Over the weekend I had written up a blog that was essentially a 1,000-word rant about how I hate the fact that I have to do the whole dating thing again and I hate the modern dating culture. And I hate Church dating culture even more. The tantrum in blog form rivaled my 2 year old’s greatest outbursts. As amusing as it would be to post it I know I am better than that and my purpose in writing is to move forward with healing and hope, not to whine. So, I decided to shift my focus to a related topic.
I’ve already written once about how I don’t believe in soulmates so I’ll try not to repeat myself, rather, I’d like to dive into why, not only do I not believe in soulmates or “the one”, but I think the very concept is destructive.
Widows and widowers are often harshly judged because of people’s belief in soulmates. I’ll make it personal and explain what I mean. If soulmates were real I would have two choices and neither of them pleasant.
1. Jon was my soulmate and I have no hope of finding a fulfilling relationship ever again. At best, I can find a “warm body” to try and fill the void until I die.
2. Jon was not my soulmate and I can “move on” to someone else and forget Jon ever existed because I didn’t experience “true love” with him.
How would you like to have those options presented to you as your only choices?
Whether people are consciously thinking that or not, that’s what’s going on when someone judges a widow or widower for finding love again. They cannot believe that our hearts have the capacity to love again “so soon”. (By the way, no one has been able to find a consensus as to the mystical “appropriate” amount of time.) This whole issue is what led me to write the blog that led the majority of you here. The human heart is incredibly resilient and our capacity for love is without limit.
But this doesn’t just apply to people who have been widowed. The concept of “the one” is just as damaging to the rest of the population. We as a culture change significant others as fast as we change our profile pictures. Date after date, marriage after marriage all in the pursuit of finding that elusive “one”. We brush off the trail of broken relationships thinking, oh, well it wasn’t “meant to be.” Or we are too afraid to even start a relationship because we are worried that they might not be the one. What if miss my soulmate because I was with someone else?
This thought is prevalent in the church too. “Wait for ‘the one’ God has for you.” Is that in the Bible anywhere? Marriages were, for the most part, arranged back in the day. The modern culture of marrying for love isn’t at all like the Old or New Testament. God may know who we will choose, but that doesn’t make it any less our choice.
We handicap ourselves in relationships when we try and make the process of falling in love and getting married this intense search for the one person in the 7.5 billion people on the planet who is the magic completion of our souls. It’s a lot simpler than that.
As someone who has been married until death did we part, someone whose marriage overcame the looming threat of divorce and had made it back to love, let me tell you what I am looking for in the next man I marry.
For me, there are four essentials
I’m looking for patience. I’m looking for respect. Integrity. Trustworthiness. Loyalty. Kindness. This is a tricky one though because only time reveals someone’s true character. What you see on the surface isn’t always what you get underneath. I had 11 years to observe the guy I was previously in a relationship with before we started dating. You can’t hide crazy that long so I didn’t have to worry so much about him. With Jon, we had a decent amount of mutual friends so I asked around to see what they thought of him. I trusted Jon without question. While he had flaws, as we all do, the foundation of his character was never in question. Good character is non-negotiable.
2. Work Ethic
I suppose this could go under character but it’s important enough to me to warrant its own category. Marriage is hard work. Life is hard work. I want someone who I know will work beside and with me. Not just day-to-day, job-house-kids-bills sort of work, I want someone who is going to put in the work it requires to make a relationship thrive. The moment a relationship goes into autopilot it starts to die. Relationships must be intentional. How can I make the one I swore to love and cherish until death parts us feel loved and cherished today? What can I do to work through this problem in such a way that the end result makes us both feel heard, understood, and respected? It’s questions like this and the effort that goes behind them that make a relationship successful. But it is an incredible amount of work.
This is why I actually would prefer (but not require) someone who had been married before. I don’t care if he’s widowed or divorced, but I’d prefer someone who understands intimately the cost of marriage, the work it requires, and the pain of losing it.
3. Battle Scars
This one probably doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s essential to me. I need someone who has seen battle. Not necessarily a physical one, (though, who doesn’t like a guy in uniform?) but I need someone who has gone through a life-altering experience. Death, sickness, divorce… something. This is a need for me because I have to have someone who can touch my pain and not be overwhelmed by it. I’ve learned that people can only hold certain amounts of pain and I can recognize the ones who can handle the full weight of mine. Someone dear to me told me once, “you don’t need a knight to ride in and save you, you need a warrior king to fight beside you.” That’s what I’m looking for, a warrior, someone who has his own battle scars but is not defined by them.
