By Regan Cunningham
It’s funny how dating apps will make you feel content being single. Maybe this is what Paul meant when he said that singlehood is a gift.
I swore never to do a dating app in my life, yet at 32 years old things changed in my brain. I felt like I was either going to surrender to a lifetime of singlehood or go all out to try to date again.
As of today, it has been over a year since I’ve had a date, and yet I can confidently say I am satisfied with being single… at least for now. After all, no one’s perfect.
A while back, I joined a couple of dating apps. Please keep in mind, these were the ones that people would tell me: “this is the app that people are on who are serious about looking for a relationship.”
So I believed them, and I realized people might be serious on these apps, but there’s a whole lot more that I'm looking for when it comes to dating someone. It’s called sanity, and these people lacked it.
As I’ve grown to enjoy singlehood, I look ahead and consider the facts about myself that may make me a better partner for the future. The last thing I want is to be the crazy clingy girlfriend with no hobbies, other than to stare into the eyes of her deadbeat boyfriend.
So here are a few things I’ve realized coming from a dating app experience - about myself and the potential I want in a relationship.
1. Not everyone is a match just because they are of the same faith.
God bless America and these guns, as a man would flex his bicep. For me this was a big turn off just because it felt like someone trying to sell their image rather than their personality. And that even seemed bleak. Other times a guy would lift his shirt up to show his abs with the caption, “What I bring to the relationship.”
Mind you, these men were listed as Christians and possibly were doing their best.
Regardless, I realized what I wanted a guy to bring into a relationship.
Did I want someone who was capable of posting a shirtless picture online with a handful of fish, and think this was what turned a gal on? For myself, no. (No judgement if that's what you're looking for - and to that I say have at it!)
2 Corinthians 6:14 says not to be unequally yoked, meaning don’t be tied to someone who isn’t someone who has the similar goals or lifestyle as you. Most people have interpreted this as meaning not to be with someone who does not have the same faith, but I think it goes much deeper than that.
To break it down more, it’s not about the guy with the shirt off or the deer head on the wall. It’s about the similarities in personality and lifestyle that I could see myself dealing with. Being an animal lover and tending to keep my shirt on purposefully online, I want someone who has similarities with my interests and decisions I make in life. This doesn't necessarily mean that guys who do the opposite of what I do are wrong... but it may just mean I step 10 feet away from them.
2. Ghosting happens. And maybe it’s okay that it does.
This lesson only applies to dating apps.
I’ve ghosted men, and they've ghosted me. Typically this happened within the first day and the first few words were exchanged. I will admit to ghosting one dude, who had me talking to him for three months without accepting any of my offers to hang out; Honestly, I still regret not just saying something and then wishing him a farewell.
All of this was in the casual world of dating, which at this point seems hopeless. Not only does it feel like nothing more than ordering a pick up order from Target, but it feels disposable and trivial, and less like a serious pursuit of a lifelong mate.
I will admit part of this may be one of my defense mechanisms after being hurt in previous relationships. Whenever another guy ghosted, I quoted the Beatles “Ob-la-di,Ob-la-da, Life goes on.”
Maybe, it was because I expected only the handful of dust that guys had given me in previous times.
When I was told by a boyfriend that I dressed like a prude in the middle of December in a Midwest winter, I wondered what guys really wanted from me. Did they just want the physical or the emotional side of me? I concluded for a while it was the physical, so much so that I lied to myself and believed they were feeding my emotional side. Case being that once I moved on from that relationship, I ended up in numerous relationships that I regret based on how shallow and superficial they really were. I still can’t believe I dated a guy who gave me two word statements. It shows current Regan just how desperate past Regan was to make things work.
All of this to say, ghosting happens when someone is not feeling the vibe from the other that they anticipated to make a relationship last.
This goes back to dating someone who is equally yoked, where we look for someone who is compatible to our lives and personalities.
Not only that, but someone who sees you as the way God sees you. Because there is no way God is leaving you.
