What I Learned From My Botched Attempt of Being in a Relationship

From the onset of early childhood, we take in countless examples of what romantic relationships should look like. The continuum of what a relationship looks like is SO VAST.Oftentimes, unintentionally or intentionally, we replicate what we've been exposed to; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. We don't really know what we don't know until we're put in situations that show us we're clueless. Thankfully, Romans 8:28 reminds us that even when situations don't work out how we'd want, somehow all things will work together for our good. I'm learning, something can be part of my journey yet NOT be part of my final destination, so I am grateful for every experience the Lord allows me to have.

Last July, an unfamiliar guy sat next to my parents during a church service. My mom texted me saying, "Meka, I think this is your husband :)" (and I rolled my eyes btw).  Long story short (and it's a funny story actually), we were introduced and began getting to know each other. I prayed about it and received so much confirmation to move forward, and did so as best as I knew how. That was the problem- the best I knew how was halfway rooted in my walk with Christ, and halfway rooted in old habits and skewed perceptions of what worked for other people.

Throughout the process and now looking back a year later, here's what I learned from my recent false start of a relationship.

1. Disallow emotions from clouding your expectations. Stay focused on the present.
You ever prayed for something, talked to the Lord about it, and then watched it surprisingly manifest? That was me in July. I wasn't looking for a relationship and didn't know any single guys that remotely matched who God said He had for me, then this guy randomly shows up at church matching everything God said to me. For me, it was a whirlwind experience, and I was extremely excited. I remember praying to God early on saying, "God, I don't want to get ahead of myself. Help me manage my expectations and trust Your leading." Basically, I knew enough about my habits from my past  to know I needed help to not be so excited that I became impulsive and had irrational expectations. I think I did well for about 3 days LOL.

What did I learn? Sometimes we get SO excited at the prospect of what could be or appears to be that we don't give it space to blossom at its own speed. Even though I may be well intentioned, God has had to communicate to me that the product can't be obtained without the process. There's progress to be made on the way to the destination that our emotions often interfere with. There's a big difference between knowing better and actually doing better. Looking back, the Lord repeatedly told me to focus on the present, but I was just too excited, I was ready to get to the finished line (My wholeeeee timeline is married with 3 kids, yall lol).

2. Know how you handle, or don't handle, conflict.
Relationships, inevitably, encounter conflict, but healthily resolving conflict doesn't just naturally come. One night, we were on the phone, and he said something that disappointed me. Out of nowhere, I said, "You know what? You better be glad I don't cuss anymore because I would cuss you out and hang up." *hangs head in shame* Bruh. #thepast.

When I actually hung up a few minutes later, I looked at the phone so perplexed and to this day, INCREDIBLY embarrassed. It was so out of character. Seriously, I had no idea where that came from, so I prayed about it (and of course, I ended up apologizing). The Holy Spirit reminded me that I dated a guy as a teenager where that was how we handled conflict; rage-filled arguments and insults. Whether you like it or not, being in a relationship with someone can unearth some habits and truths about yourself that you weren't even aware of, and you have to be prepared to do the soul-searching to remedy those problems.

A few months later, I took a college course on Conflict Resolution, and it helped me see that I often either pettily handle conflict or I avoid it altogether. Neither is the healthiest, and both will keep you alone and isolated if you don't really do the work to learn how to resolve conflict like an adult. This realization has even helped me professionally and in friendships because I saw a theme for how I handled conflict in pretty much every aspect of my life.

3. Recognize how social media, tv, family, etc. can unintentionally skew your views and understanding of healthy relationships. 

 We are exposed to INNUMERABLE examples of relationships and very few people actually are transparent with their struggles in a relationship, so looking in from the outside, we deem those as #relationshipgoals, not realizing relationships are more than just cute pictures, dates, and vacations.

Here's the thing: what we consume becomes the foundation we pull from. What is your foundation of relationships? When you're trying to figure out what a relationship looks like for you, you pull ideas from what you've seen. Next thing you know, you put pressures on yourself to be like the couple on Instagram or to have the love story from the movie, and you're back to NOT living in the present nor letting God lead (It's also important to reflect on relationships you've seen within your family.. so many of us stay bound to generational cycles when we don't have to). Everyone's story is different, and so often, we subconsciously find ourselves comparing our lives to others, and sooner or later, it won't work. You have to learn how to honor the relationships of others while also understanding your relationship won't be a carbon copy of someone else's. Take time to explore what a relationship looks like and sounds like for YOU and the other person, independent of the pressures of social media, tv, family, etc.

