I recently had a conversation with a woman by the name of Louise who also married later in life. She, too, experienced prolonged singleness and embarked on a journey to find her way out of it to love and marriage. Louise married her husband at the age of 44.
We were discussing some of the more practical things a girl can do to help herself out of the single wilderness; the different tips, and tricks that we each had to learn by trial and error as we were making our way through that period in our lives. When you marry later, you end up with more experiences in the dating and sometimes “no-date” world than other women who marry at a younger age.
The only way out of this season is to get through it. As with any struggle, trial, or hardship we encounter, one can either surrender and give up or one can be an overcomer. Everyone has a choice to make. The same is true with prolonged singleness. Each person must be working against the tide, seeking God for marriage while actively doing things to better their chances of meeting a suitable spouse.
When I was single, I realized that I needed to be able to go out on a date with a man once or twice (or thrice) and be okay if he never called me again. While I feared rejection and viewed the lack of a phone call as such, I had resolved to get over this dread.
I believed part of my journey to marriage meant getting out there and dating, and dating meant the risk of rejection. I needed to accept this as an “occupational hazard” of finding a suitable spouse. Either I could continue to hide from it and risk not finding someone or I could put myself out there and not go down without a fight.
As such, I began to recognize the potential risks each time I accepted a date with a new man. I will not tell you it made it any easier when it did not work out or I never felt rejected again. But I was not blindsided. Furthermore, I started getting dates because I was once again open to them. In addition, I felt like I was part of the dating scheme-of-things instead of sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else play.
In my discussion with Louise, I learned she had similar experiences. In recalling her dating history, Louise realized she spent many years in exclusive and long relationships with boyfriends. Then, she spent a lengthy time grieving the break-ups. Much time was lost to this and it did not lead to marriage.
Louise shared with me the wisdom that was imparted to her by both her father and a friend: not every date needed to be serious. It was healthy to accept dates from different men for coffee, a walk, or an activity. You do not have to be in love or “serious like” to do go out for coffee with someone.
Louise heard about an episode on the Oprah Show concerning a woman in her mid-thirties who committed to dating 100 men with the goal of marrying one of them. (Ann Marsh, “What I Learned from Dating 100 Men,” accessed 03/02/2021, https://www.oprah.com/omagazine/love-lessons-from-a-serial-dater/all)
Louise and her friend, Mary, were amazed at this, and thought it would be neat to try something similar since neither of them had had a date in some time. Finding the number 100 too daunting for themselves, Louise and Mary settled on the number twelve and called themselves, “The 12 Dates Club.”
The two friends agreed that they each needed to go on twelve dates, with a goal of becoming open to dating without over-thinking it. The friends encouraged each other along the way. This mutual support proved helpful when a rejection came, as Louise and Mary reminded each other that “it was just a date” – not a lifetime commitment. The two friends were better able to move on and look forward to their next date with hope. Louise’s friend, Mary, met her husband on date number six.
Louise went on all twelve dates and described it as a learning opportunity and married date number 13. She even counted dates from men that she tended to consider just friends, as she had not been open to that before. If they asked her out, it was a date. She wanted to change her mindset, from having to see every date as needing to be with someone she was extremely interested in. This experience made her freer to accept dates, which was a positive shift in her mindset. This all helped open her up to meet her future spouse.
What mindsets do you have about dating and/or rejection that could be limiting you or holding you back? Have you thought about this area of your life and how it may be affecting your journey to marriage? Is it possible that you are fearful of rejection like I was, and it is keeping you from putting yourself “out there?” Perhaps you believe every date should be with someone you have strong feelings for or an “intense like?” If this is the case, what take away from Louise’s story might you apply to your journey to marriage?
Whether you begin to start dating or form your own dating club with a friend, always remember to exercise appropriate caution when going on a date. Be honest with yourself about your mindsets, etc. They do not just go away. Start out with a reasonable number of target dates. I really do like the number twelve which Louise and her friend committed to. Jesus utilized that number as well.
By Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2021