What happens when there’s no romance

There’s eye contact. Laughing. An attractive woman with a pretty smile. She touches his arm playfully. He compliments her style. This has all the makings of a great relationship forming. But what happens when there’s one thing, one critical thing, missing?

It might not be apparent on the first date, or even a 5th date, but have you ever been out with someone only to realize you don’t have romantic feelings for them? Whether you ever admit it to them or not, I imagine it’s happened to most of us at least once.

So let’s get personal, shall we? Earlier this year I spent time with someone in whom I was hoping to have interest. There was clearly an attempt on both of our parts to strike the match for a romantic spark. We went out a few times and saw each other quite a bit in “non-date” scenarios. All that to say, we were able to see each other’s personalities pretty well, and I was purposely trying to be a gentleman throughout the entire dating relationship. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m generally happy with how I behaved. Well… that makes one of us!

I’m not one to leave things hanging or to assume she can read my mind so once I knew I didn’t have feelings for her, I wanted to talk about it. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not one who’s known for being tactful. I’ve got none! But I made a point to be kind, considerate, and to muster up at least an ounce of tact. It must not’ve worked. Somehow my approach for sharing my feelings was off-putting and she took the opportunity to let me know. Let’s just say she had a spirited response…

…which was 17 pages. FRONT AND BACK!!

OK, it wasn’t as dramatic and the Ross and Rachel saga, nor was it more than 10 or 11 pages, but she was clearly upset and told me all about it. And just so you have all the facts, she also didn’t have romantic feelings for me! The verbal lashing seemed to be out of left field, and what I couldn’t figure out is who she thought she was talking to? And I don’t mean that in a puffed up kind of way. What I mean is that she derided pretty much my entire approach to our dating relationship, the same dating approach I was proud of! Surely she was thinking about some other fellow, right?

Way back in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think what really upset her is that I brought it up first. Maybe she wanted to be first to say there wasn’t interest. I honestly don’t know, and won’t ever know, because after I defended myself, and spent time considering her comments, I let it go. Any further communication would not have been helpful to either of us.

What helped me through this is remembering I can only marry one person. So every other person in the entire world is someone I didn’t marry. Makes sense, right? These other people… either I didn’t know them, didn’t date them, or didn’t have romantic feelings for them. Those are all the options. So this latest relationship is simply one of the ones that aren’t the one. I wish her the best…

As tje band Queen said, “Another one bites the dust!”

-Out of the Wilderness

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A weekend date night

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to set up a date for the coming weekend. During the days leading up to the planned date anticipation began building, and anticipation can be your best friend or your worst enemy. On one hand, it can leave you feeling very deflated if what you’re looking forward to doesn’t materialize. But what I was hoping for was on the other hand.

Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t go how I envisioned. The date was cancelled (for legitimate reasons) so I was left with a blank slate for that particular night. Even with the cancellation, I was determined to go on a date. I reached out to a few other potential leads, only to come up empty.

So I’ll be honest, I was upset about it. I let doubts creep in. I became my worst critic, assuming the things I don’t like about myself are what these potential dates don’t like either. I had a pity party that lasted more than a day. Maybe a couple of days… or three.

There are a few take-aways from this experience:

  1. I like when I’m more even-tempered. When things don’t go my way or something happens that shakes things up, just roll with it. Be breezy, as Monica would say. My problem is, much like Monica, breezy is not my strong suit.
  2. I heard this a few years ago and I still love it. Whether it’s in relationships, job opportunities, any scenario where you’re taking a risk by putting yourself out there, “Rejection is God’s protection.” So maybe this “date fail” wasn’t a failure at all.
  3. No matter what happens, I won my fantasy football league this past year. And it feels amazing.

Be breezy, y’all!
-Out of the Wilderness

She’s a question mark

As you’ll find when you look up the 5 W’s on Wikipedia, they’re defined as “questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving.” Well, some people would definitely consider my love life basic. Clearly I just roasted my own self and I’m OK with that, though, because I like laughing. I laughed a lot yesterday while I was driving behind a car that had a dog sticking it’s head out barking wildly at cars passing in the other direction. I also think yesterday was a good day for information gathering. It started when I opened up Spotify.

