Because I’m feeling ballsy


Lately, I have been made acutely aware of a certain discord in romantic relationships between people of my generation. Now, I am not currently dating anyone. However, these observations have come from my own experiences as well as those around me – I’m not pointing the finger at any one person, or any one gender, for that matter. I’m just going to share my thoughts, simple as they may be.

If you’re feeling particularly sensitive today, maybe you should take some deep breaths before reading this. Are you ready? Consider yourself warned.

I have noticed that most humans are looking for fulfillment. In my experience, women generally look for that fulfillment in the context of relationship, while men generally look for that fulfillment in the context of autonomy.

I said generally. Stop bristling.

So when men and women interact, and coexist, and begin to let their guard down with each other, generally a conflict rises out of the tension between what they are each looking toward for fulfillment: the woman tends to look to the man, while the man tends to look away. The woman asks, “Do you love me? Do you think I’m beautiful? Am I worth it to you?” And the man says, “I can’t be responsible for you. I’m not ready to commit. I need to be free.”

The man sees the woman as needy. The woman sees the man as an asshole.

I propose that we need to stop looking toward the wrong things for fulfillment in the context of romantic relationships. Women need to stop expecting the man to fulfill her. Men need to stop looking toward independence to fulfill him.


Women, we need to stop asking the hubba-hubba man to dictate our worth. If the God of the universe created us, and knows us inside and out, and calls us worthy and beautiful and captivating, then honestly, what else do we need? A man is just a man. He’s never going to be enough to fulfill us – it’s unfair to expect that of him. And a man’s opinion of us – favorable or otherwise – happens to have absolutely no bearing on our worth. So maybe we should just start trusting that our worth is already determined, and nothing can ever change that. Let’s rest in the fact that we are LOVED, and move forward into our relationships with confidence. We’ve been watching too much of “The Notebook.”

And men, maybe it’s time that you stop looking toward experiences and autonomy and wild adventures to fulfill that hole inside. Being in a healthy relationship with a good woman will not be an emasculating thing – in fact, some of the most honorable men I know have told me that their marriages have been the biggest and best adventure that one could possibly embark on. That restless ache inside of you is not going to be fulfilled by freedom or the mountains or the ability to sow your oats or a lack of responsibility. That hole is only filled when we ask God, “Who do you say I am?” I have watched too many men turn their back on good, substantial women, for fear of being “tied down.”

What do I know? Am I hypocritical? I’m just a 25-year old single girl who, trust me, does NOT believe these things easily. I want a man to come and sweep me off my feet and tell me that I am beautiful and that he will never, ever leave me. I really want that – and I have asked for it and expected it. But as a result, I have been severely disappointed and deeply hurt by numerous guys. It has felt unfair. It has left me tempted to launch into bitter diatribes at weddings, and bridal showers, and every time I get another Save-the-Date card in the mail. I am definitely a person in process.

But I invite you to be a person in process alongside me. Because the way that it’s going isn’t working.



  1. Cameron Conant on June 3, 2008 at 11:22 AM

    Great post! Fantastic. You’re on to something here. Very well written.


  2. almost thirty, flirty, and thriving on June 3, 2008 at 1:02 PM

    preach it, sister. LOVE this.

  3. Duane on June 3, 2008 at 1:42 PM

    at eric & mandy’s wedding (the 23rd wedding that i have been a part of), craig quoted david wilcox’s ‘break in the cup’ which seems to fit the theme of your post:

    I try so hard to please you
    To be the love that fills you up
    I try to pour on sweet affection,
    But I think you got a broken cup.
    Because you can’t believe I love you
    I try to tell you that there is no doubt,
    But as soon as I fill you with all I’ve got
    That little break will let it run right out.

    I cannot make you happy.
    I’m learning love and money never do
    But I can pour myself out ’til I’m empty
    Trying to be just who you’d want me to.
    But I cannot make you happy
    Even though our love is true
    For there’s a break in the cup that holds love
    Inside of you.

    Now I begin to understand you
    As you explain this fear you feel.
    It’s when you see me fall into that sorrow
    it makes you doubt the love is real.
    ‘Cause the lonely wind still blows through me
    I turn away so can’t see
    But now how could I still be so empty
    With all the love that you pour on me.

    I guess you cannot make me happy
    That’s a money back guarantee.
    But you can pour yourself out ’til you’re empty
    Trying to be just who I’d want you to be.
    You cannot make me happy
    It’s just the law of gravity
    And that break in the cup that holds love,
    Inside of me.

