It’s not you, it’s me – Single nearly 14 years since my divorce – I’ve been on many dates, but had few relationships. Most of that time I wasn’t ready to date. To be candid, I was struggling to grieve the loss of a dream and begin to imagine what a blended family might look like spiritually, emotionally, and financially.
Many who divorce may resolve their feelings for the ex-spouse, but not fully heal from the complex wounds divorce inflicts. When the wounded date too soon you have hurting people, hurting people.
Entering the swipe-right dating world, it was easy for me to ignore my wounds. I was simply “out to have fun,” I told myself, without applying any emotional energy to healing, dealing, or feeling. While I believed myself open to meeting the “right one,” I had no real intentions beyond FUN. If dating is limbo, “fun” is the easiest setting. A zombie could do it.
But the dating fun always stopped when real emotions surfaced. And when the fun stopped, I ran. My intention wasn’t to hurt the person I was dating, but to distance myself from my own discomfort.
Whether people who date while wounded are aware or unaware that they shouldn’t date, they often hurt people – and I did. I attribute the actions of wounded daters to selfishness. They want to fill a void inside at the cost of someone else. I touch on these wounded daters in “Girl You Deserve Better (Click Here).”
Filling the void is what drove me to date wounded. If a woman was hot, smart, fun, and made me feel better about myself, I dated her. In this state of mind, it is impossible to find the “right one” because a person who dates mindlessly and selfishly isn’t right for anyone.
It’s Really You – It’s not you, it’s me
So I hurt people… When a girl didn’t get subtle hints that the fun was over, she got the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk.
But invariably, it WAS her. She was READY for something real; I wasn’t.
Each time I dated, the fun of seeing and being seen with someone new would dwindle as I retold my story, and each time trudged closer to the undeniable reality of what was left to resolve.
Eventually, I faced an emotional cliff which only left me two options. Stop dating and resolve the past; or jump into a permanent new (marriage) relationship, ready or not.
Some who choose to move forward with that permanent relationship without resolving the past are all-the-more likely to end in another divorce.
But, as unsatisfying as it sounds when your heart aches for relief, sometimes waiting is the best way to find the one God has for us in his perfect timing. I saw this Godly timing happen with my best friend Jay. He and his wife met online four years prior to their eventual relationship, but neither was ready. Four years later, they both ended up on the same dating website, saw each other again, and six months later were married.
Had Jay married any girl he dated in that four years, the arrangement would have looked like the Jerry Springer show rather than the awesome marriage I observe daily. Jay was ready, but he kept picking women who weren’t. He needed the patience to wait for his future to catch up with his desires and God’s will for his life.
Never the Bridegroom!
Back to my emotional cliff: Not having the wisdom to wait, I figured I would try the easier of two options, the plunge. (Who wants to go back, right?) I leapt into an intentional relationship with an awesome woman, with talks of marriage and a future. But once again, my old insecurities inspired me to end the relationship. The awesome woman, being ready for a relationship when I was not, met her future husband a few short months later and married almost immediately.
For the next few relationships, in spite of my intentionality, I ended up the last relationship-stop before my girlfriends met the men they would marry. I even went to a few of their weddings and joked about it. But it wasn’t funny.
Exhausted, I stopped dating completely. I didn’t want to be someone’s last stop on their way to marriage. So, I chose intentional singleness without the prospect of dating.
Time went by, and I let it. It takes time to resolve foundational issues. I took the time to grow and learn what I really wanted, but more importantly, who I wanted to be. Those times weren’t without mistakes but I was moving forward in my personal growth and relationship with God rather than being stalled in brokenness, failure or selfish fun. If I failed, I got up, brushed myself off, and pressed on with God’s strength and encouragement – without looking for a romantic relationship to fill the void.
Prior to this intentional singleness, everything about who I was screamed selfishness. After, my life mantra was to serve.
In my new singleness, I realized the man I choose to be is a man with heart, passion, and purpose. Restored (Click Here)! I choose to be one who is healed of the past and ready to move forward with something real, should the Lord will. “Not in perfection but direction.” I say that often in these articles because I don’t want you to get the idea that there is some arrival of perfection. Only in heaven will God’s work in me be complete. I still fail and fall short daily.
The key with this intentional change was the moving forward in the right direction as now each area had been brought under God’s direction and protection.
Ready to date again – or so I thought.
I’d love to tell you that all this intentionality and waiting resulted in my falling in love with the one when I began to date again. It didn’t. Instead, a blond beauty captivated my affections and I fell hard before I realized I was dating the old me, in female form.
Is it true that what goes around comes around? I don’t know. But, I felt like I deserved it. After all, how many times did I date looking to fill a void? As I felt the pain of disappointment, I grieved the hurt that I may have caused others. It was a penitent moment in my life. I can never again claim ignorance of the pain I caused dating while wounded.
I now understand what’s at stake in choosing a relationship with someone who is not ready.
Which brings me to why I wrote this post.
First, I want to say to the women I hurt, I’m sorry. You were ready to move forward; I wasn’t. But, I value those teaching moments and see what future-ready looks like. I am happy for your life.
To the ones who weren’t ready, I understand and extend forgiveness! I now pass the gauntlet and challenge you to choose intentional singleness. Choose singleness until you have fully resolved in your heart the situation you came from, the kind of relationship you want, and ultimately who you want to be in (or out of) a relationship. Choose to not blame others for your own un-readiness when things get serious. The issue is you. Take responsibility and take the time to heal.
If you are wounded, anyone who dates you will be second to your pain. No one wants to be anyone’s second choice, even to old wounds.
To those of you who have found yourself hurt by wounded daters, there is hope. Once healthy we can learn to spot the un-ready and keep them at an arm’s length. But, if we allow our desire for relationship to cloud our judgement in choosing people who aren’t ready, we will only be hurt that much more. Guarding your heart is Godly – and if you have been wounded by the wounded, your easily exposed heart must be carefully nurtured and protected.
You can read more about how to recognize and deal with these “it’s not you, it’s me” people. I call them “Unwilling Participants (Click Here)”.
No matter which side of the “it’s not you, it’s me” you are on, there is always something to work on. This allows us to grow closer and rely more on God’s direction, rather than our own. Many blessings as you wait, search, or submit, in Jesus’ name. It’s not you, it’s me.