Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dating isn't Marriage

I've had more than one person in my life lately agonizing about dating.

'I'm not completely sure how I feel about him yet. He sort of does these things that are annoying...'

It's the gist of the freaking out, without all the specifics.
You might know what I'm talking about. I've done it a lot, too. The trepidation you face when you're considering the possibility of dating someone new...regardless of how well you know the person. The chase is over, you know that he likes you and he knows you like him... but the next steps are still a bit unknown.

Do I really want to do this? 
You ask yourself....and your friends....and your family...and the Lord... at least 100 times. You run through everything you know about this person, regardless of how well you know them. You run through all the possible outcomes. Sometimes you've just met them, sometimes you've known them for years. No matter the length of time, you either conjure up things you think you know about them, or you suddenly turn the things you already do know about them into bigger deals then they really are. You develop strange hypotheses on 'if' the relationship happens then 'this' will inevitably happen and before you're even dating, you've plotted the whole thing out based on your fears/superficiality/past experiences/future plans/hopes/others' opinions...

All of a sudden, this person whom you've perhaps been crushing on for a while (that maybe even seemed unattainable) is suddenly a reality. OR... all of a sudden, this person that you never even noticed/considered before is wanting to date you. What are you going to do?

As much as I question dating, I also think that if you're gonna date... you need to date.

Here's what I mean by that: dating doesn't mean marriage.
Yes, I know that oftentimes we don't want to date unless we're serious about marriage, but sometimes I think that restricts us from dating without these ridiculous expectations already placed on the relationship. Before we even start dating, the relationship is smothered because there's been no chance for it to even breathe due to all of our over-analyzing and irrational assumptions of what could/might/should happen. Dating, like I told those I had these conversations with recently, is a way of determining if you could marry a person...it's not declaring that you're going to marry them.

Too often I think we get swept up, before we even date someone, in wanting/needing to know if we are going to marry them or not. Too often we get hung up on these little details and quirks and superficial things without allowing ourselves to really get to know the person on the other side. Too often we enter a mode of self-preservation and we don't think our little hearts can handle it if it's not going to work out, and so why even bother in the first place...

Calm down!
Sometimes a date is just a date and agreeing to a dinner or a walk doesn't mean that you have to know if you're going to marry someone or not. I'd venture to say that it's okay for you to date someone when you're unsure if you could marry them. If you know that you couldn't and wouldn't marry them, that's when you shouldn't be dating them. Up until you know that, though? Date.

I think it's the unspoken agreement that we all sort of sign our names to when we decide to date. It's the unspoken risk. It's the...'I don't know if this is going to work at all, but I think it's worth the risk...I think you're worth a shot. I can't promise anything, but I know that I'd like to get to know you better...so let's figure out what this connection we have is all about.'

What's even crazier about the arrangement is that it can be fun. It's a time of firsts, it's a time of opening up your heart to the unknown of what could be. It doesn't need to be over-analyzed and over-processed and over-discussed to where you've sucked the life out of any possible enjoyment that the relationship could have (yes, I've done this before). It's a time to just... let it be what it is. Dating.

It's risky.
It involves two people who are broken and jacked up....two people who are annoying and have hundreds of quirks and strange aspects to their personality... two people who are journeying through life trying to figure out what the heck they're doing...two people coming together with all of that and trying to communicate well and love each other selflessly. It involves hope, but it involves heartache and misunderstandings. It's not always going to be the gushy, mushy romantic comedies with a happy ending and barely any conflict. It involves discernment as you navigate through the things that are worth fighting about and necessary to let go of.

And, when you face those moments of trial and tribulation...you, at the end of the day, have to decide if it's still worth it. You have to decide what matters. You have to decide if the things that bother you (because there will always be things that bother you) are too much for you to 'put up with'. You have to decide if the relationship is worth fighting for (because it will be a fight at times). You have to decide what you can sacrifice and what you simply will not (because, yes, you'll have to sacrifice things).

BUT... you have to decide to date someone before you even get to all that good stuff.

I say do it (I mean, if you're attracted to them and you've liked them for a while or you're really interested in getting to know them better based on the things you've seen in them).
Because, if you don't, you may always wonder.
Don't be wishy-washy or over-complicate things as you process through this decision.

You don't have to know the outcome. You just have to be willing to give it a shot.
Take a risk.
Give 'em a shot.
Enjoy the early stages of dating as you get to know someone (and be willing to look beyond the little idiosyncrasies, especially if you can rationally recognize that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of their character/integrity/spiritual walk/etc.)

No one is perfect.
Can I get an 'Amen'?

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1 comment:

  1. I realize that these are blog posts, but I guess I was wondering if maybe I agree with you, but use different terminology.

    I'm a guy, and I have good female friends (contrary to societal stereotypes). We have fun, and we grow together, whether in a group or one-on-one. And sometimes that growth is intentional. One or the other will ask questions, notice habits, pray for the other, and so on.

    But it's not dating. It's not pursuit, and it's not courtship. It's friendship. It's a relationship or relationships that are deepening, and while one or another may eventually lead to romance and dating (not marriage-lite), it's not there.

    That is explicit. There is no wondering about status or intent. And while we may get to know each other as friends at a slower rate than dating, it does protect us from heartbreak, from emotional and physical mistakes that may happen once the "dating" label has been applied, and so on.

    So are we talking about the same thing - intentionality, fun, and growth possibly leading to more, whether or not we apply the term dating immediately or down the road, or are we on separate paths?