Ahh, spring has arrived…
Can you relate?
Spring is that season when my Twitter feed becomes clogged with tales of evenings spent eating $1 hot dogs and cheering the Rangers at the ballpark,
When the weather varies from practically perfect to downright terrifying,
When my days are best tolerated by medicating a dull headache that can only be blamed on the insane pollen count,
When I start perusing summer vacation destinations, adjusting my budget, and counting down the days,
And when it seems that all of my single friends are suddenly changing their Facebook statuses from “single” to that other world of “in a relationship.”
Or, does this better fit where you are?
That time of year when guys finally exit their winter hibernation and start pursuing the girls of their dreams,
When local parks are filled with picnic baskets and blankets and rose bushes have gaping holes from spontaneous clippings,
When we are ever so grateful that daylight savings time gives us one extra hour of natural light in which to stare into those stunning baby blue eyes,
And when it feels like everyone is “SO HAPPY” for us yet we are keenly aware that behind those pasted smiles they are not exactly thrilled with us, our significant other, or the combination of both.
If dating follows the seasons (and my vast life experience believes that it indeed does), then spring is once again bursting forth in glorious hearts and smooches for many of us.
But not all.
Some of us are genuinely happy for our friends, while others are the source behind a bitter chain of text messages beginning with “Another one bites the dust.”
It’s not easy when it feels like everyone around us is finding true love and we’re not. But, to be fair, it’s also not easy to fall in love and have the people who are closest to us take the wind out of our sails because they can’t even look us in the eye or have a real conversation with us anymore.
So, if you’ll allow me, I’d love to chat with both sides—the singles and the friend(s) who are springing forth into relationships… [Pun completely intended.]
I see you rolling your eyes. I’ve been known to roll mine a time or two also. Yes, it can be difficult to see another friend leave the brotherhood/sisterhood of singledom and walk toward the white light of marriage. But if we’re to analyze the motivation of our pain, it probably has less to do with them than it does with us.
1. We don’t like change.
Many times we’re frustrated simply because we’re tired of feeling like our friendships are in a constant state of flux. We want stability, and we want to know that this group of friends we’re having such a blast with right now will be the same group we’ll be having a blast with as long as we’re single. (And, secretly, we’re crossing our fingers we will leave singleness behind before they do.)
2. We’re jealous.
When one of those friends does finally start dating someone, we’ve been known to give them the cold shoulder for quite some time. We look for a million reasons to point out how we would do things differently if we were dating, and we vilify our friend’s relationship to anyone who will listen. The truth of the matter is we will all make mistakes when dating, but we owe it to these people who are our friends to want good things for them.
3. We’re demanding.
We could also cut our dating friends some slack and not constantly lasso them with guilt just because they don’t show up for every social function that one or both of them used to attend often. Trying to integrate two completely different sets of friends is difficult for any couple. Many people clamor for time with them—parents, siblings, best friends, church friends, work friends—and there are only so many hours in the day.
4. We’re pessimistic.
We drive a wedge, intentionally or unintentionally, when we stop inviting our friends to events simply because we put them into the category of “dating”—which we basically translate to mean, “They don’t have time for us anymore, so let’s just leave them off the list.” We could do our friends the favor of not assuming that they don’t want to be there with us if given the choice.
5. We’re too emotional.
If we have a legitimate problem with their relationship, and we have earned the right to speak Truth in their lives, then we should do so prayerfully and carefully. If we liked one of them before they started dating, and we’re hurt that we weren’t their “chosen one,” then we need to deal with the pain at home. But part of being an adult is learning how to control our emotions in all situations. If we’re concerned or hurt, we don’t have the right to be rude or to treat them in anyway that is contrary to Scripture.
If God is sovereign, then He’s sovereign over their lives as well as ours. We’re all human, and we won’t handle every situation in life flawlessly, but some of us who are single can do better when it comes to our response when friends start dating.
Dear Friends Formerly Known as “Singles,”
I know you’re sooooo in love right now and a couple of your single friends are trying to rain on your parade. Of course, you feel validated when you read posts telling the singles to chill and quit giving us such a hard time. If everyone would just mind their own business, then life would be so much better for all parties involved, right?
It’s true that we will never be able to make everyone happy—nor should we even try. But if our relationships, like our individual lives, are to be a reflection of the glory of God, then we might owe it to all aforementioned parties involved (Jesus included) to pause and evaluate them from time to time, whether the relationship is brand new or well-worn in.
1. Are we isolating ourselves?
Since there are only so many hours in the day, and much of those are spent on school, work, and/or other obligations, it’s only natural that we would want the few remaining hours of our free time to be practicing our love languages with our significant other. It’s easy to convince ourselves that we are the exception to accountability because we are so busy and we are doing just fine. Accountability and boundaries are for every person at every stage of his/her life. Isolating ourselves and not being receptive to the Truth that others can shine into our blind spots places us in dangerous territory.
2. Are we making an effort to get to know each other’s friends?
Life would be so much simpler if we could just start from scratch and make new couple friends instead of integrating our old ones into our lives. But no one said life would be easy, and there is a very real possibility that our boyfriend or girlfriend is not going to love every person we’ve ever been friends with. However, we have a rich history with the people who have walked with us through our heartaches and joys, and they deserve more from us than a slow fade. They’re also the very ones we’re going to need desperately if he/she doesn’t turn out to be quite as amazing as we initially thought.
3. Are we sensitive and discerning?
It’s easy for us to get so absorbed in the glorious bliss of our own love lives and lose some of our awareness for others. If we stop and look around, we might find that we have put people in a position to keep up with us and we have very little awareness of what’s going on in their lives. Sometimes our parents just want to have us over for dinner alone just to catch up with their kid. Or, our roommate could really use an afternoon on the golf course with his old golfing buddy. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves so wrapped up in our own little love bubble and we’ll forget that there are needs around us that are going unmet. We also need to be sensitive to those around us who are not dating and are having a difficult time with it. Our inability to stand in the same room with our significant other without constantly rubbing or touching him/her doesn’t help matters any. To be fair, that doesn’t mean it’s “hands off,” but it does mean we should be sensitive to what’s appropriate.
4. Who are we listening to?
It seems that everyone has a timeline for us when we start a new relationship—when we should start holding hands, when we should have our first kiss, when to drop the “L” word, when to head down the aisle. Trying to achieve certain markers within certain time frames can be stressful. We just need to remember to listen to His voice in matters of the heart. And, yes, sometimes He speaks through the wise counsel of others, but we need to be sure that we’re listening to wise counsel and not the noisy chatter of the rest of the world. We need to remember to have fun and be fully present in whatever stage of dating we are in.
The conclusion is the same whether we’re single, dating, engaged, or married: We don’t handle every situation perfectly, but we can do better. And, thankfully, whether we do well or stumble, there’s always grace.