See Me: Why I’m Still Single After College

Answering an Age-Old Question

Back in undergrad, it was not unusual for me to return home for break and get asked about my dating life. In fact, it was almost always the question posed by some church ladies who seemed to know something I didn’t. Well, it turns out they really did! Apparently, college was (and probably still is) the best time to try and land yourself a man.

While my previous comment is made in jest, I’ve found that there might be some truth to it. I mean, think about it. During your undergrad years, you’re typically away from home and allowed to reinvent yourself into the person you want to be. You can experiment with your sexuality, explore new interests, and see how you function while not under the watchful eye of mom and dad. Honestly, it’s during your college years that you find out who you are and what you’re made of.

If it’s true that you discover who you are during undergrad, then it makes total sense that a relationship formed at this time could potentially last forever. Right? I mean, you’re both being your true selves and figuring life out as you go. There’s no need for pretenses because you have nothing to hide since all the cards are on the proverbial table.

After thinking long and hard about this, I wondered why I hadn’t maximized my college years to meet my Mr. Right. For all I know, he could’ve been the guy in my English lit class or a panelist at one of the business conferences I attended. We could’ve gone to the same embassy networking events or been at the National Mall at the same time. Why hadn’t I put in the energy required to stick my head out of my books to take notice of the tall, beautiful, educated Black men around me?

Well, fellow navigator, I didn’t do any of those things because I was, you know, getting an education. Although I had a pretty decent social life during undergrad, the majority of my time was spent focused on my studies. I mean, I wasn’t going to college to catch a man. I was going to college to learn and set myself up for a bright future filled with endless possibilities.

Knowing what I know about myself now, I think getting into a serious relationship during undergrad would’ve been detrimental because I would have lost focus. My life would have centered around that man and his happiness; I would not have put much thought into pursuing my own goals. Why do I say that? Because that tends to be what happens. While this is not the case for everyone, I find that women often make more compromises in relationships when it comes to careers. We’re the ones who get pregnant and carry a baby in our stomachs for months at a time. We’re expected to go on maturity leave to raise that child. We tend to earn less, so we end up taking a back seat as our spouses climb the professional career ladders. If this is not true for you, then more power to you.

During my single years, I have been afforded opportunities to do things I never thought I could or would. There have been no compromises made on my end, except for the things that I, and I alone, have chosen not to do or involve myself in. I have come into my own as a woman who knows what she wants, who she is, and where she desires to be in life. Why am I still single? Because I want to be.

If I’m completely honest, while it’s been difficult at times returning to an empty home, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for marriage. Meaning, if I knew it would take 30+ years without a spouse for me to become who I am now, I’d willingly tell God to let me live my life solo. I know that the man I end up with will see value and beauty in all I have gone through and have to contribute to our relationship. I know he will appreciate my strong sense of self-awareness. I’m confident he will realize that the woman he sees and loves would not be who she is without all she has gone through.

I have come into my own as a woman who knows what she wants, who she is, and where she desires to be in life.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

So, to answer the age-old question, I’m still single because I’m living my life as I should. When the right man comes into the picture, that could all change. But, until then, I will continue to do what makes me happy and feel fulfilled. My spouse is meant to complement, not complete, me. What about you, fellow navigator? How do you respond when people ask you why you’re still single? Tell me about it!

Not I: The Ideal Woman?

Let’s take a minute to discuss our flaws. It may seem a little odd to start a post this way, but I need you to allow me to explain. Growing up, I took it upon myself to try to be as perfect as possible. Well, sort of. I pursued academics with all I had within me because that was a world I understood. Not too concerned about those around me, I joined clubs, participated in other extracurricular activities, and volunteered in my community. The aim was not to get into an Ivy League school, but it was at the same time. I enjoyed studying, clubs, and volunteering. If those things just so happened to be what the top universities looked for, then it was a win-win.

“Growing up, I took it upon myself to try to be as perfect as possible.”

It was probably in high school that I began to see myself as different from my peers. The distinction was noticeable—not bad—just noticeable. I enjoyed serving at the local soup kitchen and taking part in charity walks on the weekends. It was easy to get so engrossed in a novel that half my day was spent reading about fictitious people in faraway lands. What’s more, I found satisfaction going to church and rehearsing for an upcoming skit instead of planning what I would wear to a party. In those days, my priorities were different. I was different.

