Every once-in-a-while, Lindsey and I get into some really interesting conversations while sitting on the couch at home. Well, sometimes I am stretched out on the futon, but, hey, you get the point. Recently, we were sitting there chatting and oddly enough we were talking about dating. A couple months ago, we joined a small group for young married couples, as in couples that had been married for less than five (5) years. We started watching this series by a pastor in Texas, whose name I am not recalling at the moment, and it all began with dating. I found this odd, since, dude, I am already done with that and am married. But what it did do was get Lindsey and I talking and asking questions of each other and about each other. Then top that off with that fact that many of our unmarried or non-dating friends have been asking questions of us also. Therefore, I decided, that maybe I would pipe up and release my knowledge to the masses, whether it’s wanted or not. So that means that this is another hijacking of the wife’s blog to talk about: Dating, What Worked, What Didn’t.
Let me preface this by saying that I am no expert in this field. While it did take me 44 years to get married and gave me ample time to date, I do not claim to have all the answers, all I can say is what worked for Lindsey and I. Also she is aware of what I am going to be saying and has cleared me to present some of her side of the story. And by no means did Lindsey and I get it right all the time. I am simply offering this as a possible insight.
To begin with, let me give you a little background on myself regarding life in the dating and personal world. I am Tim, Lindsey’s husband of six (6) months. I am a motion graphics designer and this is my second career, my first being in hotel management. My first date was to my Sr. Prom in high school where I took my Eighth grade sweetheart. My first real relationship wasn’t until I was 19 and it lasted a year at which point after a trip I came back to propose only to have her leave when I had the ring in my pocket. I had several more relationships, making mistake after mistake, at one point I even dated five (5) friends all at the same time. BTW, I don’t recommend this. Up until I was 25, I was the one that was always getting left. I would generally do something, make some mistake or who knows and the girl would leave, crushing me every time. Around 25, I was working in an upscale athletic club, 180 lbs and built I have been told like Jake Gyllenhall. I decided I would not be hurt anymore, so at that point I became the user. The five friends thing was during this time period. I dated older women, I dated younger women, I did what I wanted when I wanted and I didn’t care about their feelings. There is one woman in particular, Chrissy, whom to this day I still feel I need to apologize to. I treated her EXTREMELY poorly, this woman that just simply wanted to be loved and instead ran into me. This continued for several years, then I got a desk job and tone turned to fat, rather quickly I might add. I still continued to date, culminating in the ultimate mistake of dating my married boss, not my finest hour or year.
It was at this point during the break-up that I decided it was time to make a change in my career. So I went back to school at 35 and got a degree in Video Production and decided to specialize in Motion Graphics. I bring this up, because during this time, I decided that I would not date. I had allowed women to effect too many parts of my life before, but I really wanted this to succeed, so I said no dating. After school, it took me several years to land a fulltime job and therefore did not allow me the money to date, cause let’s be real, dating is expensive. It wasn’t until Christmas time two (2) years ago that I decided that it was time to get back into it. I felt that I reached a point that I was ready. But, DAMN, if 10 years hadn’t gone by at that point. How the heck to do you do this again? What is it like out there now? What about this internet thing? Where can I find a good woman? How do I truly honor God this time around?
That last question really stuck with me as I approached things this time. In the past, all I had cared about was what did I want, what did I want to do. During the dating hiatus, I had really taken some time to restore my faith and find my walk and relationship with Him. I knew this time around, if I was to get it right, He had to be a part of it.
If you are like me, this time of year as a single person, can be the loneliest time of year. You see couples EVERYWHERE. Truth is, there aren’t any more now, but we just see them more and they are constant reminder of what we don’t or didn’t have. Truth be told, I still struggle this time of year and I am married and married to the most incredible woman on the planet. All I can say is keep your chin up, cause in the end you are never alone, He is with you. I know it is not the same, but He does care and He is there.
So what I can offer now, is really some tips on what I found to work best for me during this new attempt at dating and ultimately marriage:
The last section of that sentence is really a great place to begin. What are you after? Are you looking to just date? Are you looking for a spouse? Are you looking for a friend? What are you looking for? For me, the goal was simple and clear, I wanted a woman that I could spend the rest of my life with. Once I had that, the next question was, how in the world do I do that? I haven’t been on a date in almost 7 years, I went on 2 dates during the 10 year break. But at that point I stepped back and thought, before I tackle the how, I need to tackle the who, cause that might influence the how. One thing that nearly 15 years of dating, it gave me a lot of insight into what I did and didn’t want in a future spouse. So I proceeded to make a list of what I wanted. I wanted someone attractive, she had to be honest, caring, loving, willing to go beyond the normal. I wanted a woman who was smart, killer eyes that I could get lost in, bigger boobs, had a belief in God, was shorter than me. I knew that I wanted someone younger than me since I do not even remotely act my age. The smile had to be captivating, they had to have the courage to call me on my crap, but could do it without being condescending. I needed a woman who needed me, but wasn’t needy. As you can see, I built quite a list comprised of both internal and external qualities. As I reviewed the list, I came to the realization that I had in fact made two (2) lists, Needs and Wants. There were certain things the woman needed or had to have and there were things that I wanted. I feel like this is where I had gone wrong in the past, every other time I made EVERYTHING a need and now I was beginning to see that they weren’t all needs. So I did the needs list. Everything on the needs list became the internal stuff, smart, faith walk (this was REALLY important), honest, call me out, caring, loving, etc. I had ONE external quality, I needed to be attracted to her. Some people would say that this is a want, but I disagree. I believe that you NEED to be attracted to your partner, because we are visual creatures, especially guys, but that it doesn’t end there. External beauty is enhanced by internal beauty, not the other way around. The rest of the original list went on the want list, eyes, boobs, smile, size… One thing that I emphatically believe is that if any of the external qualities are on your Needs list a side from attraction, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Your partner is never going to look great all the time. They are going to have ugly moments just like you and it is during those times that the inside will be the attraction and if that isn’t there, then what is the point.
