Dating is as much about learning what you need and want, and how you need to grow and change, as it is about finding the "right" person.

Look at it this way. Tiger Woods grew up with the goal of winning more major golf tournaments than anyone in history. He wanted to win more U.S. Opens, Masters, PGAs, and British Opens than Jack Nicklaus did. What if Tiger had said early on, "I will not play in any other tournament than the U.S. Open." Ridiculous. What if any other athlete said, "I will only play in the Super Bowl, or the World Series." That's crazy. Or what if a medical student said, "I will only take the ultimate job in my life's career? I will not work at anything less than that." I would not want to go to that surgeon.

Some people approach dating like that. They think they know what they need, what they want, or who they need to be. We will see specific reasons why this is not true in upcoming chapters, but for now I want you to join me in taking a hard look at your dating philosophy. If you have seen it as only a search for the love of your life, then I want you to make some shifts in your thinking. I want you to see dating in a very, very different way.

1. See dating as a wonderful time to find out about other people and what they are like.

The recently divorced woman at my seminar needed to date a lot of men to find out how "off" she was in her ability to see what is good and to pick a good man. Without dating for the sake of learning, she would not do that. She would just jump into another relationship where she felt "in love."

You might have no clue what is "out there" in the world of the opposite sex. I sent one young man out on a date with someone I knew he would not be attracted to. He was looking for a certain type, and she would not normally have been "on his list." Afterward, he told me he had the best four hours talking to her about her spiritual life; he had never experienced that depth with a woman before. This interaction with a deeply spiritual woman who was not his "type" taught him something. He would never have known that he could have that kind of connection if he had seen dating as only "finding a mate," because she would not have been one he thought he could marry. He would never have gone out on a date with her.

This experience has affected what he is looking for, and it has also caused him to avoid some shallow women. He found something he really needs in a serious relationship from just dating non–seriously. What he is attracted to changed as a result. He is now turned off by spiritual shallowness, and he looks for spiritual depth.

Another woman told me that going out on dates just to date taught her that a man could listen to her. She had been drawn to a certain type of self–centered man. When she followed this strategy of dating to learn, she discovered that more was available than what she had settled for and that not all men were like those she had seen. She learned about different kinds of men from "just dating."

p>Dating is an opportunity to meet and get to know many different kinds of people. Expect dating to expand your view of what is good and what you find attractive in the opposite sex. Stop evaluating women and men by some criteria they have to pass or fail, and just observe, notice, and get to know them instead. You will find valuable things you may never have seen before.

2. See dating as a wonderful time to find out about yourself and how you need to change.

When you are dating to learn, you can monitor your feelings, reactions, and character as you meet different kinds of people. One woman I know was always drawn to passive men who were kind; however, her dating experiences with these men were frustrating. She realized that her tastes in men were coming out of a wounded place inside of her: Her father had been overly aggressive, and she was afraid of strong men. She needed to get to a place where a stronger man would not feel like her aggressive father and push her buttons. She did this by dating stronger men and making the changes inside to where she could actually like a man with a sense of backbone instead of going for a wimp to feel safe.