We have a thing here at Bravester about exposing fear. For calling out fear for the liar it is. For the keeper of small worlds that it is.
Because too many of us have made fear a friend. Have made fear something you are comfortable with and something that you think helps you navigate through your demanding life. Fear is something you believe will help you control the outcome. (Like you can really do that?! But yet you think you can.) You actually believe you can beat vulnerability to the punch by being vigilant with your fear.
Which is why you hate dating. Which is why you have stopped dating.
A brave life requires vulnerability. Risk. A life following God requires vulnerability. Risk. Fear keeps our worlds small. Faith grows our worlds big. Plus the opposite of love is not hate but fear (I John 4:18). If fear is your friend, you will not have love.
What does faith have to do with dating? You can have a large life of faith and not date. This may be your decision—and everyone should respect that decision.
But if your decision is based on fear, it is the wrong decision.
What is your fear archetype? That is an odd question, right? Probably have never been asked that before, right? Didn’t know that existed, right?
The research saw it. A fear-fighter inspirer did the research, Ruth Soukup, and found seven fear patterns or fear archetypes. We all have friended fear differently to help us keep our worlds small.
You can find out your own fear archetype here by taking your own assessment. Get the results. Pay the extra for the premium results and learn more about you. Be curious. I believe you will find this all fascinating.
So let’s talk about your fear about dating. Let’s really talk as we see you and your justified justifications.
The Procrastinator – One of the fear archetypes is the Procrastinator. The Procrastinator struggles most with the fear of making a mistake. Because she is terrified of ending up with a wrong match, she finds lots of perfectly legitimate reasons to not date. You know your list of reasons for why you don’t date. You know this list very well.
Ironically this fear often manifests itself as a fear of commitment. So while you are making your excuses, others may be reading you as having a fear of commitment. Which is not true! You so badly want to commit to somebody for a lifetime! You dream of it. But your fear is keeping your world small. Your fear is holding you back from meeting that love for a lifetime.
Here is a truth for you: A failed date does not define you. That failed date becomes a “so what.” A story. Maybe a humorous story.
A failed date becomes a learning story. Something to help your discerner (part-brain, part-instinct, and part-Holy-Spirit) for the next time. Is there a certain quality about that date that you really liked? Really admired? A quality that you want to look for in your better match?
The Procrastinator will never have a failed date to learn from because fear keeps her paralyzed in indecision while waiting for the perfect one to appear. The Procrastinator ends up dating the Amazon Prime delivery guy because he’s the only one who comes knocking at her door.
The Rule Follower – Another fear archetype is the Rule Follower. The Rule Follower believes that following the rules—especially those ones she makes up to protect herself—will protect her heart. The Church, especially youth ministry, has loved giving out rules of dating. The intentions are good, obviously. But the Rule Follower has heard this message and is clinging to these messages to protect her vulnerability. She says she is protecting her heart but she deep down believes she is not worthy of a love for a lifetime so she hides behind the rules while waiting for the impossible prince to sweep her off her feet. The impossible prince who will make her feel worthy of her existence.
But this match is impossible because her perfect match can’t find her. She is hiding in her fear. No healthy match is looking for a match filled with fear.
The People Pleaser – Then there is the People Pleaser. Yes, this is a fear archetype because People Pleasers struggle most with the fear of being judged.
Dating sometimes leads you to make bad decisions. Sometimes a bad decision is the date you’ve planned. Sometimes a bad decision is your behavior on that date.
How many times have I said this here? A failed date does not define you. Mistakes are experiences.
Not only does the People Pleaser fear being judged, she also fears letting people down. So yes, a bad decision on a date could let down those people whose admiration you want. But a failed date doesn’t define you. And if you are making bad behavior decisions on dates those same people need to know so they can encourage you, speak truth to you, hold you accountable because they are for you. You want that kind of love from these people you admire so.
The People Pleaser also fears what other people might say. And truth be told, people—especially church people—love to talk about dating couples. So are you letting those gossipers stop you from dating? No. That is a ridiculous decision once you see it spelled out here but your fear (which lies!) has told you that your reputation will be harmed if you date too much.
Here’s some truth. What is dating too much? What is enough dating to stop those church gossipers to stop talking about you? None. They love to talk too much and it has little to do with you. They will talk about you when you have your third child too.
Do you see how this fear is keeping your world small? While you thought you were doing the wise and respectful thing? Fear lies!
Finding your love for a lifetime requires vulnerability. The script that plays inside your head that says others might not love you or accept you if don’t do things the “right” way will always keep you out of vulnerability. Your good match doesn’t want to date that voice. He wants to date you.
The Outcast – The Outcast is a fear archetype that tricks you. Because she looks so confident and sure of herself. But alas, that is the lie that fear is telling.
Because the Outcast fears rejection so much she decides to reject everyone first. She is doing that because she believes she is unworthy of love and belonging. Better to push everyone away before they figure out the truth about her. Because no one is trustworthy anyway. Because you can’t count on anyone. They are going to figure out the sad truth about you and leave anyway.
