Confession: In early 2015, I had an active Tinder account for roughly 2 weeks.
I’ll wait till the shock and/or hysterical laughter subsides…yes yes, funny, yes…mmhmm….yup, great, ok, yes, thank you, thank you, settle down now, folks, settle down.
No, I wasn’t ignorant to the fact that people criticize Tinder as the online “hookup” dating app. No, I wasn’t looking to have some kind of sordid affair that violated my genuine values and personal codes of healthy behavior. (My poor dongsaeng JJ was so worried. JJ, rest assured. I didn’t throw my morals out the window).
Yes, I was genuinely curious about the people in the Tinder community–no, I was not “curious” in some kind of experimental-teenage-girl kind of way, please. People & human behavior intrigue me.
Yes, I was a bit bored, which I’ve now learned to recognize as a symptom that I haven’t been spending enough time with Jesus (the most interesting being in all the universes) or with people who genuinely love & like me.
Yes, I was lonely. After impulsively and a bit rebelliously choosing to embrace exclusivity and independence when I was 16, I found myself many a time since then lugging bulging and nearly-breaking bags of grocery up the front steps to whatever studio or 1BR apartment I lived in at the time, pathetic tears leaking down my face because there was no one to help me.
Yes, I was at a rather low point in my self-esteem.
Yes, I was sick and tired of meeting and having No One. Even after realizing that perhaps independence wasn’t as good as interdependence and that maybe really letting people into my life wouldn’t be such a bad thing, my lifestyle for the past 5 years (a job that consists of one-on-one teaching sessions with children; ministry; and a social calendar filled with meeting people who are usually a whole lot younger than I am) had not really put me in the way of eligible bachelors.
I was also in a paradoxical place of, on the one hand, doubting God that I’d find Mr. Non-Weird-JesusLoving-YES-Best-and-Awesome (in case you didn’t know, Awesome happens to be my last name) among my communities; on the other hand, I was kind of “open to whatever God wants to do in my life.” Since I’d only been bumping into Mr. Wrongs and Mr. No One At Alls, I thought I needed a change of scenery, to open up my vista, and perhaps be pleasantly, sweetly surprised.
What a stupid idea.
Long story short, I went on one date with a slightly older fellow who seemed like a smart, conscientious, artistic, and non-shallow gentleman, but who turned out to be very short, very awkward, and very much Mr. Wrong. Basically, he left mid-date while I went to the restroom. It was awesome. I sent him a calm text, wished him the best, drove sleepily back to my warm home, and closed my Tinder account.
In all honesty we might have really hit it off had I met him, oh…about 10 years ago when I was in a very different place in my life (aka in my twenties and still all about livin’ la vida loca).
I wasn’t really angry or offended at Tinder Guy. I mean seriously, what did I expect, for him to be Mr. Awesome YES? Instead, I was saddened by how low we’ve made our expectations and standards of human social interactions in American culture–dating or non-dating. I think there’s a dignified way to let someone know “this isn’t working”…like telling them, “Hey, so…this isn’t working. Thanks for coming out, but let’s call it a night?”
Granted, I hadn’t gone out on a date in…like a decade, so I suppose standards of dating have changed…but seriously, had it fallen so low that it’s normal to walk out in the middle of a meeting?
Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a bitter rant on all the things wrong with American society. God bless America.
So after Tinder Guy, I then spent about 3 months actively checking my Coffee Meets Bagel matches everyday at 12. I was still holding on to hope, still “open to whatever God wants to do,” and still thinking that I could meet Mr. Awesome YES the way that some of my friends did. And granted there was one fellow who seemed pretty legit, whose conversation really intrigued me. Mr. CMB and I talked for a couple weeks, and it was nice…but then he got into a car accident the weekend we were supposed to meet…and when I offered my help he kind of went offline. I don’t think he died. I think he just was really not that into me.
So, CMB and other online dating options I’m sure really work for many, and are super great options for people who would not be able to meet someone otherwise. However, the problem I encountered wasn’t necessarily that these online Mr. Wrongs were so terrible. The problem was that I didn’t really believe my own worth or value, and so I sought external validation and attention while ignoring my internal heart culture. Don’t misunderstand me, wanting attention is quite normal–but settling for the wrong attention isn’t healthy.
Simply, I wasn’t all too happy being myself. I didn’t trust being myself, so I didn’t believe that I didn’t need to settle for the less-than-complementary fit. Instead, I focused on how fed up I was with “having no one,” not even a silly crush! Hm, wait, ok, gotta be honest–there was this one silly crush on a total random guy whom my friends and I (but mostly just me) shamelessly stalked online…yea that was out of total boredom and frustration that I had not met a single human male entity that I would seriously consider spending a good deal of my time, heck maybe my lifetime, getting to know. It was short-lived fun to stalk Mr. Random: fun because he wasn’t real, and short-lived because I actually want someone real.
And that’s when I started realizing that, actually, I wanted to be someone real…someone happy with being her created&creative self. Not a fake people-pleasing, trying to fit into external awkward expectations self.
Because in my past no matter how much I wanted real connection with a real person, not truly being happy with who I am had made me look for fulfillment in Mr. Wrongs. I spent the rest of 2015 discovering a deeper happiness in being me, a deep peace with who God created me to be, a healthy & growing love for myself, which can only have come from the Creator Himself. It’s still a process, but I can say honestly for probably the first time in my life that I feel more stable than ever in my identity, and I actually like myself more than I ever have before.
I’m guessing identity/liking yourself are probably important things to have before jumping into a committed intimate relationship with a whole other being who is an entire infinite galaxy of emotions, thoughts, stories and beauty in themselves.
