Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Love Comes Around

image by StuartMiles/freedigitalphotos.net

image by StuartMiles/freedigitalphotos.net

This has been an eventful week in the lives of my friends.

One friend, a 40-something who started dating very late in life, has been seeing her guy for two years. This week they sent out the Save the Dates. She met him at church. He is older, a young Christian, physically not “her type,” and generally not anything like what she thought she might be looking for. But he gives her the kind of good love for which we have spent years praying.

Another friend, who is closing in on 40, has been dating her guy for a month.  After a very sweet and thoughtful thing he did, she realized she has found the man who may be the man she will spend the rest of her life with here on earth.  Bonus–he feels the same. She met him on Tinder (which, it turns out, is not just for hookups), after a series of dates with other people that were duds. He’s a couple of years older than she is, has never been married and has no children. He’s not single because he’s got a ton of issues, but rather because he took extended time to not date while he worked on his issues. My friend had no idea such a man existed.

A different friend in her late-40s came to the realization that the guy she has been seeing–who does things like drive down from Richmond to Durham on the weekends and sleep at her friends’ home to safeguard her reputation–is a keeper. She is afraid of the finality of marriage but wants to love him more than she wants to remain in her zone of safety. After much patience on his part, she is letting him know she is ready to commit. They met on Christian Mingle and have been together for three years. In age, temperament and education, he is totally different than the man she imagined God might have for her.

My roommate, who is in her early 30s, has never been on an official date. Naturally, I have been her biggest encourager to break that habit sooner rather than later. She’s been feeling confident and beautiful lately and this week decided to join an online dating site for the first time ever–which she previously swore was not for her. Within one day she had made contact with a suitable man who immediately locked in a date with her five days in the future. I assured her it was very rare indeed for an online suitor to be that direct and intentional about getting together. In a matter of hours now, she will have crossed the dating line and begun life’s great adventure–the search for a healthy loving relationship with another.

Being a woman who loves love, I am elated by all the love blossoming around me. It encourages me to live with expectancy. Love is there to be found in many different places, on many different websites and in many different guises. Oh, for the openness, courage and resilience to continue to look for it.

What love stories have encouraged you most recently?

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Words Aptly Spoken

image courtesy of boy kung/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of boy kung/freedigitalphotos.net

It took a couple of weeks, but a date, an actual in-person dinner-date, resulted from my online dating escapades. The date was casual and relaxed. We talked for hours and hours. I had a great time.

My date seemed to like me a lot. He seemed to want something serious. He seemed eager to move forward. I felt less eager. He didn’t have much to say about the deeper things of life–God and the Spirit and such.

Over the next few days we talked. It was uplifting and revelatory to talk to him. I loved how direct he was in our conversation.

He told me I was not only beautiful but intelligent, funny, sexy and a good woman.

“You don’t even know …” he marveled.

“Know what?” I asked in puzzlement.

I told him he seemed more serious than I wanted to be right now.

He responded that women almost never said those words to him. He could move slow. He could be a friend. He could be whatever I needed him to be right now.

I said I felt slightly pressured by his intensity.

He said he meets a lot of women who are interested in him, but he does not share their interest. If he seems intense it’s because he likes me. I excite him.

“You are the whole package,” he said. “You are wife material. You don’t even know …”

I don’t know. No one has ever told me.

This man does not really interest me, mostly due to our mismatched spirituality. But, ironically, talking to him was like hearing the voice of the Lord.

As I foolishly continue to lament the loss of the love of the man I want and mourn with feelings of rejection, it is as if the Lord wants me to hear and to see something different. Despite the disinterest of the man I want, and the other men I have wanted before him, despite my long, hard, march of singleness, my worth as a woman is far above rubies.

God wants me to know.

God wants you to know, too.

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Have You Been in a Friendlationship?

In her new book, The Dating Manifesto, my friend Lisa Anderson talks about the friendlationship. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s when a girl hangs out with a guy as friends. They are both unattached and do many things that may seem like they’re dating, but they aren’t in a relationship.

 

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Oftentimes in these situations, one secretly hopes the other reciprocates their feelings and that one day their friendship will grow wings and become a relationship. We’re supposed to marry our best friends, aren’t we?

