"Don't. Freak. Out." My best friend was coaching me on the other side of our Skype call. "You know how you get when a guy starts pursuing you. You freak out. I did too before I got married. Don't do it." She was right. I had the track record to prove it. Great guy friends whom I had so much fun with would ask me on a date, and I would freak out. What is he doing?! Why does he want to ruin our friendship?! What if we can't come back from this?! What if I hurt him?
"Just go on one date. And if you don't hate that one, go on another one."
"What if I lead him on? What if I never figure out if I like him or not?"
"You'll figure it out."
"Okay. One date."
Sometimes in church culture, we think we need to be almost ready to marry someone in order to say "yes" to a date. I've felt like this before. The problem with this is it narrowed my choices and made me dismiss some great guys who actually deserved a chance.
I decided to try something new and calm things down instead of freaking out.
I started to ask myself, "Can I say yes to one date?" Not two dates, not a relationship, not walking down the aisle, but one date?
Here's the thing ladies, when a man asks a woman on a date, he's taking a risk. He might be nervous or trying to find the right words, and you might not see the best version of him right there. Sometimes, we have to give a man a chance to bring his best. We have to give him a chance to pick us up, open doors for us, buy us dinner, and start to feel comfortable enough to be himself and have fun. If you get to the end of the first date and feel sure it's a no-go, then you can end it graciously. If you have fun on the first date but still aren't sure if you're going to walk down the aisle, no problem. Go on another one or two or three and find out.
It's okay to give people a chance and figure things out at each step. Sometimes our brain tries to shoot ahead to ten years down the road, when we really just need to take things one day at a time. It's true that there are beautiful stories about love at first sight and knowing someone is the one right away, but there are also stories about attraction growing over time and things working out that people don't expect. It's okay to be open and see how things develop.
Now you may get the questions. "You went on a date? How did it go? Are you dating? How do you feel? Do you like him? Are you going to keep going on dates? Is he your boyfriend?" People may be asking, but you don't have to answer anything you're not ready to answer. Your friends and family just want the best for you, but it's unfair to require yourself to know everything when you're in the process of discovering. Just keep the lines of communication open with the person you're going on dates with. As long as they know where you're at, you don't have to worry about having all the answers.
So as we close things, I want to give you permission. Permission to figure it out along the way. Permission to explore a possibility, and then change your mind if it turns out differently than you thought. Permission to not have a five-year, one-year, or even one-week plan of how things are going to go. Permission to get to know people and figure out what you like and don't like. Permission to enjoy the adventure of not always knowing what's around the corner. Try being open to something you don't expect. You never know where it may lead.