Yawn. Stretch. Gah. Mornings are like so overrated. No Tuesday, I am so not interested in you. I want to stay in my nice warm bed. Streetttch…sigh. Ceiling looks the same as yesterday. Lalalalalaaa…good morning God. I think I may have met the sweetest man ever. Did You hear what he said to me last night? I think he might actually see my heart. You know this is all I’ve ever wanted from a man. To be appreciated, first and foremost, for my heart. More than for the clarity of my skin or the height of my cheekbones or the texture of my hair or the length of my limbs or my waist-to-hip ratio or my dress size or my dress sense.
So, God, is this the bit where You say tut-tut you wayward girl, he’s not a Christian, you shouldn’t be getting involved with him, he is the devil’s way of seducing you into hell, he will only drag you away from Me? Be ye not unequally yoked or forever burn in hell? Oh, wait, that’s what I expect to hear from other Christians. But is that what You would say, God?
No? No telling off from You today? Not yet maybe? You’re awfully quiet on this subject. Maybe I am shutting You out. I don’t want to. You know I’m your girl, I always will be. But this man is so different. Unless You put a major blockade in front of me and write a sign in the sky that says ‘Stop seeing him’…I will go with the flow. Capiche? We good? Love You. Love You with all of my girly heart. You know that, right?
And go with the flow I did. For the next week or so. Witnessing – and being in the eye of the storm of – the striking charm of a heartfelt pursuit.
Every day, he would message me saying beautiful, sincere, genuine, things. I’d be on these other Tinder dates and he’d be texting me all through them, we’d be trading giggles or silliness or sweetness or I would be geeking out about something geeky-cool that happened at work that day. I tried to pay all of my attention to these other Tinder people. I really did. But contestant number 10, who had now become My Ardent Pursuer, left me in no doubt whatsoever about his interest in me and his intention to Win My Heart. It was difficult to do justice to giving any kind of genuine attention to anyone else.
Sometimes he would actually call (so old school! So sweet) to hear my voice and we would talk, sometimes for hours, like teenagers in the 80’s who didn’t have cars and the phone was our only way to spend time with each other. It wasn’t of course. Which made it all the more endearing.
But it wasn’t all just coming from him. Sometimes I would be the one to message him to say good morning, or to share something funny that had just happened in my day, or to see how his day was going or to say something sweet or silly.
He made it so safe, for me to reach out to him, to be more open, to share – because for some reason I had no fear whatsoever that he would reject me or pull away from me or shut down on me. When he heard from me, he’d respond so enthusiastically, and often straight away.
This man didn’t seem to be playing any kind of treat-‘em-mean-keep-‘em-keen game. He wasn’t even remotely looking like he was trying to play it cool. But he wasn’t desperate either. He just seemed to be…I don’t know. He knew he wanted to win me. And he was going after me. He wasn’t pretending not to. He was just there, all the time, engaging me, with his sincere, open heart held out to me, asking me to let him into my heart.
Over that week, we did see each other a few times. Actually any spare time we got, we found a way to see each other, even if only for an hour or two between other commitments (read: Tinder dates, for me at least). Somewhere in amongst those times, the kissing started, and the insane electricity between us would jolt right through me, every time. Oh, God. This man was So. Hot. And a Complete Sweetheart with it. Which made him even hotter.
But at the same time, he was such a gentleman. I can’t quite explain it. It was clear, he wanted me – and he was probably quite accustomed to having any woman he wanted – but he seemed to have so much respect for the fact that this kissing and stuff was no small thing for me. He knew he wasn’t just another guy who I was seeing in a succession of guys. He was the first man who had come near me, in that way, in more than 2 decades. He seemed to understand the enormity of it, he seemed to understand the trust I was placing in him with that, sometimes more than I did. And at no time, did he ever, ever judge me, or say anything judgey like well if you were really a nice Christian girl you wouldn’t be kissing me so passionately like this etc etc.
He just seemed to, well, celebrate me. Every part of me.
No man had ever celebrated me before.
In amongst that week, on the Sunday, he came to church with me. That’s a bit of a misnomer really, because actually, I went to church with him. I’d told him that I’d recently stopped going to church because it didn’t feel real or honest to me anymore and I couldn’t bear to spend any more minutes of my life on things that weren’t real or honest.
I said I did like the church I was going to, it was a really good one, but I wasn’t in a great place in myself, so it didn’t sit well with me at the moment. I said it was me and my stuff that was the problem, it wasn’t that particular church.
That church was actually pretty awesome, I said, because it was the sort of church that encouraged people to find the gifts God had given them and use those gifts, to reach others with God’s love, and to celebrate those gifts. It wasn’t the sort of church that locked people down into a way of behaving or dressing or living and in the process stifling who God made them to be – I said I’d spent a lot of years in a church like that before, so that’s why I appreciated the church I was going to now, so very much.
I said I’d probably go back to church eventually, but that I was just taking some time out. I was thinking that I’d probably go back soon, maybe in the next few weeks. He said he’d be really interested to go to my church with me sometime, when I was ready to go back, if I’d be OK with that. I was really surprised. I said that’s good with me but please don’t come to church for me, if you’re going to come to church, come for you.
I really didn’t want him to feel like I wanted or expected him to ‘fall into line’ and become a Christian or anything like that just because of me or for my sake. Because I didn’t. He was an amazing person, just as he was. And I knew, from my own journey, that God is the only Person who can really touch someone’s heart. He might use other people to reach out to someone, but ultimately, the decision that every person makes about God, one way or the other, needs to be their own. That’s how God made us. As free agents, with a free will, to decide for ourselves.
