Dear Single Ladies,
There is nothing wrong with you!
Every Wednesday leading up to that Holiday-Beginning-With-A-V-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, the inspirational & hilarious Christian Post contributor Joy Beth Smith is offering a fresh perspective on flying solo. This 5-part 'Series for Singles' is based on her ridiculously-relatable upcoming book, Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness (available for pre-order now and wherever books are sold on Feb. 6). This week... she tackles the treacherous world of cynicism and swiping in: "Love Me Tinder: How to Keep Hoping When Dating Feels Hopeless."
"How is it that I can sign up for eHarmony, only to find about thirty guys from my church on there, and then I've paid fifty dollars for you to ask me out online when I see you every Sunday?" My friend Patty says, and she is no stranger to online dating... or cynicism. But since I'm an active member of six online dating platforms, all her frustrations make perfect sense to me.
I think we're all so tired. Tired of online dating. Tired of being asked about our relationship status. Tired of being set up. Tired of being set up with people who aren't interested. And some of us are tired of investing.
What all this weariness ultimately leads to, sadly, is a loss of hope, which can feel especially heavy around holidays like Valentine's Day. If we're dating for the purpose of finding a spouse, then it's only going to work well one time. So yeah, there is some serious loss involved every time a budding relationship fizzles, every time a promising blind date turns out to be a dud, every time I spend two hours getting ready only to be stood up, and we can't ignore that cost. But we want to get married we can't avoid it altogether, either.
It's hard enough when it feels as if this whole dating scene is a crazy, drawn-out game of musical chairs. In the beginning, when you're sixteen and carefree and only a little boy crazy, the game is still fun. But year after year, round after round, that music still plays and you see your friends scrambling a little faster to ensure they have a seat. You start to realize there are fewer and fewer chairs, and yet so many people. Suddenly your best friend since second grade elbows you in the ribs to get to a seat as the music screeches to a halt. And with all of that anxiety and pressure and sweating, the game's not as much fun as it used to be.
One of my close friends, Jen, tells a story that's quickly become one of my favorites. A man with whom she had very little history recently asked her out on a date. As she nervously nibbled on a Panera salad, her date began to compare her to the Proverbs 31 woman and his own mother. Clearly, he was already sold.
While I love her very much, I can attest that Jen is not the Proverbs 31 woman. In fact, she's a normal woman, one who snoozes her alarm on accident and tells little lies about why she's late. She's human. And what's going to happen once her date realizes this unfortunate truth? Does her worth diminish—or does her boyfriend grow dissatisfied—once her humanity begins to show?
When I asked her the hardest part of dating, Jen answered simply, "It's all hard. The whole thing. Sometimes I think that dating must be harder than marriage." And while I've only experienced half of that comparison, I think I agree with her.
So while it seems people are only as valuable as they are marriageable, and some days it feels like once a guy knows I'm not wife material, he decides I'm not worth knowing at all, I'm not quite hopeless. I'm close, but I'm not there yet, because it's nice to know I'm not alone as I'm navigating these unfamiliar (terrifying) waters. So today I'm going to buy myself some chocolate (and I guess my friends too) and blare my girly music, because that's what makes hoping easier.
Joy Beth Smith (@JBsTwoCents) is the author of Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness (Thomas Nelson, February 2018). She is a managing editor with Christianity Today and winner of the Evangelical Press Association's Higher Goals in Christian Journalism Award. For more information, a free chapter download, and LOL-worthy memes, visit www.PartyofOnetheBook.com.