4. Understand how you receive love and how others give/receive love.
Love Languages Matter, folks. I read the Love Languages: Single Edition about 6 years ago, and it pretty much revolutionized my relationships in my immediate family, especially with my dad. Basically, we all communicate and receive love in different ways. Oftentimes, someone may be communicating that they love us, but we don't see it as such because we "speak love" in a different language.

To simplify it: my love language is words of affirmation. I feel most loved through compliments and affirmation. You can give me a thoughtful gift, and I may shoulder shrug when it's given, but you send me a postcard with 1 compliment, and I'm guaranteed to smile from ear-to-ear. Because of this, I show that I love people by affirming them.

His main love language is different than mine, so affirmations don't do much for him. I would think I was showing that I cared for him with words, and sometimes it was met with a shoulder shrug LOL. I would be offended, until I realized, he receives love differently. At the time, I was clueless about what his language was so I just said forget it.

All this doesn't mean walk away if he doesn't speak your love language. I think it just helps shift your perspective. You may easily be upset, feel ignored, and walk away from someone, when really it's a simple conversation of "Hey, I feel most loved when you ______" or even telling yourself, "Just because he didn't do _________ like I want, doesn't mean he doesn't care." It may even mean training yourself to stop to think how he showed he cared through his love language like, "Okay, he didn't compliment me tonight, but his love language is acts of service and he did _____ which was his way of showing he cared about me." #shiftyourperspective And don't nag someone or be forceful to get them to speak your love language, Saints.

5. Be humble enough to receive feedback about yourself without running from it or clapping back.
UGH. This is so embarrassing. I'm 28- I should've handled this better... I remember a few weeks after we met, he told me I was spoiled. I was insulted and immediately clapped back by pointing out one of his flaws. Then, a few weeks later, I was praying and sensed the Holy Spirit say, "You are spoiled." I shrugged it off.

We stopped talking for awhile and then reconnected by going out to dinner, after agreeing to just pursue friendship. Before I got there, I prayed, "God. If he points out a flaw, help me be able to handle it without clapping back. Help me be slow to speak and quick to hear." Later, casually talking, he looked at me and said, "Do you know that you're _____? Like, guys don't like that. Why do you do that?" While I did have to turn away and count to 10 before responding, I remember looking at him, and he genuinely wanted to know why I was like that. I didn't even know how to respond.

My past experiences had taught me that when someone hurls insults at you in an argument, return the insults in the same rage, but he was perfectly calm as he looked at me and asked. I think he genuinely wanted to understand why I acted in this certain way. I didn't have much of an answer, but it made me do some soul-searching and really start to do the innerwork to grow based on what he illuminated for me. It wasn't easy, and actually, I struggled. I can't say that I had ever experienced a guy genuinely giving me feedback rationally. If guys I talked to gave me feedback, I typically didn't respect them enough to value their comments about me.

 Being single, you don't have to receive feedback from people, and pride will convince you that you're perfect. It's literally why we need relationships (romantic and platonic), and why being isolated actually hurts us in the end. It was the most uncomfortable and pride-shattering thing to have flaws pointed out to me, but I took it to the Lord, and He always reassured me that the truth had been spoken to me "out of love." This is something God is showing me with all the people in my life, and it has truly helped me mature and grow.


When I first met this guy, I remember saying to the Lord, "I have no clue how relationships are supposed to work. I've failed at every attempt to be in one. How are single people supposed to just have successful relationships with no practice?" Now I realize, this is how.  All things work together for our good... and while the relationship may not have worked, without a doubt, I can say that I have grown and matured in this last year in ways I never knew I needed.That's how God works.

This is not a post to put anyone on blast, but myself, because maybe my experience will help someone else. Honestly, I'm indebted to this man for the experience because I can truly see how I've been forced to grow as a by-product of this attempted relationships.  And I'm reminded- Even when God is trying to take us down a path and at times, we grab the reins and get off the right path, He has a way of bringing it all full circle to make us better for Him.

What have you learned from your unsuccessful relationships (romantic or platonic)?

Dear God, I love you. You are so incredibly good to me, and I a so undeserving. You are a waster of NOTHING. Every situation you put me in or allow, in my life, You use it to grow me, even when I mess up. I thank you that your desire isn't for perfection from me, but progression. I thank you that like a Shepherd, you lead me, guide me, and rescue me when I get off track. What comfort we have as children of God! God, I pray for anyone reading this blog post. I pray that something resonates with them that strengthens their walk with You and others. You are a relational God and desire us to have healthy, iron-sharpening relationships with others. Help us never forget that nor plunge into predicaments of isolation. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Lord, I Run to You- Prestonwood Choir
Fix Your Focus- Steven Furtick