I’m just a girl who doesn’t have a lot of real dating experience, but has observed a lot of people who have. Here are three things I’ve learned so far:
1) Do just that. Observe other dating couples.
No, I don’t mean stalk other couples or even sign-up to be the third-wheel, but you should pay attention to how other people date. Ask yourself these questions.
What are they doing well that you want for your own relationship? What are they not doing well that you don’t want to repeat? What’s missing from their relationship that you want included in yours?
Now comparison is the thief of joy so don’t compare your future or current relationship to other people’s (and don’t judge them either), but it can be helpful to take notes and glean wisdom from what other people have done that has worked or didn’t work. You could avoid a lot of heartbreak and confusion that way.
2) Know what you want, but also be open-minded.
This is a hard balance to maintain because we all have our preferences, but we also don’t know what surprises our future partner may carry that weren’t on our lists. So that’s where the tricky part comes in: you don’t want to compromise on the list of things that you’re looking for in a significant other, BUT you also don’t want to adhere so strictly to the list that you miss out on something good.
Here’s my suggestion: If you have a list, break it down into the mandatory, uncompromisable things and the things that you’d prefer but aren’t mandatory.
For example, I would love to have a husband that can sing. But that is not a requirement, it’s a preference. When I decide to date, I’m not going to pick and choose guys based on that one criteria; there are way more important things that I’m looking for. And if I did use that as the deciding factor, then I might miss out on the guy with a passion for dancing instead that brought a joy to me that I didn’t know I would ever need or want.
I think this way of thinking will help clear your mind so that you don’t settle, but are also open for pleasant surprises along the way.
3) Don’t think too far ahead.
Once you lock eyes with that person, it can be so easy to start to hear wedding bells. And before you know it, within minutes, you’ve picked your dress, bouquet and bridal party even though you barely know the guy.
SO SLOW DOWN.
Although it is important to date with intention of marriage, be sure not to jump the gun. If marriage is the only thing on your mind, then you might miss out on important things in the present. Like maybe this guy treats his mother badly or that girl is cheating on you or your goals don’t match up with the other person.
Don’t let your desire to be married mask the reality that this person isn’t for you. And even if you are with the right person, being consumed by the idea of marriage might become an idol in your life and cause serious problems in your relationship.
So take a step back and breathe. Have honest and open discussions about marriage and other things, but don’t let it consume you.
Let the process happen naturally and enjoy the life that you have now. It’s not the end of the world if you’re single and life’s definitely not over when you’re married. But that’s for another blog post…