I feel like, depending on what circle you’re running in, chemistry is made to be either the king or the servant in the love game. While it’s not the most important thing, it’s also not unimportant. You can be a perfect match on paper but if there’s not that mutual attraction then the relationship isn’t going to begin. Chemistry is like the spark that starts the engine. It’s not what keeps the car going or the part that holds everything together, but if there’s no spark there’s no initial movement.
While I tend to focus more on the spiritual and mental aspects of things, the physical nature of a relationship is incredibly important. Most people who know me know I’m not super touchy-feely…. but… that’s because I reserve the vast majority of the touchy-feely parts of me for romantic relationships. It’s a crucial aspect of a relationship for me… which is a bit tricky for me to assess since I’m a wait til marriage gal. (I was going to say more about that but I think I’ll save it for a future blog.)
While I do have other preferences, (older than me, stable job, takes care of himself, enjoys Star Wars…) those four categories are the main filters. I could build a happy, fulfilling relationship with any guy who can pass through them all.
I’ll talk straight with you. Right now, in my social sphere, there are 3 different guys that I would say yes to if they asked me on a date. Do I have feelings for any of them? No. Am I pursuing or sending “signs”? No. Do I want to “play the field”? No. But, if any of them were interested I would like to get to know them a bit and see how they fair in those categories and if something could grow. I don’t have to commit to marrying any of them to accept a coffee date. (or some other warm beverage since I don’t like coffee lol) How else would I know if there is a possibility of a future? It could be all three of them are amazing and I would have to simply choose. But in the end, that’s all it is, a good relationship is simply two people choosing one another day after day after day after day. There is no soulmate to find or miss out on. Just souls that choose one another.
Ps. Guys, please don’t take this as an invitation to go sliding into my DMs hoping to start a relationship with me. It’s just not going to happen, I don’t do long distances with strangers or guys I haven’t seen since high school. Just had to put it out there.
If you think you might have what it takes to be a contender and have actually spoken to me *in real life* in the last year you might want to read this first. May the force be with you.
1 Corinthians 7:39
A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
Your blog is incredibly timely to my situation and outlook on life currently. Wow. Send the whining one thru too, I bet I would enjoy it!
Erica, I wish you much luck with finding a new man. I had one walk back into my life after 37 or so years. An old school friend. I still love and miss my darling late husband as much today as when he first died. I felt that everything you wrote was me talking. One thing I would add is communication. It is so important. This is where we are having a couple of issues. Sending wishes for the Christmas season and may God lead the right person into your life.
“The One” is not something that can be defined. The one could be the one with whom you laugh the most, another you could connect on an intellectual level, emotional. I guess there really isn’t “The One”. I am 64 with three kids , two marriages …well my story is complicated and not one I blurt out , but I have been in relationships in my 64 years and learned a lot. There is ONE that weaved in and out of 45 of those years. There is an attachment unlike with anyone else. There is a generosity unlike with anyone else. Yet, my second husband and I became one. He loved me with a sacrificial heart, and that love resides in me forever more. I am attached to him in a different way. I loved him because he loved me so well. Love is not always fair or does it always make sense. I learned recently love is not weakness. It is strength.
Good thoughts, and I agree. I’d still like to see your rant. 😉
Blessings as you journey onwards
This was so timely for me, Erica! Thank you! It’s been nearly 14 months since I lost my husband, and I actually pulled up match.com yesterday. I agree with all of your criteria, and that you can have more than one soulmate. I’m in no hurry, but it would be nice to go out on a date. We’ll see…
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Doolin didn’t work out? I’m sorry. Dating is so hard. I completely understand and can sympathize with you.
A friend of mine once said, “there is no ‘one’, just the ‘next one'”. Lol. You won’t find the guy you are looking for in that wish list of yours, not because he doesn’t exist, but I honestly don’t think you are looking for him, at least not yet. Generally, people who make a list real complicated aren’t really trying to fill it. I of course could be very wrong. But if you are, take your time. No one can tell you when you are ready but you. Good luck. P. S. – Coffee is a hot beverage, not a warm beverage. That could be a deal breaker in the dating world. Lol.
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