Issues With Christian Dating

teapot with manicured hand with text "issues with christian dating"

As a recovering Christian who still loves Jesus but objects to large parts of the fundamentalist Christian culture I was raised in, I have some reflections on Christian dating in the light of what’s going on in my personal life.

Most people know that back in ancient times, the 1980s, many people didn’t cohabit. Nowadays for the most part people do cohabit, even if they are Christians. Not so if they fall on the fundamentalist evangelical spectrum, or if they have something to hide.

This makes dating a bit like a high-stakes game of poker. You put on a poker face with the intent that if you bid all, you win all, and you’re able to feed yourself at the end of the night.

In this poker round, you are both the player and your bid. You view your date as the pot. Likewise, your date sees themselves as the player and the bid and you as the pot. What I’m trying to say is, you’re both greedy, hungry, anticipatory, and there’s more than fun and games going on here from the minute you message someone on OK Cupid. You’re objectifying each other. Is this person a good mother? Will he be a good provider? Is he a spiritual leader? Will we make a good home together? What will they give me?

What I’m trying to get at here is that there is no enjoyment of the other person for who they simply are, and there is no fun in dating.

For many high-anxiety types who come from fundamentalist homes, realizing the first time I just sat back and relaxed – or enjoyed myself – was a big deal. I was out of college and hiking on my neighborhood trail. I wasn’t analyzing anything, trying to grapple with hidden meanings, or attempting to ascertain whether I deserved to be viewing nature in all its glory or not. Nature was her own thing. She was cool all by herself. She didn’t serve me. I wasn’t here to get anything out of her other than to see what was up. And, I wasn’t here to persuade nature of anything. I was just walking down a dirt trail, tripping over tree roots, getting sweaty and dirty, purely myself. It was the first time I had done something like this. And I enjoyed it for what it was.

Likewise, I believe healthy secular dating adopts this model. You message someone on Bumble because they seem interesting and you want to see what’s up. There are no wedding bells going off in your head at your first coffee meet up. All this is is a relaxation into a person. If the relaxation turns sharp and uncomfortable, you tell the person goodbye, and you ease on into the next phase of life, whether it involves another person for a while or not.

I’m not saying secular dating is without its pains and pitfalls, because anything involving human beings is messy. But I do believe it has far less dangers than the traditional Christian dating model.

Christian dating is, at its best, objectifying and idolizing, whereas secular dating is far more down to earth and honest. If you want to get to know someone, it’s best to see them as a human being instead of a potential spouse. More open conversations flow that way because there’s less stress and pressure.

I may be writing this because I’ve been burned, but I’ve had other girlfriends coming from fundamentalist evangelical homes echo my sentiments. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you want to walk down an aisle blindfolded or slowly acknowledge someone for who they are.

The Absolute Realness on PTSD and Marriage

Before Bear and I married, we honestly didn’t know how bad my PTSD was. I knew I had it to some degree, but it was vanquished because I didn’t talk about it. It was simply buried like a honey-badger about to attack our tiny baby marriage from beneath the surface. Does anyone remember that meme?

I remembered how bad my PTSD was when it first started. I would scream in the shower and twist my shampoo bottles across the water. I’d cry randomly in everyday places. Eventually I developed chronic pain once I did stop talking about it. I turned online to vent my fears. But the biggest thing was, the medical professionals denied my PTSD because I kept it under control by staying single for 6 years until I decided to date again, at my roommate’s suggestion.

Once I did, my career spiraled out of control. I began to see and hear things that did not exist at work coming from my male coworkers. There was no way I could work in an office. By the time I quit my job was the time I started going steady with my husband, who had no idea what was actually going on. Neither did I – I thought I had developed schizophrenia.

The same thing would happen at three more places of employment before I gave up and went to grad school, which was a lovely experience. But once I had a new permanent male figure in my life, the craziness exploded again – this time at my husband.

We’ve discovered that letting each other be open and vulnerable even over subjects the other thinks is stupid is the key to getting through our current situation. I’m no longer hearing monsters in the night. Tonight we slept in the same bed for the first time in two weeks. Not because he asked me to leave the room, but because I was hiding. That must have felt horrible to him.

