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Friday, July 18, 2014

Is "Romance" a Requirement?

[Readers,

Like most of what gets published here on the blog page, I received the following email more than a year ago.  As I was re-reading it today, getting it ready to publish, I had some additional thoughts and comments beyond what I sent in my reply to the writer.  They will follow at the end.

Best to all,

- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

I'm am very confused.

I'm not usually the type to ask for dating advice, mostly because I haven't ever really cared to date.

I'm very independent and have always been better at being friends with guys (either being one of the guys or the girl that gives them relationship advice) and I've never minded that.

I like who I am and who I am has always been single.

I depend on myself and get help from my really close friends and family.

In high school I went on dates, liked a few boys and had one guy you could maybe label a "boyfriend."

That "boyfriend" is about all the relationship experience I can lean back on and all it was, was a few dates, we held hands once and shortly after I gave him the "just friends" talk because being a relationship made me uncomfortable.

I wanted to have fun with my friends and meet new people as it was my last year of high school.

I'm a pretty independent person.

I can be very reserved at first but as I get to know people I really open up.

My sister died some years ago and I've discovered over the years that I have a lot of walls that I built up over the years to protect myself from getting hurt and losing someone else again.

I have a lot of friends but I have only a few that I fully trust and feel completely myself around.

My first year of college I was pretty closed to the idea of boyfriends or lots of dating. I was more focused on meeting people and I had a guy on a mission that I was writing to that I kind of liked.

My second year I felt more open to it and became really interested in a guy in my ward (we'll call him Jimmy because I don't know anyone named Jimmy).

I went on a few dates here and there and finally admitted to Jimmy that I had feelings for him.

We went on a date but he was having trouble deciding between me and another girl.

I didn't like being treated this way and he lost a lot of respect in my eyes for some of the things he did.

I knew that I needed to move on but I wasn't sure how, especially since he is a genuinely good and nice guy, he is just an oblivious jerk when it comes to dating.

Well I was participating in charity event that went all night with some of my friends and Jimmy and his roommates agreed to come and support me (this event was really important and meant a lot to me). Jimmy seemed really interested and even excited to come. Jimmy and his roommates showed up but he hardly talked to me and acted bored.

After about an hour he left, without saying anything to me. I thought maybe he meant to come back, but he didn't.

His roommates however did stay, and ended up having a lot of fun.

One of my friends invited a guy (we'll call him Benny because again, I don't know anyone called Benny) to come for a few hours.

I didn't really talk to Benny for the first little bit but we started hanging out and talking.

Everything that had bothered me about Jimmy or that I had ignored about him was completely the opposite in Benny.

It was so easy and comfortable talking to Benny (which for me is saying a lot because I take a bit to warm up to people). I'd never felt this comfortable around Jimmy or really any guy before. It wasn't even hard to not like Jimmy any more because I saw what a real guy was like and I really liked Benny.

Benny got my number that night and soon we went on a few dates over the next little bit. I knew that he liked me a lot but I was still a little hesitant at first.

As I got to know him better I was able to open up more and I realized that I didn't just like him, I really really liked him.

The only downside with this is that school only had a few more weeks and I would be moving home (almost 3 hours away) and he would be staying there.

We kind of had to "rush" our relationship but for some reason my usual inclination to move slow wasn't there.

We didn't kiss or hold hands (we took it slow in that regard, mostly because of me, I wasn't ready to move that quickly) but we spent a lot of time together and got to know each other. We decided to talk a lot over the summer, visit a few times and when I came back in the fall we would see where our relationship stood and possibly put the official title of boyfriend and girlfriend on our relationship.

I moved home and we texted a few times each day and called twice a week.

I thought maybe conversations over the phone would be a little awkward but they were just as comfortable as talking in person. We easily talked for a few hours each time.

He came to visit me a few weeks later for a weekend and that's when everything changed.

That Sunday as I was at Church I felt overwhelmed and scared.

Thoughts filled my head and just became too much.

