Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Dating Habits I Changed in My Thirties

  • Meg Gemelli Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Dating Habits I Changed in My Thirties

At thirty-eight, my friend Carol is finally making time to plan her wedding. She’s been engaged for six months, but she’s a busy lady—active at work and volunteering in a few different places around town. She’ll be a September bride; the most beautiful and desired month at the beach, according to the locals.

Carol and I know each other from the first gym I joined when my husband and I relocated to the area. We became easy friends in kickboxing class. The woman is simply vibrant. A mother of two teenagers, Carol spent the last twelve years of her life allowing God to mold her into the woman she always wanted to be.

She’d tell you without blinking an eye that being a single mom is the most beautiful, terrifying job she’s ever had. She also smirks at the admission that she wouldn’t “wish it on her worst enemy.” I’ve lost count of the conversations we’ve shared over cups of coffee throughout the years, though her lessons will linger with me forever.

As a married woman, I’m in awe of Carol’s stamina and perseverance, braving parenting challenges and the dating world—all in one fell swoop. In honor of giving voice to women all over the world like Carol, here’s what she says about, Dating Habits I Changed in My 30’s:

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/DS011

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    Slide 1 of 10

    When I was twenty-two, I met Brian. He was athletic and invited me to play softball in his office recreation league. Oh, the suffering! I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a baseball, but there’s no way I would have said no to those big brown eyes. I did anything I could just to spend more time with him.

    Then when I was twenty-six, there was Paul. He burnt the midnight oil working on paintings, computer graphics, and all sorts of other projects. “I’m really into your art,” I stretched the truth. I tried to stay awake to spend time with him, but soon realized that I wasn’t built for a third-shift romance.

    The pattern continued throughout my twenties—handsome, interesting men invited me out and I pretended to be somebody who could hold their interest. By thirty-two, God took a hold of my life and reminded me of one simple verse:

    “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:10).

    I was released from having to charm my way into affection. When I stopped playing the part, the right kinds of men began to take interest in the real me.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    2. I Realized Singleness was a Valid Calling

    Slide 2 of 10

    I never forgot the words Saint Paul wrote about believers choosing the single life, but I also struggled to accept that anybody would live that way on purpose. I wrongly fell victim to the lie that singles were the “leftovers,” that I was a leftover.

    These beliefs went unchallenged until I became invested in missions. Like a lightening bolt, came my realization that I could be completely whole—life brimming over full—with or without a spouse. My purpose had become clear and my relationship status didn’t affect my ability to carry it out. I was free to date, or not. And the freedom that came smelled sweet to those around me.

     

    Photo credit: Pexels 

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    3. I Prioritized Family and Friends Before Romance

    Slide 3 of 10

    Have you ever heard the phrase, “sisters before misters?” This silly saying became one of my firm dating rules. If I had existing plans, I refused to alter them to prioritize a date. I stopped hesitating to make plans with family and friends just in case (insert man’s name) decided to ask me out. I filled my life with forever-relationships, instead of rolling the dice on “Mr. Maybe.” It was one of the best mind-shifts I made.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    4. I Became Financially Stable

    Slide 4 of 10

    In my thirties, I learned to stand on my own two feet—applying God’s principles to my finances. No longer would the temptation of resources determine what type of man I would allow to pursue me. 

    In doing so, I became neither a drain nor an insecure partner in my relationship. My provision came from God, therefore freeing up my dating partners to enjoy our time together, without any expectation of having to provide. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    5. I Learned to Say No

    Slide 5 of 10

    No, I’m sorry but I don’t believe that. No, I don’t think that if I took my clothes off with you, our two-week relationship would be enhanced. No, I’m not interested in meeting your parents—I’m not ready. No, I’m not comfortable with you spending time with my kids yet.

    In my twenties, I was afraid to assert my convictions for fear that men would leave me. But even when I sacrificed my beliefs for the sake of connection, many of them took off anyway. In my thirties, the acceptance of who I was in Christ and my security in solid, healthy relationships allowed me to set important boundaries. It was a God-empowered experience to say “No” to decisions that weren’t right for me.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/SIphotography

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    6. I Chose Healthy Over Right Now

    Slide 6 of 10

    In both my twenties and my thirties, there were and still are an abundance of “right now” types of men and women in my life. Right now, I could date guys who are addicted to alcohol and various other vices. I could date ones who treat their bodies poorly, or others who refuse to acknowledge the lingering pain of their years-ago divorce. 

    In dating, there are constant opportunities to become committed to partners who aren’t making healthy decisions for their lives. The temptation to rush into those types of commitments is rooted in nothing except the fear of being alone, the fear of the ticking clock, and the fear that the dating pool has gone dry. Those lies come straight from the pits of hell and the Enemy rejoices every time a son or daughter falls victim to them. 

    No more, brothers and sisters. In my thirties, I choose healthy over right now.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/maurusone

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    7. I Stopped Judging

    Slide 7 of 10

    I was really prideful in my teens and twenties. I told people all about the men I was willing to spend time with versus the ones I deemed un-dateable. Yet, here I am, conveying to you the stories of moral compromises I made regarding those so-called “standards.” 

    In my thirties, I began to say “yes” to lunch with the guy I wouldn’t have given a second glance to in the past. I elevated attributes like honesty, faithfulness, kindness, creativity, and work ethic instead of appearance, social status, and charisma. 

    In fact, my fiancé wasn’t even a perfect fit on paper. I’m thankful that we had that first cup of coffee together anyway. There was so much more to him than I could have imagined. He’s a gift given by the God of discipline who taught me to get over my preconceived notions of others.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/SIphotography

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    8. I Sought Wise Counsel

    Slide 8 of 10

    If you’d told me that Brian was a terrible match for me at age twenty-two, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, a few of my friends didn’t even like him very much. They told me that he was arrogant and that, even though he claimed to be a believer, they didn’t see much faith in Brian’s daily routine. 

    Back then, my emotions clouded judgment and my ability to receive wise counsel. The shortsightedness of my youth was detrimental, but I see the truth now. In my thirties, I sought advice from trusted family and friends—early and often. God used my loved ones to boost my spiritual discernment and to save me from a slew of unhealthy relationships.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/digitalskillet

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    9. I Looked for Men with Similar Interests

    Slide 9 of 10

    When the emotional fires of new romance die down, we’re left with two people sitting on a couch, asking each other “what should we do this weekend?” Is one of you going to watch football while the other frequents outdoor concerts and 5K runs? Does one prefer a quiet night as the other invites a host of friends to tag along? 

    These are conversations that I began to initiate in my thirties. It helped me to find a partner who wanted to live a similar lifestyle as me. People who neglect to negotiate these choices find themselves in frequent conflict.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. I Stopped Playing a Part

    10. I Took Risks

    Slide 10 of 10

    In the past eight years, I’ve travelled to multiple states and even to other countries. I’ve also assumed responsibility in local ministries, I’ve parented two beautiful young people, and I’m currently teaching them to listen first to the voice of God, rather than all the other voices of influence surrounding them. 

    Because I didn’t settle for a partner who doesn’t understand the thrill of a God-led life, I’ve experienced the most amazing people and places. 

    I pray that you too will grasp hold of everything that God has promised for your own life. I certainly haven’t done dating perfectly, but in all those things, God has worked for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose. Amen.

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

     

    Meg Gemelli—Writer. Marriage and Family Therapist. #Boymom. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook, but still winning at "wife." Visit theGrittyPearl.com to join conversations on faith and family.