Unfortunately, the outcome is usually one person walking away heartbroken.

It’s easy to fall into this dating dilemma. I know because I’ve been there and many of my friends have also. Sadly, it’s not really dating. It’s biding time, and it clouds our vision.

Breaking free from this situation was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. There wasn’t anything wrong with the man I was involved with. In fact, he was a great guy. He was charming and treated me like a lady. He made me feel like I was part of something special.

All the while, neither one of us was telling each other our true feelings. He didn’t know how I felt, and I just kept hoping his feelings would turn toward me.

They never did. He eventually began dating, really dating, another woman, and I was left with the pieces of my broken heart. To this day, he never knew how invested I was in our friendlationship.

I lost a friend, but he gained a wife.

I did learn a lesson from this whole situation. It was a tough but valuable lesson.

 

What about you? Have you been involved in a friendlationship?

 

 

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

 

 

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Breaking Patterns

I have mentioned in the past how difficult it is for me to leave a crush. This happens because I find it really hard to douse the flames of love once they have been ignited. But also because my crushes continually give me reasons to keep hope alive. I feel hopeful but unsure. So, I generally ask them the question at some point, just like in elementary school: “Do you like me?”

Seeing as how I am not yet permanently coupled, you can surmise what the answer has repeatedly been.

And yet the confusing behavior from the man will continue after he has assured me he does not like me. My hopeful heart keeps believing the loving care the man is showing me, more than the words he has told me. My heart does not want to stop believing. And I can’t seem to break this holding pattern until another man comes along.

I am in crush once again. The man has said he does not like me, and yet he continues to act like he does.

This time it is different, though. This time I realize I do not like being in this place of uncertainty and insecurity about a man’s feelings. I don’t like this unprofessed kind of love. This time, my prayer has changed from one of hope to one of, “Move me on, Lord. Get me over this, please.”

I think when you are praying to not be a relationship with a man, a man whom your romantic heart cannot stop leaning toward, you have taken the first very big step on the road to being over him.

How have you gotten over a crush?

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Couplehood Hunger

image courtesy of arztsamui/freedigitialphotos.net

image courtesy of arztsamui/freedigitialphotos.net

I spent time as a guest at a friend’s home while I attended a church conference in Ohio recently. My friend, a single man, was an excellent host to me and to the other four people from around the country and the world who were staying in his home.

During the conference, we all went our separate ways, except my friend made a point of escorting me around since I had no other connections there. He sat next to me during services, ate meals with me, and made introductions that connected me to people he thought it might be helpful for me to know. Also, he drove. He invited me to leave my car parked at his house while he dropped me off and picked me up and drove me around the city.

I must say I was not unaffected by the time I spent in my friend’s company. Seeing him serve his guests and accommodate their needs was nice. Sitting next to a man in church, who excused himself to pray for others at the appropriate time was nice. Walking around church with a man, discussing the service and greeting people was nice. Being in the passenger seat was nice.

No wonder, then, that I came home and signed up (again) for online dating.

Hope lives.

What little things make you hungry for couplehood?

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Sometimes My Eyes Turn Green

A while back I had a guy friend—an attractive and eminently eligible guy friend—that I was absolutely crazy about. One evening a bunch of us went to our local hangout. A new friend—a woman cool and full of peace—joined us. Fun! When she arrived and took off her coat everyone noted that she was wearing a low-cut, red dress that showcased her figure.

Because I was in the throes of a deep crush, I immediately gathered that she came to hang out with us, dressed to impress, because she was as interested in my crush as I was. I was flummoxed! All kinds of bad and fearful emotions started to work on me.

I had to pray when I got home. I needed to regain my equilibrium.

Eventually, our little group became less close. Neither red-dress woman nor I ended up dating the guy. I lost track of her. Recently, though, this woman and I bumped into each other again. We eagerly connected on Facebook.

Image courtesy of graur codrin/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin/freedigitalphotos.net

Imagine my surprise to learn from one of her post’s references to herself, that red-dress woman is a lesbian! (Note: this is not a post about same-sex relationship issues).

