#4 out of 4: Sunny’s Donuts
Conveniently by my church offices – aka a necessary pitstop after youth group – this place is open TWENTY FOUR HOURS. Because Jesus loves us. Let’s not talk about how often I’ve been here post midnight or anything – let’s just talk about how wonderful it is a standard donut shop exists with all your classic favs any time you want them. (Literally, any time)
Also, fun transition into dating: I once was craving donuts and the boy I was texting at the time offered to come pick me up and take me to Sunny’s. He mentioned how it was cute I used donuts as a way to flirt with him; I decided not to tell him I was actually just really, really craving donuts and would have made the trip with or without him…
“Can I be friends with my ex? Facebook friends??”
This is one of those rules of dating – don’t be friends with your ex – where there is always that one exception that makes you want to break the rule. But as we all learned in He’s Just Not that Into You: you are the rule, not the exception.
Can you be friends with your ex? Maybe. It depends on how long the relationship was, how serious the relationship was, and how the relationship ended. Anything under 3 months? You have a better chance at being friends. Did you kiss? Probably going to be awkward trying to be just friends (crossing the line from friend zone into dating is pretty easy, backtracking from dating into friend zone is rough). Did you drop the L word?? No, no, no.
It’s definitely a gray area, but the less serious, less committed you were, the higher chance you have of being able to get along amicably. Also the way the relationship ended can determine a lot: were you both on the same page that the relationship was fizzling out? Maybe you two can be buds in the future. Were you yelling, screaming, and throwing things until 2 in the morning when you broke up? Probably best to cut all ties.
Should you be friends with your ex? Probably not. This is one of those classic Christianese “not everything is beneficial” situations. Sure, sometimes you can pull off being in the same friends group, but is it healthy for either of you? Are you two going to be okay when the other starts dating someone new? Are all feelings completely gone, or are you risking unhealthy emotional boundaries with someone who is strictly just a friend now? Honestly, you might be playing with fire. And however smart you think you are, playing with fire never ends well.
I’ve seen way too many people “stay on good terms” with exes, and stay in this weird post break up limbo. They aren’t dating, but they text all the time. They’re just friends, but you can tell there’s still some chemistry going on. They’re totally single… and yet at the same time not really on the market. It’s a messy situation for everyone involved – even the innocent bystanders.
Does this mean you can’t be friendly with your exes? No. Say hi to them. Treat them like human beings. Don’t pretend they don’t exist or avoid walking near them or never look in their direction. Maybe even go for the Christian side hug if necessary. But being nice doesn’t entail asking deep questions about their life, being in constant contact, or meeting up one on one.
As far as Facebook friends? I’d say that’s a personal decision. I don’t see any need to unfriend people on Facebook – it seems a little petty and middle school-esque to me – but maybe you need some strict boundaries from that person in your life, so go right ahead. Personally, I block anyone I’ve dated from my newsfeed (whoever made that feature on Facebook, I LOVE YOU), simply because I don’t need to see day to day updates about their life. I also don’t follow people I’ve dated on Instagram or Twitter for the same reason. Not out of spite, but out of pursuing wholeness. You gotta do you, boo.
For the sake of total transparency: I’m decently good friends with one guy I “dated” – we were never official and we never kissed (that’s typically the line for me). We both have worked pretty hard at healthy emotional boundaries, what’s okay conversations for us, and are really good at being honest and upfront with each other. I’m not saying it’s the norm and I’m not encouraging everyone to do it, but I’m not going to pretend it isn’t possible. This is where I’m the exception. I also stayed on pretty good terms with one of my more serious exes, because of the situation we found ourselves in, and we were fine for the most part buuuut it still got a little messy from time to time. Although we are still friendly, I wouldn’t classify us as good friends. I don’t think it’s healthy to be. This is where I’m the rule.
(Seriously, just go watch He’s Just Not that Into You – solid dating advice AND Bradley Cooper’s face.)
While we’re on the subject of exes and healthy boundaries…
Sometimes you break up with someone you have no desire to be friends with, and yet is a part of your small Christian community. And can I be honest? It sucks. It really, really sucks. Gather your closest, truest friends around you and cling tight to your community that doesn’t overlap with theirs. Work on healing, on processing, on moving forward, and then – take a deep, deep breath – and commit to being the bigger person when needed. Be the one who says hi, who smiles, who treats them like a human being. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m saying as followers of Christ we are called to respect the imago dei in every human – even our exes, even when it’s the last thing you want to do.
Sometimes you break up with someone who wronged you, and you still have to interact with them in some capacity. Work to distance yourself as far as possible from the person, and work on strict, strict personal boundaries between the two of you. If we’re talking abuse of any kind: talk to someone. A trusted friend, a mentor, a pastor – talk to someone no matter how daunting it seems or how scared you might feel. These are delicate situations that people need to be aware of; more importantly, you are a person with inherent value who should have never been treated like that. If we’re talking less serious but still hurtful situations (being cheated on, lied to, etc): share it with a friend. Invite people into the process of how to go about healing while simultaneously having to interact with the person – it’s messy but it’s possible, and it’s a lot easier with people by your side.