The thought of becoming a “perfect woman” didn’t enter my mind until college. While on the grounds of Howard University, I could be any person I wanted to be. College was the time to reinvent myself. I could go by a different name, switch up my personality completely, or fake a backstory about being from an exotic country (accent included). The point is that the possibilities were endless once I set foot on that college campus. Nevertheless, while some minor things changed, I still basically remained the same. The biggest difference? My desire to achieve perfectionism reached its peak.

“College was the time to reinvent myself.”

I sought to become the kind of woman a man couldn’t resist. I desired the lifestyle of international travel, dinners with dignitaries, and more than enough money in my bank account. Like a shapeshifter, I found myself conforming to what I believed would appeal to my love interest at the time. Has that ever happened to you, fellow navigator? To read more, I talk about it in my book. The constant twisting and bending left me feeling like I had no identity. To be even more transparent, I felt like my identity was closely connected to my crush of the week.

After college, everything changed. Again, I changed. It was not until an event led to me abandoning many of my worldly possessions that I realized what was most important. Instead of trying to be the ideal woman, I pursued God with all I had within me. More than just going to church almost every day of the week, I spent time in intimate prayer and Bible study. It dawned on me that the ideal woman is one who finds her value in God. Eventually, I’ll have to part with my money and the things of this world. But, when it’s all said and done, my soul will have to spend eternity somewhere.

Fellow navigator, I no longer desire to be anyone’s ideal woman. It’s taken some time, but I’ve come to a place where I am content being me. Upon entering a dating relationship, I make my flaws and imperfections known. Sometimes, my strong sense of self-awareness leaves the other party taken aback, but I’m not concerned. I’m tired of wearing a mask—tired of the show we so often put on to get someone to like us. Yes, this approach has blown up in my face and caused a few men to turn around and leave quickly. However, the one who stays will be worth it.

What do you say we stop with the charade? I’m not suggesting we lay all our cards out on the proverbial table the very minute we meet someone of interest. Rather, I’m saying let’s be intentional about showing our real selves to those we encounter who we believe could be good life partners. Fellow navigator, do you play a role when around a dating prospect? Did you end up showing your true self? How did that unveiling go? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, Temptation is Real…Like, Really Real

I recently heard a sermon about David’s fall at the hands of a woman.

That’s not exactly how the preacher put it, but it’s essentially what he was saying. David, a man after God’s own heart, stumbled and fell because he desired something he couldn’t have: another man’s wife. David, a king with hundreds of thousands ready to die for him, faltered because of one thing: another man’s wife. What does this chapter in the book of his life teach us? I take from it two things. First, he’s human. Second, temptation is all too real.

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that no one is above being tempted? Even Jesus, the Son of God, was faced with moments when he could have simply given into what Satan was offering him (food, power, and riches). Can we stop and take this in for a minute? Lucifer went so far as to try to get Jesus, the Lamb of God, to forsake his own Father. If that doesn’t put things into perspective about the power of temptation and the lengths at which Satan will go to deceive us, I don’t know what will.

Now, Jesus had just come off a fast. (Read Matthew 4 for the full story!). He was weak, and food would have been great. Nevertheless, he resists the devil’s advances and responds with Bible verses. Three times Satan tried to get Jesus to give in, and three times the Prince of Peace refused. He stood his ground and thwarted any plans Satan had for him that day.

Let’s be real: we don’t come close to being Jesus. When a beautiful, caring man enters our lives and whispers all those sweet nothings, most of us are all too eager to plan forever with him. When that same handsome man appears to have everything we’re looking for, we may be quick to ignore the fact that he’s missing the most important criteria: a relationship with God. I think it’s fitting to write about this, fellow navigator, because it’s a situation that I have found myself in one time too many.

The story is always the same. We meet, get to know each other, talk about every nonsensical issue under the sun, then eventually make our way to the serious topics. This is the make it or break it moment in determining if the relationship will live or die. In most cases, the feelings of “love” fizzle as we realize we’re not as compatible as we thought. We’re not pursuing God in the same way. We don’t have similar views on family or how children should be raised. We don’t think about marriage and the role each other will play the same. How can a relationship lead to forever when we don’t see eye-to-eye about these vital topics? It can’t. And it doesn’t.