I had to laugh at myself when I remembered how emotionally crazed I had been when I went home from hanging out with my friends that night way back, believing this woman and I were in an unspoken competition for the same man.

I find myself hardly any wiser these days, years since that incident occurred. When I am in deep crush, the slightest move that a woman makes toward “my” guy sparks something inside me that catches fire in my heart and spirals up like streams from a smoking inferno, all revolving around the questions of What are you doing here God? and What is he going to do here, God? Does he want me or her?

Jealousy. The green-eyed monster.

I have learned to stem my outward reactions as much as possible. But my inward reactions are another story entirely.

My strategy has become one of surrender. I surrender my questions and hopes to the Lord. I surrender the man to the other woman. Because ultimately, what I want is a man who is not confused or torn or conflicted about, or easily turned away from, his feelings for me. I want a man who desires to be with me, regardless of who else wants him. So as hard as it is, I surrender.

How do you manage jealousy?

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The Ones Who Got Away

Spinstered the Novel begins with this story:

Young Love

Photo by Susie Jarvis/Waterkopf Photography.

I fell in love with Lawrence Poole at the coy and clueless age of seven. He gave me a pink wildflower and a whisper-wet peck on the cheek after he caught me under the monkey bars during a lunchtime game of tag. In that moment, I was smitten. Not so much with Lawrence. Oh, he was nice enough and cute as corn. But the girl in me liked the boy in him and that was enough. I followed him around the playground like a homeless puppy, hoping for more. I didn’t know what I wanted more of. I just couldn’t forget how that kiss made me feel.

Three years later, Lawrence stopped coming to school. “Leukemia,” I heard Mom say to Dad one night. The next day, she took me to visit the first boyfriend I never had. He didn’t talk much as he floated in a pool of fluffy, white pillows, his skin blending in with the hospital sheets. I wanted to ask him why he only kissed me once, but the room was full of soft-talking parents with sad eyes. So, I sat in a folding chair by the bed and chattered on about all the homework I had to do and how I wished Mrs. Effelbaum would stop blowing her coffee breath in my face when she helped me with math. Mom didn’t tell me I was there to say good-bye. When he died a few weeks later the whole class cried. And, somehow, I felt more alone than ever.

***

This story is, in fact, based on truth. My first crush was a boy named Lawrence in grade school, he did get sick, and my mom took me to visit him not long before he died. That’s what I remember. I created the rest of the story for the purpose of fiction.

Lawrence, of course, wasn’t my only childhood crush. My first official boyfriend was Calvin in eighth grade. He had red hair and a quiet soul. It lasted about two weeks. Years later, I heard he had died after being hit by a train.

Apparently, I’m the Typhoid Mary of young love. As far as I know, though, no other object of my affection has passed away. Still, it’s awful sad.

I’ve found myself reminiscing about lost loves this past week. An incident at the high school where I teach triggered the memories. It got me thinking about the boys who liked me and didn’t say anything and the ones I liked but who didn’t like me and the few who asked me out, but I turned them down.

And, in many of these cases, I don’t know why. I sensed potential. If only potential had transformed into a relationship. Just once. Then I’d be married.

Of course, then I wouldn’t be here. Since I firmly believe here is where God wants me, then I also have to believe I didn’t actually lose anything. It’s pointless—and only adds to the heartbreak—to sit and ponder “what-ifs” and “might-have-beens.”

All of this to say, I hope one day I’ll truly be at peace with the knowledge that I didn’t miss my chance. That Mr. Right didn’t saunter through my door only to have me kick him out. That I didn’t wait too long or want too much.

I need to believe I didn’t thwart God’s plan. (Can God’s plan be thwarted?) Though I still trust He has someone for me, I’m free to stop worrying that he’s already come and gone.

Are you worried you missed your chance? What are your feelings today about the ones who got away?

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The Things You Do for Love

There is a phenomenon occurring on campus among female undergrads around sex and drinking. Some women drink alcohol to gain courage to talk to guys they like at parties. They drink a little more to respond to the guys so the guys will like them. They drink a little more so they can do things sexually with a guy that they may not really want to do, in order to get the relationship with the guy, which they really do want. But relationships don’t often result. So the cycle repeats with a different guy the next time.