If you grew up in the church, like me, you heard alllllll about boundaries in dating. How far is too far?! Kissing is okay, maybe. Sex is bad, always. TRUE LOVE WAITS. Physical boundaries, physical boundaries, physical boundaries. You, also like me, may have never heard of emotional boundaries. Eish. There’s so much to cover here.
Boundaries are so very important- in dating and life in general. Physical, mental, and emotional boundaries make up a healthy person, and also a healthy dating relationship. The way a person goes about boundaries (or lack thereof) is usually a telling sign of their maturity, emotional intelligence, and healthiness. Listen carefully – people typically tell you who they are / where they’re at; sometimes we just don’t want to listen.
If you’re single and are looking to a person to fulfill a need they aren’t committed to filling – you might be messing with emotional boundaries. Red flags: When/if you had a bad day and are texting a cute boy to make you feel better, rather then texting your friends to vent about it. Or you’re feeling lonely and are texting that cute girl somewhat flirty things to feel connected and/or wanted and/or needed, instead of actually dealing with your loneliness. “Emotional dating” someone you aren’t actually dating is rough.
Your friends, roommates or whoever are actually committed to being there for you, hearing about your bad days, making you feel better when you need it. Random members of the opposite sex aren’t. Putting weight on things that don’t have the foundations to bear it is asking for things to come crashing down – fast.
What about people you’re about to date?? What about when you’re in that fun “talking” stage and you want to tell this cute human who you’re head over heels for every single thing about your life?? I get that it’s tempting, I get that it’s fun. I totally understand the talking-until-3-am-about-everything phase. But I also totally know it’s not healthy. Mature relationships take time to progress. They take a step forward, establish the situation is safe, and then take another step forward – in physical boundaries as well as emotional boundaries.
In Christian dating, we know not to sleep around or make out with complete strangers. Therefore it’s much more tempting to jump 5 steps ahead emotionally – it’s a way to connect and feel intimate, without the physical intimacy we know the church frowns upon. It seems easier and safer, but really can be just as messy and painful.
And if you are dating?? Emotional boundaries are still so important. Emotional cheating becomes a bigger issue – when someone in a serious, committed relationship is turning towards someone else to fulfill what their boyfriend / girlfriend should. I’ve been on both sides of this situation, and neither are fun. It can start out innocently enough – maybe you’re really good friends with someone, so texting them isn’t out of the norm. Or maybe your boyfriend is at work, out of town, in a fight, whatever and you just need to talk to someone right now. I’m not saying you can’t have friends of the opposite sex; I’m saying you have to be smart about your friendships. Some conversations should be off limits, some situations – though physically cross no lines – can cross some pretty important emotional ones.
You also need smart emotional boundaries with the person you are dating! Codependency is a huge problem in relationships today – though your life should be somewhat intertwined with the person you’re dating, your lives shouldn’t be completely intermeshed. Their emotions shouldn’t equal your emotions. Two healthy humans make up one healthy relationship; one dominant human and one codependent human make up a one-sided relationship.
What does this look like, tangibly??
- There are certain conversations I don’t have with men I’m dating until they are my boyfriend. Higher commitment levels of the relationship bring about higher levels of emotional connection. This means I either steer the conversations away from these topics, or if asked I honestly say, “Maybe that’s a conversation we’ll have in a month or two”. There’s no shame in knowing your boundaries, and anyone who pushes against that isn’t worth dating.
- I try to limit my texting conversations with guy friends (especially guy friends who are seriously dating someone or married). I don’t not text them, I just only text them when it is warranted and necessary. I’m not a fan of texting just to text in general, and I really am not a fan of doing it with men in my life. I don’t chat via text – I’ve never been into it – and I don’t want to get in the habit of being in constant communication with a person who shouldn’t be a “constant” in my life.
- I’ve learned my triggers and my rhythms. As in, I can tell when I’ve had a rough day, am feeling off, and my language to otherwise-friend-only guys turns a little flirty. There’s nothing wrong with flirting – but there’s a lot of things wrong with playing with another’s emotions so I feel better about myself. Those are situations I simply don’t put myself in anymore: text them back later, excuse myself from the conversation, and/or change the subject.
- I’ve worked really, really hard on healthy relationships with women in my life, who not only can fulfill these needs in a healthy way but will also call me out when they see a relationship with a guy becoming murky and unclear. Emotional boundaries are tricky; the best way to keep them is to have people holding you accountable to being your best, most healthy self.
My Donuts & Dating mini series is questions we didn’t get to answer, extra thoughts of mine on the subject, and – of course – my favorite donut spots in San Diego.
Be sure to read my initial thoughts on dating, staying friends with your exes & emotional boundaries, dating with intention & when to break up with someone, how to make yourself attractive & when to ask someone out, annnnnnnnd everyone’s number one question for me: online dating.