Sometimes catching up with friends can be a painful reminder that the dating world can be harsh.

It had been a while since I had caught up with a male friend and it was not long until the topic of dating rose to the surface like a bad smell at church on Sunday! Confession: I’ve always had an interest in him, so it always feels awkward to talk about dating with him.

My friend declared that he had been on a date and shared some of the details. Then right on cue, he asked me how my dating was going. I had no response. NONE. I just sat there like a stone and shrugged my shoulders and said that it was not. To which he said something along the lines of: “Well, you’re fishing in the wrong pond.”

If I’m honest, in that moment I felt hurt and overlooked. He might as well have said: “There’s nothing here for me”. It didn’t help that a few weeks before, I had been chatting with another guy who shared that he was in no place to get into a relationship, but if an amazing woman came along then he would reconsider that position. Cue Bambi face from me. But still nothing.

My church, as well as many other churches, have lots of amazing women who appear to be overlooked. This got me thinking. Why do I feel unseen in my own church community?

As I was thinking about this I was reminded of a conversation that I had with another male friend recently. I was interested in his friend, but having difficulty in getting to know the guy better. And yes, I’m definitely entertaining the possibility that he might just “not be that into me”, but my friend said: “Maybe he doesn’t see you like that.”

That’s when I realised that I’ve been excluding myself. I’ve been counting myself out by putting myself in the friend zone.

Ah, the Friend Zone. That place we all love and find comfort with. The Zone that keeps me safe and small.

I realised that by putting myself in that Zone, I wasn’t willing to put myself out there and see what could happen. I’ve been going by my previous experiences and believing that no one sees me. One could argue that that has now become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ironically, it’s actually my deepest desire to be known and to be loved. But I appear to be acting in a way that ensures the opposite.

The only sensible thing to be doing at this point is to speak to the one who truly knows me and my heart: God. So during my monologue of frustration and hurt, I heard a still quiet voice say: “Just let him know.” I stopped dead and heard it again.

I burst into tears because I already knew this. I knew that I had to risk my heart and face possible rejection in the place I call home. I’ve faced this cycle time and time again, but this time I know what is really going on. How long am I willing to continue in this painful cycle?

In that moment I prayed to God and asked for help. Help to be brave, help to be unapologetic for who I am, help to overcome the situation if it’s a “no”, because ultimately God’s got me.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to let him know. Because I’ve learned that if we like someone, we need to be willing to let them in. We need to be able to take risks and know that whatever the outcome we will be okay.

This time, I’m getting out of the friend-zone.

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