Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 2: Expect Nothing

Scripture to reflect upon for Singles Saturday: Psalm 17:3 (The Message)
Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night—You’ll find I’m just what I say I am. My words don’t run loose.

How many of you often find yourself saying this to your friends: “He (or she) was so nice in the beginning. I just don’t know what happened…”? I bet a lot of you have said this more than twice throughout your pursuit of a relationship.

Now ask yourself how many people may have actually said that about you! You’re probably thinking, “No way! I am who I am.”

Well, that may be true, but we are usually never who we are when we first start dating someone…unless you date without expectations. Only then will everything change for the better!

When I first met my husband Jared, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of him. I was tossed between being attracted to him and being repulsed by him. (Sorry, sweetie…not that you didn’t already know this story.) Because we worked closely together for fourteen hour days, we had become friends. When he eventually did ask me out, I accepted but had no expectations that anything would transform out of it. The way I looked at it, he was a nice guy who I enjoyed talking to; if nothing came out of it I had a nice time with a good friend. Simple enough. Simplify your dating life like this.

The truth of the matter is, because I had no expectations about where it could or would go, I didn’t need to go out of my way to try and impress him, or hide things from him. I also didn't expect anything from him. I didn't put any high standards on the date. To be quite honest, I just didn’t care if something came out of it or not. This was an absolute first for me.

I have always tried to be outgoing, witty, clever, or cute, but most of the time I just hid the best parts about who I was so I wouldn’t be looked over so quickly. You know what I’m talking about. The things you believe: your faith, your politics, your past, your hopeful future. You don’t want to scare them off, right? Well, what if the person you are with is serious about you and truly wants to know those very things about you? Will you lie or hide behind some excuse or persona, only for the truth to be revealed after you’re married and they end up asking you, “Who the heck are you!?”

This is where a lot of relationships fail. We try so hard to be something we are not in hopes that it will make the other person like us, that we end being nothing like we really are. We eventually then become an absolute stranger after a few months into the relationship. You begin to ask yourself, “Where did this person come from? I don’t remember him/her being like this, or liking that, or disliking this.” You could go years into a relationship and say, “I never knew that about you…” And you begin to wonder who you’ve been with all those years.

Jared tells our story differently. He had really liked me, more than friends, for quite some time but was never brave enough to ask me out. So when we went on our first date, he had already known some details about who I really was, which fascinated him and placed a desire in him to know more. He was not afraid to ask me about my political or spiritual beliefs. He wasn’t afraid to ask me about my past marriages and relationships. And guess what? He wasn’t scared off by my honesty, either!

Jared needed to see the real me almost immediately. I really liked him after that first date, but I wasn’t going to pretend to be something I wasn’t in hopes of stringing him along. When the real me appeared, that’s usually when most guys disappeared! But Jared knew up front who I was and what I was all about. He, too, had no expectations, especially about hoping I’d be perfect. Jared loved me specifically for my flaws, because it made me real and unique.

The problem most singles have these days is this dreamy idea of the other person, and it usually involves them being perfect (whether you admit that or not, it’s true). No problems. No past. No drama. No conflicting ideals or principles. The fact of the matter is we all have those things! We will never ever ever agree 100% on every little thing. And if you are open and honest right off the bat about who you are, where you’re going, what you believe, and what your dreams are, you will know instantly if this person is good for you or not because they won’t be scared off by it…at all! And if that’s the case, then ask your date the same things you want to know. All too often we think we shouldn't know so much during those first few dates, but I believe (and have been proven correctly) that you absolute must!

Why start out a new relationship—even if it’s your first date—under false pretenses? Why begin something pretending to be someone you’re not just to impress the other person? When you do that, you will almost certainly end up three months later telling all your friends, “He (she) was so awesome in the beginning…” All the while, you, too, had started to be real and let your guard down a little and before they knew it, you had changed, too.

Expect nothing on a first date. This leaves so much room for you to be real, to be honest and to be confident. When you have no expectations, you release yourself from the heavy burden of trying too hard, or needing the other person to be something they may not be, either. Stop expecting people to be who you want them to be, because you just may find out that you like them just the way they are. I know I did with Jared.

ACTION PLAN: It’s important that YOU know who you are before you can begin telling others who you are, too. This is the perfect time to get to know you! Try thinking about it like this: what would you like to know up front about your future date/partner? Now ask yourself those very questions. Be prepared to openly and honestly express who you are because anything less is really a lie that you are trying to sell to the other person. Don’t be afraid of who you are, either! Be proud and confident. Know why you believe the things you believe, and make sure they are not cookie cutter answers, or words or phrases that the rest of the world uses. Be unique and stand above the crowd. I promise you this: your date will either absolutely hate you, or be completely enamored with you. And if the date doesn’t work out, then so be it! It’s better to know up front whether they can handle the real you or not.

Think back to previous "first dates." What were some of the things you did to impress your date that were out of character for you? Did you ever lie about your beliefs in hopes they would like you better? Were you ever ashamed of who you are, or your past, or what you believed in because you thought they wouldn't like you?

Now consider this: what kind of expectations have you previously put on your dates? Make a commitment to expect nothing, good or bad, and you will see immediate results.

GO FURTHER: This may sound a bit out of the ordinary, but give it a try and see how it goes. Sit down with your best friend and ask them what made them want to be friends with you. Then tell them that you want to practice being yourself on dates by using them as a sounding board. Tell them who you really are without hesitation, and find unique ways to ask them who they are.

After you’ve revealed an honest piece of yourself to your date, don’t ask them, “So did that just turn you off? You want to take me home now, right?” That shows a sign of weakness in who you are. It says to them that you need their approval to be who you are, and you don’t! Don’t ask for acceptance. They will either give it to you, or not.

FACT: Expect nothing...except God.

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