The Six-month Dating Experiment Part Two: Addressing My Neuroses

When I made my New Year’s resolutions, I didn’t expect them to unfold as they have.

I’m not given to setting grandiose goals just because the calendar changes. But as I searched for a new planner and adjusted to writing 2005 on checks, I realized I needed more than these external changes. I needed to adjust my attitude toward men.

I don’t have any tragic reasons for being the way I am (scared, bitter, overly analytical, stand-offish). But after a series of completely normal rejections and breakups, I gave up on maintaining healthy relationships with men. I built walls to keep my heart safe, and in the process my social skills regressed to those of a seventh grader. At least, that’s the way it feels. Two weeks with Dr. Henry Cloud as my “dating coach” (via his book How to Get a Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back) have revealed just how far I have to go.

I asked a group of friends to hold me accountable during this six-month experiment. Not only do I want to be sure I am not doing anything unbiblical, I also want them to hold me to this commitment and tell me if they think I’m getting too serious too quickly. (Though at the moment it’s hard to imagine even one date, much less a relationship!)

Then came step one. It sounded easy enough: I was to maintain a log of guys I met who fit three qualifications. They had to be new to me, have enough interaction with me to be interested and have a way to follow through. No action just yet—merely observation.

I wasn’t surprised that I only logged one guy each of these two weeks. Neither was it a shock to see how many people I could be talking to—at church, at the library and even occasionally at work. My only surprise was how I reacted when they came around. My interaction with a man at work perfectly illustrates my problem. I met this attractive man one day—I even spent 20 minutes sitting by him at lunch. I could have counted the words I uttered on my fingers. I clammed up, afraid of saying something stupid or, worse still, looking like I was hitting on him. After he left, I realized how foolish I was. There were several safe questions I could have asked, just to get conversation rolling. “How long have you been working here?” “Where did you go to college?” “Where did you grow up?” They’re nothing exciting, but at least I could have breached the awkward silence and gotten out of my head for a moment.

That’s really the purpose of this experiment. I’m not on a mission to find free Friday night dinners or even a husband. My goal is to get past this paranoia I have around men and learn to enjoy friendships with them again. As Dr. Cloud wrote, “This book is about growing and healing your whole relational life, and as a result, your dating life will grow. Heal the tree, and the fruit will change.”

It may take the full six months, but at least I’m on my way to transformation.

See Also

Related Link: THE SIX-MONTH DATING EXPERIMENT PART ONE: THE LAST FIVE YEARS

[Carla Jean Whitley is a substitute teacher who is hit on my middle school students more frequently than by men her own age.]

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