    So if you’re tempted to rescue me
    Drowning in this quicksand up to my neck
    Before you grab my hand to save me
    Why don’t you ask me if I’m finished yet.
    Because you cannot make me happy
    Not when I’m empty inside of me
    But you can pull yourself right in here with me
    My misery’d love to have your company.

    We cannot trade empty for empty
    We must go to the waterfall
    For there’s a break in the cup that holds love,
    A break in the cup that holds love,
    A break in the cup that holds love,
    Inside us all. Inside us all.

    – David Wilcox

    btw, i love love love your new tunes over on the myspace!

  4. Allie, Dearest on June 3, 2008 at 1:47 PM

    That’s the truth.

    There is no golden door of wisdom, beyond which everything runs smoothly and everyone operates selflessly for the best of all concerned. We live in a moment-to-moment, relativistic world which is overpopulated with beautiful, exciting women. It’s generally a dog-eat-dog world full of dignity-stealing, self-worth questioning malarky.

    I’m genuinely a happy human, though I was never successful in finding love. I have a lot of guy friends that sort of move in and out of my life between girlfriends, and although they aren’t “mine to keep,” they are wonderful companions at various times when I like and want them most.

    My sarcasm streak runs to the men who are searching for something akin to one of those little girls who models as a flower girl/child bride for Bridal shows in the mall. Because, surprise!, even the guy with uncouth looks, poor hygiene and terrible social skills–is looking for a mix between Paris Hilton’s sex appeal and Hanna Montana’s age.

    Before age 25, I was too reasonable for such a young woman and only attracted the married and 50 crowd of men. After age 25, I became too old, too sensible and too down-to-earth for them and everyone else.

    I’m no child bride. No playboy bunny. No heiress. No sorority girl.

    I think your advice is great. There is no person that can tell me that I’m loved enough for me to know it. And I can’t possibly provide any man with the same freedom that a bourgeoisie bachelor would enjoy.

  5. bec on June 3, 2008 at 1:48 PM

    remember ‘rad’ the movie? there’s a line that says ‘go balls deep!’ i think you just did.

    i am a person in process alongside you.

  6. erin castioni on June 3, 2008 at 1:52 PM

    Annie, you have been sweapt off your feet and told you were loved by a Man that would never ever leave you. Seek fulfillment in that Man, in that glory. Yes, i often forget this on a daily basis myself. But here i am, working along side you as another single 20-something who gets way too many save the dates (they’ve even found me in omaha!) and chooses to find her value in Grace. Love IS a beautiful thing.

  7. Deborah Barnett on June 3, 2008 at 2:19 PM

    amen sista-friend. You know how I feel on this subject based on my blog.

    Nicely said Annie. the hopeless Hoper in me still believes that there are guys out there that “get” this…

    until then… we bask in our being loved by a Perfect Lover until we find someone knows they are loved perfectly too.

  8. Shannon on June 3, 2008 at 4:16 PM

    You are brilliant Annie Parsons!

    I kind of want to print this out on little fliers and generously hand them out to everyone on the street.

    side note: one of my text book referred to several studies that show men to be far happier on all levels once married and women as far more stressed on every level once married. I don’t know if that’s good news for women but that should throw the whole bachelor dream out the window :)

  9. finance girl on June 3, 2008 at 5:02 PM

    Hey There…didn’t happen for me until I was 32 (finding my soulmate) and then it was as effortless and natural and worry-free as it should be.

    But…along the way? Much, much pain. And…many mistaked…including marriage #1 at the age of 27 to someone I knew wasn’t my soulmate but I didn’t have the courage to stay single.

    When we divorced, I thought, well, I am not meant to find my soulmate and I am just going to try to be content with what I have been blessed with.

    Then, I met my husband 2 years later, and here we are.

    My point? Well, I am not sure, except that I totally agree that one has to find fulfillment and joy in God.

    Finding my husband (or, us finding each other) is the greatest thing that ever happened to me, but it was a very painful road before that.

  10. Rebecca on June 3, 2008 at 9:20 PM

    Amen!! Can’t wait to ruminate on this further over wine in…3 1/2 weeks!!

    (and I can’t wait to respond properly to your comment on my FB “Wall” ;))

  11. Grant on June 4, 2008 at 6:58 AM

    I think you must have had class with my Prof…He has a book that deals exactly with this idea. In his words…in order to make any relationship work we must give up one it. Faith can not be put into something that is broken and will no fulfill, but must be focused through the one that is not and can.

