Dating Is Not About Marriage
- Wednesday, June 01, 2005
"You just said that we ought to date a lot of people to learn and grow and all that stuff, but I really disagree," said a woman seated in the first row at one of my seminars. "I don't have time for that."
"What do you mean, 'You don't have time for that?'" I could tell the questioner was young and energetic. What could she mean that she didn't have time for dating? Usually you hear that from someone worried about his or her age in some way, such as a man worrying about putting down roots or a woman worrying about her biological clock. Maybe that is what she meant, I thought.
"I don't have time to waste on dating someone whom I couldn't see myself marrying. If he doesn't have the potential for a serious relationship that could lead to marriage, I don't want to go out with him."
"What's your hurry?"
"Well, I'm forty–two, I've been married once before, and I want to be married again. I don't have time to waste."
"I don't get it. You are only forty–two. It's not like your life is over. What's your hurry?"
"Well, I just don't have time for all this dating. I only want to go out with someone I could marry. Isn't that the purpose of dating? To find a mate?"
"NO! NO! NO!" I said, literally jumping up and down on the stage. If I could have screamed louder without breaking the microphone, I would have. "That is not the sole purpose of dating! Haven't you heard anything I've said?"
"Well, I just couldn't believe you were really serious about dating just for dating. I date to find a mate."
I did not know any of the facts of her life. But I did know a lot from what she was saying. She was in a hurry, and on the hunt. That was easy enough to see. And that always means something. But past that, she was showing something else. It sounded like she thought she knew what she wanted and needed. I seriously doubted that.
"So, tell me about the last ten years," I said, picking a number out of the air. I wondered how her dating plan of action was going.
"Bad marriage and divorce," she said.
This answer did not tell me a lot about her dating, so I pressed her. "How long have you been divorced?"
"It is not final yet. We ended it two weeks ago."
"What? Your divorce is not final, and you are already 'in a hurry?'" I could hardly believe my ears, although I should have. I have seen this countless times. "So what you are telling me is this. The last time you chose someone, it ended in disaster. And you have chosen no one since him, right?" With only two weeks on the market, I assumed she had not been in another relationship.
"So you have made one choice for a mate, and it was a bad choice. Isn't it obvious that your 'people picker' is broken? Now, with no further experience dating, you think you are ready to make another lifetime commitment with the same people picker you used to pick the last one. No, no, no! You are not ready to date to find a mate. You obviously do not know what you need, what is good and what is not good, and what your unhealthy patterns are. You are 0 for 1.
"The last thing you need is to date to find a mate. You need more than anyone to go out with many different kinds of men for a number of reasons. There is no way you are ready to think that you know what you need or what is good for you. The last ten years should have proven that to you. Make a commitment to not make a commitment. That is what you need to do. Go into divorce recovery. Get healing. Get therapy. But, please do not go out looking for another mate. That is the last thing you need."
This is one of the biggest problems I've encountered in my work with singles and dating. Do not let the questioner's recent divorce confuse the issue; I'm not talking about the need to avoid a rebound. The real issue here is what is the purpose of dating. One of the first steps people need is to be cured of the thinking that the purpose of dating is to find a marriage partner. This is often a result, obviously. But here is what I'm trying to say:
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