Dating In Community Is Risky: Part 1

30 May

This is what dating in community feels like sometimes. Can you relate?

Dating in community is always a risk. Let me repeat that. Dating in community is RISKY. Always. Why is that the case? Because we as humans are flawed. We sin. We mess up. We are impatient and selfish. We often don’t want to face our deepest fears. The “maybe this will happen” and “what if that will happen” scenarios always creep in.

Sometimes we aren’t mature enough to handle the ramifications of breaking up in community and neither is the person we’ve dated. I have been that not-so-mature person several times. I’m still trying to figure out and pray through how to want the best for the people I’ve dated in my community in the past. It’s a process that doesn’t just magically happen.  For me it’s been being intentional in the decisions I make, the words I use, the thoughts I allow myself to sit in, and the feelings that I act on or have to give to God.  I am still trying to walk this out. It’s a difficult process.  But once I made the decision to walk out what it looks like to date, break up, and stay in my community and advocate for healthy dating patterns amongst my friends and peers, my life has not been the same. I say this to encourage people who are not sure that this can be done that it indeed can and it is in my community amongst me and several of my friends.

Ideally, it would be great to not have to see the person you’ve dated after you break up. In one book I’ve read about breakups, they call this the 60 day he-tox or she-tox. The author contends that if you don’t see the person for 60 days, it’s much easier to get over that person.  I tend to agree (as I’ve done that in the past) but in a Christian context where we are called to love one another despite the costs (Jesus says to his disciples, “ Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”) and when we’re so rooted in the communities we’ve worked for, invested in, and risked to build, leaving them seems out of the question.

I’ve noticed that when I date and then break up in community, I’m immediately tested and have to live out what that means.  In the most honest version of my story, I’ve done this so poorly in the past that I’ve almost lost friends over it.  I left a church because of it. I cut myself off from considering dating again in my past community after these bad experiences. The awkwardness has overcome me at times and all of my deepest fears came to fruition.  He dated again after me. He married the person I watched him bring to church. He moved on. Without me.  But the truth of the matter is, so did I. Yes it was incredibly hard to grieve that loss, but

the fact of the matter is this: I’ve dated in the context of communities and the relationships haven’t worked out but I would still much rather date in my community than date anywhere else. 

That’s why I want to advocate for this! I’ve been there and it hasn’t worked. I’ve also been there and am now doing my best to walk out what it looks like to stay in a community where I’ve dated someone for more than a year and am no longer with him.

So why am I advocating for this? Why am I so passionate about creating a community where dating can be done from start to finish in a healthy way, where we can want the best for the people we’ve dated and for our friends?   To be continued in Part 2…

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