I didn't want to date him, I didn't want to see him again, I wished that we had never met, I wasn't ready for a relationship or marriage and a million other things.

I guess you could say I had a meltdown in the car with my mother.

I've never had anything like that happen before.

I felt a lot better after talking to my mom but I still wasn't ready to see him(he was supposed to be coming over for Sunday dinner after he got back from Church, he was going with an old mission companion he was staying with that lived in the area).

I hesitantly texted him that dinner was at 3 if he still wanted to come (his companion had late Church that didn't get out till 4). He said he would just come over later after Church.

I thought that was weird that he was staying for all the meetings instead of coming to dinner to meet the rest of my family but I was honestly very relieved.

I was still hesitant to see him but I knew it would be ok because I had never felt uncomfortable around him. I later told him a little bit of what I had been feeling earlier that day and explained that I just needed a little extra time and space but assured him that I still liked him, but relationship stuff, for whatever reason, was hard.

He was understanding (or at least trying to be, I know it didn't make a whole lot of sense to him, especially since it wasn't making a lot of sense to me).

He did tell me that he had felt very strongly that he needed to stay for all of the meetings and thought it was because he needed to learn something there but when nothing stuck out he was confused.

He explained that he thought that me needing that time and space to think must have been it.

Well he left and went back but things weren't quite the same after that.

Some days I really really liked him...and other days I didn't know.

Some days I really missed him and other days...I didn't. I was fine with not seeing him.

Some days I would have loved to be "officially" boyfriend and girlfriend and other days I just wanted to only be friends..ever.

I grew more and more confused as days and weeks passed.

The things that I did know were that I liked spending time with him, I liked talking to him, I valued his friendship a lot (like a lot, a lot. He's one of my closest friends) and I felt comfortable around him.

But my feelings, I had no idea about. It was a day to day, hot and cold thing.

I had to travel down nearby where he lived and was able to visit him for a day. I was a little awkward at first and wasn't sure why I couldn't relax around him, as the night went on I relaxed and became more of myself.

We went on a walk and he held my hand for the first time....and I didn't feel a thing.

No fireworks, no butterflies, no feelings of flying to the moon and back.

I know I don't have a lot of relationship experience but isn't this supposed to be a really good thing?

With the guy in high school that I held hands with, I remember feeling like I was on cloud nine that entire night...but that night as I was with a guy I cared a lot more about and knew a lot better, I felt nothing.

For the most part it felt comfortable holding hands, the only uncomfortable part was wondering why it didn't feel wonderful.

Later that night we sat on his couch and talked and cuddled...but it still felt like I was doing it more out of comfort than anything else(we had cuddled before in our relationship and it had felt completely different than this).

 Now I am just more confused.

Now I'm doubting if I'm even physically attracted to him like I once was.

I miss him like I would a good friend, not as one should miss a boyfriend. It would be nice to see him and spend time with him but I ok with not.

I don't know if I'm using the distance to detach myself from him so that I don't get hurt or if these are signs that this just isn't meant to be or we're incompatible.

I don't know if I should say anything, or even what I should say or if I should wait till Fall when I'm back there for school and we spend more time together.

But what do I do until then?

We still talk about the same but I don't feel the same about it.

Some days I almost feel like I was meant to come into his life to help him with some stuff (and learn something along the way) but that that's all there is to it.

But I know that he never feels like that. He really likes me and cares a lot about me.

I don't want to hurt him, because I care for him a lot and I know he doesn't have a lot of close friends.

I also know that I can help him with some stuff he's trying to figure out in his life right now.

I feel like I'm supposed to help him but I'm confused as to whether I'm supposed to be more than that in his life.

One of my old bishops once said that if he doesn't make you want to fly to the moon and back then he isn't worth it.

I don't feel that way at all.

I don't know if it's something that needs to come with time or that he's just not right for me.

I know this is quite the biography to take in but any advice?

Thanks,

- Very Very Confused Girl




Dear Very,

Relax.

Worry less.

Stop being afraid of letting yourself be happy.

Keep dating any decent guy that asks.

