Hindsight is 20/20, so they say. Sometimes, I wonder if I would make the same mistakes again if I had a do-over. Though I pray I would have the sense to make better choices, I remember how intoxicating some temptations were in those days.
While I received plenty of love at home, I still craved the connection, attention, and affection of guys – preferably four to six years older than me. My desire for slightly older men has not changed as Eric is almost six years my senior – and I love it!
If I wrote about all the dating mistakes I made as a teenager, we would have enough material to fill several series! So, for today, I will stick with only five. These mistakes added a lot of turmoil and heartache to my life. If I had my teen years to live again, I hope I would not make these same mistakes:
- Starting Too Young – “She’s so mature for her age!” “She looks like she’s eighteen!” “There’s no way you’re only twelve!” For years, I heard people comment on how mature I looked and acted. Deep down, however, I was just another immature twelve-year-old with no life experience. A tall body and adult-like demeanor does not a woman make! Because I looked older, it is no wonder that older guys occasionally showed interest in me. I can still remember telling the eighteen-year-old I liked that I was only twelve. He was flabbergasted. It’s funny how age doesn’t seem to matter when you are the twelve-year-old. ~smile~ By entering into adult-like relationships at such a young age, I opened my heart up far too early and to far too many people. I slept with a toilet paper roll beside my bed because I spent many nights crying. I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t know myself. I set myself up for heartache because I jumped into one directionless relationship after another. It’s not like I was seriously preparing for marriage in middle school! Those early relationships were for the sole purpose of feeling wanted. Though I would have been mortified to admit it at the time, I was immature. I was not ready, and I will try to refrain from encouraging young girls who look older to act older. I will try to treat them like older children, and not like young adults. Childhood is good! It is short! I wish I had enjoyed mine more!
- Jumping In Too Quickly – In addition to starting my “dating career” far too early, I had a tendency to jump in the pool head first without checking the depth of the water. “I will have some fun now and count the cost later.My heart may ache in a few months, but for right now I have someone whispering sweet nothings in my ear. What more could I ask for out of life?!” Yay for butterflies! Boo for crushing breakups and another layer of ice around my heart. There are a handful of decisions in life we must make in an instant, but who to date is not one of those decisions. I could have saved myself many heartaches had I hung back, prayed, taken time to know each guy first, and not jumped into each new relationship with reckless abandon.
- Begging God Instead of Trusting Him – Oh, the years I spent begging God to change His mind. Thinking about it now, it is absolutely priceless to imagine little ol’ me thinking I could possibly change God’s mind (see Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Numbers 23:19).Even as a young teen, I could tell when the Holy Spirit wasn’t pleased with my relationships. The constant uneasiness! The desperate attempts to have peace in my heart! The immediate relief that came when I obeyed God and ended the relationship. However, instead of trusting God in the first place and staying out of unhealthy relationships, I would dive in and then beg God to give me peace. My efforts were in vain and my strategy backwards! When I have obeyed God, I have never been disappointed. Looking back, I would have come out less cut up, beat up, and emotionally drained had I simply trusted God in the beginning. He was not trying to strip my life of fun and excitement. He was trying to keep me from harm, and trying to preserve me in ways I may never understand. And, just because I’m an adult does not mean I have fully learned this lesson. I continue to have situations where I can either beg God to do it may way or simply trust that He is in complete control. Surrendering to His will is the harder choice in the beginning, but the best choice in the end.
- Breaking Up Repeatedly with the Same Person – Have you ever half-obeyed God? Me too. Do you know what that’s called? Disobedience. ~frown~ I have half-obeyed God on many occasions, but never as often as when it pertained to my love life. The gentle tug of the Holy Spirit would work on me. I knew I needed to get out of directionless relationships which kept my focus off of the Lord. So, I would work up the courage to break off the relationships. They would not take it well, I would start to miss them, and then (little by little) we’d find ourselves right back where we started. Breaking up with someone a second and third time is harder than the first. For one, the guys didn’t fully believe me, so they didn’t take me as seriously. And, because they did not trust me as much, the “relationship” would be rockier and more exhausting the second and third time around the block. If I had fully obeyed God and broken the relationships off cleanly, there still would have been some hurt feelings, but nothing like the drama and turmoil caused by the repeated offenses. When God tells us to do something, we should do it – fully – and not look back.
- Trying to Comfort my Exes – If someone deliberately shot you, would you want that same person running to you and trying to make you feel better? Probably not. Most likely, you would want someone to bind and gag him while those you trust run to your side. Though I made many stupid mistakes in my teenage years, I did not enjoy hurting people. It bothered me to think that someone across town was in pain because of me. So, I tried to make them feel better. (It’s okay, you can laugh.) “Maybe if I say the right words or bandage the wound differently, he will forgive me and not be so hurt and angry.” This was a well-meaning, though simultaneously self-seeking, and ill-advised solution. Break-ups are hard, but they are easier when the broken person is given some space. My presence only confused them and re-opened their wounds. I can speak from experience because I have been on both sides of this coin.
Have you made dating mistakes? If so, what have you learned from them? Can you help someone else avoid the common pitfalls of modern dating? Yesterday is gone. Stop beating yourself up for your failures, and see how you can use those experiences to help someone else who is trying to find the right path!
If you could give a young person three dating tips, which tips would you give?