It’s review time! Let’s start with dating, shall we? Partly because it’ll be way more fun than my New Year’s Resolutions review (especially since that sexy truck came into my life).
Here goes the summertime dating review… What can I say? I am having fun! I enjoy getting to know good guys and doing fun stuff.
I think I’ve articulated my boundaries before but I’ll restate them so y’all don’t think I’m sleeping around with a bunch of guys. I am abstinent and have set a very conservative physical boundary. I can’t say too many people understand it, but they do respect it. What I can say about the gentlemen that I’ve actually been out with is that they have all behaved quite honorably and respected my line even if they thought it was a bit much. So, to any of those guys reading this… again I say thank you!
As I stated in the 90 day review in the spring, I am online dating. I have no shame in it and I think the culture is unique and amusing. I like it. I haven’t dated since high school, and that was simply horny boys in hallways, finding a guy then was super easy. I figured it would be more challenging to find someone out in the real world. Online dating makes sense, and I like that you can see a snapshot of someone at a glance. It helps reduce the time investment, and time, though I’m in no hurry, is also of the essence.
Ironically three of the four gentlemen I’ve seen more than once have been real-life acquaintances first. My goal right now, in The Middle, isn’t to date exclusively (though I am not opposed to giving a man undivided time and attention), or to get serious, but instead to spend time getting to know the character and quality of good men.
Obviously the end goal is a relationship, but what I’ve learned about me is, the kind of trust and respect a relationship is built on is established over time. Some people tell me I can’t expect a man be OK with me seeing a couple guys at the same time. But I can’t make sense of investing undivided time and attention into a man I’ve A) never met before in real-life or B) have only had superficial passing conversations with in real-life. Other people can do that, but that’s not part of my personality. I need to see them, hear them, smell them and, yes, touch and taste them to know them better before being willing to enter into a relationship. I’m not being sexually intimate, I’m getting to know the character and metal of men.
So after eight months of dating, I’ve learned more about myself than any particular gentleman.
I’ve learned that my faith is the #1 compatibility factor for me. I want, more than anything, to share my soul, my questions and my spiritual beliefs with a man who doesn't just tolerate my faith but participates in it as well. I’ve had some wonderful conversations and kisses and evenings with a few guys that I honestly wouldn’t mind spending more time with but I struggle to see a future with a man who doesn’t share my spiritual beliefs. I think it’s disrespectful of their time, no matter how much I enjoy them, to lead them on if I know our spiritual differences affect me that much. What I’m struggling with now is dating anyone, even once, who doesn’t share my spiritual beliefs because we run the risk of getting attached, which, has happened, at least for me, once.
The #2 compatibility factor is their fitness level. Just like I can’t see myself with someone who isn’t of my faith, I can’t see myself with someone who doesn’t make health and fitness a priority. The funny thing is, though I've invested time hanging out and getting to know men who don't share my spiritual convictions, I haven't spent any significant time with anyone who clearly doesn't respect their body. I suppose it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t meet them but I can’t imagine a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect his body.
To sum it all up: I’ve learned that chivalry isn’t dead, good men are really nice and fun and cool to hang with and while the online forum is a good way to waste time (and I mean A LOT of time) it seems the best way, at least for me, to get to know good guys and do fun stuff is to just do life and let it play out… and maybe I ought not even entertain anyone who isn’t fit or a man of faith…
On this day eighty-six years ago the greatest man I ever knew, and likely will ever know, was born to an immigrant family of Italians in the tenements of Pennsylvania. Everything I learned about what a real man should be was learned at his feet.
He was a feisty boy, youngest of ten, born to parents who spoke no English. His dad worked the coal mines of Pennsylvania and probably died from black lung. Grampa remembered his dad coming home from the coal mines one day, dirty, exhausted and drinking milk. My grampa wanted it and… so he asked, and… so his dad gave him the milk.
As my grampa relayed the story, he stopped to collect himself. Seventy years later and he was still humbled about taking a refreshing drink from an exhausted man’s hand. Up to that point I’d never seen my grampa cry. I don’t know exactly why but I think that was a pivotal moment in his life. Not that he took the milk but that a man who had already worked so hard and done so much to take care of his family sacrificed his moment of refreshment for the simple pleasure of another.
I imagine my great-grandpa was as wonderful a man as my grandpa, but I never knew him, only Grampa.
And what a man to know!
Dignified… so dignified! Respected, admired and well thought of. He was no buffoon and yet he could make everyone laugh with his quick wit, magical tricks, stories and jokes. From the boat, classroom, pulpit, social event, dinner table or anywhere, he always carried himself in a way that commanded respect without alienating anyone or disgracing himself.
Faithful… so faithful, to his friends, to his congregations, co-workers, grandchildren, children, wife and most of all God. Never once have I heard anyone say anything remotely untoward about his character or integrity. His biggest downfall was believing others held the same standards.
Smart… so smart! He was a lover of learning; science, math, fishing, the Bible, technology. Always bettering himself, never letting moss to grow, encouraging everyone around him to know more. He would take it in and then share his knowledge, like he did the rest of his life, with those around him.
Kind… so kind! He talked to the down-trodden and the most elite in society with the same affect and demeanor. He took time to pull nickels from a child’s ear or give them a piece of candy from his pocket or slowly, patiently help a little old lady up a ramp with her walker. He did not judge prostitutes, drunks, thieves or wayward prodigal grand-daughters when they decided to come home. He believed, through the cross, everyone was allowed forgiveness and that all men deserved kindness shown to them.
Firm… so firm, never wavering from the tenants of his faith or a well-planned decision once he set his mind on it. Never giving in to popular opinion to keep a following or please a superior. Prepared to deliver a tough, honest moment of correction but always in a way that left the hearer feeling better for having been reprimanded or stronger for having been corrected or directed under his guidance.
Busy… so busy, being active, productive, mindful and intentional about life. Maybe he did work too much, but I never remember feeling like he didn’t have time for me, because when he was with you, he was WITH you! You mattered, he welcomed you with bright eyes that said, I have so much to do but, right now, “I am excited to see you!” Everyone was worth his time whether it was a moment of passing in a hall or a lazy conversation on a potluck Sunday or a story recounted from his squeaky office chair that somehow related to your own life, but you didn’t realize he was reading your mail until later.
Most of all godly… he was a good, godly man. He shared stories of frustrations, difficulties and trials with work and ministry and family. What struck me was that he filtered everything through what he knew of Christ’s character. He didn’t always hit the mark but he tried to serve Christ well in all his dealings with people, his intention was to be like Christ. That didn’t mean he was always loved, or his ideas were always chosen, or his family (particularly a stubborn grand-daughter hell-bent on figuring life out her own way) listened to his wisdom, but it meant his focus was on doing right, first by God, then by man.
He’s almost eight years gone and I still think of him close to daily. I’m grateful for having such an amazing man in my life. I miss him! Happy Birthday Grampa!