So…I Tried Tinder

I’m (three days away from) 28 now, and still single.  I know that as a society, we’re moving past the idea of online dating as being “desperate” but…I’m desperate.  Not just to find a guy, but to prove to myself that I’m the sort of person who can take risks and step outside her comfort zone.

But why now?  Partly it’s because one of my super cool, super intelligent, super self-possessed friends started using online dating, and I figured I’d be in good company if I did the same.  Plus she shared some really funny conversations, and I’ll be honest – I thought it might make good blog post fodder.  But the second reason was my old boss’s visit.  Chrisette told me that I would be single forever until I was willing to fail.  That felt like a lesson I definitely needed to learn so…I looked into a bunch of different options.

Match, Hinge, and Coffee Meets Bagel were all unavailable in Greece, which is unfortunate because they are the most Relationship Oriented (as opposed to Hook Up Oriented).  Bumble works here, but not many are on it, and within three minutes I had run out of people to swipe left.  I signed up for How About We, an app designed to get people to go out on dates instead of sit around talking all the time.  But you get ZERO information about a person other than their idea of a date, and my hyper-sensitive trust issues were not okay with that.

Elizabeth told me to try Tinder.  I wrote back:


And also: no, that’s what people use when all they want is sex.  She sent me this article that convinced me to give it a try.  And so, on the 14th of March in the year of our Lord 2016, I signed up for Tinder.   Continue reading

My Dallas Church Preached a Sermon on Singleness, and I Lost My Mind

It’s not very often that I hear a sermon and mentally scream, “IS THIS REAL LIFE?” but my good friend Mike Stroh preached on singleness at my Dallas church, and it IS real life.  I remember very specifically one Father’s Day sermon years ago that exalted marriage and parenthood, and I sat there biting back tears thinking, “this is not for me, this is not for me, this is not for me.”  I felt so incredibly alone in my church pew.  THIS SERMON, however, made me want to dance around screaming, “this is for me! this is for me!”

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Mike opens the sermon assuring listeners that this is not a token sermon to make singles feel better, it is instead a theology of singleness for everyone, from which everyone should learn.  Thus begins Mike’s habit of using incredibly specific terms that my single friends and I have complained about the church not using.  I’ve had many lunches where my single friends lamented the lack of a theology of singleness – we talk about the biblical basis of marriage ALL THE TIME and so it is valued.  Why don’t we talk about the biblical basis for singleness?  (For the record, Mike is married to the amazing Libby Stroh, which makes me love his sermon even more.  Being married is, in our Christian culture, the privileged position, and it is mostly from the mouths of the privileged that change can occur.)   Continue reading

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney

I loved this book, but it also infuriated me.  Two years ago, when I was 25, I wrote 80 pages of a pseudo-memoir about how I was 25 and had so far avoided having an actual boyfriend.  Now Katie Heaney does the same thing, and SO MUCH BETTER.  I’m over my jealousy – this girl is hilarious and we are kindred spirits.  Her every observation (whether about 90s kid culture, junior high horror, or college friendships) is so accurate.  Her personality, like mine, is perfectly suited to obsessions and inaction.  Which is why she’s 25 and hasn’t had a date.

“I just don’t know how anyone ever knows what to do with their bodies.  I catch myself worrying about what my arms are doing when I’m walking alone, and that is just walking.  Alone.

So I am a basket case, generally, and picky, and have almost always had crushes on people who usually don’t have crushes on me, and it’s rare that I’m so attracted to a stranger that I could imagine having sex with him at that exact moment.  And even when that has been true, I am only able to talk about thinking about it, from a safe distance.  I have no idea what I’d actually do about it.  But generally speaking, I’d like to date someone, at least a little, first.  Add all this to my somewhat looming height, an unintentional bracing hostility toward people I don’t know well, and an end to the era in my life when I might have felt the need to do something for the first time to get it over with, and it’s not hard to end up with a twenty-five-year-old who hasn’t had sex.  I put practically no effort into it at all.”

Continue reading

A Better Set of First Date Questions

BuzzFeed recently introduced me to the the existence of @firstdateqs, a Twitter account where people are revolutionizing first dates.  Throw out questions about careers and families of origin and ask the truly important ones, like, “Do you think birds hear their own voices and are like ‘ugh is THAT what I sound like?'”

I’ll be honest, I would be super impressed by a guy who brought his creativity A-game to the restaurant.  So, just to practice, I thought I would answer a few.  Continue reading

Choosing to be Happy for PDA Couples While I Sit Nearby, Very Single

There is nothing more conflicting for me as a single person than watching couples perform Public Displays of Affection right in front of my eyeballs.  On the one–nicer–hand, how great for them!  I’m all for PDA, and I plan to gross out as many people as possible when I start dating someone who feels similarly comfortable.  I think there’s something very sweet about people showing their love for their partner in public.  BUT.  On the other–much meaner–hand, I don’t think anyone should be allowed to show PDA until I am also engaged in similar activities.

With one exception:  Old people. Couples above 60, hold hands all the time!  Kiss each other!  Rub each other’s backs and smile close into their face!  I love it.  It’s 100% adorable and it gives me hope that long-lasting love is possible.  Continue reading

Find Out Why You’re Single With Myers-Briggs!