I mentioned David earlier for a reason. Before I say what it is, let me just state that relationships are difficult to navigate. We are deceived by our eyes and mind to think that what we don’t want is what we need and vice versa. Temptation rears its ugly head each and every time we think we are strong in an area. It uncovers our weak spots, takes advantage of us, then leaves us high and dry to pick ourselves back up after we’ve fallen to the ground.

With regard to David, even though he could have had any single woman in the nation, temptation in the form of lust led him to pursue a married woman. He was captivated by Bathsheba’s naked form and, not being where he should have been (fighting with the army), he gave into the temptation. This critical moment caused him to take other actions that would lead to his downfall. (I encourage you to read the story in Matthew 4 to get the full context.)

Temptation rears its ugly head each and every time we think we are strong in an area.

I’m no Bible scholar, but I believe we’re all susceptible, like David, to having weak moments. (After all, we are human!) We see a man we want and go after him with reckless abandon. It’s not until after our hearts have become tied to this person that we discover the skeletons in his closet. He may be married. He might not believe in monogamy. He doesn’t believe in marriage. Or, the one that causes many women strong in the faith to waver, he might not have a relationship with God. Period.

It is temptation that leads us to a place of indecision about what to do next. We weigh pros and cons and try to find ways to make the relationship work. Slowly, after reflecting on all the good feelings we had with this man, some of us decide that life with him is better than life without him. Translation: We choose him over our convictions. Why is this important? Why should we care? Aren’t relationships supposed to be about compromise? Yes, compromise is a key word when it comes to relationships. But, if we must compromise the beliefs that make us who we are, then we are living a lie.

Remember that story in the Bible when Jesus talks about those people who would come and say how they did all those things in his name? What did he say back to them? He said he would tell them to depart from him because he didn’t know them. Yes, they did great things in his name, but their hearts were far from him. Translation: They professed him and did good deeds, but they didn’t really know him. If they knew him, they would have had a relationship with him. If they had had a relationship with him, they would have obeyed his teachings. If they had obeyed his teachings, they would not have entered into relationships with men who didn’t know him because he clearly states that being unequally yoked is not what’s up.

Fellow navigator, relationships do require compromise. However, when compromise comes in the form of ignoring our deal-breakers, we shouldn’t do it. They are called “deal-breakers” for a reason. That good man you want more than anything, the one who makes every other guy before him look like a chump, is not worth disobeying God. I know that not everyone might receive this message; I didn’t write it for everyone. This blog post is one written from a place of vulnerability as a reminder to myself and women like me who have been tempted to give up on faith because they question if another good man will present himself.

What are your thoughts, fellow navigator? Have you ever found yourself in this place? Tell me about it!

Not I: Forsaking My Beliefs for a Man?

It seems like we just met yesterday. He was tall, had an athletic build, and charmed me off my feet. We conversed in English, French, and Spanish. We spent hours watching movies, laughing about silly things, and talking about our future. I enjoyed every moment of our time together; it just felt right. However, we broached a topic that brought my happily-ever-after fantasy to an end.

“By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men.”

Fellow navigator, please hear my heart. I’m not condemning those in mixed-faith relationships. If you are able to make it work, then more power to you. My purpose in telling that very real story is to illustrate a situation I’ve found myself in on more than one occasion. I meet a man. We hit it off. Then, we end up at a crossroads because our beliefs don’t align. By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men. They were decent guys who would make just about any woman happy, but they were not for me.

If I say that my faith is a major part of who I am but hide it from the one I claim to want to spend forever with, then it never really held such a high place in my life. If I openly profess Christ to total strangers but fail to talk about him to my partner, then I am no better than Peter before the crucifixion. If I continue being with a man who denies the existence of a God I know to be real and true, then I am just like Judas and lead a double life.

“There is grace.”

There is grace, fellow navigator. God can change the heart of anyone at any point and time that He so chooses. I don’t doubt this. My apprehension comes when I knowingly enter into a relationship with a man who is at enmity with God or has his own views about faith that completely differ from mine.

There must be something in the water, fellow navigator, because I hear similar stories of women who’ve had to choose between a seemingly good man and God. Based on those I know, the ones who chose the former live good lives but have strayed from the faith. The ones who chose the latter continue to live on their own terms but have yet to say “I do.” It begs the question of why God would allow women who willingly choose Him to remain single…but that’s a post for another day.