What…
I heard one of my favorite songs when it cycled up in my Spotify library. Every time I hear this cover of a Temptations hit, it sends my mind a’drifting, thinking to myself, “I can’t wait to put together a video with this song for the woman I marry.” Sure, it’s 90s reggae but it makes me think of a fun relationship I’ll have with my best friend.


Why…

I’m a hopeless romantic. My favorite movies are The Notebook, Elizabethtown, Hitch, and I’ll throw Serendipity in there too, as a great romantic comedy. So when I have the chance to make something personal for someone I love, of course I’m going to do it. That’s why!

Where…
An educated guess would say this story will unfold in Nashville, where I live. There are other possible backdrops to this love story; I have family in Florida so there could be a scenario where I cross paths with a beautifully-quirky woman there.

When…
Timing is everything and right now, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe she and I are already friends. Maybe she’ll be at the Post Office today when I go to drop off some mail. Either way, I’m looking forward to the day I can’t remember what my life was like before she entered entered it.

Who…
Now this is the question of the hour. I’ve had a handful of great relationships in my love life, but none that progressed to marriage and, it might be strange to hear this, I’m very thankful they didn’t. Had I married in my 20s or early 30s, the relationship would have gone one of two ways: a rough and rocky start that crippled us for a long time, or simply ending in divorce. Neither of which is something I wake up hoping for each morning.

So this mystery will go on unsolved for the time being. Heck, we only have information for 2 of the 5 W’s and that, my friends, is what I’d call… not even close! But when Spotify queues up Billboard’s #6 song from a reggae band of white guys in 1989, I can still anticipate the day when the question mark becomes an exclamation point!

-Out of the Wilderness

What is broadbacking? Dating answers here.

By now we’ve all heard of “ghosting” (disappearing from a conversation, whether it’s online or texting, and then zombieing… reappearing days, weeks, or months later). Other more traditional terms like “DTR,” “red flag,” and “an item” have all been used in or about relationships over the years, but for recent trendy terms, here’s a list. One you won’t see on there yet is a dating word I’m coining today.

Broadbacking.

Broadbacking is when you’ve met someone and within a short amount of time they dump an overwhelming amount of emotional baggage onto you because they think you can help them carry the load.

This behavior can happen online through long and drawn out emails that take you 29 minutes to read, text messages that are broken up into 17 different sections that you have to piece together to make sense of it, or even in person/on the phone where you may have to practice the art of listening…a lot.

No matter how this information is being thrust upon you, just know that it is, and the person doing it is totally broadbacking you.

-Out of the Wilderness

FHFYFUFU

I have a little phrase I’ve been repeating to myself as a reminder of my appetite. And no, I don’t mean peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, although I’m down if you have some to share. I mean appetite as in what I’m hungry for, what I want my life to be about and in turn, what I’m feeding it and how I’m feeding it. What am I doing each day? What am I not doing each day? More on all that here.

For her, for You, for us, for us.

The her is my future ________ (insert “girlfriend” or “wife” here).

The You is God.

The first us is for the relationship I’ll have with previously mentioned girlfriend or wife.

The second us is for the relationship I have with God.

It might sound simple, I know what you’re thinking. Love can walk through…wait, what? OK, it might be simple but it’s been a good reminder to keep my eyes pointed towards God– my savior, my helper, my provider. I don’t always get it right, but that won’t stop me from trying.

-Out of the Wilderness

Rekindling an old flame, part 2

My dad likes to fish. And by “like,” I mean if he could be on the water every day, I think he’d do it. Something about the call of the grouper, the invitation of the red snapper, not to mention the quietness of the wild blue yonder, beckons him. Sometimes I hear that call, too, but I’m pretty much ready to hang up after a couple of hours. And by “couple of hours,” I mean 1 hour. But when I’m out there, sometimes 15 or 20 miles out, there’s nothing like it.DCIM100GOPROThe water is a deep, sparkly, dark blue. The boat rocks back and forth, all the while rising and falling on swells unlike what you seen near a shore. There’s an exciting, and sometimes eerie, mystery to what’s below the 23-ft Boston Whaler because while the water is clear, what’s 90 feet down remains unknown.

