I consider myself an extroverted introvert. Having moved multiple times around the US (and at one point abroad), I’ve become very good at pretending I’m a social person (mainly because the thought of being alone terrifies me). But, if I expel too much energy in being social, I get burnt out; Then I end up hiding away at home for a couple days to recharge mentally to go out and do it again.
It’s similar with dating: I go on some dates, extend a lot of mental and emotional energy during the awkward “get to know you” date(s), and after a slew of non-starters, accept that I’m going to be a spinster (but not a crazy cat lady) and stop actively dating for a while.
Essentially, I go through what I call “dating bursts.”
After nearly getting mauled on a Chicago street corner by Dan, finding out that Sean was a stalker, and being told “I just don’t have time for a relationship” (by an otherwise great guy), I gave dating the proverbial middle finger and swore off guys for a while. Enjoyed some quality time with my (girl)friends, got more involved in my church, found an awesome new roommate (Sophie), and focused on starting grad school.
Life was good and I found myself reveling in, even enjoying(!), life as a single again.
Then we got new neighbors.
Now, Sophie and I lived on the bottom floor of a four flat building. While our apartment was fantastic, we were slightly jealous of the upper floor units’ access to the roof deck (a prized amenity in Chicago). So, when a group of new residents moved into the building, we decided to make friends with them (since we’d failed with the last batch) and determined this was best done by welcoming them to the building with baked goods.
Cause the way into anyone’s good graces is through their stomach, right?
So, Sophie and I baked up a batch of cookies and wandered upstairs to greet our new neighbors.
And boy was I surprised when the two guys who opened the door were extremely good looking. Because that never happens, right? Getting attractive neighbors is only something that occurs in Hollywood rom-coms.
But—surprise, surprise—apparently our new neighbors were exceptions to that particular rule.
So, Sophie and I smiled prettily at them, handed over our plate of cookies, and introduced ourselves. Our new neighbors, Tony and Aaron, must have been so impressed with our baking skills or winning personalities that they invited us to a party they were throwing that evening.
Of course, we went, we wanted that rooftop access, after all.
When Sophie and I returned we found the party in full spring. And, per most house parties for individuals in their early and mid-20s, we were in for a night of beer pong, copious amounts of drinking, and meeting lots of people whose names I would never remember, but for the night became my new best friends (drunk people are always so friendly).
Tony found me pretty quickly and told me I needed to be his beer bong partner (even though I warned him I’m terrible). Sophie tagged along (girl code and all that) and I spent the majority of the party playing several rounds of beer pong (apparently Tony was actually decent).
As Sophie and I left that night, Tony asked if he could take me out to dinner.
Of course, I said “yes.” Why wouldn’t I?
A few days later, he took me to a nearby Cuban restaurant and we had what I thought was a nice evening. We talked about our likes, dislikes, families, where we grew up (he was from New Jersey) and why we moved to Chicago, and what we did for work. Typical normal date stuff.
And while Tony only took me out that one time, that was by no means the last time I saw him.
Instead, my physical proximity to him of being his neighbor meant that all of sudden I became the person he called (well, sometimes he rang the buzzer for my apartment) when he came back from a night out drunk.
I had, it seems, unwittingly become someone’s drunk booty call.
Cause that so seems like something I would do normally, right? I am not the girl you call when you want to have a “good time.” We saw how that turned out for the last guy…
Sometimes I wonder why Tony had taken me on a date because I’m fairly certain he was not looking for a relationship (my first inclination should have been when I saw an open box of condoms just casually laying on the floor of his room – classy, no?).
However, I let my baser desires run the gamut. Just because I’m waiting for marriage to have sex doesn’t mean that I don’t mind indulging in a NCMO (Non-Committal Make Out) every now and again (just because I’ve chosen to abstain doesn’t mean this automatically shuts off certain functions of my brain – I assure you, they’re just as present as the average 20-something female). For about a month or so, Tony would show up in the early morning hours of the morning, we’d make out for a bit, and then he’d fall asleep on the empty side of my bed (I couldn’t for the life of me actually get him to go upstairs to his apartment).
And, I’ll be candid (because anonymity on the internet gives you the courage to do that, right?), this was a very despondent time in regards to my spirituality and how I thought my future was going to play out. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the fact I had yet to have a serious relationship (and in that vein, that I wasn’t on any sort of track that would essentially lead to marriage) and was terrified at the prospect that I would be forever alone.
Just because I have introverted tendencies does not mean I’m okay with the idea of being perpetually single. Even living alone brings a sense of isolation I don’t particularly like.
It’s funny, when people hear about my desire to be married and this fear I have that I will never find someone (especially the older I get and as I observe the increasing number of single Christian women I know in their 30s), they always tell me, “You’re still young! You’ll find someone!” (I should also preface this is usually said to me by people who are married—my single friends are usually as terrified as me). This may be melodramatic, but I swear the pool of eligible Christian men significantly decreases when you enter into your late 20s.
Because dating is different within the Christian sphere. The majority of my classmates from my Christian-minded undergrad were married (and at this point in my life many were starting families), so I felt I was somehow lacking because I hadn’t been able to hit these milestones at the same time most people I knew were.
When Tony came along on the heels of both of my best friends getting married within 10 days of each other (a story for another time) and these feelings of inadequacy, I was wondering whether the choices I had been making in regards to what I was looking for in a potential mate were perhaps too unrealistic (which they were, but even by my current standards I shouldn’t have thought Tony was a good idea). So, it is arguable that I made some choices that weren’t the best. This period had me scrutinizing whether waiting till marriage was actually feasible and something realistic in modern America (hint: it is). As I contemplated these decisions, it also made me think about what the ramifications of making that choice would be for me personally (which, when I had a good think about it, was absolute guilt at having given something of myself I believed was meant for my future husband—hence the reason I’ve remained a virgin).
Eventually, things between Tony and I fizzled out. I think he got frustrated that I wasn’t going to have sex with him and I finally came to my senses and understood that he was not the sort of guy I should be pursuing romantically (noncommittal or not). In the end, I just stopped taking his calls or answering the door and we gave each other polite (yet awkward) smiles when we saw each other in the stairwell.
Even though Tony was terrible for me (romantically and spiritually), I can say that it did put some things in perspective. I finally, without a doubt, concluded that my choice to wait until marriage was something I wanted to do (not something I felt I had to do) and I knew that whomever I dated from that point needed to also be a Christian serious about their faith who shared similar ideas on dating and marriage. Has this made dating even harder since I made this decision at 24? Oh, most certainly. But I’d rather be single and happy with my life choices than regret having settled for a relationship with someone less than I deserve.