I had an interesting phone conversation the other night with one of my single girlfriends about the challenges of dating as an older single woman in our modern day culture. It reminded me all too well of the experiences, thoughts, and feelings I had when I was still in the dating scene. There were several times before I met my fiancé when I would question if I would just have to settle when it came to dating and eventually finding the man that I would spend my life with. I had been through several dating relationships that never worked out for one reason or another. On paper, the men I dated were great, but it just never felt like the right fit. There was always this sense that if we were to move forward, one or both of us would be settling in one area or another. So I eventually developed this assumption that I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too…i.e. that I wouldn’t be able to find a man who intrigued me, inspired me, and attracted me all at the same time, and for whom I did the same. Really, it was a fear. I can laugh about it now, but in the moment, it felt very real. After some conversations with other single women my age, including the one I had with my friend on the phone the other night, I realized that I wasn’t alone. I realized that this is a common fear among older single women and men.
Although I am not yet married, I will soon be married to a man who has blown all of my expectations out of the water. Experiencing such a healthy, loving, and joyful relationship has put to rest all of those questions and fears, and has given me so much hope to remind any of you singles out there to never settle when it comes to your dating relationships and the person you will ultimately end up with.
Let’s just admit it, humans are complex beings, and finding a relationship that is healthy, mature, honoring, and rooted ultimately in selfless love and deep friendship is no small task. Let’s stop pretending like it is. You are not alone if you are feeling this way. But at the same time, I don’t think we are to live our lives discouraged and in longing. Nor are we to waste our single years on relationships that leave us feeling broken, less-than, or unworthy of love, simply out of fear of being alone.
The truth is, God loves us, and wants the best for us, even though it might not seem like that sometimes. I am not saying that the right relationship will be perfect and without struggle. What I am saying is that if you are open and patient enough to wait for the right person, you won’t have to settle on the big issues.
Another important thing to acknowledge is that often the right relationship may look different than you always expected it to. I think as singles, a lot of us have this fairy tale picture of the perfect partner in our mind, and anytime someone comes along who doesn’t quite fit that perfect picture, we disqualify them immediately. I think it’s good to have our standards and desires, but I also think it’s good to always be ready for them to be challenged. For instance, when my now fiance and I were introduced to each other via a mutual friend, it quite honestly wasn’t love at first sight for me. I thought he was very attractive and and our connection felt natural, but he was very different than pretty much every other guy I had ever dated. I had also just come out of a relationship, one week before I met him. And for the first three months that we were hanging out, also had someone else pursuing me, all the while feeling like I just wanted to be single. I’ve heard this same scenario time and time again. Love often finds you when you least expect it. And though it took me a while to see what was right in front of me, I can now say that it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
Looking back now, I am so grateful that I never settled or rushed into marriage based out of fear of being alone or pressure from society. I can say now with absolute certainty, at thirty three years old that it was well worth the wait. Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance in what we do not see.” I’ve learned that faith and trust in God’s plan often is the hardest part, but it is always worth it.
Some of my friends have asked me what set my current relationship apart from all of the others, and this is what I have said. It is the first relationship in which there were no red flags and was/is marked by an overarching sense of joy and peace. Of course it isn’t perfect.
Relationships never are and they shouldn’t be, because we are all imperfect humans. But believe me when I say that true soul compatibility is a thing. Finding a man who pursues you, loves you, and values you, is a thing. Living life along side your best friend is a thing. It’s not easy to find, but it exists.
And I want to encourage any of you single women and men out there reading this, with that. My prayer for each of you is that you will have strength and hope in the space between almost, but not yet. That you will trust that God has your best in mind even in the moments when it doesn’t seem like it. And that you will be ready to find love in the most unlikely of places. I promise you, whether it ends up looking like you always thought it would or not, when it’s right, you won’t have to settle.