Having my lists in hand, I proceeded to decide how. I am an introvert. Even to this very day, Lindsey and I will go out with people that I don’t know and I will speak maybe 10 words the entire night. Part of it stems from trust issues, part of it stems from fear. So, for me, the choice was easy. Internet here I come. Now, while endorse the internet here, I will say I recommend only doing 1 or 2 sites at a time. I don’t believe this is one of those times where you throw as many lines in the water as you can. Lindsey did this and said she found herself overwhelmed and confused about who was where. I did research and decided on eHarmony. Why eHarmony you might ask? Well I will tell you. I knew what I was looking for, I wanted a wife and with eHarmony you do an extensive personality test, plus it was one of the most expensive. I figured that those two things meant that only people who were seriously looking for spouses like I was would be on there and it wasn’t all based on looks, so no swiping left here. Plus, since they had to take that test, there was some pretty serious vetting going on there. I joined. Took the test. Uploaded my profile. Had photos taken by a professional photographer, who is also a good friend. And waited for my first round of potentials to come through. I asked questions, I received questions. I had a couple give me phone numbers to talk. I talked to one for a month before asking her out and another for two weeks before she asked me out. Both of these were complete disasters. And then I came across Lindsey. She didn’t answer my initial questions and original attempts, but she kept viewing my profile. Finally, I just emailed and said that I wanted to get to know her more than what was in the profile. She responded and by the end of the first day we were talking on the phone. By the end of the first week, we had gone on our first date. By the end of our first year we were engaged and married 4 months after that.
So what was it that made it all work? Did she fit the list perfectly? Was I just lucky? As to the list question, no she did not fit everything on the Wants list. I got butt instead of boobs. She is a little bit heavier, but then again, so am I. But the Needs list, she fit EVERY SINGLE ONE and then some. And that is the key, I let go of some Wants to make sure I had the Needs. Now is my wife beautiful? You better believe it! But it is just as much what is inside as what is outside.
But how did we get through it all? Lindsey likes to call this my A to B. I love it when people are all about where they are, but never tell you HOW they got there. Lindsey and I got there because of one very simple, hard rule: EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE. That means that we are honest with each other about everything. It doesn’t matter if it is your favorite color or your stance on the abortion issue. We are free to ask each other anything and tell each other anything while knowing the other is not going to judge or hold our answers against the other. Do we always agree? Are you kidding? We went through 35 web pages of dishes before finding a pattern we both agreed on. But where we do line up perfectly is the foundation, faith, love, honesty, here we agree always. And injecting that into a dating environment is one of the most liberating and freeing things that you can do. The pressure to be something you are not comes off, you are free to be yourself and are encouraged to be. What this ultimately does is create a safe environment for everyone. Girls, guys need the safe place just like you do and Guys, this is almost a must for every girl.
Dating is NOT about playing a game. I know the game exists and I found out that I could play that game very well, but it never brought me fulfillment. I was always left empty, but when I quit playing the game and was just myself and encouraged her to be herself, the world of possibilities opened up. Does that mean that you won’t fight or argue, of course not. Our biggest fight to date is because I called Lindsey out on something where I felt she wasn’t being herself and at the time she didn’t even realize it was happening. But if you base everything on the Wants list and not the Needs list, you are going to be disappointed every time. It might last for a little while, but in the end, it will come crashing down.
The final thing I will say is, really allow God to come into the date scene with you. Allow Him to be a part of it, because He will encourage and assist you in ways you can never imagine.
Guys be brave. Ladies you can help by being polite in your turn downs if that is the case at the time. It takes a lot of courage to approach a woman if you are being yourself. Ladies, remember that it not only falls on the guy to create the safe space, but you as well. Showing respect to each other and allowing and encouraging everyone to be themselves can bring a fullness and an intimacy that is beyond the superficial. And lastly, in everything we do, we should be honoring The Big Man Upstairs.
I hope this gives you some insight into what worked for Lindsey and I. If you want more information, please feel free to contact us privately.
May the force be with you!!