I have a story I want to share with you because many of you have a difficult relationship in your past, as I do, and I want you to learn from my journey – especially those who are on the other side of divorce and are considering dating.
A little while back I wrote about trying online dating and how bachelor #2 and I had some major chemistry going on during our first date but then something happened and we didn’t move forward. Well, I want to tell you what happened and how I handled it at first which wasn’t all that great and then how I eventually handled it which was, if I may say so myself, pretty freakin’ awesome.
Let me say before I dive in that I’m not saying any of these things in an effort to badmouth this man. This man will remain nameless and faceless to you. I am saying it because there are characteristics that you may come across out there in the world and I want you to think through how to handle men like him in general.
I will now be the first to scream from the mountaintops that there are indeed good, good men out there…I have met five in the past few months, and I’m just scratching the surface. But sometimes a man who is not yet healed is out in the dating world prematurely and can hurt you. So here’s my story.
Bachelor #2 and I hit it off. During our date, we talked about everything, including the fact that I had just been on a motorcycle date two days prior and that I had already agreed to a second date with bachelor #1. (Some might recommend not discussing one date with another date, but my life is all about full disclosure and I just wanted each man to know what I was doing for their sakes.) Bachelor #2 was cool about it, suggesting I go on a bunch of dates, though he jokingly said, “In my professional opinion, you can probably just take your profile down now,” as in, he and I had met, and there was no longer a need for further exploration. It was flirty and cute, so we wrapped up, and I knew I wanted to see him again.
He called me the next day and about a half hour into the conversation, he asked what I was doing the next day. I said, “I’m doing that thing that you probably don’t want to know that I’m doing.” (2nd date with bachelor #1.) And that’s when things took an odd turn.
“Wait, you’re going out with that guy?” he asked.
“Umm, yeah. We just talked about this last night,” I replied, thinking he was kinda kidding, but not really sure.
“Oh no. I’ve done this before. I’m not doing this again. I know girls like you,” he said.
Still trying to process if he were kidding or not, I said, “Wait, what?? I’m not a girl like that. I wouldn’t even know how to be one of those girls”.
“And you know what? You’re not going to be my girl either.” Click.
I stood in my living room, my mouth hanging open. What in the world had just happened?? I immediately tried calling him back (this is where my old patterns kicked in…I’m not proud but it was my kneejerk response, I’m sad to say). I left him a voicemail saying that he must’ve misunderstood me and that we had just talked about all this the night before and that I was simply trying to be a woman of my word by going on the second date with bachelor #1 but that I really did have more chemistry with him and wanted to see him again and that I really, really wasn’t “one of those girls” (whatever that even meant). I then received several long texts filled with putdowns about my character and questioning my salvation, with a final statement of “do not contact me again”.
I was stunned, completely floored. That evening and then the next morning, I recounted the conversation and read the texts to three friends. They also couldn’t believe that someone who barely knew me would come across so territorial and they all pretty much agreed that it was a good thing I was tipped off to who he really was so early on, you know, before I could get hurt. (Too late.)
But while with two of my friends, he sent me the first of many apology texts.
If I were one hundred percent healthy and healed and whole, I wouldn’t have responded to any of his texts from that moment on.
But I am not yet one hundred percent healthy and healed and whole yet, girls. And though I really didn’t intend to give him a second chance at another date, I also didn’t cut him off right then and there.
More texts went back and forth for a few days, and then I decided to take a break from men in general, pronouncing a no-boys-July moratorium. I told him I was taking my profile down and to not text me as I needed to think and pray about all this. He respected my wishes…for maybe a week.
By this point, I lifted my own ban on boys because, well, I’m a grown-up and I can change my mind if I want to, and I put the ol’ profile back up, and went on to meet three more men after that yucky incident.
So, I’m moving on and minding my own business when bachelor #2 comes back into the picture. He saw my profile was back up and texted me again.
He asked me if we could just be friends.
I said I’d think about it.
He asked me if we could go for a walk.
I said I’d think about it.
He kept texting saying how he’d messed up and failed me and God and himself. He’d text me novella-length texts. Too long for how little we knew each other.
And in these texts, he sprinkled terms of endearment like baby, angel, darling, and my favorite: you’re my girl. (Umm, no. I’m so totally not.)
But one morning I woke up to a few extra-long texts all in a row where he crossed the line (I know, I know…that one phone call when he hung up on me should’ve crossed the line…I’m a work in progress, people…it’s why you all like me so much).