Fellow navigator, have you ever found yourself in a position where you had to choose between God or a guy? What did you do? If you’ve tried having a mixed-faith relationship, how did it go? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, I Accept that I’m a Different Kind of Woman

Once upon a time, I thought there was something wrong with me because men weren’t knocking down my door. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, or worthy of the attention of a man. Several relationships ended because I wouldn’t “give it up” within the time frame deemed by my partner. (It’s sad to say that even the holiest of Christian men struggle with their libido.) Knowing that I deserved more, I did the only natural thing to keep myself from going down the endless road of trying to contort myself to fit a man’s image of who I should be—I buried myself in work.

If some of us women are honest, I wonder if we share a similar experience. How many of us who have been labeled as “career-driven” would say that our jobs only became a priority because we realized the men who were trying to capture our attention weren’t anything to write home about? I mean, I would much rather focus on my work and making my dreams come true than put all my energy into a relationship with a man who only views me as an option. Has this been true for you?

Fellow navigator, we’ve been greatly wronged in the way we’ve been conditioned. As young girls, we were taught to be meek and mild-mannered. Many of us grew up believing women were to be seen, not heard. We were told to suppress our sexual urges and act daintily in public. We were brought up to believe that everything a man says goes; we should never question his decision. We were instructed to put our lives on hold to focus our attention on family and home. Some of us were even raised not to dream or have aspirations of our own because only what the men in our lives wanted mattered.

I use the pronoun “we” when discussing the erroneous ways many of us were brought up because, at some time or another, we’ve all been faced with situations where our womanhood was called into question. For some, we’ve even had to choose between the wishes of our families and the desires birthed inside of us wanting to come out. As women, because of our sex, we are viewed as “weak.” Men say we need protecting because are fragile, and that is what they use to justify dominating our lives. Granted, not every woman lives like this. But it breaks my heart to think of the millions of women who continue to live in male-dominated societies and are never given the opportunity to discover their identities outside of the closest man in their lives. Their pain is my pain. But I digress…

I am not a bad woman or poor choice for a wife because I have ambition. In fact, I believe that makes me wife material because I’m the kind of woman who supports and encourages the one she’s with to pursue his dreams. When he feels like giving up, I’m the lone cheerleader letting him know he can do it. When the world beats him up and spits him out, I’m the safe haven he can find rest in and know that he still matters. I’m the woman who isn’t concerned with whether he’s bringing home all the proverbial bacon because I’m contributing, too.

He’s not my sugar daddy, feel good machine, or arm candy. No, he is my friend, partner, and confidante. We don’t have to concern ourselves with what the world thinks because we’ve learned each other and grown together. Society may try to pull us apart, but it’s really us against the world.

Not every man is deserving of me. If you are a real one, fellow navigator, the same holds true for you. At just about every turn, your femininity may be called into question. And that’s ok. The wrong dude might say you’re not a “good woman” because you don’t allow him to win at everything. You might be labeled “too masculine” because you decide to go after what you want instead of waiting for it to be given to you. You may be considered “not soft enough” because you drive better and faster than many men.

I’m the kind of woman who supports and encourages the one she’s with to pursue his dreams.

One of the worst things you can do is lower your standards to match a man who isn’t worthy of you. Instead, keep working and grinding until the man who sees your value shows up. Recognizing him will be easy. He’ll be the one who sticks around at times when others have left. He fights fair and doesn’t hit below the belt during an argument. He’ll listen when you speak about your insecurities and fears, then do what he needs to do to make you feel safe. These men are few and far in between. They aren’t perfect by any means, but they know how to spot a good woman—another kind of woman—and work to keep her.

Fellow navigator, I wish someone had sat me down and told me that it was ok to be a different kind of woman before I entered the world of dating. To be honest, maybe someone did. Maybe I didn’t receive it or recognize the words as wisdom at the time. Nevertheless, I found myself in a pattern of dating the same type of man but only with a different name. What dating gems have you learned and currently apply to your life? Tell me about it!

See Me: The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy

Keeping it real about my complexities

Believe it or not, I used to be pretty uptight when I was younger. To be completely honest, I probably still am when it comes to certain things. That’s neither here nor there. I wrote once that I’m a complex creature because there are so many layers to me that it would take a man a lifetime to uncover them all. There’s the version of me he sees when in a professional setting, another when we’re in private, and yet a different one when we’re among friends. It’s not that I’m two-faced or put on a show based on who is around. No, it’s because I’ve learned not to allow everyone to have complete access to my true self.

