I Wish I Could be Hopeful About Dating

I wish I could be hopeful about dating.

About even the possibility that it could happen.

But the reality is that it feels very much like a pipe dream to me. 

Because the hard truth is that I am so very inexperienced when it comes to relationships.

I feel robbed of the opportunity to experience the carefree, exhilarating thrill of young love.

I feel weighed down by the baggage with which purity culture teachings saddled me.

I don’t have any past evidence that I am worthy of pursuit and emotional investment.

I am plagued by anxieties and fears and questions.

Am I enough for anyone?

Am I capable of being in a healthy relationship?

How the hell does a woman in her mid-30s with no prior dating experience meet an eligible partner who isn’t a creep without bar hopping and scoping church singles groups (both of which seem like an incredibly bad idea to me)?

(But for real.)

Is it worth dreaming and hoping for someone to share my life with? Or am I just increasing the sting of inevitable disappointment?

They [the church, both in general and my own specific congregations] built an altar to marriage and said it was good.

They taught me to be submissive—preparation to be a good wife.

They took my body and told me it was not mine, but my [near] future husband’s. I belonged to him and him alone.

They said if I kept my heart locked away, he would find me and unlock it with the key.

They told me I was a jewel, a treasure to be found.

They warned me that my appearance made men lust and I was responsible for his actions and reactions. They taught me to be passive, waiting for the fairy tale to begin.

And when I crossed an invisible line of no longer being a hopeful, young, virgin-in-waiting, they pushed me to the edges where I became a faulty, inexperienced, perpetual single.

They boxed me in, stole my femininity, made me small, and rendered me invisible.

Now, I realize that the fear-filled and shaming approach of purity culture produced shame, fear, and scarcity. [These are not the fruits of the Spirit.]

Now, I panic when someone mentions dating.

Now, I see the harm and the damage they caused.

Now, I weep for the innocence I lost.

Now, I fight to take back my power.

Now, I unlearn what I thought was the only way.

But is it too late?

It feels too late.