So we tie off the anchor. We drop the lines. There’s a variety of bait samples used in hopes of hooking the big one. I might be on the bow of the boat. My dad at the stern. My brother starboard. My brother-in-law port side.

Because of my dad’s expertise, we are usually on top of rocky ground, which if you have fished before, you know the most elusive fish and the ones you want are tucked in the holes and crevices of the jagged edges there.

And the bite? When these fish bite, you know it! There is rarely ever a nibble that prepares you for what’s to come. These fish pack a wallop! It could be a 20-pound grouper, or a 2-pound rock bass, but the moment they bite you could swear you’ve hooked a whale. That’s part of the adventure. And boy, is it a thrill!

“There are plenty of fish in the ocean.”

Dating is lot like fishing. Emotions rising and falling like ocean swells. The mystery of who you’ll meet, when you’ll meet them, the chase. The ones that are worthwhile are usually harder to find, and don’t just go after the first bait that comes along. So you drop your line and hope to God to get a bite. All kinds of fish, all kinds of people that could potentially turn into your happily ever after.

But you may have to wait a while or reel a few in only to throw them back because they’re not right for you. You might need to pull up the anchor and find a new ledge. Then you drop your line in again… and wait.

Well, when I started dating the girl I’m writing this and the previous post about (and for what it’s worth, other posts like this and this), I thought I’d hooked the big one! At times it was a struggle. At times I wondered if it was worth the fight. But when it was good, it was really good. She was unlike any other I’d dated before and while it wasn’t always easy, it was worth it in the end. But then there was the end. The end of the dating relationship, the end of a friendship. I wasn’t prepared for losing my friend.

Since then, I’ve missed her. I’ve wondered where she was and what she was doing. I thought about the places we went, the conversations we had, the dreams we had for the future. Songs came on the car radio and I either had to change the channel or dive into the deep and mysterious feelings of loss and doubt. Which isn’t always smart when, ya know, you’re supposed to be paying attention to the road!

Time went by and I never told anyone about any of this. I was supposed to get over her. I was supposed to be over her. Whatever rule that said after a certain amount of time, a person needs to move on didn’t work for me. But it stayed hidden because I didn’t want to admit I still missed her. That is, until I was riding in a van to Missouri with my brother, to whom I confided in with these feelings that kept me unsettled all this time.

Talk about a boring conversation for my nieces, right? 

Well, they were asleep through most of it, so they were spared the Hallmark-worthy retelling of my dating life.img_20170701_095918344.jpg

Our conversation moved on to other stuff and we didn’t talk about her again till the trip back to Florida. This leg of the trip included one of my sisters. She and my brother challenged me to write my feelings down, try contacting her, and pursue what was clearly heavy on my heart. For the most part, I was on board, with the intention of being cautious as I didn’t know a whole lot about her current dating situation.

We arrived in Florida for a week with the rest of the family. I knew there wouldn’t be time to give appropriate attention to what I wanted to say in the letter because, well, the house was full of 8 wild kids, 8 adults, and 4 dogs. I’ll write when I get home, I told myself. So when I got back to Nashville, I dove in head first. I started with writing part 1 of this rekindling story.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait.”

I’ve totally dragged this out and by now you’re borderline postal wishing I’d get to the part where I reveal that I wrote the letter, she got it, and…

A. We chatted, she’s married with 9 kids, but has fond memories of days of yore.

or…

B. I showed up to her house with five thousand roses, she welcomed me with open arms and we’re now married with 15 kids.

Well, put away your Scantron® because this isn’t a test! I can say for certain neither A. or B. is the right answer, anyway. There’s always a secret third option– in this case, not writing the letter, which is the decision I settled on. Yep. The romantic gesture intended to express my feelings for a woman I haven’t spoken to in a long time is not happening. I considered writing the letter. I really did although I didn’t have a clue where to start. But after time, prayer, and a considerable amount of peace I have about it, I’m cutting bait.

