Insecurity, weakness and manipulation: run away quickly, ladies!

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My dad and three brothers – good examples of great men who are strong and secure!

I haven’t always seen my worth. I may have said it, but I didn’t believe it. We all say we are worthy of love and friendship and an amazing career and great life, but we don’t always believe it. When you realize that you are worthy of all those things, everything changes, especially how you see men.

Over the years I’ve put up with a lot. I’ve dated an alcoholic, cheaters, jerks, liars and more. And I put up with it. No one held a gun to my head and said I had to be with men like that, I willingly participated. While not every guy I’ve dated has been terrible, many of them have been. I put up with it because I didn’t realize that I was worthy of more.

But aside from the glaringly obvious reasons to stay away from certain guys (addiction problems, abuse, etc.), there are three, more subtle, qualities that I believe should send all women running. If you don’t truly understand your worth, you’ll stick around. And trust me, it will be disastrous. It will not end well.

I’ve dealt with only a few guys since I returned from a year in Uganda, but I have been proud of myself for not allowing myself to deal with any of the following types of guys, especially those who embody all three:

An insecure guy

It’s possible to have insecure moments without being flat out insecure. But a full-blown insecure guy is something you don’t want to deal with. This can be tough because often the hottest guys are the most insecure. Their entire lives they’ve been judged by their appearance, and even though it’s because their appearance is good, it makes them question people’s motives.

Whatever he looks like, an insecure guy won’t trust you. Wanting a healthy dose of affirmation is understandable, but a guy who constantly asks if everything is OK, if he did something wrong, and if he constantly apologizes when an apology isn’t necessary, you might be dealing with someone who is insecure. He’s afraid he’ll mess up, he’s afraid he’ll lose you, he’s afraid you are interested in someone else. It’s exhausting to date someone who is constantly insecure.

A weak guy

A guy who is weak cannot handle stress. He’ll often turn to alcohol, drugs or other unhealthy things in order to deal with life’s tough moments. Granted, tough times will come, and people make mistakes in dealing with hurt. It happens. But a guy who is weak will take any little argument or bad day and turn it into something much bigger than it is. It’s almost like he’s a drama queen.

You don’t want a man who is weak. A man who can never deal with his feelings is pretty depressing to be around. Of course your job is to support your man when he has moments of weakness, but if he is constantly weak and not handling it like an adult, you’ll feel like you’re dating a child.

A manipulative guy

Chances are, if he’s insecure and weak, he’ll probably be manipulative. These guys are the worst, and this is probably my biggest pet peeve. A weak woman will fall for a manipulative guy. She’ll take the manipulative things he says and take them to heart. She’ll believe the things he says. She’ll feel bad. She’ll get herself into a terrible and sad situation.

Manipulative guys love to make you feel bad. They thrive off of telling you lies that make you believe you have hurt them in some way. In doing that, they have complete control over you. If you aren’t ready, you’ll fall for it. If you don’t see your worth, you’ll stand for it. And that breaks my heart.

Just a heads up, it’s actually quite entertaining to call out a guy who is trying to manipulate you. Once they realize their tactics won’t work on you, they’ll stay away. And you’re much better for it. Just like a strong man wants a strong woman, a weak man wants a weak woman.

At my age, the first signs of insecurity, weakness and manipulation send me running, and I wish more women would do the same. Sure this means I go on fewer dates. It might prolong my singleness, but I’d rather be single than dating a guy who is any of the above types.

Do you know your worth? If you do, you’ll realize that you deserve someone who is secure and strong, and someone who won’t try to control you. Those aren’t unrealistic qualities to desire in a man.

Life is not a word search… stop looking for love!

I was just starting to dig into my adult mac-and-cheese when the 23-year-old sitting across from me sighed.

“I just don’t know where to go to meet a guy. I’ve tried church, the gym, the bar scene, everywhere! I can’t find anyone!”

I remember being in her shoes. I remember that ten years ago I used to feel the same way. Almost everything I did was in hopes of meeting a guy. My friends were getting married, starting families, and all that other stuff you’re “supposed” to do in your early to mid-20’s, and then there was me: single.

