Confession: I wasn’t always the best girlfriend.
When I look back on some of my dating relationships, I can’t help but cringe a little. After two years of marriage, life has granted me perspective on how I handled my single years—and it wasn’t always pretty.
My husband is one of the most patient men to walk the earth; patient enough to marry me! Our dating relationship was a sanctification process in itself, preparing me for the demands and commitment of marriage. While I’m glad my other relationships didn’t work out—I wouldn’t be with my husband if they had!—I can see what went wrong in those relationships. You don’t have to make the same mistakes.
- I didn’t build friendships first. My husband and I were friends before we dated, but that wasn’t my norm. Every other one of my relationships began as just that: a relationship. Instead of getting to know guys as friends before dating, I got to know them by dating. Because I didn’t really know who I was dating, by the time I found out we weren’t compatible, I felt trapped. I was afraid of hurting my boyfriend even though I knew the relationship wasn’t working out. If I’d taken the time to build a friendship first, I would have spared both myself and the guys I dated a lot of pain.
- I was clingy and emotionally immature. Insecurity and jealousy are the enemies of any strong relationship, a fact illustrated by my dating life. When I gave into insecurity, I became completely dependent on my boyfriend for my identity. I doubted my beauty and value based on his treatment of me, instead of holding onto my intrinsic value through Christ. My insecurities caused me to be jealous and emotionally immature, and I sought affirmation through calls and text messages. I had to realize that my relationship didn’t define who I was as a person. I had to take control of my emotions and find security in Christ before I had a God-centered, mature relationship that ended in marriage.
- I was focused on what he could do for me instead of what I could do for him. Instead of seeing my relationship as an opportunity to share God’s love with the guy in my life, I saw it as an opportunity for my boyfriend to prove himself to me. Certainly a good boyfriend should continue to pursue the woman he’s dating, but my expectations were extremely high! I expected my boyfriend to “win and woo” me, but I didn’t give back as much as I should have.
- I let my relationship distract me from my girlfriends. In the classic pitfall that affects too many young women, I let my boyfriend take precedence over my best girlfriends. Truth be told, I needed their influence in my life: Their wisdom, counsel and guidance would have been pivotal in some of the relationships I had! But I was too busy in the “honeymoon phase” to notice I was putting my girlfriends on the back burner. When my husband and I dated, we spent a lot of time with my best friends, making memories I am grateful for to this day!
- I waited too long to break up. In a few of my relationships, the Lord made it very clear that they weren’t destined to continue. Whether because of differing values, priorities or life stages, my relationships prior to my husband all had to end. I just couldn’t figure out when and how to end them. Terrified of hurting my boyfriend, I would stretch out the inevitable as long as possible—which, in the end, just hurt him even more. If I could do it over, I would have initiated the breakup sooner rather than later. Honesty is always the best policy.
No relationship is a waste if you honor God in it. Even relationships that end in a breakup can bring us closer to God and help us grow as individuals. Even though I was a bad girlfriend at times, the Lord worked growth through those experiences. My marriage has been blessed by what both my husband and I learned from past relationships. Breakups can be hard, but sometimes the hard things prepare us for the blessings God has in store!