I’m in my thirties, and I’ve never been in a relationship. Some of you are thinking, “Well, surely you were in one in junior high school. That counts for something.”
Let me clarify: Nope. Not a long time ago, not in high school, not in junior high, not ever.
Just to clear a few things up that I know you’re probably also thinking:
I’m not weird. (Weird people get married all the time, by the way.)
I’m not ugly. (Ugly people do, too.)
I’ve not been working on my career. (I’m a teacher. I can do my job just fine with a spouse by my side.)
I’ve been on dates. (Only a few, but I have dated.)
I’m not scared of commitment. (In fact, I long for it.)
I’m friends with a lot of guys, and I’m not awkward around them. (I know you’re wondering.)
I don’t have a wounded past. (Because I know you’re wondering about that, too.)
Yes, I’ve tried online dating. (It resulted in the aforementioned few dates.)
A relationship has never materialized for me, though.
It’s something I rarely vocalize because of the shame associated with it. There’s very little conversation in the single Christian world about never having been in a relationship. It’s always assumed you’ve been in one at some point. Maybe not many, but at least one. So many people, whether they would say it out loud or not, would assume that this is somehow my fault—that I’m unlovable due to something I’ve done wrong during my 3.5 decades of life. Because really, what normal adult hasn’t been kissed at some point in her adult life?
So yeah, I don’t talk about it much—unless it’s with safe and trusted friends who know, like me, that this isn’t because of anything I have or have not done. I wouldn’t have much shame at all if the entire world, including the Church, didn’t put such high a priority on marriage to the exclusion of the rest of us. But I don’t want to be the poster child for singles who’ve never been in a relationship, so I’m not out to fight any sort of battle.
I have other friends who’ve never been in a relationship either. Some of them haven’t been on a date. Like me, they could make a similar list explaining how they’re “normal” too. I’ve watched some of them struggle and wonder what is wrong with them, why no one has chosen them. It grieves me that they think they’re unique, but not in a good way. Their self worth plummets with every birthday and wedding, as they look around the room and think that something about them is not only unworthy of the gift of marriage, but also unworthy of even being seen.
Since no one ever talks about it, I thought I would. For the women who bear the silent shame of having never been loved by a man, lean in closely and remember with me those things that are true and right and excellent and commendable:
You are not alone.
I know a lot of women who are in the same boat as you and me. In fact, I talked to several of them before I wrote this. We’re all successful, Jesus-loving, never-been-kissed women who want you to know that even though this is not a club we would’ve chosen to be a member of, we are indeed members and it would be a pretty darn awesome club if you knew all of the ladies who hold memberships alongside you.
You have worth.
You are loved with an unending love by the One who gave you life and sacrificed His own for yours. Yes, it hurts and, yes, it must be offered up on the altar over and over again, but not having a relationship does not define us. Just like He did not allow me to become the Hollywood starlet I’d dreamed of becoming as a child, He hasn’t allowed a relationship into your life. It’s that simple. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) He wants to use our lives for His glory, and for whatever reason, right now it does not involve a guy. We’ve got to choose to trust Him over the voices, lies, and fears that nag at our spirits and cause anger, discontentment, and self-loathing.
You are radiant.
Do you hear me? You are. This one is hard enough for a woman to believe, even when she is loved by a man, but especially when a woman hasn’t been in a relationship. We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). As His image bearers, we are not ugly, we are not weird, and we are not freaks because we’ve never dated. The only one who has the power to define our lives—to give beauty to our ashes, to give gladness to our mourning—is Christ. “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
Like any other struggle, it’s going to take us preaching the Gospel to ourselves over and over and over again so that we see ourselves rightly when others may not. One thing is for certain: He who created our fragile hearts can be trusted to care for them.