  12. Andrea on June 4, 2008 at 7:36 AM

    It’s so funny that I happened across your post today. Even on the other side of marriage, I still struggle with just THAT! I’ve been wrestling with it since I got married, and recently started wrestling out loud. Your writing was a huge encouragement to me today – another one of those little nudges from God that He’s trustworthy. THANK YOU!!

    P.S. If you ever visit MD, we should definitely grab coffee. :)

  13. Emma Jane on June 4, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    Phew. That brought me a lot of comfort, Annie. I miss you gobs.

  14. luke on June 5, 2008 at 12:52 AM

    maybe the problem is not looking for fulfillment in the wrong place, but the very idea that so much of our life is oriented around looking for fulfillment. maybe we should be looking to give it rather than to find it. maybe. but lets be honest–who can really do that? jesus? sheesh. and who am i?

    to follow along your line of thought–i think a major danger is women becoming bitter and men becoming disillusioned. i don’t know what a disillusioned man comes off, but a bitter woman is very unbecoming. i don’t say this because i see you that way in this writing (i don’t), but more as a word of caution. don’t give up/in to bitterness annie! it is a form of forsaking. i feel the tension to run away and forsake because of disillusionment, but it is not the way of love. and believe me, bitterness too (4-time groomsman in the last 5 months).

    i liked the comment with the song about the cup, as i’ve found that in my (limited) experiences too. i think a lot of people try to seal that cup on the outside, but the water still leaks in the midst, and its only a matter of time before it eats through.

    well i have no conclusion or final point to all those sporadic thoughts. it’s too late for that, and i am too young of course to have an answer. but i appreciate the discussion. thanks for your honest thoughts.

  15. Marie on June 5, 2008 at 1:13 PM

    God I love you.

    You know, one time I was a bridesmaid fourteen times in one (very long) summer. I was even a maid of honor on two different occasions, as my best friend and sister both got married that same summer.

    That summer I, too, had an epiphany. I’m sure you know the term “refiners fire”. I learned to enjoy the process of refinement, of editing oneself.

    Someday we’ll all be a bit finer and more richer and more whole as a result of going through the fire and feeling the burns. And just think of the stories we’ll be able to tell our sons and daughters about the worth and value of human life, and human relationships.

    Until then, let’s have some wine and cheese.

  16. Annie Parsons on June 5, 2008 at 2:59 PM

    Thanks for your comments and feedback, everyone. Judging by the deep place that “relationship talk” tends to strikes us, I think that is a prime indicator that we ARE meant for relationship. God would not have said, “It is not good for man to be alone” otherwise.

    Thank you, Luke, for raising the bitterness/disillusionment issue. I’m glad to hear that you don’t think I’m coming across that way, because I am feeling much LESS bitter these days than I have in a long time, oddly enough. So… go me. :) But you’re so right – “forsaking” is a terrible thing. I hope that we can all continue to choose joy, and choose hope, and ultimately, yes, seek to FULFILL and to SERVE rather than BE FULFILLED and BE SERVED.

    Good thoughts.

    Also, in relation to having a “broken cup” (as in the David Wilcox song), I recently heard in a sermon (was it Craig Brown? I think so) that jars of clay have cracks throughout them. They cannot hold anything on their own – they leak, no matter what. The only way for those cracks to heal up, and for the vessel to hold water, is when it is fully submerged.

  17. Lisa on June 16, 2008 at 7:33 PM

    Annie, we’ve only met once in life, so realistically we don’t know each other except through awesome friends such as the Kissingers (yes, JJ, that was a shout out…Lisa I’m sorry if I embarrassed you). But I DO know you are so insightful and super ballsy and real. We, being the world, crave more honesty, along with truth and realness like you share.

    I don’t know who I am to tell you what to do, but it’s time for you to write a book. Use some of these posts for chapters. Check out “Cold Tangerines” as inspiration for getting published. I guess in the end, I’m just saying thank you for sharing your life.

    And if you ever move to So Cal, let’s be friends, even though I don’t wear cute shoes like you.

  18. Prosso on October 16, 2008 at 9:35 AM

    I don’t know how I got here, but I really like the “Who do you say I am?” question. I’ve read that line a lot, but I’ve never thought about asking it myself.

  19. Erin on July 9, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    I still come back and read this as a reminder. Thanks Annie.

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