No, I don't have a girlfriend. No I'm not dating anyone. And no, there isn't even a person of interest apart from that cute girl I just saw on whatever commercial just came on tv. No I'm not really looking, and no I'm not stressed about it. Yes, I'm single, and I'm actually okay with it.
Going through college without having any really serious relationships, I began to notice a growing pressure to have a special someone and be moving toward a happily ever after. To be honest, I always pictured myself meeting someone while I was in school that could eventually be my wife. But it didn't happen. Now that I'm in the real world, working for a living and supporting myself, I feel like that pressure is growing even stronger. It seems like I'm constantly enduring recommendations of where I should go to meet girls and what kind of girl I should date or being asked what exactly I'm "looking for". It has become a frustrating topic for me, because to be honest I'm really not looking right now.
My parents were a bit old fashioned when it came to setting up dating rules. Specifically, I wasn't allowed to date anyone until I turned 16. I'll pause for a moment to let you recover, because I know that blew a lot of minds. I'll admit I was really frustrated by that rule growing up, and tried to bend it as much as possible with unofficial "girlfriends" in elementary and middle school. Looking back now, I don't mind so much. I mean, what's the point of being able to date if you can't even drive to pick them up? However, as I got closer and closer to 16 I started seeing all my friends with girlfriends and I was always the single third wheel. I always felt lonely, and began to develop a sense that my worth was found in my relationship status.
After turning sixteen, with my license to drive and my sweet truck (which I got off ebay, true story) I was on the prowl as some might say. It wasn't long before I had my first real girlfriend, but it didn't last long either. It lasted just long enough for me to get emotionally invested and then let down. I found my worth in that relationship status and then lost it at the drop of a hat.
I ended up in another relationship towards the end of my junior year, that lasted nearly to graduation. I was head over heels and I put everything I had into this one. I was happy to have someone to give my attention to, to try to make feel special, but most of all make me feel worth something. That was probably the first time in my life that I've cared about someone so much that I would have done anything for them. I knew we were just in high school, but it felt like more than just a high school relationship. And then it wasn't. My walls came crashing down on me, and I felt lonelier than ever.
In college I got into some relationships either because of loneliness, convenience, or in effort to impress friends that really weren't worth the fuss. I'd become much more emotionally guarded after being let down so hard, and put myself in the position to be the heart-breaker for a change. I didn't like that side any better, and it made me feel even worse.
I haven't had a girlfriend in probably three years and I haven't been on a date in just as long.
Since my last relationship I've realized that my sense of worth was seriously misplaced. I realized that I needed to challenge the notion that I needed to be with someone to be worth something or complete. I realized that I have way too much work to do on myself before I worry about bringing someone else into this mess. One of my favorite quotes on this comes from Ben Stuart, the pastor at Breakaway at A&M (Whoop!). He went through a similar process in college and said he realized, "there couldn't be a healthy WE, because there wasn't a healthy ME".
In this past year I've gone through some serious swings. I moved to Colorado. Whoa. (Yeah, I miss you Texas and this CO drivers license is lame...) I joined a professional cycling team. Whoa. I left a professional cycling team. Whoa? I got a job that makes me wake up at 4am every day. Whoa.
I've had to start learning financial responsibility and how to balance work life with personal time. I've had to figure out how to make new friends and get involved in a totally new area. I've had to figure out how to grow spiritually and maintain my faith without the same close support system. I've had to figure out how to keep myself accountable for my actions.
To be honest, I've got so much on my plate right now that even the idea of trying to find a girlfriend and figuring out how to balance that time commitment feels overwhelming. Financially supporting myself is a big enough task that I don't need to worry about paying for nights out and dinners on dates.
In short I've got enough work to do to get a healthy ME, before I worry about a healthy WE.
What's that you say? Oh, I could still just have fun, and play the field? Great idea, except that's neither how I was raised nor how I want to approach dating. At its core that seems degrading and selfish, to just look for someone to meet your needs and then move on. I know it sounds stupid to a lot of you, because it's so contrary to societal beliefs, but when I'm ready to start looking, I'm looking for long term (read life term) and thinking of the end game. And yes, I'm going to be "picky".
So since I'm not in a place where I can say I'm ready to meet that person, I'm not looking. If we cross paths, great, but right now I'm not turning over stones. So like I said earlier:
No I don't have a girlfriend, I'm not looking, and I'm not stressed about it. I'm single, and I'm actually okay with it. You should be too.