Dear Bronwyn: I love him, I love him not?

He loves me, he loves me not (click photo for credit)

He loves me, he loves me not (click photo for credit)

Dear Bronwyn,

 

Do people do this? Do individuals actually message you with desperate pleas for wisdom? Or am I the only one? 

 

Apparently they do 🙂 So glad you wrote. And no, you’re not the only one! But take this advice with a pinch of salt: after all, you asked a stranger on the internet….

It’s about a boy. Here’s the story: 

 

He liked me, he asked me out. We went on a few dates but I thought we’d make better friends. We kept ‘just’  being friends, and he kept being interested (and I kept saying no). But, confusingly (!!), over time – I began to have feelings for him too. 

 

I realized that maybe I was just scared. Scared that he wasn’t the idea of a man I had in mind. Scared that he wouldn’t be able to lead me. Scared that we had different ideas of a future. And then I decided that wasn’t fair to him. I wasn’t even giving him a shot to show me. I wasn’t having faith in God, letting fear rule my decisions. So I went to tell FINALLY tell him yes… and he said no! He said (to paraphrase) my yes wasn’t affirming or enthusiastic enough.  And so he said no. And, though very sad, I understood that. 

Then a few days later, he changed his mind. But I couldn’t do it!  I just didn’t feel I could trust it. 

 

Now what? It’s been a few weeks and he’s moving soon – but I miss him.  I’m worried I overlooked all his wonderful qualities because I was blinded by my own sins and fears and idols. I’m worried I made the wrong decision. I want to talk to him, but I don’t want to make things worse. I also don’t want to drag him back into my own personal drama. What do I do?  I’m ready to move, but I don’t know HOW. 

– Confused 

 

Dear Confused,

Wow – it sounds like you and your friend are having a significant romantic comedy of errors! Shakespeare would have had a field day with this. Also, he would have pithy and wise things to say, in rhymed couplets. I don’t have any rhymed verse for you, but these are my thoughts.

It sounds like you and your friend have recognized something special about one another, and see each other as possibilities. Sometimes, the person we’ve been looking for doesn’t come in the ‘packaging’ we were expecting (this was my own experience, anyway), and sometimes Christian ‘leadership’ looks different to what expect! Maybe this is the case with you, as it was with me. I think it takes humility and courage to admit “hey, I might have judged you wrongly, but now that I know a little more about myself and about you – I’d love to get to know you a bit more”. I know I, for one, had to make more than a few of those apologies to my now-husband.

A long time ago, someone asked me how you just “know” that this is the one you are going to spend the rest of your life with. I thought long and hard about it – and this is my theory: 

The longer we date a person, the more comfortable it is to imagine yourself in the future with that person.

So, on the first date, it feels presumptuous to even ask about what the person is doing next weekend (as if you were assuming you would see them then! How forward!) But after you’ve been dating for a few weeks, you are comfortable imagining yourself still being together next weekend – and it’s okay (and not presumptuous) to talk about “our plans for next weekend”. However, it would probably be totally awkward and presumptuous to say “how about we take a road trip next summer?” Too soon! Too soon!

However, once you’ve been dating for a few months, it becomes more comfortable to imagine your future a couple of months down the line – and you can both see yourselves still being together in the summer – and it is comfortable to talk about “us” and “summer plans”. 

But you dare not talk about your life plans yet.

And then – at some point – you find yourself thinking “I could spend years with this person. A lifetime even”…. and you find yourselves talking about it. And its comfortable.

And by the time you’re teasing each other about how they will probably still be eating peanut butter sandwiches when they’re 85 – then you know you’re ready to get married. Because you’re imagining your lives THAT FAR together in the future.

This is my theory, anyway – and it seems quite possible to me that people could be at a different stage of comfort talking about their future together in the process. In my few dating relationships, there were a few fits and starts and miscommunications… but when both of you are ready to imagine the next step, then you take the next step together. I think the whole belief that you should just “know” from the beginning is so unfair to relationships (and the Christian version of saying “I’ve prayed about it”, and so now I really should just know is even worse).

Relationships involve courage. They involve risk. They involve failure… and restarts. Even the best ones. 

In your particular situation, it sounds like you both can imagine some possibilities for the future. You’re just both feeling very awkward and unsure about how to have that conversation.

Terrifying as it may be – I can’t think of any better way to do that than to be honest with your friend. If you are praying about it, and you value him – it’s worth a hard conversation. Worst case scenario – you rehash something you’ve already talked about before and it is awkward and feels yucky. But there are many other scenarios too: ones in which you get to affirm the good you see in each other, to confess areas where you could have been a better friend, and even possibilities where you explore what a relationship in the future could look like. 

I vote ‘talk to him’. 

My own relationship with my husband began with all SORTS of awkwardness and mixed signals and bouts of silence. I was confused, and maybe scared, and I definitely misjudged him. And I’m so glad we landed up on the other side of the awkwardness.

But then again, what do I know? I’m just a stranger on the internet giving free advice 🙂

All the best.

10 thoughts on “Dear Bronwyn: I love him, I love him not?

  1. Brilliant! And to the, “But then again, what do I know? I’m just a stranger on the internet giving free advice” …I can PERSONALLY VOUCH that she is NOT just “a stranger on the internet giving free advice”. =)

  2. My husband loved me for years before he finally plucked up the courage to ask me out. We went on three dates and I said thanks, you are lovely, but not as my life partner. 18 months later I realised that I was using him as a yardstick to measure all men I met by. That was when the penny dropped for me. I was still terrified. He wasn’t the image of what and who I thought I would marry. But God had a much better plan. It was lots of praying and little steps and now its 7 wonderful years and two beautiful children later and I know God knew best all along.

  3. Is it just me or did you just lay out a dating equation that went something like:

    T=3t

    Where t is the time we’ve been dating and T is the time into the future that is ‘in play’ to talk about? I bet Dr Lea could add some non-linearity to this and it would make its own fun and useful post – (though I know he’ll want to employ eignvalues, which I recomend against for general consumption).

    • I eagerly await a graph and accompanying post from you, Dr Gibson. Eignvalues and all. Because I know that for some (though not all), equations make life more bearable in life’s trying times 🙂

    • Is it sad that this was totally what I thought too? 🙂

      I’ll confess though that despite my love of simplifying all relationships down to math, it really doesn’t work here (coughcough: http://xkcd.com/55/), not that either of you are saying that. I had formulas and ideas, and then a mere 3 months into dating we were talking about marriage and realizing we were for real.

      My advice to Confused: it’s your choice. Either you choose to say yes, to him and his uncertainties and all the risks of what might be or not be; or you say no, to him and possible joy and possible pain, saying yes to different things and opportunities and people who might come along. We choose what we want. Hard as it is, the only right answer is the one you choose in your heart: to be content with him or to be content without him. You can regret or love either choice: it’s up to you. There is no “right” person, so it’s not like you can miss “the one.”

      Ps. So many of our young generation feel desperate, but there really are more fish in the sea. Don’t get together because you’re afraid of being single.

      • Liz – did you know that we got engaged after dating for 6 weeks? RIDICULOUS. But it was after a conversation where we both confessed that we were comfortable talking about the long, long term together, and picturing ourselves together then. Still the same process, just much faster than I’d ever anticipated 🙂

        (and yes! Such great advice about not getting together because of the fear of singleness!)

  4. Pingback: Pick of the Clicks 8/20/2014 | bronwyn's corner

Comments are closed.