Alone in a Relationship
Last week I received a message from an old friend asking if we could get together. She needed some advice from a “man’s perspective.” We had the opportunity to get together today and caught up on what was going on with each other. And coming out of that conversation, there are a ton of thoughts swirling around my head, but one stands out above the rest:: I am so thankful for the rich community that Penny and I not only get to live in today, but that we got to go through our season of dating together as well.
As my friend and I talked, she told me how she was absolutely in love with the man that she is with now. They’ve been together almost a year, and he is so far and above different than any other man she ever been with before, that she couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. But there was something that has been bothering her over these last couple of months. Now that all the warm fuzzies of a new relationship have worn off and they find themselves settling into a rhythm, they are finding the rhythm has turned into a rut. The more we talked, the more what I was hearing her say beyond anything else was that she knows that he loves her, but she doesn’t often feel it. That, unfortunately, he has stopped pursuing her. He loves her, he has committed himself to her (but hasn’t put a ring on it yet, so keep it in perspective), and she should know that. And as a guy, I really get where he is coming from. But it doesn’t translate well to her heart. So she pushes in to try to make him understand that she is feeling a gap, hoping that he will respond. But what she doesn’t see is that he is responding, in a very guy way. Occasionally, the way he responds does connect to her heart, but usually it only serves to frustrate her more.
As I listened, I thought back to several times in Penny’s and my dating relationship, and even now that we are married, and all the times that we did something that was frustrating or didn’t seem to connect with each other…and at first I couldn’t think of much, but the more I thought, the more I realized that we have had and continue to have the same issues as my friend and her boyfriend. But in almost every circumstance, I reached back to sitting in the garage of my LifeGroup leader, Michael (who would later be one of my groomsmen), hashing out what was going on, what was confusing and frustrating. I thought about my ministry team leader at church, Lorelei, who, as a girl, gave me incredibly great insight into the liv
es and hearts of women and decoded a lot for me. I thought of a great mutual friend that both Penny and I loved and loved us, Rebekah, who had eyes on us as a couple and wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, as well as encourage us in the things we were doing right. And Penny had Megan, her own LifeGroup leader, that I knew she was constantly talking to (Megan would also be in our wedding). And I realized something- Penny and I were surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses of people who had nothing to gain from our relationship, they just loved us enough to love us.
So I asked the question to my friend, “Who do you have in your life that is having eyes for you both individually and as a couple? Who has permission to slap you upside the head when you’re being stupid, and call the best out of you?” And her answer… “No one,” she whispered as she shook her head.
You see, this guy hadn’t stopped loving my friend. He just doesn’t have anyone in his life to hit him upside the head and say, “Hey, how about you not hang out with the boys tonight and go hang out with her.” She doesn’t have anyone in her life to say, “Hey, you know how he said this thing and it frustrated you, do you hear how actually romantic it is.?” They are doing this relationship alone. Sure, they have each other, but they don’t have anyone else with them in the middle of it.
Here’s the thing, we were never meant to do any of this life alone. We aren’t ring-bearers and most of us aren’t named Frodo. We are designed and meant to do life- to do relationships, in community, with other people around. It’s what I was talking about in the 10 Things I’ve Learned About Dating :: #7- Date in Community. You don’t have to be alone. You won’t be better off for it either. Get people around you.
So how’s it going with you? I ask you the same question I asked my friend, Do you have anyone in your life that has eyes for you individually and as a couple? Who has permission to slap you upside the head and cheer you on at the same time? Leave a comment and let us know.
(PS- Thanks again to Michael, Megan, Lorelei, Rebekah, Todd, Michael R, Ginny, Brad, Jonny, Elijah, Sarah, Harlan, Mike, Teri, and so so many more who were and are part of the community that Penny and I get to do life with. You guys rock!)