Very sorrowful.

I feel these women’s pain. I seem to do things, maybe not binge drinking and hooking up, but other senseless things in my quest to get the love I want. Mostly I try to be in control.

I want to make him call me, so I do or say something provocative. Instead of just letting him call whenever, trusting that he will call if he likes me.

I want him to open up to me, so I prompt some kind of heavy conversation. Instead of just being with him, and trusting that he’ll talk to me when he wants to share if he wants my care and concern.

I want intimacy between us to occur like this, and not like that. So I fix firm boundaries and hold him to them. Instead of just enjoying what happens, as it happens and trusting we’ll work out how to honor each other’s needs as we honestly express our needs to one another.

I do things that do not ever result in a relationship. And then the cycle repeats.

Ladies, I am ready to graduate from this place. I am ready to trust someone to love me, without my helping them along. Without controlling them or the relationship.

What unhelpful patterns have you recognized in your quest to be loved?

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It’s Not Too Late

Kevin is one of the sound guys at my church.  I like him because, whereas others tell me to “project more” when I speak, Kevin tells me to speak normally, to not raise my voice. It’s his job, he says, to make sure the mic amplifies the sound of my voice—that’s what the mic is for. He is diligent about making sure my ear-attached microphone works properly on Sundays, and generally impresses me as the best sound guy we have.

Recently, I learned that Kevin—50s, tall, regular, not-unattractive, white guy—is single. He told me he never married and has no children. When he got out of the service he was 45, he said, and “it was too late.” He had missed his opportunity for marriage.

I was shocked.

My reply was that it most certainly was not too late! I told him he would be surprised at the number of women over 40 who were, even now, hoping to meet a man like him.

I’m beginning to wonder if there is some grand conspiracy happening that keeps singles apart from one another. Or, maybe, it is simply that we ladies over 40 need to drop more obvious hints when we are interested in a man.

It’s hard to believe, but maybe men in our age group just don’t know we are interested in being with them. Maybe they are as unsure as we are and need a little encouragement.

What has your experience been?

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Love Takes Its Time

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

After 25 years of marriage, “Rose,” became single again in her early 40s. She thought surely, she would meet someone new and remarry before too long. She is now 62, however, and a second marriage has not happened.

As a single woman, Rose threw herself into the work of the Lord. She is a children’s ministry leader and kept the kids in her church busy with lessons, activities, music and events teaching them about Jesus.

A widower in the church, “Gary,” would attend the programs that his children were a part of. Rose would interact with him from time to time. After many years, she noticed one day that Gary seemed … interesting. When she saw Gary next, at a children’s concert, she handed him a note: “Do you want to have lunch with me sometime?”

Sitting at the piano she nervously watched as he opened it. He read the note, then passed it down the row to the people he was sitting with. They all read the note too. Rose was mortified.

After the concert, she approached him and asked him why he shared her note. He said, “I didn’t know who it was for.” Rose didn’t know what to say. She let it go and went on her way.

That week Gary telephoned Rose. He made small talk for half a minute, and then he hung up. “What was that about?” she wondered. He called her the next day and did the same. Gary phoned Rose for five days in a row though he had nothing much to say. Finally, he invited her out to dinner.

Rose thought dinner would be a challenge since Gary wasn’t much of a conversationalist. But the evening turned out to be delightful. Gary brought her flowers, took her to a nice restaurant and revealed himself to be, in fact, a great communicator. He was engaging, funny and a good listener.

They went out again. And again. And have been going out for over a year.

She says she can be lively or quiet with him. That he’s thoughtful–always thinking about what she might need around her house, always picking up little things she might enjoy. That he’s supportive–willing to help her with anything she needs help with. That he’s a gentleman–always opening doors and pulling out chairs. That he’s fun–oh, the places they go!

I appreciate so many things about this couple’s story. Like how it took years for Rose to notice Gary. And I love that she took the risk of asking him out. Bold lady! I love how what seemed like rejection (and humiliation) actually ended up being something else. I love the awkward way Gary expressed interest and Rose’s patience in following his lead.

They are not married (yet), but what a charming, hopeful romance!

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