I moved to Arizona from my beloved state of Texas in the fall of 2006. I came alone, not knowing anyone. Eventually I did what any single and adventurous young woman might do; I signed up for online dating.
I actually met my husband through online dating in 2010, but my first go-around wasn’t quite as successful. My first date was with a very nice man who loved God and others. He just also happened to be… clingy? Yes. Clingy. I received a laminated poem on our second date. When I broke things off after the third date there were tears. His. Not mine.
I’m not sure why I tried to have that conversation in the car while we were still 20 minutes away from my apartment. But he asked… “So, you think we can do this again?” (Blood pumping so loudly in my brain that I’m guessing he can hear it.) I didn’t want to lie, so I replied, “I don’t… think so.” I prayed feverishly for the Rapture the entire ride home. It did not come. What did come was a week full of emotional e-mails asking over and over again what he could have done differently.
I think about that car ride often and wonder what I could have done differently. I’d been on so few dates in my life that I really didn’t know how to say “No, Thank You.”
I would love to go back in time and snag that 25 year-old version of me out of the car for a quick heart-to-heart. Here’s what I would tell her.
Make peace with rejection.
No one likes to be dumped, but dating relationships with the opposite sex end in one of two ways: rejection or marriage. Change is hard and rejection doesn’t feel good – but it helps us to weed out relationships that either aren’t in our best interest or simply aren’t meant to end in marriage. Sometimes you will be the one calling it quits, and sometimes you will be on the other side of things. But if you truly believe that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT), then you see rejection as the reset button.
Rip off the Band-Aid.
After turning down the offer for another date, I began to quickly backpedal because of the awkwardness of the situation. I launched into a speech about how I didn’t know how long I was going to live in Arizona and how I might soon return to Texas. I dug my hole of lies deeper and deeper as he asked for specific details. An honest answer doesn’t often make for the most comfortable situation, but it is the right thing to do. I’ve learned to appreciate honesty in all of my relationships, especially in situations of conflict. “The honest person will live in safety, but the dishonest will be caught.” (Proverbs 10:9, NCV).
Use Gentle Words.
So while we don’t want to delay telling the truth, there certainly are pleasant ways to say just about anything. Find ways to affirm the other person and to make sure that they know you value their life and their time. “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).
Ditch the unrealistic expectations.
“Let’s still be friends.” You might as well just replace that with “Let’s go find a unicorn.” If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so awkward to be around someone you dated, even just for a few dates, remind yourself that in a break-up usually one of the people is left feeling broken. Rejection sucks. Sure, it’s beneficial and pushes us along in our stories, but both parties are not going to feel equally awesome about the situation. That’s not realistic. Make sure you are respectful and patient before trying to resume the previous friendship.
Lastly, I would remind myself that even if I’m not feeling the love, I still need to show love. However unique my date might be, he is one of God’s children… an awkward child, perhaps, but a child still worth loving. 😉
“Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:13-14, NCV)
Ginger Ciminello may sound like an Italian dessert but she is actually a speaker and blogger by trade. She spends her time encouraging young women to live up to their God-given potential and unique design at gingerciminello.com. When she’s not embarrassing herself by telling stories of her years in middle school, she can be found rollerblading, dancing in her car, and schooling her eHarmony-matched husband, David, in Scrabble.
*Photo credit: Muffet