So I don’t really believe there’s ONLY ONE PERFECT ONE for every person in the world, but I am certain that there are quite a few Mr. Wrongs, and one whom you and he by God’s blessing and grace eventually choose to be each others’ Not-Wrong One–one who says “YES” to intimately doing life together long term, not out of a need to fill loneliness or want of attention, but because you both know that life really will be better together than apart. Because life without the other is unimaginable; because everyday will be a day lived in Christ, by faith, in Love–and it’ll be an unshakable blessed-by-God choice that you each make: to make many things beautiful together, despite and through the challenges or ugliness.
I hope I can continue loving myself and people well enough to spot the Mr. Wrongs, let myself know, let him know…I hope my desire to be married and have a beautiful family never overrides my love, honor, appreciation, and desire to be in the right kind of relationship with every person I meet.
You know…in a real way, all the Mr. Wrongs who’ve waltzed in and out of my life have helped me to get here–this place where I’m not so broken and lonely to want them, but I’m content to wait for the Not-Wrong One.
So, to all the past Mr. Wrongs out there: thank you.
To all the future Mr. Wrongs out there: Thanks, and it’s cool–we don’t need to meet. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
For your amusement, I’ve compiled a shortish list of the different types of Mr. Wrongs I found during my life up to this point. Most of these are a blend of two or three real people (who shall remain anonymous, thank you). This is not the canon of Mr. Wrongs and by no means a complete list. Your list (should you be OCD enough like me to make one) may very well look quite different from mine.
At the least, I hope this list will make you laugh and…even laugh at yourself…and maybe help you on your way to loving and appreciating yourself…and to eventually your Mr. or Mrs. Not-Wrong.
- Mr. Bad Boy Wrong – the rebel, the James Dean; he’s a deeply troubled soul, maybe a high school dropout with incredible street smarts and tumultuous eyes that leak passion, danger, wildness, and a carpe diem YOLO view of life. He engages in all the prerequisite bad habits of any bad boy (nicotine, alcohol, girls, clubs, etc.), might have been a real or wannabe gangsta at some point in his life, and definitely joined a party frat–if he made it to college.
- Mr. Revolutionary Wrong – he’s a different kind of rebel; as equally passionate and dangerous as Mr. Bad Boy Wrong, with more of a leaning toward extreme intelligence that offends everybody, all the time; he is usually very skilled with words and rhetoric, and might be a rapper, socialist, poet, writer, musician, or all of the above, who always rolls at least 10 deep and is constantly talking about taking down Babylon and establishing a new world order. He’s exciting to be with, but the only problem is your personality gets swallowed up by his inner tumult and you feel like a mute log around him. I fell hard for this one, that one time…and then that other time…oh and then that last time…
- Mr. Best Friend Wrong – he’s your best friend, you talk and hang out all the time, laugh at all the same things, have so much in common he could actually pretend to be you and not get caught, he asks your advice for all his girl problems, you know all each others’ secrets, he comes over and chills with your family even when you’re not there, you know his entire extended family as well, he more often sees you without makeup than with, and he has probably heard you fart several times. You think maybe this could work as a more-than-friends type of situation, so you try…quickly realize that’s all very very wrong because you’re literally tearing each other apart as bf/gf, and that being friends is far better.
- Mr. Quarterback Wrong – not only is he the QB, but he’s also captain of the football team, has a killer smile, lives by homegrown family values, saves puppies and small children, cracks wholesome jokes, plays the drums, and in general has your adorable studly boy-next-door vibe…the only problem is you can’t quite believe he’s into you, so you’re really mean to him and scare him off.
- Mr. Too Perfect Wrong – he’s the dream…for your parents. Responsible, financially stable and will be for the rest of his life, probably; has no bad habits, health insurance, a Roth IRA, savings account; drives a Volkswagen, has a sardonic & clever sense of humor, is extremely well-articulated & eloquent, almost as much as Mr. Revolutionary Wrong, just without the extremist politics; graduated from a high-ranking East Coast college, has great morals and a very sincere faith, and he is a grounding force in your life…only problem is, he reminds you a little too much of a parent, and he sometimes scolds you like you’re his little kid. Awkward.
- Mr. Just Passing Through Wrong – Yep. Enough said.
- Mr. Sensitive Artist So Prettyyy Wrong – This one is just so pretty to look at and to be around. Like, everything he does or says is beautiful to you, and you just feel so amazing in his presence. He might be an artisan, model, singer, hipster, coffee-roaster, or photographer who’s really into nature and manly nature things like log cabins and smoking pipes in front of a fireplace. He can take cow dung and a used tissue and make award-winning beautiful art from it, he’s that pretty. But, liking him is really only about you and how the idea of him makes you feel, rather than your actually liking him the real person.
- Mr. Y U No Like Me Wrong – I think this one is self-explanatory.
- Mr. So Much Potential Wrong – He’s got so much potential. You see that he could be Mr. Awesome YES…someday. In the future. And that someday in the future might be 3 months from now or 30 years from now. But there’s just not enough of that potential being realized in the present for you two to have healthy non-dysfunctional intimacy. So you have to pass. Most times, this one manages to Man Up right after you pass through his life, and he usually marries the next girl he meets.
- Mr. AWESOME Wrong – Like, he’s AWESOME. He matches almost every point on your mental or literal “list” of THE PERFECT MAN. Funny, smart, Jesus-Loving, respectful, responsible, motivated, creative, intelligent, not weird. But he’s still all wrong…you don’t know exactly why, but you’re pretty sure that he’s meant to be someone else’s husband (like maybe your best friend’s or something) so the thought of dating him makes you feel like you’re committing adultery.