I accomplished two sessions of EMDR this past week, and I think it’s responsible for getting my mind to chill out enough to communicate with my husband. I recommend it for anyone needing trauma therapy. Yes, you can do it remotely.

Warm hugs.

The Safe Man

I’m going to be writing about trauma therapy and marriage again today, because that’s my life right now. This is not a Whiner McBabypants post where I talk about my specific trauma, rather, these are my reflections on life, love, and marriage as a disabled woman.

You know when you just feel sad, and you just want to be sad? Your husband will cook dinner, do the dishes and watch romcoms with you but you don’t want any of it, you want to feel your own pain?

When I look back on my former life as an able-bodied model, I would call myself ungrateful. This lack of gratitude drug into my life as a disabled person, and later as a disabled married person.

Part of this led to walls-up mode. Most people think I wear my heart on my sleeve, but really this is an act of pushing people away by oversharing. If someone really wanted my honest opinion, they’d probably have to cross Jurassic Antartica with added volcanoes to get it.

I finally revealed this to my husband today, with the caveat that for most of my life, I didn’t think people were safe. But when I put his wedding band on his finger, I marked him as someone who was safe. It was my job to get out of Jurassic Antartica and place him in the sunnier meadows of my mind so I could hear him out, and ultimately communicate with him.

I really don’t have anyone or anything I’m more grateful for than him. He finished building a 4 ft tall aromatherapy garden for me today. It’s that tall so I don’t hurt myself by bending over.

Remember, learning to love is just as hard as accepting it!

Trauma Therapy: Beginnings

My marriage counselor has been urging me to begin trauma therapy for PTSD for about a month now. I’ve been afraid to because Bear and I have been doing so well and I don’t want to have another meltdown. Then COVID happened, and I was even more afraid.

It turns out trauma therapy is not that hard to begin, but I suggest anyone reading this doesn’t do this alone. Please consult your friendly neighborhood psychologist.

Every Sunday, I write in a journal one traumatic memory. Then the rest of the days of the week, I read the memory aloud. On Saturday I read and process the memory with my counselor and my husband.

I’ve only been doing this for two days now and chose a relatively mild memory to start out with as I’m going through a medication change. I need to come up with a list of things for my husband to watch out for. So far, here’s what I’ve got:

  • Sudden lack of communication
  • Catatonia
  • Not wanting to cook
  • Sudden willfulness in my attitude against him
  • Sudden negative talk about our marriage
  • Use of the ‘D’ word (no, not the body part…)
  • Staying in bed all the time

Although, parts of these do sound like a pain flare, honestly. But parts of these sound like my version of a nervous breakdown.

Overall I’m glad I took the plunge while my husband is working from home so I can be monitored. I’ve been told that doing trauma work could possibly cure my pain, along with switching off of my psych med.

It’s gonna be a wild ride!

Preliminary Ebook Covers

Those who have been on this blog for any amount of time know that I suffer from PTSD. I also believe that it is the root cause of my chronic pain.

There is a lot of evidence that if one has untreated trauma, it explodes into fibromyalgia, and later other diseases. The therapist I work with now specializes in people with chronic pain and their trauma. I am blessed to have found her.

The year following my trauma I began writing poems. I have written poems since 2013 up until today. When I was in DBT I made a writer acquaintance who shared her writing resources, one of which was Scrivener. I got into the program and wanted to see how easy it was to publish on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

It was very easy, however, there were some blunders. I will need to get better and this poetry book is my guinea pig book. Printed in a PDF it’s about 72 pages. I’m still figuring out how to create a print book through KDP.

Anyways, my poetry book It’s Okay, Magic Happens is on the Kindle store. I’m only not linking to it yet because I’m still trying to figure out cover art.

The magical cover
The blue Cover
The glitter cover
The flowers cover

Comment/tweet/contact me with your favorite cover (tell me magical, blue, glitter, or flowers) so I know which one to use.

Thank you so much and I hope you have a wonderful quarantine.