I will always be thankful for the Missouri trip even though it’s hard for me to exactly define what changed for me. All I can say is that when I got it out, when I actually talked about it out loud with human beings, therapy was happening. And even though I didn’t write to her directly, I did write.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou

Now I feel relief, a weight lifted off my shoulders, closure or a chapter ending, whatever you want to call it. My steps are lighter and my heart feels untethered. I haven’t felt this free in years and I gotta say, I’m thrilled at what the future holds as far as relationships go. It’s scary to admit that in any relationship I’ve been in since she and I broke up, she was always in the back of my mind. I’m grieved to think of wonderful women (except this one) I missed out on because I wasn’t fully present. But I think that’s a thing of the past now.

I feel a release I can’t explain well.

It’s peace about the decision to let go. Finally letting go for good. Forgetting the past and moving forward to the future God has for me. And I’ll say this, too… I believe in a God that is bigger than me. His ways are higher than mine and his thoughts higher, too. He’s the great conductor and if, in the masterpiece He’s creating, He chooses to have her and I cross paths and He knows we’re better together than we are apart, then so be it. Amen.

So that’s how it’s going to be for me now, in this moment, and tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Happy for what God’s brought me through, and with the rise and fall of the ocean swells, my line is in the water. The anchor is tied. The sun is shining.

And it’s a beautiful view.

-Out of the Wilderness

Rekindling an old flame

handsSo I’ve posted a few blogs about my trip to Missouri. If you missed them, check a couple of them out here and here. This one, though, is diving into a deeper and more private part of my life…something I don’t do very often. It has to do with dating and relationships. I guess when I post something, I try to keep it somewhat light and entertaining so I’m a bit nervous about what this post could reveal to you about me. Maybe it’s something you don’t know? Maybe it’s something I should keep to myself? Hmm, anyway I’ll just keep typing and see what happens.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 3.09.59 PMOn our 15 hr trip from Tallahassee, Florida to Branson, Missouri my brother and I covered a lot of topics, my dating life was one of them. Being single at 38 offers a decent topic to waste time talking about, right? 🙂 To catch you up, and this is something my brother already knew, I’ve dated on and off over the years but had 2 relationships that I’d call “serious,” meaning they each had the potential of progressing to marriage. We talked about the ins and outs of each one, the reasons the relationships ended, my thoughts on that, his thoughts on that, where those 2 women are now, etc. We talked deal breakers, compatibility, likes/dislikes, faith, personalities, core values, and more.

By the end of the conversation, he was pretty much sold on me pursuing one of them again. Maybe the reasons it ended were characteristics that I’ve grown out of, ya know? Like, I’ve matured and grown into a different place than I was back then, and perhaps she has, too.

The conversation turned to something else and we didn’t really get back into it again before arriving in Branson. But, of course, there was still a 15-hour drive back to Florida.

This return trip included one of my sisters, who also knows these relationship details of my life. So she and my brother encouraged me to write down what I’d say to this woman if given another chance. Then they took it a step further and said whatever it is I write, send it to her however I can. Such a paralyzing thought, but also I felt a flicker of life there. As if there could be something rekindled. A faint sign of life, even if it is completely one-sided. I have no idea how it would be received, how she’s feeling about relationships overall, and all that. We haven’t spoken in a long time.

I haven’t written anything down yet, and I don’t know if I will. It’s something I think about and consider doing, but I have fear of hurting her in some way and to me, that makes the whole idea extremely high risk.

So here I sit at my computer, writing to you instead. Hopefully you’ll read this and accept it as a piece of my heart, without judgement but with compassion.

UPDATE: For the dramatic conclusion of this story, click here.

-Out of the Wilderness