Business associates and colleagues have no right to know what I do in the comfort and privacy of my home. Workplace etiquette demands that I maintain a certain level of professionalism to ensure that I’m taken seriously and critiqued based on my performance. Similarly, friends (even close ones) don’t need to know the intimate details of my love life. This is not to say that those my future partner and I choose to take on accountability roles in our relationship won’t get this access. Instead, I’m suggesting that I won’t be running around in the streets telling people about every tiff my future partner and I have.

When it comes to everything that is me, there is the good, the bad, and the crazy. I’ve learned that just because someone plays some sort of role in my life does not give them the right to see me in every light. By setting boundaries, I guard my heart and keep people who may not be able to handle it all at bay. Past experiences have taught that I place myself at a greater risk of getting hurt and doing unnecessary emotional and psychological damage when I fail to establish boundaries.

Setting boundaries looks differently for everyone. For me, I’ve broken my world into the three categories previously mentioned: the good, the bad, and the crazy. This is my way of determining how close to allow someone to get to me. Everyone starts in the good and, depending how things go, make their way to the bad. If they are able to hang on, they ultimately cross the finish line to the crazy. While these are terms I use in jest, they actually accurately sum up what transpires in the three major categories.

Let’s start with the good. This is reserved for those who get to experience the joys of life with me. We cheer each other on, check in to hear about life updates, and encourage one another to achieve our goals. In a romantic relationship, this is the “getting to know each other” stage. We discuss our passions, hobbies, and things that generally make us happy. The relationships aren’t superficial, but they lack the depth of the other two.

Next, the bad is saved for those who are emotionally and spiritually stronger than I am. We go through the harder times of life together. We walk through moments of questioning it all and wanting to give up. When I feel like I’m on my last leg and hopeless, they’re the ones I turn to for prayer and support. When my fire looks like it’s about to go out, they add fuel to keep it running. In a romantic relationship, we discuss deal breakers, faith, politics, and just about every other taboo topic. This group of people are few, but they are dear. Made up of prayer warriors, positive personalities, and individuals who will keep it real, they speak the words I need when life just seems like it’s spiraling out of control.

Finally, the crazy is exclusively for those who see my heart in full transparency. There are no secrets between us because we’ve been through it all. They hear the unfiltered stories about my insecurities, see the heightened emotions, and experience the moments that leave me feeling debilitated. There is no judgment among us because everything is exposed. Some say you can never be 100% your true self with anyone, but I disagree. The very few people in my life who are able to witness the ugliness of my heart that manifests through words and actions are the ones who see my true self. In a romantic relationship, this is where we decide that only death will do us part. (I’m still single, so no man’s made it this far yet.) This type of relationship takes an enormous amount of trust, patience, and discipline because of the level of vulnerability involved. But if we make it to those point, where all the crazy hangs out, we will be together forever.

They hear the unfiltered stories about my insecurities, see the heightened emotions, and experience the moments that leave me feeling debilitated.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

Now, there are sub-categories, but we won’t get into them. Some in my life might experience the first two categories, not the last. Others may only be granted access to one. The point is that, much like in a relationship, we’re not supposed to rush to give ourselves away to just anyone. Instead, we take our time to learn each other until we’re comfortable letting the other into our complex world.

Fellow navigator, have you ever stopped to consider who you allow to celebrate your victories, walk with you through the valleys, and see your true self? What is it about those people that makes them worthy of your trust to journey with you in those moments? If you don’t place yourself into such broad categories, how do you define relationship boundaries? Tell me about it!

Not I: Afraid of Commitment?

When you’ve been single for any amount of years and believe you’re ready for a serious relationship, there’s no getting around the topic of commitment. A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work. It’s sacrificing precious sleep after a day of only texting just to hear his voice. It’s banging out items on your to-do list so that you can give him your undivided attention. It’s having open, honest conversations with him about your concerns when he says or does things that don’t sit well with you.

“A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work.”

If truth be told, I’m the only one who can determine whether I’m ready for a commitment or not. Sure, a therapist or trusted friend can ask thought-provoking questions and give me objective feedback or insight into my responses. However, I must make the final decision to move forward and step out or hang back and continue working on myself. There’s no shame in either decision because, ultimately, I’m the one who will be putting my heart on the line.

