I'm 19 and I have dated four men, but I feel empty

sad woman

Young people are driven into intimate relationships due to a desire for adventure.

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Hi Pastor,

I am 19 and started dating at 15 because of peer pressure and, in retrospect, anxiety about being alone. I have dated four men to date, and I feel guilty because none of them has ever really acknowledged me as a girlfriend. I have moved from one relationship to another, hoping for a romantic bond, but I have found none. I feel that I have compromised my dignity by being with these men and feel unworthy of marriage. I’m obsessed with these negative thoughts about myself, and it’s consuming me.

Hi,

I empathise with you. At 19, you are still young enough to re-align your life and make wise choices that will help you focus on how you live. However, uncontrolled desire for adventure combined with a level of ignorance on what relationships portend can hurt deeply.

Being young and yet not conversant on the intrigues of relationships could have made you become prey for many who were looking for fun. You said it; you were young and naïve on issues relationships. The trouble with immature love like yours is the danger of being swept off your feet by the wind of peer-pressure-driven adventure.

No long-term agenda

What most young people fail to realise is: First, the hypocrisy, dishonesty, lies, trickery and manipulation that many use to take advantage of young love. Second, the lack of values and the immaturity many partners show. Finally, is the fact that many relationships are short-lived because they lack a long-term agenda.

If most spouses dated with the end in mind, most of their mistakes would be avoided. This is where you find yourself. You let other people determine your course when you started getting involved with men rather than thinking through the consequences.

The guilt you feel is real and, if not managed well, will end up eating you up. Where you are today is a place where many girls find themselves, particularly when they fail to move with caution. Young people are driven into intimate relationships due to a desire for adventure. However, I know that without adventure relationships will be boring and could end up sliding into its death bed; the young like you need to watch against such adventure.

It matters how we embrace adventurous moments, particularly where intimate relationships are concerned about avoiding endangering yourself. At 15, you were too young to get involved in the relationships that you got into. You missed out on opportunities of growing into your womanhood when you allowed others to use your body.

I am convinced you’re still young in understanding what makes a relationship work properly. It would help if you grew in the way you make your judgments and direct your life. Self-control is a fruit you need to cultivate in your life as you mature. Life is not all about relating with men.

So, what does it take for you? First, knowledge of who you are and what you are getting into will give you the necessary understanding needed to live a focused life based on goals that make sense. With the mistakes you have made in the past, you should not allow any baggage from the past to push us into a corner of reeling in self-pity.

You must regain a certain level of personal will to walk away from that past and build the woman you want. No one can do this for you. Yes, you messed up. But you can do better by learning lessons from that past that would help you live and relate better.

Second, you can overcome your current feelings and begin a slow journey toward healing and learning new habits with hope and more effort. It is these new habits that will determine the woman you will become. So, be intentional with your choices.

Don’t live with the deception that another relationship will return your womanhood and make things alright again. Nothing could be far from the truth. You must be ready and determined to give time to your healing and overcoming those negative vibes that you currently feel.

New habits

Third, learning to let go and practising new habits will help you avoid sliding back into further pain and hurt. The question then will be, “What are you willing to sacrifice to recoup what you lost?” Love must be about taking a stand for what you believe to be right. In addition, the one you love must be willing to the extent of the same respect and make a choice to risk his life for you. The pain you have results from those who chose to love what you gave them but not take you for who you were.

Fourth, choosing to live in disappointment and with an attitude of defeat will keep you in the past and not help you grow. Consequently, you will have to make changes in areas of weakness and place guardrails to protect you from future injury. In the future, by making improvements, it is not a not guarantee that your partner will have done the same.

We are all flawed in one way or another. However, it will be the woman you have become that will make any difference. Remember, as I mentioned earlier, other people’s choices should not determine your future. You must be your own woman whose life is dictated by her mature response to issues of life. This is what will stop this attitude of always acting or behaving as the “victim.”

Since the people we date are not angels, you may need to be sober-minded in how you look at others. Adulthood behaviour is not made in a factory. Such habits are cultivated and ingrained in us as we grow and mature. As you heal and mature, you will realise that mature love makes the difference.

To fully know that you now have what it takes to date responsibly is by checking your inner qualities against the desires that would instead want you to act otherwise. For example, instead of being driven by greed and selfishness, responsible behaviour drives you to practice self-control and personal discipline. This speaks about one’s deeper motives and how they impact behaviour—my best wishes towards a quick recovery and responsible living.

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