My friend sent me a link to this article, “Here’s Why You’re Still Single Based on Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type” which I immediately knew would be up my alley.  Singleness?  Personality tests?  Self-awareness?  Yes please to everything.

I scrolled down to INFJ….and barked a surprised laugh before staring open-mouthed at my phone.  Continue reading

The Thing That Sucks About Being Single

I like to defend singleness.  I like to become very defensive, really, and point out all the people, groups, and institutions that are not doing a good enough job at validating me.  I stand by my observations and my exhortations.  But there’s an elephant in the room that I always pointedly ignore during those kinds of blog posts.

Because the thing I skirt around is painful.  It is far easier to focus on what I like about singleness (the freedom!).  And it’s easier to focus on fear, and how being single means I get to avoid the potential heartbreak of loving someone so deeply that I accept the inevitability of being hurt by them.  It’s easier to pretend that that is the whole picture, thank you, please walk away now.  Continue reading

Singleness According to Tim Keller

One of the worst things about being single are the comments that come your way from well-meaning friends, relatives, and acquaintances.  My favorite (by which I mean my least favorite) is the question, “Why are you single?”  Sometimes I am tempted to pull a Bridget Jones and pretend to have a skin malady of hidden green scales.  One time I sarcastically responded, “I don’t know.  Why don’t you tell me why you think I’m single?” I was met with uncomfortable silence.  There is simply no good answer.  If there were a specific obstacle keeping me single, I would do my best to remove it.  And anyway, that question just highlights the fact that I am alone, with an unpleasant undertone of “and that’s not okay.”

Knowing my abhorrence of this trend, imagine my delight when in chapter seven of The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller lists four common Christian explanations of singleness….and a sassy retort.  Continue reading

Gifts of SIngleness: Use Them or Become Resentful

While I was trying to decide whether to stay in Dallas after I graduate from DTS or else move to Athens, my biggest Dallas advocates were repeating the same variety of advice:  Settle down.  Start investing in long term 1) relationships, 2) career, 3) housing.  Stop running.  These messages were internal, too.  After all, I’m 26-years-old, and Facebook is full of my peers marrying, buying houses, and even creating the next generation of adorable little girls and boys.  Picking up and moving overseas is such a post-college phase (and, uh, coincidentally, exactly what I did post-college).  A phase you’re meant to grow out of, right?

I felt vaguely guilty about my decision to choose Athens over Dallas despite feeling deep in my bones that it was the best choice and that it was where God was uniquely calling me.  That guilt disappeared during a conversation with my friend Jennie.  She affirmed my decision, then said, “It’s so great that you can just decide to move halfway around the world.  I have a hard enough time [taking her four children] into town to buy groceries.”

Suddenly things made a little more sense; stability and security are wonderful things, but so are freedom and adventure.  The former are more easily acquired through marriage, while the latter tend to find expression in singles.  This is, obviously, overly simplistic.  Singles can be stable and marrieds can have adventures.  But generally, I think this division is fairly accurate.

I have a long and varied relationship with my own singleness.  Sometimes I am desperate to be married, and other times I want to run as far away from the possibility as I can (these mood swings often coincide with the health or destruction of my friends’ relationships).  I have felt the cultural and Christian pressure that implies I am “less than” because I am single.  I have also felt the warmth and inclusion of marrieds and singles who welcome me into their homes and lives.  I used to think that being single was essentially a waiting game; over the years I have started to embrace my singleness and see it as the gift that it is.

I have more time to myself, more creative energy, a greater ability to serve others.  I can make decisions without aligning my plans to someone else’s, and I can be spontaneous in a way my married friends (especially those with children) simply cannot.  In short, as a single woman, I have more freedom and adventure.

So back to those itching thoughts about security and settling down.  Talking with Jennie, I realized that in many ways, I was hearing the message “Act like a married person.”  Having described the benefits of being single, I’ll now say I think the benefits of marriage are primarily security and stability (relationally, vocationally, and geographically).  I was being told to value the gifts of marriage above the gifts of singleness.  And subconsciously, I had started to agree.

Now that the subconscious was conscious, my anger flooded in.  No way was I going to feel bad about being single!  No way was I going to agree with societal pressure.  If I get married some day, and I hope I do, I will pursue and enjoy the gifts of stability and security.  Until then, I intend to embrace the gifts of singleness–I want to pursue freedom and adventure.  I want to be spontaneous, to use my nomadic ability to travel the world and connect with a vast network of amazing people.

Not that all single people need to travel in order to feel self-actualized.  But I do think that single people need to look at their life situation and seek out opportunities for freedom and adventure, whatever that may look like for her or him individually.  If single people do not take advantage of these gifts and instead pursue security and stability exclusively, I think we will become resentful.  I did, when I imagined my life in Dallas, living in the same place, working in the same place, year after year after year…alone.  I have seen this happen to single men and women–they get so locked into finding a good job and buying a house that they then obsess over finding the missing piece:  a husband or wife to complete the set.

I don’t want to become so focused on what I don’t have that I forget to appreciate what I do have:  the ability to relate broadly and meaningfully with many people, the freedom to be spontaneous, and an adventurous spirit that says “yes” before “let me check with so-and-so.”  I want to love being single while I’m here, for as long as that might be.  Deciding to move to Athens has renewed my ability to embrace my singleness.