Friends, man. It’s crazy the difference a motley crew of people from various places & times can be in your life, for better or worse. I’ve been blessed with true friends throughout the years, but have also felt the stinging pain of toxic relationships. Friendship has always been an “issue” for me–not that I can’t make or keep friends, but that I’m continually learning what it means to be in community with others.
Community means a whole lot of grace & not a lot of stubbornness. It’s about putting away the sarcastic barbs & reminding myself “Is my highest goal love when I say this/do this?” Friendship is about quelling the petty drama before it has time & freedom to grow into nastiness.
And that’s something I’m pretty sure I relearn daily. Just to be transparent: for the longest time, I was convinced I had the kiss of death when it came to relationships & I was the sole ruining force of friendships. It was a pretty huge, terrible burden to carry into friendships, as I immediately imagined a fiery end. Which in hindsight, was a TOTAL self-fulfilling prophecy because as the idea behind that goes, you live out what you believe about yourself.
Until this summer, I lived under that horrible self-curse. I was practically living in a sad Johnny Cash song (of my own doing!)
But then came God, through the perfect timing of Donald Miller’s post “Do You Believe You are Good At Relationships?” In the post, Don asks if you believe that you are bad for people, you are believing a total lie. “What if you’re really good at relationships and just don’t know it? What would happen if you started believing it?”
Psalm 23:6 is clear. “Surely goodness and mercyshall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” If you’re following the Lord’s path for your life, this is your identity. You are not bad for people or a life-ruiner. Those are pity party lies & intended to get you to miss out on the sweetness of the people in your life.
Until you refocus this part of your identity, you will not love others, yourself, or God to the fullest. How can you when you don’t think you can love correctly?
If you totally get where I’m coming from, be encouraged. We’re all in this together (the beauty of community, y’all!). Tell yourself today that you bring good to others, just as they do to you. (And if that’s not true, give yourself some compassion & grace, then fix it!) Also, read this other article by Don Miller, “Three Paradigm Shifts About Relationships That Are Setting Me Free.”
I love solving mysteries, which basically just means I’m really good at Googling stuff. If I could be hired to be a professional stalker and/or private detective, that’d probably be the best job in the world.
So naturally, I love the MTV show Catfish, which is essentially all about solving online romance mysteries.
It’s a compelling show, full of interesting plot twists and real life* drama. (*it’s not 100% real of a show, but hey, Nev is like a modern Aladdin, so no one’s complaining.)
Online dating seems to have a pretty shaky reputation, thanks to shows like Catfish and multiple crippling stigmas. We all know someone who knows somebody who was harrassed online by total creeps or went on a date with a girl who said she was one thing, but turned out to be something else.
Point of the Experiment: Why are people afraid to online date? What are people REALLY looking for on these sites? Why do people respond the way they do?
So with all that in mind, I decided to try online dating & see what the fuss was all about. But in order for me to TRULY answer my hypotheses, I couldn’t just be on ONE website. No, no, no. I needed to be on basically ALL the popular ones, just to get my feet wet.
1. Eharmony: “eHarmony is more than online dating. Meet singles prescreened for compatibility instead of just browsing personals.”
2. Match.com: “the number one destination for online dating with more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.”
3. OkCupid: “The fastest growing free dating site for singles.”
4. Seeking Arrangement: “we are the number one website for those seeking mutually beneficial relationships. we are a matchmaking personals for successful and wealthy benefactors, and attractive guys and girls”
5. Chemistry.com: “we use the latest research of world-renowned biological anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher, to predict which single men or women you’ll have relationship and dating chemistry with.”
6. Christian Mingle (tried by my experiment partner, Katie): “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Objective: I wanted to try each site to the fullest (but without paying money), so often I would do the free trials and see how it went from there. Some sites were totally free, which definitely helped. Contrary to popular (cough, my sister’s) opinion, I did not do this to “find the one” or even look for a relationship. Nope. I just wanted to try it. This is how I live now. ha.
A semi-ashamed selfie for posterity
Not going to lie, I didn’t really tell many people about this experiement. I was totally afraid everyone would either:
a) judge me
b) think I was totally desperate being single
c) think I was just doing it for the attention (cough, my sister)
d) all of the above
That was my biggest “online dating stigma” to conquer–the idea that you only online date because you’re totally desperate and can’t find anyone to date in real life.
But upwards and onwards into my experiment!
I tried Match.com’s free trial after hearing success stories from of my own IRL friends and it’s definitely the best PAID site. A good rule of thumb when online dating: if you’re serious about finding a relationship, you should pay for a site. The people on there are a bit more legitimate, because DUH, they’re spending the money. The profiles are extensive, but not as good as OkCupid’s, believe it or not.
A 42 year old man “knew he was too old for me” but “enjoyed reading about me and loved my smile.”
Talked with a guy who looked a lot like Zach Braff, but then he started asking me about porn preferences so…that ended.
THIS GUY–I’m 97% sure his profile is fake. He winked at me (yeah, totally a thing) and didn’t have a profile picture…and then updated it & only added one photo (always a warning sign for Catfishing). Another online dating tip: DON’T TRUST A PROFILE WITH JUST ONE PICTURE. Just because people surely have more than just one picture, y’all.
(aka girls looking for sugar daddies)
If you’re just as creeped out as I am about the “mutually beneficial relationships” part of the tagline for SeekingArrangement, don’t try this dating site. Exclusively for “Sugar Daddies/Mommies” looking for “Sugar Babies,” I first heard about this site from an Miami NewTimes editorial piece about the dangers of Sugar Babies online prowling for rich men. The article was fascinating, as I never really knew how committed these people were to something VERY akin to prostitution, in my opinion.
