Monday, January 10, 2011

When NOT to pray together and more great advice!

For those who couldn't make last night's chat session, here are the highlights:

Expert Emily: Hey friends! Welcome to tonight's chat! I can't set you lovely ladies up with anyone but I can use my training/experience to help you have healthy boundaries.

Chatter: Boundaries-- Let's start with church. Now that I have a little free time everyone wants me to be in their group. I was even asked to be a trustee to manage money and the building. I have enough trouble keeping my old house from falling apart.

Expert Emily: It sounds like making some boundaries in this area is very needed if you are feeling stretched. So, I want to make sure I understand your question correctly. You are serving and though you enjoy it, you feel that their recent requests are pulling you even thinner in regards to your time and attention?

Chatter: Oh yes, I just want to be a member. I like doing one time things. Like a fair to raise money, or going to feed the poor, etc. Yes Emily, you are right. I have low energy. To look at me you couldn't tell.

Expert Emily: Great, it sounds like you know what works best for you which makes sense why being asked to do other roles would feel overwhelming. I use this quote often when working in my private practice with clients and I think that it says a lot for boundary setting: You teach people how to treat you. This means that when we say yes to multiple things, we are telling them that we are ok with the new roles. If we don't like something, it is very important to tell them so that they don't continue asking or requiring of us what is uncomfortable.

Chatter: unfortunately the church has a habit of stretching certain members thin, its always the same people who get asked to do things...sometimes you just have to say No.

Expert Emily: And they will continue to do so, we have to be sure to assert our "no" muscle just as much, if not more than "yes."

Chatter: It's a small congregation. You are right the same people work all the time.

Expert Emily: That sounds very frustrating! I always ask clients "who is working harder? You or the other person?" If they won't listen to your "no" then I'd encourage you to continue giving it until they respect it. Be as direct, yet kind, as possible. When we give others what they want instead of protecting our boundaries, we either get angry initially or resentful down the road (or both).

Chatter: The boundary I'm not sure how to handle is how do you pace a new relationship. I'm not really talking about the physical aspect so much so as sharing personal information, knowing when the person is really interested, if they want you to call or wait for them. (this gal is just getting started dating.)

Expert Emily: I think that waiting for him to call is a personal preference but the decision on how deep to go in conversation is very important for you to know from the beginning. Many couples, especially Christians, go really deep really early. I think it is because the topic of faith opens conversations up to very personal issues such as "how did you find Christ?" and then it can go into a personal story that can emotionally bond the couple prematurely.

Chatter: Emily are you suggesting to avoid testimony type questions too early on?

Expert Emily: It does depend on the couple and how comfortable they feel but it is also a general boundary that I encourage individuals to have before even dating.... I'd encourage testimony conversation but on a surface level and not all the in depth stuff....once you talk about very personal stuff you are likely to discuss things with him/her that you wouldn't typically tell everyone. If you aren't friends before or you don't know each other well when beginning to date, I'd encourage you to take your time to get to know each other...pace yourself!

Chatter: how would you get a person to just talk on a personal level, do you ask them to not get that involved in their answer?

Chatter: Thanks Emily for you are suggesting even sharing faith type things at various levels. I hadn't thought of that before. I tend to love to share but never considered how that might prematurely bond someone.

Expert Emily: If you are already friends and know each other's past/story, then that is a totally different situation because the conversation doesn't even need to happen. Many people don't think about it and then when the person walks away, they feel rejected on a deep is as if they exposed their thoughts and feelings and then the person says "you're not the one" or "you're not enough" or whatever.

Chatter: That is the worse hurt when that happens.

Expert Emily: When people break up, they feel rejected personally and as if a part of them has been exposed and then totally rejected. It is an unnecessary hurt too sometimes when people share their deepest, darkest stories, history, etc. on the first or second date...or even in the first month I believe. It just opens yourself up to someone that you don't know is committed yet. I ask people to think about if they would share that same information with a new friend and many times they say "no, I want to know I can trust them first." It is the same with dating.

Chatter: That is a good way to look at it.

Expert Emily: I also don't encourage new relationships to pray together... I'm not going to go into details but I've heard of couples who pray and then cross serious physical boundaries right after. They feel so connected emotionally and spiritually that they want to connect physically as well. When we are emotionally naked with someone whom we don't know for a long time, it is putting ourselves in a very vulnerable position.

Expert Emily: I'd encourage conversations to be about background stuff but you can be safe by knowing how much in detail you want to go....for example:

When talking about where you came from, you can say, "I grew up in California with 2 siblings. My father was a pastor and my mom was a nurse, blah, blah, blah."

... or you could say "I grew up in California with 2 siblings and a father who was an alcoholic who hid it because he was a pastor. He was very abusive and I always wished I had a father emotionally present in my life and I am so wounded from his abuse even though it was years ago."

Expert Emily: See the difference? One leads to more "fact finding" while the other goes into deep feelings. We wouldn't talk about things like that in new friend circles or at work so why do people do it on first and second dates? Not healthy conversations! Many individuals share information and then look to the partner to be/fill whatever their parent (abusive/absent/etc) wasn't. Not everyone has that intent but it does happen on a subconscious level often. It is put out there by some in a way to say "can you hear my pain? can you fill the void he didn't fill? etc." It is something that the individual must find healing for her/his own but often subconsciously folks will mention things in order to get a response they never received in their family of origin.

Chatter: So my question would be how long after you get out of a relationship should you get involved with someone else?

Chatter: I think of it as if you had major surgery, you wouldn't automatically run a marathon the next have to heal first.

Expert Emily: great point (Chatter)! I would take a few months off for sure just to make sure that you are healing and then ask for a mentor and friends to give you honest feedback on whether or not they see you as ready to go back into relationship again.

Chatter: Little off subject but throwing this out there. Scenario: Guy at church seems to be looking. I'm interested. He's on way other side of church so our paths never cross. Do I make a move? If so .. exactly what would that be. Don't want to cross a boundary of looking too forward.

Expert Emily: I'd sit on his side and during the greeting time, say "hello, it's nice to meet you" Then ask him how long he has attended, etc. If he is in a ministry area, ask him about it and invite him to the singles group that you go to as well....tell him that he is welcome to come with you or at the times they meet...depending on how direct you want to be :) Give him some opportunities to meet you and chat and then pray about it, asking to have more opportunities to hang out with him. Ultimately, after he has seen you after a while, he will make an effort to get to know you more.

Chatter: do you think that all guys should be the ones that initiate a relationship?

Expert Emily: I don't think that the guy asking is "right" or the gal asking is "wrong" because it is up to personal preference....never seen anything in the Bible on it. However, you can be super direct; you can say "let's go out" or you can be indirect: "I'd love to hang out with you and get to know you, are you going to the event the singles are putting on this weekend?

Ok ladies, sadly our time is up. It has been a pleasure talking with you all and I wish you the best in your dating and boundary making :)

Check out Cache' Connections Scheduled Events for future chats to help you with your dating dilemmas!

~ Linda
Cache' Connections

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