Once upon a time, I got led on. Yep, you heard me. The relationship counselor—a supposed “expert” in the field—got taken.
If I’m completely honest, getting led on was not a one-time deal when it came to my interactions with the opposite sex. At one point in my life, a predictable relationship pattern started to emerge between me and men.
This happens to a lot of people, and it usually goes something like this:
Step 1: The guy/girl starts interacting with you.
Step 2: You get very excited about the prospect of this potential interest, and show some interest back.
Step 3: The two of you start hanging out, talking more often and interacting regularly.
Step 4: You start reading into this interaction and dreaming of your future. You continue to give, love and serve.
Step 5: The two of you continue to interact.
Step 6: You start feeling confused. Do they like you, or are you just friends? Was that a romantic wink, or was there something in their eye? Are these dates, or are you just their pal?
Step 7: You continue to interact.
Step 8: You feel more confused, but remain silent. But you keep on giving…
Step 9: You continue to interact.
Step 10: And the Grande finale? They tell you they have a girlfriend/boyfriend, or that they’re interested in someone else, or allude to you being a great sister/brother in Christ, or introduce you to their crush, or drop off the face of the earth. The end.
With this kind of relationship history, you could probably feel me when I say I used to have a little bitterness in my heart toward men. I concluded that they were all the same—selfish human beings, looking to just have a good time at the cost of my broken heart. I blamed them, and felt a little hopeless that the well-being of my heart pretty much depended on this kind of discouraging interaction.
Of course, both women and men occasionally get led on. And perhaps the one doing the “leading” is at least partially to blame—the woman who doesn’t want to commit, the insecure man who likes your attention but doesn’t really like you. We should all be conscious not to be the type of person who leads another on.
But at the same time, we need to learn how to guard our hearts against the pain of being strung along. Looking back, I call my perspective of blaming others “victim mentality”—and I’ll be the first to confess, I owned that mentality for a time in my life. I allowed my life to be controlled and determined by the choices and decisions of others, rather than respecting and loving myself enough to control it myself.
When it came to relationships with the opposite sex, I was so determined to let them “lead” that I allowed myself to hang on to unhealthy relationships and interactions that drug on until the other person got tired of me or got something they wanted or moved on to the next thing.
I kept giving and giving and giving, even when there was little to nothing being given back to me. I was so desperate for love and for a relationship that I failed to recognize, and even gave up, my control in the matter.
Looking back, I had no right to blame anyone but myself in those kinds of dysfunctional and desperate interactions.
You see, when it comes to being “led on” by someone of the opposite sex, here’s what it comes down to: You can only be led on if you continue following. The term alone alludes to a picture of someone being a leader, while the other is the follower.
Sometimes, we choose to be the follower, instead of taking charge of our lives. The truth is there were numerous things we can have done to take control. We can confront the other person about this seemingly romantic relationship and the direction it’s headed, or stop giving and giving until we start getting something back, or respect ourselves enough to set some boundaries instead of just letting whatever happens happen.
But, often times we don’t do any of those things. We just kept following, afraid to scare off the other person or “mess things up.”
For Christian women, we sometimes get so bogged down by the concept of men being “leaders” that we fail to recognize that God only calls us into this kind of “leading” relationship within the walls of a loving, respect-filled and mutually submissive marriage.
We are not called to simply “follow” a man for the mere fact he’s a man. However you choose to define the word “leader”—No man should be given the role of “leader” in your life until the day you enter a lifelong covenant relationship with him as you unite your hearts as one in Christ.
I think we have misinterpreted this “leader” mentality by applying it to relationships and people who should have absolutely no say in our lives—and in the end we end up broken, hurt, confused, bitter and jaded because we chose to follow someone we were never meant to let lead.
And you know what else? This “victim mentality” can be applied to any area of our lives in which we are allowing someone other than ourselves and our God to have control and then whining and complaining about it.
As adults, we are given the power and the wisdom to make good choices in our lives. We are asked to “choose, this day, whom [we] will serve.” And at the end of that beautiful passage of scripture there is one conclusion: “We will serve the Lord.”
It’s time to say no to your preconceived notions of what it means for someone in your relationships to “take the lead,” and take a look at your relationship history and what it might be saying about you.
If you, like me, have found yourself confused, bitter and broken, maybe it’s time to take the reins back from people and relationships that were never meant to have this kind of role in your life, and give the control back to the One who has always deserved it. Trust Him with your life, and before all else, allow Him to take the lead.
Don’t ever allow yourself to get “led on” by anyone less than Him.
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.