Being transparent, I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of commitment. I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others. It’s not a problem for me to carve out time in my schedule to make him feel like a priority. There’s no issue with allowing him to see me fail, cry, or lash out in anger about something that hurt me. Staying true to one man and seeing if the relationship can turn into something more has never been an obstacle for me.

No, I’m not afraid of commitment. I fear the hurt and pain that comes with choosing the wrong person. Because I seldom pick my head up from my books or work to give a man my time, dating can be quite challenging. Despite being a good judge of character when it comes to my friends’ boyfriends and love interests, I don’t always make the best choices for myself.

“I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others.”

Since I’m not active in the dating scene, I don’t always know the latest lines or schemes men try to pull on women. I see what I believe is a good man and allow him to pursue me until he proves me wrong. While this may not be the best method when it comes to dating, it’s what I know. As a result, my naivete has led to some dead ends.

Now, I’m not out in these streets dating a ton of men. But the ones who have been granted access to my heart, only to break it into pieces, really did a number on me. They’re the dudes who cause a woman to enter into a new relationship with all sorts of walls up, leaving her vigilant of any and all possible red flags the next dating prospect displays. Even if this new man is truly who she desires, she may make him jump through several hoops just to prove he won’t hurt her like the last one she let into her world.

This is all to say that, fellow navigator, we must get to a point where we face our fears of possibly getting hurt or choosing the wrong person before giving another man permission to pursue. If we do so, without becoming whole, the relationship becomes doomed from the start. It is built on a shaky foundation that’s likely to crumble at any moment because we enter into it anticipating that the man will fail us in some way. We desire to give him a chance, but we stand guard for that one moment when his humanity shows that he’s not a perfect creature.

While I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of committing to a man. I can’t honestly say that I’m ready, willing, or able to trust a man with all that is me simply because he makes his interest known. He hasn’t earned my trust. He hasn’t proven that he’s worthy of my devotion. Short of approaching me and expressing his desire for a relationship, he has done nothing to make me believe that he will love me, honor our union, and protect my heart. As a result, I don’t give him all of me. Instead, I sit and watch as he steps up and shows up. I observe his behavior when he’s discouraged, mad, happy, and even depressed. I allow him to get to know me on a deeper level, little by little, until I’m comfortable opening my entire heart to him because he’s shown that he can handle it. That’s what all those frogs from my past have taught me; the real man is easy to spot when you know what you don’t want, need, or deserve.

Fellow navigator, am I alone in this way of thinking? Have you come to the realization that you’re not afraid of commitment but fear choosing the wrong person? What insight have you received about yourself that makes dating just any random man who calls you beautiful hard to do? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, I May Be Good for Him, But is He Good for Me?

This is a question I ask myself often after meeting a man I’d like to get to know better as a romantic interest. I sit and wonder if this man adds as much value to my life as I do to his. Does he support me? Are his words kind? Is he considerate of my feelings? Does he take the time to make me a priority? Quite frankly, I wonder all of this because these are the things I do regularly for him. He may not be my forever yet because we’re still learning each other, but I make it known through my actions that he is held in high regard.

Unfortunately, after kissing a few frogs, I’ve come to learn that not all men enter into serious relationships with the intent of giving it their all. Let’s be real: some just want to see how much they can get and how quickly. These are the ones I like to call “bamas.” This is a term I learned in undergrad that refers to men who aren’t really about anything. They have no problem mooching off a woman because they are narcissists at heart who have zero desire to commit. If it sounds like I’m being too harsh, it’s because I’m keeping it real. Whether we call them “bamas,” “narcissists,” or some other term, one thing remains true: they aren’t good for us.

These guys are sometimes difficult to detect because they hide their intentions well. I’m no expert when it comes to dating and relationships, so I can only speak about my own experiences. If I have to ask myself if I’m too good for him, then I probably am. I am beautiful, smart, kind, and loyal. I give a relationship my all and refuse to look at another man because I wish to stay true to the one I’m with. He’s not perfect, but neither am I. Yet, there’s something in the back of my mind that periodically wonders if I deserve more.

When trying to determine if I’m too good for a man I’m interested in, I almost always look at how he leads in the relationship. Yes, he’s nice to look at and appears to be hardworking. However, if he’s more focused on doing his own thing than building something together, I lose interest. If he never stops to ask me about my affairs, I lose interest. If our arguments and misunderstandings span several days into weeks, I lose days. Finally, if he can go days without communicating with me, I lose interest.

