Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Single Girl's Manifesto

I'm not single but yet the whole "singleness" thing has been heavily on my mind and heart lately.  I can't even really tell you why.  I guess, as the mom of a little girl, I see the world very differently when I think of it through her eyes.  I already see a yearning in her for male attention and it makes me realize how intentional DW and I will need to be about showing her how to value herself from a very early age so that when she reaches the dating era of her life, she'll be well prepared. 
In thinking on these things, a list started forming in my head of things I'd want to tell her "one day" pertained to dating and choosing someone to "do life with".  I called it a "manifesto" simply because a manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer.  Clearly, I don't claim to have any professional expertise in this area nor is this list comprehensive. It's just some personal thoughts...feel free to comment and add your own two cents.

As I was considering what I wanted to write down, I asked two very close friends the question, "If you could have a conversation with your 'former', single self about what you wish you knew then about relationships, dating, men, marriage, etc...what would be the one thing you would want 'her' to know?"  Their answers are included in this list but this post is largely based on my own long list of poor dating choices, faux paus and personal transgressions.   
The Single Girl's Manifesto

1. Be yourself… Like, your real no-holding-back self.  If they don't like you, so what?  There will be someone else who will.  Worry less about making an impression on someone and more about just being "you".  It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.   Honestly, this is a mistake I made frequently when dating.  I wasn't  NOT myself in the sense that I pretended to be something I wasn't but I let the idea someone might not like the real me affect my ability to just have fun and enjoy the process.  Bottom line, I cared too much about what people thought about me instead of focusing on evaluating them thoroughly. 
2. Be honest and expect honesty back.  I feel like this one is self-explanatory but, again, it needs to be said.  I think too many times people are afraid to offend in the dating process or be open about their values, standards, and expectations about life, love, etc but, if more people were, maybe there would be less divorce.  Dating should be a process of elimination.  Eliminate wisely and don't let it rock your value when others do the same.

3. Learn to be alone with (and actually like) yourself.  Again, another failure on my part.  Sometimes I wonder how I'm ever going to be able to encourage my daughter to do this when I was so horrible at it myself.  I feel hypocritical, in a sense, because I didn't learn to love myself until much later in life and I'm still working on it.  But if, for a moment, I could live by the principle of "do as I say, not as I did", it would be to encourage this:

Don't be afraid to be single. Don't be afraid to be a little bored or feel a little lonely.  Instead of looking for someone (anyone) to be your crash pad, find other things besides a relationship to try and/or embrace.  Try something new.  Check off some "bucket list" items.   Even if you don't necessarily want to do them by yourself, do them. If nothing else, it will make you more interesting to talk to and get to know. 
4.  Choosing to be single for a season doesn't mean you are completely missing your chance.   Don't get me wrong, I know there are women who feel like they might have missed their chance and I'm not minimizing or belittling their single status.  I don't know that pain.  What I'm referring to is a short season to just be independent, self-contained, and to figure out how to do #3. 

5.  Just because you're attracted to someone don't mean they should be let into your life...or your heart.   Even if you are inexplicably, insanely, incredibly attracted to someone, ironically, it doesn't mean that you should be with them. Especially… Especially… Especially…(are you getting this?) if it is mostly based on physical attraction.  Looks fade and sex is like lighter makes things burn bright and hot but if the slow-burning embers aren't there...your fire will die.  It's only a matter of time.  If you don't actually LIKE the person as a person, hit the road, Jack. 
6. Have a "no compromise" list. I'm not talking about a long list of superficial physical qualities or personal attributes that you impose on someone or that you can't look beyond. I am talking about some issues that you absolutely can't bend on because they are "core values" that reach to your very soul.  If someone has any of your "no compromise" just that, don't compromise. 
7. Be smart. If you start recognizing the signs that it's highly unlikely to work, jump ship before you get your feelings deeply involved. Too often, I think women keep trying to make something work that deep down they know they shouldn't. Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole. That's just begging for a broken heart down the road. You'll end up kicking yourself for not going with your gut back when.
8. What you feel early on aren't real feelings, it's emotional adrenaline.  It's too easy to confuse infatuation and those "new" feelings that you have when dating with something more permanent.  Those fluttery, excited feelings you get when you are getting to know someone shouldn't be confused with the verb "love".  Love is an action, not just a feeling.   

9. Let yourself be pursued.  Don't do his "job" for him.  I'm not saying play games at all...but what I am saying is not to be the one to initiate every conversation or meet up.  Don't always be the first one to reach out.  Let him seek you out.  Let him romance you.  I'm afraid women in this world have forgotten how to let themselves be romanced and I'm more afraid men are forgetting how to do it because they aren't really expected to anymore.
10. Less is more early on.  Don't rush the process.  Enjoy it.  Don't wait by the phone for him to text or call.  Don't not do things you want to do or cancel plans with friends to accommodate his schedule.  Live your life authentically and thoroughly.  Don't make him more important than you and don't treat him as less important than you.  Simply, keep on running your race and let him come alongside you. 
11. Dating should be the easy part. Newsflash: there are no trophies awarded for making a dating relationship work.  Again, as I said before, dating is an elimination process and not everyone deserves to make the cut.  In fact, only one person can make that final cut.  I've done it myself and I've seen others continue a relationship that isn't healthy nor fulfilling.  Marriage is (or should be) a lifelong commitment and it's very hard work at times.  If your dating experience with someone is difficult or conflict-filled, consider there is a reason for it and recognize it doesn't get any easier. 

