If I were to write a letter to my (just a few years ago) single self from the perspective of what I know now that I’m married, I’d have a few things to say.
Granted, I would likely have been too stubborn to listen to myself, but here we go.
1) Stop obsessing. Work to break your habit of obsessing! Relationships (or lack thereof) don’t cause you to obsess; they are merely the stage on which you currently play out your obsessive tendencies. You’ll keep obsessing about the worry of the day for the rest of your life unless you train your mind to stop overthinking.
2) Enjoy your life as it is. Try to enjoy all the things about singleness there are to enjoy—like tons of time to invest relationally in lots of different people, the freedom to spend your time and money however you think best, and the chance to travel wherever you want. You will never have as much time to develop a wide community of friends, or as much free time, as you do as a single person.
3) Live now. Do your best to live fully in the present. Learn to slow your mind down to fully appreciate and embrace the now. Don’t spin ahead constantly to the future, or overanalyze the past. Now is what you have and where God is. The future doesn’t belong to you yet.
4) Don’t be a toy. Walk away from men who toy with you and only half-pursue. You’re just wasting your time, and your heart. If a man wants you, he will pursue you; if he isn’t, he doesn’t. Don’t explain away half-hearted pursuits as “issues” or fears a man has and hang on, hoping for change. Whatever issues or fears a man may have will not stop him from pursuing you if he wants you. So again, if he isn’t, he doesn’t.
5) Let the man pursue you. Be warm and inviting, but don’t make the first move. Don’t return a man’s relational energy towards you tit for tat. Give back at a rate of about 75%. A man needs “chasing space.” In the words of Man Men’s Betty Draper to her daughter Sally, “You don’t kiss boys. They kiss you.”
6) Pay attention to pain in relationships. If a man is causing you a lot of pain while he is dating you, he would probably cause you even more pain if he married you. To say it another way: however a man treats you while dating you is a good indication of how he will treat you while married to you. You can’t expect him to treat you significantly differently after the ring is on your finger.
7) Pay attention to who wants to pursue you. And, if there is any inkling of interest on your part, give him a chance. God might wrap your future husband in a package you don’t recognize or expect at first.
8) Deal with your issues. (See Numbers 1 and 3.) Whatever you struggle with as a single person, you will continue to struggle with as a married person, just in a different context.
9) Listen. Listen to the advice of those who are older and/or wiser around you. Get their opinions about your dating candidates, and pay attention.
10) Have fun! When dates come along, enjoy getting dressed up and going out to eat or getting to know someone new. Don’t take the process, or yourself, too seriously.
So, if you are a little less stubborn than I am, maybe some of these insights from the “other side” just might be of help. I certainly hope so!