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I’m Taking a Dating Sabbatical

Man wandering in the woods
Several months ago after turning 40, I challenged myself to go on 40 dates in one year. With the speed dating event, I was up to 13 dates so far.

This is the third blog in a series by single woman sharing the story of her goal to go on 40 dates in one year.

Here’s the best part about speed dating: If you’re a female, you likely get to sit at your own table the entire evening while every eight minutes a new conversationalist — or rather, potential suitor — joins you for an informal chat. It’s delightful, really. No pressure. And there’s no need to exchange contact information. If both parties are mutually interested, they communicate through the evening’s host, who later forwards info to each person. It’s that simple.

When my friend and I arrived to our much anticipated speed dating event, the host greeted us with a smile and sat us each at our own table. The reserved room, separate from the rest of the restaurant, felt like a small, packed French café. The host explained the evening to the eight women sitting at small round tables and eight men waiting on the outskirts near the walls.

His advice? “Have fun. Ask questions. Take notes.”

Then the evening began. After a few nice “dates” — I met a successful cabinet maker and a young entrepreneur — I met a man whom I knew I wanted to see again. By the end of the evening, “Patrick” and I both inquired about each other, and two weeks later we went to dinner and a movie.

Now might be a good time to backtrack. Several months ago after turning 40, I challenged myself to go on 40 dates in one year. With the speed dating event, I was now up to 13 dates so far. My reason behind the challenges was to face a few fears — my fears of dating, intimacy and relationships in general. With my second date with Patrick, I was up to 14. More importantly, Patrick and I seemed to really connect. I found him fascinating. He was an actor who recently played Jesus in a church production (and he was movie-star handsome).

My Way, or God’s Way?

At the end of our date, Patrick kindly walked me to my car, and under the moonlit night he leaned over and kissed me — on the lips. And I didn’t stop him. As it happened, I knew I was violating a promise I’d made to God; previously I’d committed not to kiss someone unless in a serious relationship with marriage on the horizon. In our culture a kiss is about as serious as a handshake, but for me it’s so much more. And yet I let this man I just met kiss me.

“Aren’t you getting cold?” I said as we were mid-kiss. We weren’t wearing jackets, and both of us were shivering.

“Yes,” he said, and the kiss faded. We exchanged our goodbyes, and I drove home conflicted, knowing I shouldn’t see Patrick again. Who am I? Why am I doing all of this? I wondered.

When I told my counselor about the date, she had compassionate, wise counsel for me (confirming everything I was starting to realize): “I just don’t think you’re ready to date.”

Based on both my date with Patrick and my personal struggles, she had good reason for her statement. “I really think you need to spend more time with your First Love. He wants to spend time with you. And I think you have been looking for love,” she said with a smile, “in all the wrong places.”

Scripture tells us “not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal” our minds. And as one Boundless reader commented on my second blog: One cannot renew her mind simply by going on 40 dates in a year. Reader, you were right. And so was my counselor.

The Dating Sabbatical

My relationship with Jesus is far more important than any earthly challenge, including my dating quest. After talking with my counselor and praying about it, I decided to suspend the dating challenge. I’m not in a healthy enough place to balance my own spiritual needs with my quest for marriage. While I know that we don’t have to be perfect in order to pursue marriage, we should be healthy and whole on our own; those marriages will be the healthiest and happiest. So I’ll start working on relationship with Lord and leave the rest — for now.

If you’re dating, I encourage you to have a strong relationship with Jesus, be regularly in the Word and have a strong network with whom you can discuss your dating journey. We need people who can point out our weaknesses, flaws and distractions. Now that I’m streamlining and reducing my distractions, I look forward to sharing the next stage of my story — the pursuit of my First Love — in my future blog.

Beth Ariane is an artist who enjoys reading C.S. Lewis, eating small bits of chocolate peanut butter ice cream and getting her groove on in Zumba class a few times a week.

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