I’ve come to realize that I, like many other women, possess qualities a good man desires in the one he would ultimately wish to settle down with. If truth be told, any man would be blessed to have me as his wife. However, I may not be an ideal match for every good man. There are other things that must be taken into account for the pairing to really be magical.

Nevertheless, I acknowledge that, for my own happiness, I should focus more on what the man brings into the relationship. I’m not talking about his job, wealth, or status. Rather, I ask myself if he brings out the best in me. Does he encourage me? Does he support my endeavors? When I’m down, does he offer a listening ear? If I’m having a bad day, does he comfort me? When I’m ready to give up, does he cheer me on? In as much as I would race to do these things for the man I’m with, I believe that he must be ready, willing, and able to do the same for me. We won’t always get things right, but we must be able to set our own individual agendas aside for the ones we claim to love. Otherwise, I have to stop and wonder if the love is genuine.

We won’t always get things right, but we must be able to set our own individual agendas aside for the ones we claim to love.

The Bible teaches that love is patient, kind, and a host of other things (I Corinthians 13:4-7). As a woman desiring a man who fears God, I’ve come to a place where I want a man who shows his love for me by demonstrating these attributes because I strive to do the same for him. I no longer chase or long for just any man because I know that I need a special kind of man. I want a man who is good for me.

Fellow navigator, I think it’s safe to say that those of us who’ve dated have all had missteps. Whether we rushed to be everything to a man at once or became too serious too quickly, there’s a story to be told. Regardless of the mistakes, there was growth that took place. What have you learned along your journey about what you need in a man? When did you realize you were good for the man you were with, but he wasn’t good for you? Tell me about it!

See Me: Defiantly Single (pt. 2)

Can I be brutally honest for a minute?

If you ask me why I’m defiantly single, I’d say it’s because I fear choosing the wrong partner. Yes, I believe in God. Of course, I trust that He will confirm the man He desires me to be with in more than one way. Yes, I have a community of trusted people who will step in if they believe the man I want isn’t deserving of me. While I recognize that all of these safeguards are in place, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s still not enough.

Let’s be real. How many times have we heard of stories where a God-fearing woman married a God-fearing man and ended up dead or in jail because that man was a wolf? For those who don’t understand the reference, Matthew 7:15 talks about false prophets appearing as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Don’t get me wrong, men aren’t the only perpetrators. There are women who fake it, too. The point is that people may pretend to be charming, humble, and just about everything we desire in a spouse—that is, until after the wedding day.

I don’t mean to be a cynic. Because I believe marriage is a beautiful thing, I want to trust that mine will be all I’ve ever hoped for and more. But I have come to terms with my reality that I’ve made poor choices in the past. My sister (in Christ) will tell you that, after years of listening to my “boy stories,” I’m drawn to fixer-uppers. That is, the men with potential who don’t seem to be doing much with themselves. Looking past the physical, I pay more attention to the possibility of what a man can become (with the right woman by his side). I egg him on when he talks about his lofty dreams, even though he doesn’t take any steps toward accomplishing them. I support him when he makes otherwise reckless decisions, although I don’t agree with them. I praise him when he excels in one unrelated area, despite making no progress in the things that get him closer to reaching his goals.

When I think about it, I have been just as complicit in the failure of these past relationships because I ignored the obvious warning signs and chose to believe my own narrative, not what was in front of my face all along. Why? I don’t know. I wasn’t blinded by love—not even close. It’s not that I didn’t know my worth. I think I just got too caught up to want to do anything about it—but that’s a different post.

I thank God for my sister being truthful and telling me about myself because she saved me a lot of wasted hours, days, weeks, and months remaining with someone who didn’t deserve me. I wish more of us would do that for those we love. Yes, the person may get angry and not speak to us for a little while. But, I believe, they will eventually realize the error of their ways to see that we acted out of love.

Ok, back to the issue at hand. I stated in a previous post that I don’t believe my generation views marriage through the same lens as those who came before. Somehow, we’ve accepted the notion that a lifelong commitment is not something worth entering into with anyone. For me, thinking about being with someone for the rest of my life sounds lovely, but it’s also really scary if that man wakes up and decides he’s going to become someone completely different. That’s one of the reasons I don’t believe in putting up a front in the getting-to-know-each-other phase. I want my potential suitor to see the good, bad, and crazy from the get-go. That also sounds like it might be a future blog post.