Ten years later, and that’s still me: single. But oh-so-much has changed.magnifying-glass-967211-m

My young friend’s frustrations with being single reminded me of how so many women are missing the boat on finding love. We can’t force it to happen, and we certainly can’t live our lives constantly in search of it. Life isn’t some giant crossword puzzle where we’re all looking for the word, “Love.”

“They” say when you stop looking, that’s when you’ll find love. While that hasn’t happened for me yet, it’s not changing the fact that I live life for other reasons now. I don’t do anything simply to meet a guy. And I’m completely ok if it hasn’t “paid off” yet in the form of a boyfriend or husband.

When I was in my 20’s, practically everything I did was in hopes of meeting someone. Not just any someone, but someone who would transform my life, make me happy, and give me butterflies! I tried different churches, joined the gym, went to trivia nights at the local pub, joined a “Christian Single’s Group” in town, etc. etc.

Obviously, nothing came of any of that.

And why would it? No guy wants some chick who is spending her entire life waiting on him. Guys want a woman who is living her own life, without him, because he’s likely been doing the same without her.

I go to church now because I want to stay close to God and learn more about His word. I go to the gym to work out because I know it’s good for me. I watch football at Buffalo Wild Wings because I love football (and wings!). I volunteer at the homeless shelter because I love helping people- not because I hope there will be a cute, single guy volunteering with me.

Single ladies- just live your life! Stop looking for something that you can’t make appear. You can’t rush God. He won’t bring the right guy into your life until HE says it’s time. So in the meantime, why not love the life you have? God has lots of great things planned for you. If you’re living in His will, He won’t let you miss out on that perfect guy because you were too busy and not looking.

sand-heart-2-1421655-m“If it seems slow in coming, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:3

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Psalm 27:14

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:3-4

“Marriage sucks!”

Years ago I went out to eat with a male friend not long after the end of a relationship. It wasn’t just the end of IMG_1674any relationship, it was the end of a relationship in which after our first date I called my mom in tears and said, “This one is different. This is different.” And it was after our second date that my gut told me: he was “the one.”

I knew he felt the same way, because only a month or so into our relationship he told me, I remember exactly when and where and the tone of his voice, “I can’t wait to make you my wife someday.”

He never did make me his wife. In reality, he isn’t sure he ever even wants to get married. This was all made evident when we broke up. I was heartbroken and confused as ever.

But on a cold January night when I was out to eat with my friend, everything became clear.

We ran into three of my ex’s best friends. His “boys.” The guys he talks to on a regular basis. All of them are married.

Somehow my friend and I ended up at a table with these guys, and we got to talking about marriage.

“Marriage sucks!” one of them said. “I love my wife and family, but being married sucks!”

“I’m so sick of having to constantly report to her,” one of them said. “It’s terrible. I’m a grown man! I can do what I want!”

One of the guys kept pretty quiet, but did chime in at one point after one of the other guys said, “Women are crazy. Hands down. They’re all CRAZY.” He piped up and said, “Did you ever think that maybe we make them that way?”

The conversation shed so much light on marriage for me. Men hate marriage. As one of the guys said, “Marriage sucks!” No wonder my ex wasn’t excited about the idea of getting married to anyone- most of his friends and a lot of society tell us that marriage isn’t a wonderful thing. It isn’t about love and companionship; it’s more like a prison sentence.

I remembered that conversation from years ago after last week watching an online sermon called, “The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating,” presented by Andy Stanley. He mentioned something about the “good side of marriage that no one ever talks about.” And I realized he was right- we rarely hear the good stories or what people love about being married.

While I was raised by a happily married couple, my parents, I realized I still kind of have a skewed view of marriage based on what I’ve heard, been through, and seen in society. I decided to turn to Facebook for inspiration. Marriage is a GOOD thing, and I knew there would have to be people who had good things to say about marriage and about their spouses. I ended up with so many responses that I can’t list them all, but here are some of my favorites.