12. Break the technology bond.  Can you "do life" well face to face?  Sure, texting can be flirty and cute and fun but if you can't have a real, emotionally fulfilling conversation face to face, do yourself a favor now.  Bail. It is simply a false sense of "intimacy".  This rule could also include the statement that if you find that you're checking your social media accounts on your phone more than you're giving (or getting) quality face-to-face time with him, you might not be that interested.  When you really care about someone (or vice versa), you listen with your face

13.  Don't jack up the balance of power. If he takes an unexplained step back, don't step forward.  Hold your ground.  Don't try to "fix" it. Don't force it.  Just be that real, authentic you and let him work through whatever it is.  If he needs your input, he'll ask for it.  If it's supposed to be, it'll all even back out but not if you start smothering him. 

14. Don't over think it. Men have compartments. Your compartment might be closed right now and if you act like Andi Anderson on How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, you're the one who is gonna blow it.  If he gets quiet for a couple hours or a couple days, chill out.  He'll be back.  And if he doesn't reappear, consider yourself blessed for knowing sooner than later. 

15.  If it seems like he's probably not interested, he's probably not interested. Don't overlook the signs just because you don't want to see them or because his lack of interest in you makes you feel rejected. 
16. If you believe you need to end things, go with your gut and make the cut.  It's a lot like taking off a bandaid...the sooner and the quicker you do it once its time, the less it will hurt.  And even if it hurts really, really bad, it will hurt a lot more the longer you wait or the more you drag the inevitable out.
17. Men are resilient.  Trust me, he'll survive.  Don't be afraid to do what's best for you.
18. Don't worry about some one's feelings that doesn't worry about yours.

19.  Don't be one of those girls who wants what you can't have.  Ever met the girl who seems to date the men who are "bad boys" or heart breakers and then wonders why they get hurt? It's very unlikely you'll be the one to "change him" and it's not smart of you to try.  Don't be that girl.
And on that note:
20.  If you play with fire, expect to get burned.  If you know someone has a certain reputation, consider they might have gotten it for a reason.  I'm not saying to be judge-y but I am going to stick with the fire analogy and state the obvious: "where there is smoke, there's usually fire". 

21. Be smart.  Oh did I say this one already?  Well, I meant it.    
21.  Don't start doodling his last name.  What I mean by this is don't start fantasizing about a future with someone before you really take the time to get to know them.  If you're so focused on getting from Point A to Point Z, you might miss a lot of things.  Namely, some very important clues about the person you wish you would have known.  Great that your names go so perfectly together when doodled on a piece of notebook paper but will your life be great together because you're equals?  Infatuation isn't the same thing as Love. 

22.  If you've ended the relationship, keep a mental list handy of the reasons you ended it.  Feelings are misleading.  If you know - deep down know - that you don't need to be in a relationship with someone, it doesn't mean that every last feeling will immediately go away.  Give yourself time to heal but, in the meantime, make a mental list of reasons that you ended the relationship so that you won't let your emotions rule you. 

23.  Refer to that above list of reasons as often as needed.

24.  Don't make excuses for someone and/or cross reasons off the list that should stay on the list. Come on, you know you've done it.  Don't start bending on your no-compromise list to make something work that shouldn't work.  You're asking for trouble and heartache down the road. 
25.  Whenever you go, there you are.  Don't think that a new situation or a new person is what's going to make you feel complete or happy.  No person can do that for you.  You can only do that for yourself. 

26.  Don't marry someone just because they ask. True Love and being "safe" are not the same thing.  Too many times I talk to women who admit they thought a LOT about getting married, planning a wedding, and dreamed of their diamond ring but did very little thinking on the fact that an actual Marriage comes after all that.  Don't let superficial things matter more than the real thing. 

And finally, one last, really important one...

27. If you have doubts, slow down and wait.  And if you have really big doubts, don't be afraid to stop.  If you think it will "be embarrassing" to call off an engagement/wedding or you're "worried about what people will say", I'd submit it would be about 1000X more difficult to announce your divorce.  And think about what those gossipy people will be saying then.    

In summary, Take your time.  Be discerning.  And, for goodness sakes, value yourself.  .Afterall, this is potentially the whole rest of life we are talking about here. 


amy (metz) walker said...

I love love love this! As a newly single again girl, I can testify to the importance of so many of these points! Great advice. Thank you for posting.

amy (metz) walker said...

As a single lady & a mom to two daughters, I love every single thing about this.

amy (metz) walker said...

I love this! I would love to have a copy of this to give to my daughter. Could you possibly send me this via email?

amy (metz) walker said...

Sure, if you don't mind sending me your email address, I'd be happy email is in the top right of this blog page.

amy (metz) walker said...

This is great--I love #10 especially. It makes your life better, and at the same time, there's nothing more attractive than a happy woman with a full life:)

amy (metz) walker said...

Thank you for this. I love reading your blog. You always seem to write things right when I am needing them the most.

amy (metz) walker said...

Love this and needed it so much in life right now :)

amy (metz) walker said...

I'd love to pin this for my daughter one day. SO GOOD! I love how intentional you seem at's how I parent too. I WISH my Mom had sat down and drilled this into my head. LOL!! But she could have, my memory is horrible. Heehee!!

amy (metz) walker said...

So... When are you writing a relational book??;) definitely sharing this with my college girls!