Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not Alone Series: Casual Dating {freebie!}

Helloooooooooo! Hopefully, wherever you are, the weather is as nice as it is here in good ol' Illinois. Warm, breezy springtime - my fav.

This week, Jen and I decided that the topic would be a freebie! Whatever you want to talk about, go for it! Just link up below!

A couple weeks back, I mentioned that I've been dabbling in this thing called "casual dating" and there were a few questions about what this all looks like....so OF COURSE I must oblige ;) Also, it's something that I've been meaning to write on since my perspective has changed dramatically in the past few months.

"Casual dating". What the hey does that even mean?

I used to hate the idea of casual dating, mainly because of the cultural connotation attached. I took this to be something that's hand-in-hand with the "hookup culture"....and I'm not about that.

So, naturally, I rejected this as a possibility for me.

Additionally, it seemed to me that casual dating also meant that there was a lack of intentionality....I mean "causal" can be just that: no commitment, no obligation, no worries.

But I don't like that. I like commitment. I like obligation. I like intentionality. I like worrying....ok maybe not, but I don't like a carefree view on dating. I mean, there has to be a purpose behind every date, right?

I've realized that casual dating can be intentional and doesn't have to be just about hooking up. Not if you don't want it to be.

So....what does "casual dating" look like for me?

Ultimately, it begins with a certain state of mind. Specifically, realizing and accepting the fact that while relationships should be about discerning marriage, dates are about discerning a relationship.

It seems to me that anything with the word "discernment" attached is immediately taken more seriously. But just because we're called to discernment in everything doesn't mean that we can't have fun! Dates are really meant for getting to know someone and figuring out whether or not you want to pursue something further.

And guess what? You can get to know more than one person at a time!

I used to shy away from talking to and/or going out with more than one guy at a time....and while it's an adjustment, I have to say, it's actually really helpful in maintaining emotional chastity. See, I can't be projecting too far into the future with a guy when there's someone else I'll be going out with next week.

But, I think the attitude of casual dating can be utilized even if you aren't going out with more than one person. It's really all about perspective and not putting too much pressure on any one date.

I've struggled with investing so much of my heart into a potential relationship, before it's appropriate, that if/when it doesn't work out, it's frustrating and disappointing.

However, once I really embraced the concept of dates being just "get-to-know-you"s and not "omg-I-must-determine-if-you're-"the-one"-by-dessert"s....well, there's a weight lifted and it's a lot easier to be yourself. 

Additionally, it's a lot easier to be honest with yourself if something just isn't clicking...because THAT'S OK! Ultimately, if you don't fit right with the person you have coffee or lunch or dinner with, all that means is you have one less man or woman in the world to date and you're one step closer to finding your "one"!

Another question is whether or not this idea of dating being casual is discussed with the men I've been going out with. No, not really. I think the way in which I interact in a date, makes a big difference, though. 

If, when accepting an invitation, you say something like "That sounds great! I'd love to get to know you better!" ....and then during the date you actually try to get to know the person you're with, that's huge. But, I really try to allow the first few dates to be not super intense. My natural inclination is to want to know every single thing about someone....but that gives off a very serious vibe when you're talking about your hopes and dreams for the future or where you ideally want to settle down to raise a family...on the first date.

If these things come up, that's not bad...but keep it light! Perhaps hold off on bearing your entire heart and soul until you're in a committed relationship?

I think that's all I've got! At the end of the day, this whole living my single life became a lot easier once I truly, truly allowed myself to realize that the fulfillment of my life is not defined by my relationship status. This place I'm in makes it a lot easier to go into a date thinking "I'm perfectly happy with my life where I'm at, even if this doesn't turn into anything, I'll be in this same place, which is good." (those are actually the exact words I must remind myself of before every date/hangout/whatever)

Please don't hesitate to ask other questions or for clarification! I'm by no means an expert on dating, but I'll try to help however I can! :)

Link up your freebie post below!!!


Next week's topic:
Touchy Feely
Everyone has different ideas on physical affection in and out of relationships and where their personal boundaries lie. What boundaries do you draw or expectations do you have for physical affection in romantic relationships? Have specific experiences led you to draw these lines?

Please help Jen and I out by suggesting any topics you'd like to write on in the coming weeks!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Not Alone Series: Challenge Check-In

Hello!!! Happy Easter!

A few weeks ago, the Not Alone Series community challenged one another to take a step in growing toward becoming the people God is calling us to be!! Challenge posts are here.

Being the slacker I am, I neglected to write a challenge post. Womp. BUT I have been working on a few things and challenging myself along with the other NAS ladies.

My biggest challenge in single life is contentment and finding peace. Oftentimes this is due to the wall I put up around myself which incidentally blocks God out, too.

So, the past couple weeks I've really been trying to focus on finding peace, and JOY, in each day He gives.

I tend to steer towards focusing on the big picture of my life, which leads to freaking out because my long-term vision has not yet been accomplished and I'm running. out. of. time!!! But this is so dangerous because then I miss the day-to-day beauties. I can't enjoy the day-to-day when I'm zoomed out all the time.

And for some reason, in the past, this zooming out has caused me to be so focused on my end-goal vocation that I forget...oh right, dating has to fit in there somewhere! And honestly, I think I'm bad at dating. Not the date part of it, I'm fine with that....but the openness to pursuit, allowing the excitement of a new budding relationship, the unknown that comes with it all.

So....I've been dating casually. SO WEIRD, I know. Or, maybe not. But for me, yes.

It's been interesting. And annoying. And enlightening. I might write about all of this in detail someday....

But for now, dating causally has allowed me to open up; to welcome the unknown and allow myself to just be.

Maybe this all makes little sense, but for whatever reason, causal dating has brought me to this place of clarity and I'm at more peace than I have been in a VERY long time. Maybe ever.

It's taught me to not take myself or life, in general, so seriously. I mean, yes, the gravity of life itself is very serious. But focusing on the end goal nonstop - marriage, children, etc. - can distract from enjoying the in between. And the in between can be really, really good.

(It can also be really, really weird and ...weird. Dating is weird.)

So that's what I've been doing. Learning trust and finding peace through casual dating. Who would've thunk?!

How did you utilize the NAS challenge? Did you learn anything about yourself? Please comment or link up below!!


Next week's topic:
Christian Friendship
What does it mean to be a friend based in Christ? Do Christian friends hold each other higher? Do we let certain things go easier? Do we hold each other accountable? How do these friendships differ from non-Christian based friendships? Do the differ? Is one better than the other?

Do you have an idea or suggestion for a NAS topic? Please email me or Jen! We're always looking for new ideas!!

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