Watching Not Searching: Giving Up Fill-In-Maybe-Men

About two months ago I went to a party at a new friend’s house to get to know her and her husband better. I stood around a table with some of their friends and played a group game. During this game a well-known man standing beside me began to flirt with me. Flattered, I received it because I thought he was engaging, handsome and fun to talk to. He complimented me and said nice things like “A beautiful woman that I can talk to…how refreshing.” I thought inwardly: see, it is good to go to mingle amongst new people because you never know who you’re going to meet…

After about a half an hour of fun banter and flirting—and even a bit of side touching—he turned to me with a guilty face and said, “I should probably mention that my girlfriend is over there on the couch…”

Seriously? Sigh.

A friend who overheard this exchange pulled me to the side and said, “Oh, I think he really likes you. She’s just a fill-in. They break up all the time but get back together for the sex. Long term, he’s looking for a woman he can talk to and sleep with.”

Ok. Enough.

I turned to her and said, “Well the man of character I’m looking for isn’t sleeping with his fill-in playmate while he waits to find me.”

It was a quick response, one that sounded rather planned, but it wasn’t. The strength in my words even kind of startled me. Though I meant what I said (and still do), my own judgment of my “party flirter’s” behavior became a mirror to me.

I spent a few months asking myself the hard questions—the kind we all need to ask ourselves if we are serious about having authentic relationships:

Have I found my personal value in having a man to talk about with my girlfriends or to go on a date with?

Has it all been a distraction from facing my disappointment with God that I’ve had to wait longer to get married than I originally wanted?

Have I spent years filling my life with dates I have consciously known are “fill-ins”?

While I’ve been single for what feels like a really long time, I wonder if I am always letting a “maybe” hang around. I’ve usually been well-intentioned about it or rationalized that dating is what single people do. I’ve joked, “It’s a numbers game. You gotta keep fishing!” Yet I see now that some of my dating has been due to not believing I deserved much more than a “fill-in” that I could “fix up” and hope to make into the right guy.

Whatever the reason or intent has been behind some of my past dating history, I decided that this year the fill-in dating had to stop. I have to start waiting well…and waiting the way I hope my future guy is waiting too: sans playmate.

After a few years of doing a lot of “fix-up” work on myself, I finally believe I am worthy of the real thing: a man of character who is ready to commit and connect, love and protect, care for and adore me…without all the unfiltered baggage.

I’ve realized that women who wait well don’t search and scramble, they watch.

What does that look like exactly? Here are five ways to stop searching and start becoming a woman who watches:

1. Be present to the life right in front of you. Life isn’t just about finding a man. There is much more to the story.
2. Grow, refine, develop, explore, and work on becoming the best woman you can be. Examine your life, make changes, and live well in every season.
3. Be curious about men who come into your life, but don’t hunt them down in desperation. If you are fully alive and content in your life, you will be much more attractive than a desperate and needy woman looking for her savior in every guy that comes along.
4. Pray about the men you meet. Ask for wisdom from God, and then listen to it and live by it. Believe that God cares about this part of your life.
5. Practice gentleness and vulnerability rather than cynicism. When the right guy does come, you’ll be ready to connect in the way that good relationships require.

 

Photo Credit: awelltraveledwoman.tumblr.com

Kristie is a writer and speaker who communicates to audiences about navigating healthy modern relationships with freedom, authenticity and connection. She blogs regularly on her personal site, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @kristievos.

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