In a world filled with instant gratification and easy Amazon returns, perhaps we all have gotten a little too spoiled when it comes to our dating lives. There are so many options with a dating app to choose from.
Perhaps the person we are destined to be with, or God has sent, is a Dungeons & Dragons fan. Or perhaps they fumble over their words on the first few dates. Whatever has turned us off from a potential partner on a dating app, it's good to ask if it is a moral deal breaker or one that is just trivial.
This is not to saying you shouldn’t have broken up with your ex, Todd, in high school, but more so setting expectations and deal breakers beforehand. That way, you can respectfully say when you want to escape a questionable situation or talk with a potential partner online “Sorry, but I do not think this is going to work. But thank you for talking.”
That way you do not just become a ghost of someone’s past.
3. Am I even ready for a relationship?
The fact I just said I have ghosted in the dating app world and was so desperate to make any relationship work that I would give up a part of myself just to make them function makes me wonder if I am even ready for a relationship sometimes. I am not the best at communicating because I know I try to avoid conflict.
For example, once a boyfriend asked me if my faith would interfere with our relationship because he wasn't a Christian, I lied just to escape the conflict and fear of breaking up. This was immature of me, as well as something that signaled I needed to go to therapy.
It has been over a year since I have had a date. I have been asked on dates, but I prefer not to entertain a guy I know I could never long term see myself with. For me, that means that if he isn’t a Christian and doesn’t fit the odd mold I fit into in the old evangelical world, I used to know. I love X Files, believe there is life on other planets, and believe critical thinking is important when examining faith every day. I like to cross examine what I hear on a Sundays and I like to ask God harder questions than I ever have. I believe women can preach on a Sunday and wear tank tops with spaghetti straps.
This is not to say I cannot be with any Christian guy, but when you wrap up all that I have learned, I have learned that the right Christian guy is out there for me, but I have rarely seen one that is both appealing and fitting for me, and that’s okay with me. I do not think I would be where I am today and who I am, if I had settled for just anyone. I do not expect to be married anytime soon, let alone have a boyfriend, but in the time I am waiting, I have learned prayer is essential for preparing for the next relationship.
I am hoping all good things for the guy I am to be with and for him to hurry up and show up before I show a wrinkle. But, at the same time, I am also embracing a part of myself -becoming more aware of my identity of who I am so I am able to lend parts of myself in the relationship without losing myself.
Remember what I said at the beginning about me avoiding the clingy girlfriend status? That is exactly what I hope to avoid in my next relationship. To be equal with someone in the relationship and less afraid of the rejection that has always plagued me.
Whether you are single or in a relationship reading this, I hope you find the courage to be the person you were made to be in regardless of the person you are with or not with. Eve was made for Adam not to be lonely, but thrive in the Garden. We do not know too much about Eve’s personality or duties in the Garden, but I would imagine in a perfect world she thrived being in the presence of her Creator and working, as well.
After all, studies have shown women thrice more being single while men thrive in relationships. Take what you will with that research.
While you wait for a relationship (or are in one), ask yourself these questions :
Am I staying true to myself?
Does this relationship bring me closer to God?
Am I even ready for a relationship?
In the dating app world, I got a lesson in knowing what I want and do not want, as well as examining who I am really am to write down a three sentence bio.
If you are here in singlehood, please bare with me as a friend, rather than a distracted individual on your phone app trying to set up the next first date. Focus on the present, be patient, and know the Lord is for you (Zephaniah 3:17).
After all, perhaps He has spared you from your first divorce already. Or perhaps He has you living out the truth my great aunt Elaine has always told me, “It is better to be alone than to wish you were alone.”
So keep courage, friend. Your blessing is coming, whatever it may look like for you or your future mate.
Regan Cunningham is a Midwestern redhead living with a sausage dog and over a dozen plants she found on clearance. Besides writing, Regan enjoys her full time job as a therapist and getting people to think outside the box of church culture. She uses writing as a way to spark ideas and share personal experiences of how God has worked in her life. Her hope is to one day be a superhero, but helping to get her small dog on the couch every night will do.
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