Addicted to Dating?
After graduating from college in 2013, I moved out to San Francisco to start my career. I was wide-eyed, full of ambition, but also scared. I had never lived on my own—outside of an academic environment—and didn’t know what to expect from the ‘real world.’ Despite my fears, however, there was a part of me that was excited. I was excited to start a new chapter, to establish a new community that went beyond college students; but, for whatever reason, I was most excited to start dating. Having never dated before, I didn’t know what to expect, but I know what I wanted. My flesh overcame me, and it became my #1 priority to date for the sole purpose of physical gratification.
Pursuing online dating led me down a path that would become all-consuming for the next five years. As much as I thought that I was leveraging technology to ‘simply cut through the awkwardness of dating,’ I was lying to myself. I sure wanted to cut through the awkwardness, but it wasn’t an awkwardness that hindered relationship growth towards marriage. No, it was an awkwardness that hindered quickly assessing whether or not someone found me attractive enough to engage physically. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all it became. Every woman I connected with digitally was one more woman whom I fantasized about being with. I objectified her, and justified my actions as nothing more than ‘what single men do.’ Every woman I met further piled on guilt and shame, and further distorted my view towards what a Christ-centered relationship with women was all about.
This pattern continued as I moved from San Francisco to Washington DC to Austin. But, as time progressed, so did the Lord’s kindness in pursuing me in my sinfulness. What I was previously experiencing as worldly sorrow started turning into godly sorrow. As The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10). I approach Austin, TX with a heart and mind to turn from my sin once and for all. For the first time, I prayed for purity, I shared sin with those closest to me, and entered with a heart to change. But just as quickly as my heart seemed to turn to Christ, my desires turned back to destructive habits. I was back on Tinder, back on the websites, looking for what, I really didn’t know; all I know is that I needed change. Through a deep journey of introspection and reflection, I learned that the women whom I lusted after, went on dates with, and engaged with physically, were the only ones who could give me acceptance and value, even more than or as much as any other form of worth and acceptance I experienced from people around me. I also realized that I feared that if it wasn’t for the pleasure and temporal satisfaction I found through them, I would never find anyone or anything more satisfying and long-lasting.
I have come to finally realize that my worth and value will never come from this world. I finally recognize the self-centered fear within me, that the pleasure I sought was my actually not trusting God to meet my sexual needs according to His will. I tried to control my life and impose my own standards; I tried to defeat the feelings of worthlessness by finding worth in everyone and everything except the only one in whom my worth and value could be found.
Today, I strive to help men and women experience the same freedom that I’ve experienced. By coming to realize my personal triggers, the ‘why’ behind those triggers, and constantly leaning on the Lord, I created a free tool that could bring folks closer towards freedom. Though LeadMeNot alone is not the answer to fighting addiction, I do believe that a holistic approach, centered around the Gospel, while using technology, can be a more effective way to find freedom.
Despite my fear, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within [me], will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” My name is Jason, and I am a new creation in Christ.
Jason Mathew is the Founder of LeadMeNot, a free accountability platform that helps the world fight destructive digital habits. You can download LeadMeNot today on Google Play.