Confessions of a Single Woman: It Was Not Their Fault
We know how the conversation goes:
"I don't have a man. Is something wrong with me?"
"Girl, no. Nothing is wrong with you. You are fine just the way you are."
"Thank you. I thought there was something wrong because I don't have anyone and they never seem to stick around."
Then the conversation continues with pointing out all the flaws in the guys we've dated and so on. Do you mind if I make a confession? Something was wrong with me and my singleness was/is not their fault. In the world of dating, so many times we like to point out the wrongs of the people we date. I came to the realization that I had to take responsibility for my own dumb actions. Take a walk with me as I expose myself…flaws and all.
Most of you all probably know that during my twenties, I was in an abusive marriage. I came out of that marriage with a very rebellious "get back at them" attitude. I sought to hurt every man that came my way because of my unresolved hurt. In doing so, I subjected myself to men who were smarter at "the game" than I was. In the middle of the game, I decided to change the rules. I wanted a committed relationship but with so much hurt and confusion, I was ill-equipped to make a choice for a mate. I was in no position to do so but you couldn’t tell ME that. I was the girl men called when they couldn't be with the one they wanted to be with...and I let them. I was the one who had intimate relationships with them with no attachments…and I allowed it. During all of this chaos nobody ever told me that I had a choice. My longing for love and acceptance made me feel and think as if I had no choice but to accept what was being offered to me.
Let’s fast forward to my thirties. While I was no longer giving myself away and allowing myself to be used, I still had deeply buried hurt but I kept convincing myself that I was alright. I thought I was okay to try it again since I had matured on the outside. I started dating someone who I quickly thought was "the one." The red flag showed up on the first date and more were soon to follow. But guess what I did? I ignored them. Why? BECAUSE I WANTED TO. Did you hear that? I said BECAUSE I WANTED TO. I convinced myself that what I was seeing was "not really what I was seeing." The desperation for my desire to be married caused me to explain away all that God was showing me—signs that I wasn’t the only one he was dating. I kept going, hoping it would all change. I was afraid to walk away and say "no, this is not working for me and this is not what I want." MY responsibility in this was to walk away when the first red flag showed up. I allowed myself to remain in a situation that left me with more garbage.
I am now 41 years old and still learning. My relationship with God has strengthened tremendously and with that strength came the revelation of the role I played in all of my relationships. The common denominator in those relationships was one person, the same person-me. Ladies, you can't short cut your way through this. God has to be the one to heal and restore or you will keep going around the same relationship mountain over and over. Until you fix your faulty system, you will continue to settle for the same kind of man. He may come with a different wrapping paper but the package contents will be the same. It took a while to get to this place of freedom and I am very grateful to share what I’ve learned:
1. Sex is for marriage. Period. There was a time in my life where I thought I had to "give it up" because I was trained with the belief "that's all he wants so I might as well..." NO! God taught me that I had a choice. I had a choice to honor Him by honoring my body and His commands. I belong to Him so I can't freely give this away. It's reserved for my covenant partner, my husband.
2. Love yourself. I did not say be a lover OF yourself. That's called pride and God can't stand pride. Most of us who've been battered and bruised in relationships ended up those relationships because we didn't love ourselves. We were looking for someone to do it for us. We cannot expect someone to love us if we don't love us. God IS love and until we allow Him to teach us and show us, we won't recognize it when it shows up. We will continually settle for the counterfeit. I allowed a man to keep having intimate relations with me even after he told me "I'd never marry you because you have kids." Love doesn’t do that or accept that! I truly didn’t begin to love myself until my late thirties. The love I have for me grows more and more every day. Loving myself taught me to choose God first. In doing so, I choose happiness, peace, stability, joy, and His way of doing things. I am not competing for the attention of a man. I am not allowing a man to TAKE from me. Loving me means allowing God to fill me and pour into me daily. No man can do that.
3. Dysfunction attracts dysfunction. A jacked up man is going to look for a jacked up woman. He's just going look for someone who appears to be a little less jacked up than he is. Ladies, hear me well! Please do not expect a knight in shining armor when your stuff is not together. Earlier, I mentioned giving myself away to men who only wanted sexual encounters. Some of those guys were men who had it together on some level but I never made it past the bedroom. I was NOT the one they took home to meet mama or to be introduced to their friends. I allowed it and took whatever I could get from them. My transformation took some time but I learned that I have to be the kind of person I want to attract.
4. Deal with your issues. Although confronting pain is hard and uncomfortable, it is very necessary BEFORE you enter into a marriage. I was carrying a whole lot of undercover pain. I was depressed, financially struggling, no self-esteem, controlling, and angry. I was looking for a man to rescue me from myself. That is not his job! I mistreated men because they weren't rescuing me. Ladies, it is unfair of you to carry all that garbage into your future. If you keep ending up with the same kind of man, please go look in the mirror. You're staring at the problem. So many of us have faulty systems comprised of wrong ways of thinking, believing, acting and choosing.
5. Know who you are. You cannot build your personality, likes and dislikes around the man you are dating. Nobody ever said to me "Tamara, it's okay to be who you are." Under no circumstances should you date anyone if you don't know who you are and they don't know who they are. A committed relationship is NOT the place to figure out all that. I often found myself changing to fit a man’s expectations because of my deep fear of being left or abandoned again. Now, I'm not saying be so rigid that you can't learn anything new but what I am saying is at your very core, you should know who you are. Know and believe you're beautiful! Know and believe you're special. If you don't yet know that, do not engage in a relationship. You will use a man to build your beauty, thus giving him the power to tear it down.
Friends, I've made a lot of mistakes all birthed out of brokenness. I talk a lot about being made whole. Brokenness corrupts relationship choices and behavior. Some of us have been abandoned by our fathers, molested, cheated on, lied to, abused and mistreated. Some of us have done the abusing and mistreating. Let's be real! Some of us are a mess and even if we can't articulate what we feel, our pain often manifests itself in our relationships. I made the decision to stop holding the men accountable for my failures. I had a role and a choice in those decisions. My ex-boyfriends don't owe me anything! They don’t owe me an apology or explanation. I find no fault in them! As long as you feel like your exes owe you something, you'll keep trying to make your current boyfriend pay a debt he didn't create.