Realize that at your age it's okay to kiss your dates good night.

Oh, and you need to know that "romance" as it's defined by others, especially in the media, isn't reality for everyone.

People who think that the only kind of love is "Fairy-tale Romance" kind of love often find themselves either Old and Alone having missed out on several great Eternal Companions or Shocked and Shopping when the "magic" wears off.

One thing about "Shocked and Shopping" is that if those folks had been a little more mature and willing to Work at their relationship they could have had something great.

- Bro Jo



[Readers,

Okay, here are some additional thoughts:

1.  I'm very concerned about those of you that are afraid to date in college.  Even though an RM is marriage focused, that doesn't mean that when he asks you on a first date (or when she agrees to go) that it's a proposal.  I meet so many great singles in their late 20's and early 30's and wonder:  "how is it possible that no one ever snagged this great catch!"

The answer is almost always the same.


They were so afraid of getting hurt, or a relationship, or getting married too young, or whatever phobia they allowed themselves to be trapped by that they shunned or repelled too many people.  If they had simply RELAXED about dating and the whole relationship thing and been more open to being social  . . . well, you know.


2.  The writer complains about the guy she likes not ditching some of his Church meetings to come over to a Super Early Dinner.  Good for him!

I'd like to see Latter-day Saints stop skipping all or part of, Church because "family is in town" or they're traveling or they are on vacation or  . . . or  . . . or . . .

I know there are exceptions, but they should be extremely rare, not "that's the way we do things".

Wherever you are on visiting, plan on staying for the whole block.  Get to know the people you're visiting!  Enjoy the lessons.  Make a friend.

I think she should have moved dinner back to 4:30 so the guy could do both Church and make dinner on time.  Shame she didn't.


3.  There's nothing wrong with comfortable!  My gosh!  I really hope this writer realized she was making a mistake by pushing this guy away.  "Comfortable" is one of the best things one can feel in a relationship.  When we mature passed the "giddy" stage, when we're at the point that being together no longer makes us nervous and instead we feel relaxed and safe . . . Brothers and Sisters THAT'S what you want.  (And, if it means anything, I'll tell you that's when all of the kissing and stuff, when you can trust the person you're with, well then it gets even better!)


4.  I get very frustrated when young people, including my non-member students, limit their options in life because they "have to move" or "can't move".  We don't live in those times anymore . . .and haven't for a very long time.

No LDS Singles in your area?

Move.

As I've said before, don't just sit there and complain that nothing is happening where you are, go to where stuff is happening!


Falling in love with the person you're dating?

Stay.

Find a new place to live, get a different job . . . cut the umbilical cord and tell you're parents you're not coming home this break.  You're an adult.  Act like one.


5.  Don't fear being scared.

Seriously.

Some of the best things in life (perhaps all of them) require us to take a risk, to be a little afraid, to push ourselves to grow.

Everyone will have regrets in life.  Many of mine are because I did something or said something dumb.  But a lot of them are because I didn't take a risk on something great.


Just some thoughts,

- Bro Jo]

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I did this. I dated--exclusively for 8 months a guy who loved me the way he should have but I didn't love him the same way. I loved him as a friend, but not as anything more. I struggled. I didn't feel butterflies and all that like everyone said you should. there's a movie called Love Comes Softly. That's how my relationship was. He was a wonderful guy who had everything I wanted. A marriage prep teacher once told us that if we found what we wanted and then fell in love we would have less problems in this world. I thought that was a strange idea years ago, and i would have never guessed it would turn out that way. If you spend enough time with someone you are good friends with, who treats you right and has the right standards for you, eventually you will fall in love with them. That's what he said and that's what happened. I'm getting married in 3 weeks and i coudln't be happier, but we dated for a year and a half while he waited for me to catch up to him.

Nancy said...

Gah. Bro Jo, I emailed you a couple days ago, but here in this post. In the side note, your comments pretty much confirmed to me what I needed to know.

I don't want to miss out on something that could turn out to be great, just because I'm too scared to take the risk.