Why I Turned to Online Dating

My entire life, I only attracted and dated schmucks. Even these instances were few and far between, maybe once every three years. 

It wasn’t that I was unattractive at the time. I was fit, tan, and pretty. But I was shy and dealing with a lot of trauma. My insecurities outshone my physical features, and that drove away men more than any of my better qualities could attract them.

When I was in college, I had a particularly bad dating experience that left me feeling broken. During and after the breakup I felt like a shell of a person. I didn’t even feel human. What happened between the two of us made me develop agoraphobia and I feared men the most. 

For a while this wasn’t a problem, until I met a certifiably nice guy at my friend’s wedding the summer after I graduated college.

He was tall, handsome, and polite. At the last slow dance of the evening he approached and respectfully asked me if I would like to dance. I said yes. It turned out to be the last song of the reception, and we quickly exchanged names and numbers.

I checked him out with my friend, the bride, and found out he was a close friend of the groom. She was excited for me, enthused with the idea that I had found my future husband at her wedding. Her husband had great things to say about him.

Hopeful, I became electrified when he texted me saying he was coming to my area. He asked me to dinner and I decided to go to a vegan diner relatively close to my house. I really didn’t want to mess things up so I scrubbed my front door which was covered in bird poop (my family and I had a family of swallows that lived above the door that we couldn’t bear to get rid of). To my surprise he pulled up in a brand new red Lexus.

Well, I thought, this is going to be different.

I was dressed in my bridesmaid dress (faux pas, but it wasn’t formal, more like a sundress) and he came to the door in a suit. I think. I don’t remember. He was dressed much nicer and more fashionably than most guys I’d met. My parents met him at the door high school style and I was dying inside, knowing I was falling on my face with this dating thing. It was no wonder I was single and an old crone by Christian standards at age 23.

When we made it to the diner, he expressed he wasn’t expecting something so informal. But he was charmed by the local artwork for sale on the walls, and tried to make eye contact with me. I felt anger turn up in my stomach when he did this, and it wasn’t because I did not like him or find him unattractive. Quite the opposite. My manphobia had reared its ugly head, and I found myself giving him terse and abrupt answers to his polite questions.

I finally had a gentleman, and my brain was on the fritz. This scarred brain, hurt by all the scoundrels it had been with before, did not know what to do with a decent human being.

He proceeded to continue with the date, but I cut it short after I couldn’t bear it anymore. I felt bad about this after a few days because I did like him, who wouldn’t, so I texted him. He told me he didn’t want to be in a long distance relationship, and I understood.

After this I went to therapy for six months, got a big kid job and moved out with a family friend from high school.

Within the first few months of us rooming together, I learned my friend had an evil ex as well that she was trying to put behind her. After I volunteered at a few funerals, she kept nudging me to sign up for Tinder, find a guy, settle down, and have the “wedding of the century” (my exaggerated words in an attempt at a joke, not hers) at our home area to make up for all the funerals. 

I like boy talk as much as the next girl, and it seemed to me that in today’s world, the only way anybody went on a date was to go online. My roommate was extremely beautiful, and it seemed odd to me that no one would approach her in person. She explained that nobody approached anyone in person anymore. 

The more I heard about her dates, the more a creeping notion grew in my brain. It wasn’t about finding someone to settle down with. It was about healing.

Maybe I could use these dating apps to expose myself to men gradually, screen them for red flags, and heal myself of the fear I was living with. 

Although the fear is not completely gone and it bleeds into my current relationship, I have found great healing in going slow and giving it a shot. Along the way I found my fiance. 

It is true that I came across some really bad apples. With online dating, it is imperative to use caution and safety guidelines. 

Some people are real jerks and can really test your emotional limits. Walk away and let yourself be. 

When the time is right, your healing will come. I did not desire healing for years. But when I wanted it I found more than I bargained for.

And now, a recap:

Pocket full of starlight: Online dating can be used for multiple purposes, including overcoming our greatest fears.

Pocket full of darkness: Online dating can be emotionally draining and dangerous, please exercise caution!