Anyone remember my bold Twitter declaration that I’d be blogging all about my newest literary venture Boundaries in Dating? That was a month ago, and as you might have noticed the old blog is looking a little dusty. Dating is one topic I have shied away from writing about. Everyone has an opinion about dating, especially those who aren’t. You should, you shouldn’t, you should when…., you shouldn’t if…..you should only date XYZ. It’s exhausting. To make matters worse, I quickly found out the cold, hard truth that so many singles my age discover one way or another: dating as a teenager or college student is NOTHING like dating in your 30s. It’s quite shocking actually.
So I’ve been out a bit over the past six months, enough to ascertain that I’m a bit dating impaired. I realized that I had no clue how it was supposed to work anymore. I felt a lot like Sam in Sleepless in Seattle:
Sam: “No, not dinner necessarily on the first date because by the time you’re halfway through dinner you might be sorry you asked them to dinner whereas if it’s just a drink, if you like them you can always ask them for dinner…you see what I mean. I wonder if it still works this way.
Jonah: “It doesn’t. They ask you.”
Sam: ” I’m starting to notice that.”
Seriously folks, sometimes I feel like I woke up from a coma, and I have to relearn to walk. It’s a hot mess. So, what else can I do but get a book?! Everywhere I turn single folks say things like, “dating is terrible. It’s a necessary evil.” My thoughts, “Does it really have to be this way??” Enter, Boundaries in Dating. Over the years Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries advice really has made a positive impact on my life. I figure if anyone can turn this crazy train in the right direction, they can.
Because the truth is that I like men. Yeah, I do. They’re fun. They’re different. They’re nice to look at. My little extrovert self loves meeting new people . . . all this drives me to believe there has to be a better way. That it’s not all heart-ache and misery . . . that it could be fun and maybe even enriching.
So, the intro and chapter 1 of Boundaries in Dating (in a nutshell):
Drs. Cloud and Townsend defend dating as a good thing in stark contrast to Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye movement. Harris’ thought process – “Dating causes heartache, pain, distraction, etc. Therefore dating must be bad (or the problem). The Drs. point all 5 fingers back at self arguing that dating isn’t “the problem” people are . . . people not exercising healthy boundaries.
If you’re not familiar with what boundaries are (first I’d highly suggest you get the book Boundaries) let me break it down quickly: a person’s personal boundaries “distinguishes what is your emotional and personal property and what belongs to someone else . . . they show what we are and what we aren’t . . . they keep good things in and bad things out.” Basically, it’s knowing when to and being comfortable saying, “NO.” Solid boundaries =maturity, better decision making and confidence in who and whose we are.
The Drs also contend that a majority of the issues we deal with in dating are due to lack of freedom and responsibility on one or both parties’ parts. It means making choices based on your own beliefs and values rather than choosing out of fear, need or guilt. This hit me hard. I have been incredibly guilty of this, and yes it stemmed out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of loneliness, fear of (you fill in the blank.)
But God says, “ There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
Fear means me not being myself – a version of me trying to adapt to whatever my date wants/is/likes. Runaway Bride rings a bell. Freedom from fear means being me at all costs, even if that means some people won’t like it. Some people will shy away, most will move on . . . let em.