On this site, you can fill out a profile for free (Sugar Babies are ALWAYS free, the site boasts) and then wait for around 24 hours for your site to be approved. Your name is never revealed, but you’re given a number “Sugar Baby F 8458945” like it’s some sort of sexual Hunger Games or something. You can specify the amount of money you want from your SD per month or leave it “negotiable” (which was what I did, naturally). The website itself is poorly designed and hard to navigate, which I found strange coming from the “top sugar dating site.”
While there was the thrill of having a profile on such a “scandalous” dating site, it was a pretty boring experience. There must just not be many Sugar Daddies near me or something–I think in total less than 20 people viewed my profile for the week I had my account. Only a few people messaged me or winked at me (dating site staple). Everyone though made lots of money (according to their profiles haha) and would give at least a few thousand dollars to their potential Sugar Baby per month!
This one man who wanted me to be his “muse.” Uh….
I just got generally pretty sketched out by the “mutually beneficial” bit. I just…no.
Anddd a 51 year old married man looking for a secret girlfriend…
Lesson learned from SeekingArrangement: No…just…no.
PART TWO COMING SOON: EHarmony, Christian Mingle, Chemistry.com, and my FAVORITE: OkCupid
(The best things in life are those you can share, right? Well, unless of course it’s mono or debt. I’m excited to share this blog with some of the most interesting, diverse bloggers I know! That’s right, I’m kicking off my brand new GUEST WRITING SECTION! I’ve assembled a super team of fellow bloggers who range in writing about everything from fashion and food to video games and philosophy! Get ready to have fun, find new favorite blogs, and maybe even discover something awesome!)
When I stepped into my first college classroom back in 2009, there sat Devin White. And then he was in my class following the first…and the next one after that…and also my Bible seminar on Tuesdays & Thursdays. Four years, many honors classes, a trip to Italy, and countless debates later, he remains one of my most intriguing & loyal friends (despite that one time he threatened to unfriend me when I was fundraising for my Greek club). Devin reviews films, video games, and other stuff on his blog D.A. White. Or catch him on Twitter!
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he refers to a group of people who find satisfaction from sharing things they find and are responsible for why some trends suddenly become incredibly popular. I forget the name of this category of people Gladwell describes, but I have found it true for my own life. I am one of those people who loves to share with people something I think they will love in the hopes that they will share it as well.
So when Kelsy Black asked me to do a guest post, I decided to take this opportunity to shed some light on some amazing things that I think people should know about.
So, without further ado, here are 5 awesome whatevers.
I do not read many webcomics, and of those that I do read, there are not many I would recommend to everyone. JL8 is one such webcomics. Originally entitled Little League, JL8 describes the adventures of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League as they go through kindergarten as little kids.
That premise right there would automatically make me a fan, but what elevates this beyond a simple joke is the incredible characterization of all the different heroes. I have never been this invested in an 8-year old’s romantic life, and JL8 has some truly heartbreaking moments while always coming back to a sunny and hopeful view of life. It is surprisingly good storytelling, and while comic book geeks will get some extra in-jokes, everyone will find something to enjoy in this comic. Continue reading →
So far in post-grad life, I’ve been trying to figure out just exactly where my entire day goes…turns out, it’s the Internet.
(I mean, are you really surprised?)
In the spirit of taking a break from constantly looking up cool articles, today’s TMI Thursday Friday is thusly devoted to literature. My parents gave me an iPad mini for graduation (very surprising!) and I’ve quickly gone from being completely apathetic about iPads to addict level. And now that I’ve found that the public library has an ebook system, well, all I do now is read books on my iPad. (For the record, I still refuse to take pictures using it; I’m not that much of a jerk yet.)
I’ve been checking out a TON of the “Must Read Summer 2013” lists–if you’re into that too, consider this a review!
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn: fantastic thriller all about sociopaths. So good. Makes you wonder if you’re a sociopath…and then you realize you feel TOO many emotions, so that’s impossible. I rarely read fiction, but this is one that makes me want to be a better writer. (Lazy? It’s turning into a film–in talks to be directed by David Fincher, aka it’s a big deal)
Start, Jon Acuff: I love Jon Acuff. I saw him speak last month at a church nearby and not only was he incredibly engaging, but very wise. His latest book is just the same! It’s been beyond encouraging and helpful for me as I sort through the unknown that is my future.
Love Does, Bob Goff: Another life-alteringly inspirational book. I read this in the UK and took pages of notes while doing so. Goff’s writing style is conversational–he’s a storyteller above all else, but you’d be surprised what you learn and realize along the way.
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan: Really unusual book with characterization to spare. It’s full of interconnected stories, much like this new season of Arrested Development, actually.
Okay, so just one book, but I’ve seen it on several “Must Read” lists.
The Paris Wife, Paula McClain: Although it follows the life of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley, I was rather bored. The story got a bit stale.
I wrestled with myself to decide whether or not I should post this. Some incidents back home this week have encouraged me to take this step and share my story.
I didn’t want to use this outlet just as a way get attention, but I do feel like this post has a valuable message and reminds me of who I am and where I’m going. Read on, brave soul, or choose not to.
I remember sitting in my closet, twirling a shard of broken glass through my fingers. I was methodical as a 13-year-old. My best friend at the time had done it. All the teachers gave her special treatment. I wanted that.
I remember telling myself that I wouldn’t tell everyone, though. What’s the point of a secret if everyone knows?
I remember not actually making the decision, but somehow, the glass found itself scraping across the top of…