IMG_5166These quotes come from people married for a few months to many years, Christians and non-Christians, men and women, and people from all sorts of walks of life. I hope these words encourage people who are married and those like me who are still waiting on their match:

“The love he has for me and the boys just goes to extraordinary levels when someone is sick or hurt…”

“I love knowing that she has my back in any and all situations, and even though I am her rock, she will be mine when I start to doubt myself. She will also be there to bring me back down to earth (when I need it).”

“I love being married for all the normal reasons that everyone gives, but the best reason is knowing that you never have to date again! No more awkward first kisses, dates, conversations, none of that. It’s nice to know someone loves you and has seen everything and willing to be there. For me, there’s comfort in the predictable.”

“I love that he vacuums the house and takes care of the car when it needs oil or fixing!”

“I love that God has one special person for me and that putting God first in our marriage helped our love grow and our relationship become what it is today. After almost 30 years of marriage, he can look at me and warm my heart. I still love holding hands and just being with him. And now, I love spending time with our beautiful family that was brought together through God’s love and grace. Being married isn’t always easy, but the rewards are great.”

“Just love the relationship we’ve molded over the years, great communication and understanding, the love, loyalty and respect that we have for each other. Being the young couple, people do doubt us, but it makes us stronger.”

“He knows what I am thinking or how I feel, sometimes even before I realize it myself!”

“I just love that I am with my best friend, day in and day out!”wedding5

“Love having history together. He knows why I react a certain way, because he knows the experiences that have shaped me. Also love being exposed to new things. Without (him), I would never have gone winter camping, on canoe trips, learned about identifying birds, etc.”

“I love that, when needed, you can take turns being the strong one.”

“I love that we’re on the same page about life. Where we are and where we’d like to be 10 years from now.”

“I like being married (to my husband) because I LIKE HIM. I like doing stuff with him- any kind of stuff. I like going to Home Depot and looking at faucets. I like going to the grocery store. I like going out to eat with him. I like riding down the road and talking non-stop… I just like him.”

“I love that he is my warrior. He has a heart of gold and is willing to do anything for me. He is willing to fight for me and my freedom, daily. We have our own dreams and goals, but we also have dreams and goals as a couple. I also love the little texts that he sends me every day, just to say hi.”

“I love that if he is home before me, at the end of the day I walk in the door and he will say, “Is that the love of my life?”

“I love that sometimes we can just sit in silence and just hold onto each other. It’s so powerful to know that someone gets you and sees your good and your bad and loves you anyways!”

“I love being with my best friend. I love that he is a man of God, and that we make each other better people. I love that he is such a wonderful leader and protector for our family.”

28309_396535656572_5388461_n“Sorry, it’s not just one thing. Companionship, the joy (she) brings to our marriage, and her many acts of kindness.”

“In my marriage, there is unconditional love. I was completely sighted and in good health when we married eight years ago. Since that time, we have encountered a rare eye disorder that is stealing my sight, and I’ve had to battle rare health issues (for my age). My husband married me, never knowing he would face these issues with me and that his wife would become visually impaired… My husband has sacrificed his own desires to satisfy mine and has shown me unconditional love. Simply put, he has honored his marital vows.”

“I love that my husband’s not perfect, because neither am I, and that makes us perfect for each other.”

The curse of seeing someone’s potential…

1237608_trophy“Potential has a shelf life.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

It’s typically thought of as a positive thing, to see the good in everyone. I am one of those people who instantly recognizes someone’s potential. In all honesty, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

If potential were a trophy, I see almost everyone I know carrying it. The problem is, not everyone is lifting that trophy up, some aren’t even looking at it, while others are kicking it around on the ground with no plans to ever pick it up.

Seeing the potential in people can be heartbreaking when they don’t reach that potential. It’s a dangerous road to travel when you see potential in the wrong people and when you let it consume you. I’ve experienced this heartbreak as a teacher and as someone who has been in relationships with guys who have so much “potential.” Right now I’m struggling with the latter.

Seeing potential in the opposite sex

Seeing someone’s potential as a future husband or wife can be very dangerous. Seeing what someone “could” be is so intensely different from what they actually are. When it comes to dating, I have learned that you must see someone for what they are at that present time.

