Finding a sweetheart
Most of us press ‘like’ on Facebook when our friends find a partner. Perhaps we’ve been waiting for these two people to get together for a long time. But perhaps there’s also something deep inside us that isn’t rejoicing quite so much on their behalf.
‘How does she get boyfriends so easily? She’s had two in the past eighteen months, and I haven’t had any,’ we think. Or perhaps we’ve actually got a crush on one of her boyfriends, and we would have given anything to swap places with her. Some people would say that it’s really difficult to get a boyfriend.
It can be particularly difficult if everyone around you seems to be getting together, or even getting engaged. It’s so complicated: how can I know if the other person likes me? How can I show the other person that I like him or her, without making a fool of myself? And is he or she the ‘right one’?
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I dated my first boyfriend the week before I turned seventeen. I’d never thought along these lines when I first met him four months earlier. I hadn’t tried to get to know him, but when he and a friend visited me a couple of months later, something in me made me think that we were actually quite similar.
It was my mum who said that she thought he liked me, and from that point on it didn’t take me more than a few weeks till I was head over heels in love. It was the real teenage crush – with butterflies in my stomach, sweating and nerves: the works! When I visited him the weekend we got together, we both knew what the other one felt, but we didn’t dare to say anything! I lay in his arms, but we were real cowards so we didn’t tell each other we’d like to date until the end of the weekend. I don’t need to go into details, but that relationship didn’t last. It was nice while it lasted, and it was an experience I learned from later on.
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Two years, and several crushes later, I was a senior high school student, and on 1 May some other Christians and I (we were part of a Christian student organisation) had a meeting where we all brought some food to share. There I saw a guy who looked interesting. I didn’t get so far as to think that we could date, but I knew that at least I’d like to get to know him. We had common friends, and since we were in the same organisation and had plenty of time, there was no problem joining the crowd in order to get to know him better.
I have to admit I felt pretty nervous that day. Almost a week went by before the next time I met him, we were on a big lawn in a park in the centre of the city. There were lots of students there partying and drinking. We were there to be a visible Christian presence, to have fun and to help if there was any need for it. That was when he and I sat and talked about faith, goals, dreams, values and so on. It was a relaxed atmosphere, and neither of us was trying to impress the other. We shared deep things very openly. Well, my butterflies began to flutter more violently, and his butterflies began to fly around too. During the next few months we spent more and more time together as friends. It wasn’t only the two of us, sometimes we were also with common friends. We saw films, visited friends and went to cafés.
We weren’t quite sure if we would be a couple, but we had a strong friendship that we really valued. It’s hard to tell when we actually started dating, since we didn’t tell many people at the start. We wanted to be sure that it was right before we wrote it on Facebook or told lots of others. It felt good not to have to rush or stress with it, but I admit that that summer I struggled quite a bit with doubt as to whether it was right. Was he really the one I was to date? Was it a good decision? There’s something else I haven’t mentioned: two months after we started dating I moved almost a thousand miles away! It wasn’t so strange that I struggled with doubt that summer. But when autumn arrived, the doubt left. We had made a decision, our Facebook pages were updated and people heard that we were a couple. It was official.
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I really wanted to avoid having a long-distance relationship, but when it came to the crunch I couldn’t reject him – I’d only just fallen in love! It was a chance I had to take, and it was a chance we had to take. There were good and bad times during that year, mostly due to the distance, but we prioritised phone calls, Skype calls and visits. We were – and still are – fairly lovey-dovey at times, but I think it’s quite healthy, as it keeps the passion and excitement alive. At the end of the year I flew home and the romantic feelings were just as strong. I’m convinced that that was due to our priorities, but also principally because we made a choice that we were right for each other and that we would manage it.
If I were to summarise my advice, it would be the following: build a friendship; take plenty of time, and don’t get stressed; take a chance; make a choice; prioritise, and give it a try. A Bible college teacher I had the year I was away recently put it like this: ‘You don’t need to buy the rings before you ask her out for coffee!’ In other words, you don’t need to be absolutely certain that it will work out, but if you enjoy each other’s company and have approximately the same goals and dreams for the future, take a chance!
Don’t postpone it for ever, you’ll never find Mr or Miss Right. If you think it’s a bummer that you don’t seem to be able to get a boyfriend (or girlfriend), then you should focus on building friendships and don’t stress about it. You have plenty of time. Happiness doesn’t depend on having a partner, even though lots of people would argue that it is. As a Christian I want to add something else: God has a plan for your life. Perhaps you don’t understand it, perhaps you don’t like it. But God is in control, He loves you and He knows what He’s doing. Rest in His hands and relax.
Best wishes from a 20-year-old girl.