The One That Got Away

harlequin sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)

I didn’t have many boyfriends in my growing up years and was relatively inexperienced and naive when it came to relationships.  I had some characteristics in mind for that “perfect man” but that view had gotten warped by too many sappy Romantic movies and love songs.

When I got to graduate school, I was feeling content to just be single, focus on getting my degree and working with women in crisis.  I enjoyed coaching soccer and mentoring girls at the college on the side, but I was missing my family.

My brother and I went to college together and then I transferred to another school in my home town.  I had always had my Dad and my three brothers close by.  I guess I didn’t realize how safe that made me feel until they were six hours away.

Then I met, well, we’ll call him John.  He made a great first impression.  Very handsome, charming, training to be a pastor– we hit it off immediately.

Pretty soon we were spending a lot of time together.  I was talking about him a lot to my family over the phone, but it was so hard not having them close to meet him and tell me what they thought.

I still didn’t have any really close friends at graduate school- so there was no one who I could go to and say “what do you think of him?”

Warning sign

Looking back now, there were warning signs– but at the time I just didn’t see it. Single girls out there, this list is for you- married gals- share it with your single friends.  Watch for some unhealthy signs.

  1. Always wants to hang out just the two of you.
  2. Starts to isolate you from friends, acquaintances.
  3. Jealous whenever you talk to another guy.
  4. Controlling- wants to know where you are, doesn’t like you to go out without him.
  5. Spends more time in the bathroom than you do.
  6. Lavish with gifts and compliments- but always leaves you feeling insecure- like you don’t really know where things stand between the two of you.
  7. Feeling like you have to “prove yourself” to him all the time.
  8. Doesn’t have any close friends and doesn’t take you out in group settings with other people.
  9. Compares you to past girlfriends.
  10. Pushes your limits physically.
  11. Talks “big” but does not follow through with actions.
  12. Does not manage money well and/or is still supported by parents.
  13. His vocation causes you to “make excuses” for his behavior.
  14. You feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster when you are with him.

I look at this list and now I feel so foolish.  But he was very convincing in the moment, and he seemed to always do things to make up for the times when he was inconsiderate or behaved selfishly.

I was flattered that such an attractive guy wanted to date me (other women were very envious- everywhere we went- and that fed my ego).

He was different in the beginning of our relationship- I look back now and almost feel like he was reeling me in slowly- and I didn’t realized how far “in” I had fallen.

Before long I had become desensitized to some of his tactics, and I didn’t see how damaging they were.  I really needed a friend to speak truth in love to me, to tell me what they saw when we interacted.

We ended up becoming engaged- and I would have married him if not for the grace of God.  I finally started to wake up- and I found the strength to tell him over the phone it was over.

This relationship did a lot of damage in my life- and left a lot of lingering wounds.  It was years after my hubby and I had been married before I felt fully free from all the “baggage” I was carrying from the relationship.

He was training to be a pastor– that caused a huge blind spot for me.  Just because a man is training for full time ministry does not mean that they will be a good husband.  It is important to use discernment and pray- no matter what- and have your friends and family weigh in.

On a positive note- our AMAZING God can use all things for good- And if I had never dated John- I may never have seen how completely and wonderfully different my husband was from him.

Our relationship was a joy and blessing to me from the start- dating was fun, I loved his friends, he was not jealous or controlling and encouraged me to go out with others.  We enjoyed doing a variety of things together, he managed his money well, was considerate and thoughtful (still is  :) ). He has a servant’s heart.

Sometimes we need to thank God for the ones that got away.  We may have thought that the relationship was right- at the time it hurt to break things off with John-even though I knew it wasn’t the best relationship for me.

Going back to being alone sometimes is hard. We wonder if we are ever going to meet “the one.”

But I thank God that we did not get married, and that He has blessed me with my wonderful husband.

Listen to those words of criticism spoken against the men you are dating.

Think critically and pray- seek advice from women you respect or people who are married that you admire.  Don’t let your emotions override your common sense. 

For such a huge decision- we should approach it with as much objectivity as we can muster (hard when your emotions are involved).

Lord, we pray for discernment in our relationships.  Sometimes when our emotions are involved- we lose objectivity and fail to see the warning signs.  I pray that we would seek the advice of others and be willing to hear and seriously examine criticism of ourselves or the person we are dating.  If there is trouble in our marriage or dating relationship, Lord help us to seek help in the right place, whether it be counseling, advice from another married couple, or going to see our pastor.  May we Honor and give Glory to You in the way we live out our faith in relationships.  Give us the courage to break off a dating relationship if that be Your Will.  In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.


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