I’m not saying you might not meet someone who just needs a little encouragement or support. I’m talking about the jerks, the players, the non-committers, or some other type of guy or girl who has qualities that make them a poor choice for a life partner. You can’t consider their potential. You must consider the present, and if it isn’t good, move on.

Potential… according to who?

There are two specific guys from my past that I have always believed have all the potential in the world, but they refuse to grow up. I see they have the potential to be two of the greatest guys in all of Fort Wayne, quite possibly all of Indiana or even the entire country, but both of them refuse to live up to this potential I see in them. They are nowhere near reaching their full potential as professional, beautiful, outstanding men on this planet!

They might not ever reach their full potential. But “potential” according to who?

According to me.

 If their potential is just my opinion, the only one they’re really disappointing is me. Why am I so concerned about them reaching what I think their potential is, especially when it’s only disappointing me? Probably because I love them both way too much. It’s not a situation of being “in” love or wanting to be with either of them, I just plain love these two guys with all my heart. When you love someone, you want them to succeed and be the best version of them they can possibly be.

Letting go of potential

If you’re like me and you see the great potential for someone who isn’t interested in reaching it, maybe it’s time to let it go. Pray for that person, but stop letting it tear you up inside that they aren’t what YOU think they should be. If someone doesn’t want to be a better person, that’s their choice. You can’t force them.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to see people’s true potential, but I guess I need to just see that potential and then let it go. Otherwise, I’ll continue to fall for guys and their awesome potential, not who they really are.

What about your own potential?IMG_20130504_232645

I think people like me get so caught up in other people’s potential that we forget about our own. I’m sure if I asked God if I was living up to my potential, He would say I’m not. I imagine He would say no one is. Who knows, maybe there’s a guy out there who wishes I would live up to my potential.

If seeing someone’s potential is tearing you up inside, let it go. Spend more time worrying about your own potential. There’s a good chance you’re not reaching yours either.

It’s not about being judgmental…

“I smoke, by the way. I hope that’s OK.”1391828_untitled

It was the text that took my heart from, “Could this guy be my happily ever after?” to “Take care, it was nice meeting you.”

In November I went on a few dates with a guy who seemed pretty cool. I wouldn’t say we “totally hit it off,” but we certainly had a good time, and there was potential there. But then he let me know that he was a smoker. At first I thought he was kidding. There was no way this athletic coach was a smoker. Turns out, he wasn’t kidding.

I let him know that I don’t date smokers, and then before I knew it I was being called judgmental and that him being a smoker didn’t define him.

There’s a huge difference between being judgmental and knowing the habits you don’t want your boyfriend or future husband to have. I have friends who smoke, and while they know I worry about them for health reasons, I don’t think any of them would say that they feel I judge them.

557070_alcoholic_dream_Another example is drinking. I don’t mind a guy who drinks socially, but I do mind that guy who posts on his Facebook, “About to get WASTED tonight!” For me, that’s an insanely huge turn off. It doesn’t mean I am going to un-friend the guy and no longer speak to him, it simply means he’s not a guy I would want a relationship with.

I’ve noticed a few things this week in the opposite sex that I definitely don’t want in a mate. Some of my guy friends have these traits or habits, and they know I’m not judging (I’m also not trying to date them).

If someone doesn’t want to date you because you smoke, drink too much, have too much debt, or some other reason, it doesn’t always mean they are judging you. It just means you have some qualities they aren’t looking for in a mate. Respect that, and move on.

Why every man should watch a season of The Bachelor…

Every guy on the planet should be forced to watch at least one season of The Bachelor, but not for the reason you probably think I’m going to mention.

I don’t think this because guys could learn some tips about romance (although they could), but instead they can learn some things about women. There’s one huge thing in particular.

Took Ben awhile to learn that Courtney was the devil in the flesh.(Source: www.usmagazine.com)
Took Ben awhile to learn that Courtney was the devil in the flesh.
(Source: http://www.usmagazine.com)

Every single season of The Bachelor there is some sort of villain, some evil b*tch who all the girls hate and the guy totally falls for. This girl always thinks everyone is just jealous of her. And the guy believes it. How could this charming woman be so evil?! Clearly ALL the other women are wrong about her.

