Mom once told me, “You date your friends.” I don’t remember when, but I think this was after I’d been home from my mission for three months and was probably talking about going to lunch with that red-haired friend who eventually stood me up twice. I thought that dates were simply a way to get to know someone better—it seemed convenient, made sense, and safe; there wasn’t any pressure.
That’s become an excuse.
Talking to Britt a few nights ago, she said, “Matt, you need to stop dating your friends. It’s like cheating.” I thought about the only “dates” I’ve had this semester—all of them were with my friends, and none of them were “dateable.” Just friends—no risk involved.
Here’s my M.O.: “I don’t want to just ask her out without any foundation, so I’ll build a friendship,” I say. Then, after waiting around for a month or so, she’ll begin to date someone else and I’ll say instead, “Well, I’ll build the friendship for several more months and establish myself as a friend, then when she breaks up in six months and then has a rebound period for another two months, then I’ll ask her out.”
Of course, it never happens. Not once. By the time she’s available again, I’m not interested or she’s not interested or I’m just frustrated with dating and don’t want to mess with it.
Sometimes I think, “It’d be cool if God would just assign someone to me. One day we could be introduced and it’d be like, ‘Here Matt, this is your wife,’ and I’d be like, ‘Thanks God! This is pretty great.’”
That’d be silly if I expected that to happen. But then, I kind of do.
I tell myself, “If it’s going to happen, then there will be an instant, natural connection and I won’t have to force anything and it will just all into my lap.” Then I cite examples of previous situations to myself, like how I just kind of started dating makeout girl when she offered me a ride or how that soccer coach was introduced to me by a friend. I didn’t have to really do anything and those situations just kind of happened. “I must be doing something right and qualifying for the blessing of having someone to date,” I said. “Why do I need to try if it just kind of happens?”
And now, because I’m just sitting around and waiting and not expanding my circle of friends, I’m in a dry patch. Last semester, I think I went out three or four times. None of those people went anywhere, all for different reasons, and I had this whole identity-crisis thing that really kept me selfish and unwilling to set up any options for this semester.
So I started the semester with no one to date, and because I’m so set on being friends for a protective amount of time before I even ask someone out, I have yet to take someone out this term. Britt suggested that I’m afraid of rejection or failure. I think I laughed it off at the time, but then couldn’t stop thinking about it at Church yesterday.
During my last year of high school, I told a teacher, “If you never try, you don’t fail.” He asked, “What’s wrong with failing and why are you so afraid of it?”
I laughed. I still don’t know the answer.