matter that the guy approached me, asked for my phone number, called, and asked for a date. I still have these feelings of inadequacy.
This tells me that my fears have less to do with the guy and more to do with me. Despite knowing this, I still struggle with fear when it comes to dating.
Running Out of Time
It’s no secret that people are getting married later in life. A Woman’s Health article discusses 2017 Census estimates of average age of marriage:
“The average age of first marriage for women in 2017 was 27.4 years…
To put it in perspective, in 1990, the average age of marriage for women was 24; in 1980 it was 22; and back in the 50s, it was only 20.”
This fact can either bring reassurance to younger women or incite panic in older women. And, by older, I mean late 20s and beyond.
Generally speaking, I have no hangups about my age. At the time I’m writing this post, I am 39 years old and proud of it!
I am healthy, and God has blessed me in so many ways. And, I will continue to thrive as I wait for God’s purposes to be revealed in my life.
However, when it comes to dating and relationships, I allow society to convince me that my time is running out. I am well beyond the average age of marriage and have never been married.
I worry that men aren’t looking for women who are pushing 40, preferring vibrant 20-something women instead. This thinking often causes me to go into dating with fear, even desperation, instead of hope and optimism.
A Scarcity Mindset
According to current numbers, there are 7.4 billion people in the world. That’s a lot of people.
Of course, as a single woman who lives in the Southern United States, I am more concerned about the number of single men living in the Southern United States. Georgia, in particular.
Although I know that, odds are, there is an abundance of eligible, single Christian men out there, I have adopted a scarcity mindset.
You know. It’s the belief that there isn’t enough of something to go around. For single women, that something is single men.
Have you ever said to yourself, or your girlfriends, “all of the good ones are taken!”
I’ve had conversations with my single girlfriends about how there are no quality men out there these days.
If that isn’t negative and hopeless thinking, I don’t know what is. It certainly isn’t helpful in any way.
Just like worrying about time running out, scarcity thinking also breeds desperation when it comes to dating. It can cause single women like you and me to run off a guy with potential.
Or, even worse, we end up attracting men who can spot a desperate woman a mile away because they’re looking for someone to take advantage of.
I am determined to overcome these fears once and for all. Sure, they’ll creep up from time to time, but the following practices have made a huge difference in how I approach dating.
# 1 Realize A Date Is Just A Date
The reality is that a date is, well…just a date.
Yes, I know that many people say that you should date with the intention of marriage. I think this is especially true with Christians. Some of us reject the idea dating without purpose.
I get it. I became a Christian in my early 20s and also believed that the sole purpose of dating or courting was to identify my husband. As I got older, I realized that this was not only faulty thinking, it was also risky.
In the beginning stages of dating, your focus should be on just getting to know someone. What are his interests? Does he share similar life goals? Even if he is a Christian, you should still be taking the time to discover these things.
Just because you both love Jesus does not mean you’re compatible.
Dating also allows you to learn more about yourself. What do you really want in a partner? What are your deal-breakers?
Often times, you don’t know these things until you encounter them in the person, or persons, you are dating.
In recent years, I’ve learned to just enjoy the process of getting to know new people, instead of seeing every prospect as a potential mate.
# 2 Remember Rejection Is Not A Measure Of My Worth
Rejection is one of the hardest parts about dating. It’s almost certain that everyone will experience it at some point.
I’ve had dates that I thought went really well. Good conversation, with the guy suggesting another date.
Then, nothing. No text, no call, nothing.
This has always been challenging for me because I tend to automatically think that I said or did something to cause a guy to stop contacting me.
Maybe he noticed something about me, physical or otherwise, that turned him off. Or, maybe he was into someone else more than me.
Any of the above could be true. But, you know what? It doesn’t matter.
A man’s decision to stop communicating with me says nothing about me. It’s about him. His choice. It does not determine my worth or value.
Same goes for you. Who you are, especially as a child of God, has nothing to do with someone else’s opinion of you.
Remembering this helps me to avoid taking rejection personally.
# 3 Pray!
I have honestly allowed myself to believe that God isn’t concerned about my dating life. I mean, is dating even mentioned in the Bible?
I often think that God only cares about the important things, like how I’m using my time to serve others or if I am being a good steward in my finances, not who I had coffee with last weekend.
I suppose I often forget what Peter says in his letter:
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.1 Peter 5: 6-7
It doesn’t say some of my worries, or the really important things. Peter reminds me to give all my cares to God.
Despite knowing this, I still sometimes fall short in this area of fully submitting my worries to God.
Lately, prayer has become a huge part of my dating life. I pray before dates and after. I pray for God to release any anxiety, doubt, worry, and fear.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4: 6-7
Identifying the root of my fears and being intentional about how I approach dating has really changed my perspective.
Instead of worrying, I’m much more optimistic and hopeful, looking forward to the process of getting to know someone new.
What are your dating fears? How are you planning to overcome them? Let’s talk about it!