Eventually, even if it’s after the entire season is over, the guy finds out the truth- all the women were right- she really is an evil b*tch.

This is one place where reality television really is REAL, because I see this in real life all the time. Open your eyes guys, if there is a female you know that almost every other female you know can’t stand, hates, or strongly dislikes, THERE IS SOMETHING TO IT. The other girls are not jealous, they are not being catty… there is something to it.

“Oh she’s sweet,” they will say. “She means well,” guys will think. “She is just misunderstood. She doesn’t get along well with girls because they don’t understand her.” Um, no, she doesn’t get along well with females because she’s a complete jerk to other women. She would never, EVER reveal her true colors to any of the men in her life.

Learn a lesson here, guys. Open your eyes. Don’t fall for the line, “They are just jealous of me.” Take into consideration that if a lot of people don’t care for her, she’s clearly done some awful things to make people feel that way. No you don’t have to dismiss her from your life, but be careful. Whether it’s a friendship or a relationship with someone, if the majority of the other females in your life see something bad that you don’t, hear them out. They are probably right, and you are being fooled.

The “disease” people just don’t understand…

Hello. My name is Natalie. I suffer from a disease known as “Singleitis.” I have had Singleitis for 32 years. While most people are rid of the disease at this point, I still carry it with me. I am single.

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“Singleitis” is a serious disease that many people suffer from and others find confusing.

People view single women at my age in one of two ways: the spinster or the party girl.

The spinster’s only social interaction is with people at work, anyone she talks to in line at RedBox, and her cats: Taylor, Alanis and Adele. Hobbies include knitting, reading the classics, crossword puzzles, and playing Jewel Quest until the wee hours of the morning. It’s really no wonder why she’s single.

If a single woman isn’t a spinster, everyone sees her as a party girl. The party girl just wants to have a good time. Her social interaction is with anyone at the bar, anyone on the dance floor, and any guy she brings home with her. She is a drunk who wears little to no clothing even in the dead of winter. It’s really no wonder why she’s single.

So that’s it. If you’re a single woman in your 30’s, you must be one of these two things, right? You’re either a loser with no social skills and that’s why you’re single, or you have too many social skills and are a partier, and that’s why your single.

I see these stereotypes made of single women all the time! Sure there are spinsters and party girls out there, but not all of us fall into one of those categories.

When I was a high school English teacher, if my students asked me what I did over the weekend and I said anything along the lines of, “Met up with some friends for dinner, we went bowling and saw a movie,” they would give me a blank stare, and someone would say to me, “You do stuff?” To which I would respond, “Yeah…. do you think I sit at home and knit on the weekends?” They would all nod in agreement.

On the flip side, when I mention wanting to live in a bigger city because there’s more to do there, some people in my life hear, “I want to live in a big city so I can get drunk and party and make poor decisions that will keep me single for an eternity.”

I am not a spinster, and although I had my fair share of party-girl years, I am not a party girl. I am single, and contraire to popular belief, that doesn’t mean I have a terrible disease. So why do so many people treat it that way?

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Strapless dresses?! Martinis?! Single girls?! Clearly Kim and I are about to be drunk sluts in downtown Indy. (Note: Not the case at all!)

If you don’t know me and dont’ know my life, don’t make assumptions. If I post a picture on Facebook and I’m holding a glass of wine, don’t assume it’s my fifth glass. If I put up a new blog post, don’t assume I sat at home all weekend by myself writing it. If I am tagged at a dance club in town, don’t assume I’m wasted and going home with a guy. Maybe me and my girls just wanted to dance!

I know we all make assumptions, but let up on the single people a little bit. It’s not easy out here. And if you think it is easy for a single gal in her 30’s to find a man in Fort Wayne, Indiana… you find some guys and send them my way. I know of a few great girls who are looking, and would love to get rid of their disease! 😉