But I have come to terms with my reality that I’ve made poor choices in the past.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

Although I’m afraid of picking the wrong person to spend the rest of my life with, fellow navigator, I still welcome the thought of marriage with open arms. I trust that my parents have raised me well enough to know what I should and shouldn’t accept. I believe I’ve seen enough couples succeed at married life, despite the obstacles that were in their way. I rest assured that God speaks to me in ways others may not understand, so He will prevent me from choosing a spouse who will not honor Him. I am confident in the fact that my intuition is almost always on point (when I listen to it) and will go off like a bullhorn if I’m about to make a mistake.

Fellow navigator, there’s an amount of risk involved in getting married. It requires a level of vulnerability and trust that you’ve chosen someone who will love, honor, and cherish you until death. That’s heavy. Be honest, are you like me? Do you choose to remain defiantly single because the thought of possibly picking the wrong person troubles you? Tell me about it!

Not I: Waiting on a Fairy Tale?

Disney did me dirty. I’ve definitively decided that my daughters will not be exposed to Disney princess stories during their formative years. Why? Because I am absolutely sick and tired of the way young girls are conditioned to believe they’re in need of saving. Of course, Disney is not the only guilty culprit in this atrocity against girls. No, there are other companies producing content that teaches girls that they are the inferior sex. I wasn’t born in this country, but Disney’s reach goes far beyond the United States. From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side. He was my protector, source of financial security, and only hope in avoiding a life of utter loneliness (aka being an old maid).

“From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side.”

After spending some time in introspection, I realized the lessons I learned from princess stories took root deeper than I’d known. As a young, impressionable child, I was taught that girls were dainty, well-mannered, prudent, homely, and soft-spoken. We were to wear beautiful dresses, perform our domestic chores, and remain silent in the presence of men. I was shown that our fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers had final authority over us. It was acceptable for us to be locked away in a room somewhere to only enjoy the company of animals and imaginary friends, and it was perfectly alright for us to sacrifice our dreams to make another’s come true.

Arguably the biggest lessons princesses taught me were about romantic relationships. In books, TV shows, and movies, I saw that girls were expected to be married at a young age. Many of them were not educated or did not pursue higher education. A proper young lady was also trained in domesticity and had very few friends outside of family members. She never explored foreign lands or conquered dragons. No, she stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.

She waited patiently for a man to come and to rescue her. She didn’t question his decisions, wonder why he never asked for her opinion, or consider that there was more to her life. When conversing with a suitor, the young lady never inquired about his goals, fears, past relationships, or plans for their future. She didn’t want to know whether he was kind to his mother, had character flaws that might make the success of their marriage challenging, or cared about what she wanted in life. There were no discussions about children, religious affiliations, or political sidings. To make matters worse, there was never ever any talk about finances or how money would be handled in the relationship. These are all important things young girls must learn prior to marriage to avoid becoming stuck in relationships where they are unheard, unloved, and unappreciated.

“She stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.”

The fairy tale was filled with smiles, laughter, music, dancing, and colorful outfits, but it always ended before the real relationship began. The man endured adversity and braved whatever obstacles came in his way to get his human reward, but that was all she was—a prize. Once the rush of the pursuit was over, the story ended. After he won her heart, things miraculously became spectacular. We were told they lived happily ever after. This is not reality, and it’s far from what I desire.

Relationships are messy. People are fickle. We’re hot, cold, and wishy-washy when it comes to just about everything. I’m not waiting on a fairy tale because it is riddled with untruths. I’m not helpless. I’m unwilling to always be the one to sacrifice what matters most when my partner consistently gets what he wants. I’m more than my cooking, sewing, and cleaning skills.

I wish someone had told me fairy tales weren’t one-size-fits-all from the very beginning. This isn’t what I want my daughters growing up to believe. It’s probably safe to say that the dream of obtaining the fairy tale, as presented through the lens of Disney, no longer applies to me. Nevertheless, I continue to proudly reject its stereotypes and stand as a dissident. Life was never meant to be lived according to a specific blueprint. Quite frankly, outside of serving God and representing Christ well on this earth, everything else is up to me.

Fellow navigator, which fairy tale did you enjoy growing up? What love story did you secretly wish would become yours? When did you have the realization that life was not a fairy tale? Tell me about it!