Because in that text he invited me to go somewhere with him for the weekend, but then said, “I’ve made up my mind. You’re going with me. We’ll get separate rooms. I’ll pick you up on Friday night.”
Oh no he di-in’t. Did he just tell me what to do??? Yes. Yes he did. He had just inadvertently poked the bear. Beth was triggered and Beth was mad.
I responded with a ridiculously restrained message of: “There are so many things in this text that make me uncomfortable. I am not going away with you this weekend. I’m rethinking the walk. I’ll be in touch.”
By this point, I was just planning to ignore all future texts. But something interesting happened. I had lunch with bachelor #5. (You know, the one who ticked all the boxes.) And after that lunch with that sweet, sweet man, I realized fully how a man is supposed to treat a woman.
So when I got home from lunch with the sweet man, I texted bachelor #2 and said I’d like to go for a walk. He, foolishly, suggested we take the train to Chicago and walk along the beach. I said no. That we’d be walking on my street with my dog at 9am. He, foolishly, then told me to make it 8:30 to give us more time, at another place in my neighborhood, and he’d bring me Starbucks. I said no: 9am, my street, no Starbucks. He then told me I was killing him. (I was killing him?! Oh my lands.)
The next day came. We met on the corner of my street (don’t worry: he does not know which house is mine). I had Oakley and my phone. He said hi darlin’ and we got walking. (This man.) Anyway.
I led the conversation. “So, tell me, do you read your texts to me before you send them?”
He chuckled a bit. “No, I just write them, then send them, then delete them.”
“Hmm…yeah, well, I’m going to read you a few of your texts…” And despite his protests, I did.
Baby this, and angel girl that. And I’ve made up my mind, you’re coming with me.
I then said, “Calling me baby and angel and your girl when you’ve known me for five minutes: completely inappropriate.”
Pause to let it sink in.
“But telling me what to do: completely unacceptable. You are the first man that I have been mad at since my ex-husband. You are the first man to bring up feelings like I had in my marriage. I did not leave my marriage just get back into something just like it.”
“Darlin’, you’ve got to know I was just kidding with all that,” he said.
I just looked at him. “You get that this isn’t going to work between us, right?”
“Yeah,” he said, somewhat dejectedly.
“Good,” I said.
(Let me point out perhaps the best – or at least most ironic – part: my ex-husband and daughter drove by us as we were hashing all this out. No joke. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.)
So as we were walking back to his truck, he said to me, “I’m really sorry…this was all my fault,” to which I replied, kinda yelling, “I know! I didn’t do anything wrong!”
We parted ways and I high-fived myself all the way back to my house.
So here’s why I’m telling you this pretty personal thing (other than that’s what I pretty much always do):
First, if you’re dating, you must be aware that some men out there may treat you poorly. Some men who are dating should not be dating.
Secondly, you need to be self-aware that you might be triggered and to show yourself grace if you find yourself reacting the way you used to respond. This all takes time. Be gentle with yourself. And check in with someone else who is more objective to get her take on it if you need to.
Thirdly, though I didn’t handle it great at the beginning, taking that man on that walk and looking him in the eyes and saying what I said to him was maybe one of the strongest, most whole things I’ve ever done in my lifetime. It is huge for me to now see that, for the most part, I am not going to let fear or insecurity make all of my life-changing decisions for me. I am really proud of how far I’ve come (through Jesus, don’t get me wrong), and I want you to know that if you’re not there yet, you can get there. Jesus created you for wholeness, not to be freaking walked on.
Fourthly, for the love, DO NOT SETTLE. I almost – and I can’t even believe this – went out with him again. But I now completely realize that I would rather be alone than with someone who will treat me poorly. This is probably a ‘duh’ for some of you, but for the rest of us, that may be a revelation that you have yet to come to. In time, my friend.
And lastly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: THERE ARE GOOD MEN OUT THERE who love Jesus and who will treat you well. I’ve met a handful and I’m currently seeing one right now. (Yep.)
Okay, wow…SUPER long post. If you hung in all the way til the end, thank you. But just like almost everything else I experience in this odd life that stings a little or a lot, I believe God lets it all happen to me so I can turn around and hand it back to you sweet ones as a lesson learned.
You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. No matter what anyone says, no matter how you feel, no matter what your life looks like right this minute…you are loved.