I ordered my coffee black, and surveyed the trendy coffee shop. Mapping out each window, cozy corner and outlet, I chose my quiet corner wisely, and nestled in. The hours passed quickly. I was so fascinated by my book on art and faith that the coffee in my mug had turned cold. I quickly glanced toward the register, hoping the line was short enough to order a refill and return to my cozy corner before the leather cushion got cold - and that’s when it happened. I caught eyes with him. The initial eye contact was brief, but definitely enough to make me blush a little. I immediately ditched the coffee refill idea, and dove head-first right back into my 350 page paperback shield.
Seconds later he walked up to me and asked a simple question. “What are you reading?” I would sooner talk about my books than myself. A few minutes of conversation passed, and we were actually hitting it off. He politely asked for my number. We exchanged digits and that was it. No text. No call. No problem.
Six days later, I drove another 45-minutes to my new favorite coffee shop. As serendipity would have it, he walked in shortly after I did. He casually invited me out to dinner on Thursday night. Hopeful, I agreed.
Little did I know I had just signed up for the worst date...but the best story...of my dating career. It’s just like that sometimes. The best dates are sweet, the bad ones are lessons, and worst case scenario, they are all great content.
Simply reading that word may trigger an immediate emotional, and even physiological response. There are some who will read it and smile, filled with joyful curiosity and hope. Others will read that word and cringe, flooded with immense uncertainty or even dread. We all have our reasons as to why we respond to that word the way we do, and they are all valid.
Did you know that the word date has several definitions? According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary, “date” is defined as:
Why lead with a list of definitions, you ask? Well, my hope is to set your mind at ease by showing you that the definition of the word “date” is just as complicated as actually “dating”. There are so many ways to define the word date, just like there are so many ways to date romantically. If you’re out there looking for a concrete dating strategy, it really doesn’t exist boo. If it did, I promise I would have found it by now and shared it with you - scouts honor.
Before we get into the fun dating stuff, let’s kick things off with my credentials, shall we?
My name is Anastasia (Stasia for short). I am a 30-year-old, 5’10” tall glass of melanin who loves the Lord and is forever managing my obsession with travel, chips and guacamole. I am passionate about writing, and coaching women on how to launch blogs. I possess an earned Master’s Degree in Business Administration. I love frequenting libraries, art museums, and coffee shops on a regular basis. And oh - I’m single. Gloriously single.
A little dating history for you, I have been dating since I was 23-years-old (I actively choose not to count that one awkward prom at 17 - help me Lord). I’ve had great dates, good dates, bad dates, and blind dates. I’ve met guys through close friends, at church, in restaurants, at coffee shops, and yes - even on dating apps (I’m a fan of dating apps when used responsibly). I’ve both floated on cloud nine, and stared far too long through those rose colored glasses you hear about all too often. I’ve taken cute couples selfies with my significant others, and cried alone for hours when things didn’t work out for the best. Over the last 7-years I have learned a host of lessons that have granted me the authority and personal experience to write this post for you.
So here it is, the top 5 dating lessons I’ve learned over the last 7 years. These are all lessons that I have had to learn the hard way (especially #3), and I’m eager to share these with you as you navigate your healthy dating journey in this season.
Dating in isolation is dangerous. One of the best things you can do is surround yourself with close friends you can trust as you navigate your healthy dating journey. These are the friends that you can rely on to pray with you and for you, and show up when you need them the most.
It took me a long time to realize that emotions and feelings are two different things. We may feel angry after a romantic interest doesn’t pan out. We may cry, our fists may clench, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are angry. In these moments, do a little digging, and ask yourself if the emotion present could actually be disappointment, regret or sadness. Then, determine what story you are going to tell yourself. Now, this part is extremely important, whatever the story, write it down, and ground it in the truth and grace of God’s love.
Dating has a way of revealing powerful opportunities for personal growth. One way to do this is by looking for patterns in your relationship decision making. Do you tend to navigate toward a certain type of person over and over again? Instead of raising a red flag based on someone else’s actions, have an honest conversation with yourself about what these patterns may reveal about you. If you are currently in a “love fog”, it can be hard to see those patterns clearly. This is where your close friends come in. Make pattern mapping a regular practice, and ask the Lord to open your eyes to notice these patterns as well. When you find the pattern, seek out the source and then name it. Once you name the source, then you can work on healing it from the inside, out.
You are beautiful. Intricately created by God. You have so much to offer the world. There is no one else like you in this universe. Take a minute and just let that sink in. The divine nature that is you has only been created once, and will never be created again. Isn’t that amazing? Don’t just know your worth, believe it deep within your soul! Remind yourself of it every single day. Don’t leave it to your dates to do this for you. You must do this for yourself, first.
Dating highs and lows come in waves. I have moved from Beyonce-level confidence to crumbled on the floor crying out to God for direction and comfort within the span of weeks, days and sometimes hours. This rhythm is all too real, and I encourage everyone to sit in it a bit. In my highs, I’ll go on one to three dates in one week. When my lows come, I am intentional not to rush through it. Learn to be sweet to yourself. Allow yourself the space and time to heal. Put on your most comfortable pajamas, light a candle and grab a cozy blanket. Rest in the Lord’s sweet presence, and allow the truth of His word to wash over you.
I believe that dating is one of the most vulnerable and powerful practices, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Dating has given me a crash course in self-compassion, self-awareness, and empathy. It has grown my confidence, taught me how to stand up for my worth, deepened my closest relationships and given me the best stories at wine nights with my girlfriends.
No matter what people say, dating is nothing to be ashamed of. As far as I’m concerned, it should be worn as a badge of honor. There are no equations for dating, only lessons learned through personal experience and from the experiences of others. I hope that these lessons I’ve shared with you will help you along your own healthy dating journey!
Anastasia is a New England born blogging coach, writer and Author of Blog Like a Boss. She helps women find their voice and use their stories to change the world! She is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs and small businesses to reach their ideal clients through powerful stories and shared experiences. Connect with Anastasia by visiting her Instagram or Website now!