So anyway he said he really did want to come to church. He said he’d actually been thinking about going to a church up the road from him for a while anyway, he just hadn’t gotten around to it. So that’s how, on the Sunday evening, he ended up taking me to church after we’d spent the afternoon together.
I don’t think he’d been to church, much less a church like that, in a very long time. Afterwards, he said it was very different from his past church experiences, but in a good way. He said he could tell there was something real there. He said he’d like to keep coming with me if that was OK. I was really happy for him to come with me, because actually otherwise I’d be going to church by myself which I kind of hated. I hated going to church alone, in that big crowd of people. It made me feel more alone, not less. So it would work for both of us. Win-win 🙂
All throughout that week, he maintained that he was still intent on winning me over to the idea of a relationship with him. No matter what curveballs I threw his way. And I threw quite a few curveballs. I figured he’d better know what he would be getting himself into, so in the spirit of full disclosure, I’d tell him things, about My Crazy (as opposed to ‘The’ Crazy that we had in common), to see if it would put him off. I told him all sorts of things about My Crazy, each thing, more crazy than the last. Waiting for him to back off and say he’d changed his mind because no guy would be up for Crazy Like That. Nope. Not putting him off. He said I wouldn’t be able to push him away that easily.
Eventually, towards the end of that week, I realised that I’d run out of My Crazy. I’d exhausted all avenues of My Crazy. I couldn’t come up with another, more insane version of My Crazy with which to freak him out. I had no more curveballs left to throw. And anyway he wasn’t buying any of it. He saw me. He saw my heart. And yes, he admitted, he thought I was incredibly beautiful and unbelievably hot. And he wanted to be with me. Simple as that.
He wasn’t changing his mind. Nothing I had done or said had changed his mind. If anything, he said, the more he learned about me, the more he knew he wanted to be with me.
Well so much for scaring him off and thereby abdicating any responsibility to make a decision myself. He wasn’t changing his mind. He wasn’t going anywhere. The only way he would be going anywhere would be if I sent him away by saying No to a relationship. The ball clearly was in my court, to decide what happens next.
I began to realise that, alongside all this, it really wasn’t fair to be spending time with these other Tinder people when my interest was becoming so very skewed in one very tall gorgeous sweethearted direction. Although in my mind they were all just friendly dates, if I was honest with myself, I knew that some of these other guys were probably quite keen on something much more than the relaxed friendship that I was giving them. These other guys were really very lovely. But some of them did appear to be a bit smitten with me, but they were probably less confident than My Ardent Pursuer was, and hadn’t gathered up the courage to say something, or Go For It.
Gosh, that feels weird writing all that! Multiple guys, smitten with me?! Sounds kind of conceited, ugh. But I don’t know how else to describe it. I’m not saying oooh look at me I’m so great all these guys are chasing me around…it really didn’t feel that way to me and it still doesn’t looking back on it. I just knew that those guys deserved the respect of getting the same kind of attention back, that they were giving. And I knew I was not able to give that to any of them now. Not with My Ardent Pursuer competing for – and winning, hands down – all my attention.
So, one day, I sent individual messages to each member of my Tinder Family who was still keeping in regular contact and asking me out. I let each of them know that I had met someone who I had decided to start seeing exclusively, and that I had really appreciated the time with them, would be happy to keep in touch as friends if they wanted to etc etc.
Their replies back to me only confirmed my belief that they were really very lovely guys. They all, without fail, said they were happy for me, and that they’d really enjoyed spending time with me, and they hoped things went well. None of them were annoyed or nasty or anything like that. I really hoped that those guys would each meet someone as lovely as they were.
I still hadn’t properly decided that I wanted to actually go in boots-and-all into a relationship with My Ardent Pursuer. I just knew that I had to, in fairness to the other Tinder people, let them go.
One week after our second date, the one where he said he wants to pursue a relationship with me. Yeah, that date. We are sitting in another trendy eatery in another trendy part of town. I am laughing at something My Ardent Pursuer has just said. He says you have such a beautiful smile. You light up the room with that smile. I think I might be blushing. I look down at the table. I’m a bit self-conscious now. I tilt my eyes back up to look at him. I am smiling again. He is smiling back at me. I think this is what they call flirting. Oh, my. I’ve become a bit of a flirt with My Ardent Pursuer. The girl has grown up just a little bit more lately.
My Ardent Pursuer is saying that he wants to win my heart. I shift a little in my seat. I say nothing back. I am looking at him. Studying his face for any sign that he’s just Taking The Mickey. He’s not. He means it. He’s been meaning it all week.
So anyway, I say. He sits up a little straighter. He’s waiting to hear what I am going to say next. Because he knows, that I am about to tell him what I have decided. For the first time all week, he looks a bit nervous, a bit unsure of himself.
Anyway, I say. I have sent all the other Tinder people away.
I can’t describe the look on his face. He’s not saying anything. He’s just looking at me. He looks like he can’t say anything because there is a lump in his throat. He doesn’t cry or anything though, his eyes are just looking a bit damp. Oh dear Lord. I don’t think it hits me until that moment, how much I actually seem to mean to this man. He really does care about me. He is genuine. He hasn’t been making any of this up.
I reach across the table and squeeze his hand. His other hand comes over mine. After a minute, he says something. He says, Thank you.
After a few minutes we take out our phones, delete our Tinder accounts, and remove the Tinder app. That is 2014 speak for I Choose You.
And that is how, My Ardent Pursuer, became My Sweetheart.
Relationship drought = broken.