When you are meeting someone for that coffee date, you want to put some effort into hygiene and a cute outfit. Because you are cute. You will probably dress cuter than you would for when you meet with your friends for coffee.
Your friends get you “as is.” This new intriguing person gets a more spiffed up you but he/she is still dating you. Your whole you—even if only the good parts are seen on that first coffee date, and probably for the next several dates.
Getting to know this intriguing person is the fun part of dating. The assumption is you are getting to know the whole person—not just the good parts. Over time you also learn about the broken parts, the healed parts, and the parts which are in the process of healing.
Time reveals who this intriguing person is. Time may reveal that this growing relationship is not a match. This is one of the purposes of dating. This means that not everyone you date will the “the one.” Until you do find your love for a lifetime.
This means eventually your not-so good parts are going to be seen by someone you are dating. At least I hope this happens eventually. Because there will be major problems that will likely end the relationship if you keep only presenting your good parts. Major problems like, “If you lied to me about that, what else have you lied about” kinds of problems.
If you are only presenting your good parts in your dating relationships, why are you doing this? This is an identity question. Which also means you probably don’t want to do the hard work to answer it truthfully.
If you are only giving your good parts, I’m going to guess you feel like you are not enough. This matters so much in dating because you will then look for the “ideal” or perfect person to make up for what you feel is lacking in yourself.
This is not a good match for you. This is why you keep attracting the wrong type.
So how do you date “as is” when “as is” feels like you are setting yourself up for rejection every time?
First of all, every relationship you try will come to an end until you do find the one. This one is just common sense—which we don’t often think about. Maybe because we dread the emotional toll of the end of relationships so much.
Remember this. A failed date or a failed relationship is not a definer of who you are. There are so many variables as to why things didn’t work out.
How about trying to be “as is” in a group of safe people first? This is your team. This could be a small group you try at your church—or another church. (Search and find the one you want!) This could be your intentional friend group who all agree together to see into the vulnerable stuff of each others’ lives.
These people will help you safely grow and to become better spiritually formed. Exposure and influence to such people grow you in such areas as:
- Gain awareness of what you like and don’t like
- Define who you are and who you are not
- Develop your “no” muscle
- Stop blaming others
- Stop playing the victim
- Compassion for others
- Become proactive, not reactive
- Set limits and boundaries
- Choose and enforce your values
- Accept others’ choices because you can’t control them
- Realize your separateness and independence from others
- What is honesty
- What is trustworthy
- How to be clear
- Better listening skills
- Challenge your distorted thinking
- Challenge you to a larger view of God
This takes time. This takes your vulnerability. This is hard work. This is the beginning of finding your boundaries.
Read also People Are a Part of Spiritual Practice.
If you do choose to join a small group (this may be your brave decision because small groups contain people), you are not allowed to dominate the center of the small group so you can hurry up this process. You must participate as part of the group while purposely practicing the things on this list. This is why it takes time. The small group likely does not exist to help you grow. Though this small group will be the catalyst to help you grow.
Here is the truth I want you to remember as you put in the hard work and the time. I see your worthiness and you are more worthy than the losers you’ve been attracting. I believe you are capable of attracting more than one right person. And I can’t wait to watch you be this whole person who is dating whole people and the one who will be a good match with which will lead to a love for a lifetime. I see this for you. Because you are trusting yourself to be vulnerable to me (by reading, though we can get a Zoom coffee sometime) and the people you are choosing. We are going to find joy in watching you. This will be your diary of a relationship.