Dating Is Not About Marriage
- Wednesday, June 01, 2005
As you date for fun, you will be in many different situations that will give you feedback on yourself that you need to know. How do you respond with a certain kind of person? Why? Are you threatened by a certain kind of person? Why? Do you go brain dead with a certain kind of person? Why? Do you feel more "alive" or "dead" with a certain kind of person? Why? Those are good things to find out. As you figure out who you are in relation to others, you will be more prepared to pick someone good.
3. See dating as an end in and of itself.
How do you know if marriage is in the cards for you, and, if it is, how do you know when it will happen? I, for one, did not marry until well into my thirties. I loved my dating years. They were a lot of fun, and I had wonderful experiences getting to know some really good women.
Dating is an activity where you do fun, meaningful things with interesting people. This is a great goal in and of itself. If you are not having fun dating, then something is wrong. You might be judging each person you go out with by whether or not he or she is "marriage material." If you decide he or she is not, then you deem the date of no value.
What's wrong? Didn't you enjoy the movie? Or the conversation? Or the food? Come on, have a good time! Don't spoil a meaningful experience just because you did not find the love of your life. Tiger Woods enjoys not only the U.S. Open, but also a round of golf on Tuesday afternoon with his friends.
Date to have fun. Date to learn. Date to experience things. If you are only dating to marry, you are not experiencing life, and you are missing out on knowing a lot of good people along the way.
4. See dating in a way that takes the pressure off.
One woman I worked with was so afraid of rejection she sabotaged her dating life. She worried so much about whether or not a guy was going to like her that she could not enjoy the date. As a result, she was always less than herself, and the guy never got to see who she really was. She actually experienced much more rejection because the guys she dated never really saw all she had to offer.
I advised her to look at a date as an activity to get to know someone and spend some time doing something fun, with no pressure. She stopped looking for a potential mate or serious relationship, and it all changed. She finally learned how to be who she really was with a man. Her dating increased, her anxiety went down, and she started taking baby steps down the path to finding what she wanted.
If every date is the Super Bowl, you will put too much pressure on yourself to win. Just enjoy the game!
5. See dating as an opportunity to love and serve others.
Just as you learn as you date, so do the people you go out with. When you treat your dates as you would want them to treat you and show them what a good man or woman is like, you have served them. When you have relationships with people, you leave a wake behind, similar to the backwash a boat leaves behind. When you date, leave a wake where the person is better off for having known you.
Dating is a give and take. If you only see it as "taking," you are not getting it. See dating as a time to show others what being treated well looks like; then you help them see what is good in life, and you love and serve them. You never know where someone has come from—to be treated well might turn them around for good. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Help them to see what "good" is, and show them God's design for good relationship. All of life, including dating, should be a place where you are learning to love others better.
6. See dating as an opportunity to grow in skills.
Dating is a place to practice how to relate to other people. If you know you need to be more direct, for example, practice with your dates. If you need to learn how to open up and talk about yourself, your feelings, and your wants, practice it in dating. If you need to learn how to confront others and deal with conflict, practice it in dating. Or maybe you need to learn how to deny yourself, listen to others, or be less self–centered. Dating is a place where you can bring all the parts of you that need spiritual growth.
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