The Outcast believes the world is conspiring against her which is why she didn’t marry her high school sweetheart or why her last boyfriend cheated on her or why she hasn’t been kissed yet.
The Outcast is harsh, walls-up, and appears strong enough to know her soul. She certainly feels strong enough to share her strong beliefs and opinions everywhere and anywhere. But all of this is to push people away so she won’t be hurt again. The soul of the Outcast is broken having suffered very real rejection.
The Outcast is not dateable. But the soul in the process of healing is. That soul is attractive. We’ve all been smashed. We’ve all had our hearts broken and rejected by someone we loved and thought we would love for a lifetime. The brave ones heal (pain is your beginning) and try again. This time so much about you is wiser, wiser boundaried, and actually softer. That is attractive.
Fear lies and hides this beautiful growth.
The Self-Doubter – This next fear archetype reeks of fear. (Now that you see all of the fear archetypes, they all reek of fear, right?) It is the Self-Doubter. You are the one with the running tape inside your head saying that you are not good enough which is why you haven’t met your love for a lifetime yet.
Self-Doubters worry about being qualified or capable. So she hustles to try to fit in. Or she changes herself to try to fit in. Or she cripples herself and doesn’t even try. She is tired of herself all of the time.
To compensate she is hypercritical and judgmental of just about nearly everything. Especially of those who are going after their goals. Those who take risks. Those who are living vulnerably. This is her wall of protection so people won’t see how unworthy she is. She is snarky just enough to get laughs and some sort of friendships. In her pit of Enoughness, she finds that being snarky fills her hole of good enough and still protects her.
Who wants to date that? No one for long because there is not a soul here to get attached to. Whoever is a wise and discerning soul (the right match!) will figure out pretty quickly that he will never be enough to fill her hole of Enoughness. Sometimes “fixers” will try and try to fill that large hole and find themselves caught up in an unhealthy relationship. Hence why dating a fixer is not a right match.
The Excuse Maker – The Excuse Maker fear archetype circles us back to the Procrastinator. We are back to that rehearsed list you have as to why you don’t date. The Excuse Maker is a masterful rationalizer as to why she is still single. Here is where fear lies. You don’t need to rationalize being single! You are and this is a great part of life to be in! You don’t believe me? Read this and this. And also check if fear is speaking to you right now.
According to Ruth Soukup the Excuse Maker archetype is one of the most difficult archetypes to own and accept because this archetype’s default tendency is to make excuses that deflect culpability. For you to help see her, I’m going to flip this section to be talking about you like you are her friend.
She is a great cheerleader of you and supporter of you. Which flatters you as her friend but keeps her in her excuse-making for her own life. She is so hard to see because she is doing everything she can to not be seen so she doesn’t have to take responsibility for her life. She does not want the control of her own destiny.
The Excuse Maker tends to date “less thans” so she then has her excuses as to not date good matches. You as her friend know these dates are beneath her and this frustrates you so you try to coach her to choose better but she has all of these rational excuses and you end up round and round in this circle. You can’t put a “finger” on what help she would like from you so she stays stuck and undateable. Fear keeps her stuck and undateable. If only she would take the risk of dating someone more worthy. But she won’t because then she would be making a decision for her life.
Do you see her now? Do you see how fear is lying?
The Pessimist – The last fear archetype is the Pessimist. Some people have hard lives. Circumstances have negatively affected their outcome. The cards of life have been stacked against them. No excuses here. They have been. We’ve all had unfair circumstances happen in our lives. Some people have a lot. Life is unfair.
We all have choices about how to handle the unfair circumstances that life gives us. The Pessimist allows life to keep you a victim of these unfair circumstances. Fear is at the root of this. Life has hurt enough—with or without your fear. Fear loves this lie that it will protect you from further hurt. Like fear can control the outcome.
I understand why you fear dating. There is risk here and you’ve been hurt enough. This is where the brave dating team comes in. You already need to be surrounded by safe people. These safe people are the ones who can guide you—and buffer you!—from the risks that dating is. These safe people are the ones to tell you (often!) that while your life has sucked, you can change the way you respond. That you are in control of your outcome so you can decide to find your love for a lifetime. And that maybe that one guy who has noticed you is worth the risk. Trust your safe people.
Breathe, my friend. Did something here stop you from breathing? Take your breath away because it hit so close to your soul? Notice that. Notice when you stopped breathing.
Here is your start. Pain is your beginning. Breathe and acknowledge that pain. We have loads of real encouragement for you here. Dig in because you are choosing to begin again. You can’t unsee your fear now that words have been put to it. You can’t unsee the lies of fear.
Unless you choose to see and believe the lies of fear again. Your choice. We are praying for you to see your brave and worthy life—who will attract that love for a lifetime.
Note: Did you notice how each fear archetype has you waiting for the perfect one to appear and lead you into your future? Fear lies. This expectation is unrealistic. And do you really want to be swept off your feet without you ever risking your heart to be led into your future?
Are you curious about your fear? Take your own assessment. Continue the conversation with your safe people. Find your brave life.