My older sister’s approach to dating could not be more different then my own. When I date, I am open, impulsive, adventurous, and accepting. I am welcoming, and I let people in – that is what I do. I’ve always thought this was generally a good approach, but it can also get me into trouble. For example, last year I fell for Mike who was always flirting with other girls, the next guy I knew wasn’t serious about me, but I still hung out with him because he was charming and cute, and it’s happened a couple times that I have let guys in too easily and then they let me down.
My older sister, on the other hand, has always been more guarded. For example, she never dated anyone throughout high school or college because she didn’t meet anyone who met her standards and she would not settle for less. I used to think my sister’s expectations were unreasonable, I thought that she should be more like me – hanging out with whoever was interested. But, over the past 10 months, I’ve found so much inspiration in my older sister’s unfolding love story and I have come to see that being a little more careful about who you trust with your heart is the better way to date.
My sister met her future husband last spring at the ballet “Swan Lake.” My sister attended the ballet with our grandmothers. After the show, my sister and grandmas ended up in a conversation with a group of guys. While the encounter didn’t make much of an impression on my sister, she was unknowingly making quite the impression on one of the men she was talking to. After she had said goodbye, one of the men, Dan, made an impulsive move. Dan ran down the stairs, through the lobby, out the front doors, and as my sister was standing on the street corner with my grandma, he breathlessly asked if he could take her out to dinner. My sister gave him her number, helped my grandma cross the street, and then a few weeks later, my sister and Dan had their first date.
Her initial description of the date was “nice”, and she told me she would go out with him again. She didn’t seem head over heels and I remember wondering if she would ever let herself fall for someone. I didn’t understand that her approach was patient and healthy, and was about to pay off.
I will always remember my sister’s voice the night she called me to tell me she was Dans girlfriend. Her tone was so overflowing with contagious happiness and love that I could imagine how radiant she looked just from hearing her.. My sister and Dan are engaged now, and their love for each other is beautiful to behold, but it took time to build the trust that makes their love so secure.
I wanted to share my older sister’s love story, because it inspires me so much. I always think of it when I’m having a hard time seeing the importance of waiting and building trust, when it is my instinct to be impulsive and blindly follow my feelings. I want to be able to give someone my whole heart someday and know that it is in loving and trustworthy hands.
Here are 3 things I’ve done this past year in an effort to practice guarding my heart.
1. No kisses on the first date.
There is nothing like a first date kiss to get you carried away too soon. You have to think about it beforehand. Prepare yourself for situations ahead of time. For example, “If he tries to kiss me tonight, I’m going to explain to him that it’s too soon for me.”
2. Make a list of things you’re looking for in a person.
DON’T put, “tall, dark, and handsome” – or whatever your ideal physique is. This list should consist of important character attributes that you would like your man to have. They don’t have to be necessities, but it can help to give you an idea of what you want. Also write down any warning signals that you want to remind yourself to watch for.
3. Filter your thoughts.
Don’t let your imagination run away with you. If you haven’t talked about lasting commitment, marriage and love, don’t pretend that it is there. You can consider if he would hypothetically fit the bill, but don’t pine away for him too much.
I still have a lot to learn about dating, love, and matters of the heart, but I think I’ve been becoming better at it. Just realizing that I have a tendency to be too open and that I should make people earn their entrance into my heart, has helped. The example of my older sister and the love story that she and Dan have created has also helped me. It helps me to have hope that even though the wait for the right person can be hard, it is so worth it to guard your heart so that you can more fully give it to the right person at the right time.
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