Sara plopped herself down in the chair at work and gave me a frustrated grimace. I took her look to mean her date the night before had gone less than stellar. I grabbed a tissue, walked over and gave her a hug. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks. “I don’t understand, I thought this guy would be different. I thought from his profile that he was the one.”
“Oh Sara, please tell me you didn’t talk about how many kids you want and treat him like he was interviewing for the husband position?” I asked.
“I might have scared him a little. We were having a good time and then I pulled up some questions on my phone to go over with him. He got so defensive and acted like he wanted the date over before dessert. I just want to meet the one. Where is he?”
I shook my head and headed back to my desk thinking that if a guy pulled out a list on me, I might run, too. Certainly, we all want to meet the right one and avoid red-flag people, but taking each date too seriously only scares people off before you give yourself an opportunity to know them and build a relationship. Dating is simply a tool to meet quality people and weed out the bad fits for your personality, not a tension-filled first meeting of an arranged marriage suitor. Dating needs to be fun so you can be the best you and not the stressed you that scares away all the good guys or gals.
When you meet a date for the first time, you don’t need to determine anything other than whether the two of you connect relationally and if this person is a healthy and emotionally strong adult. You don’t have to throw away your list of questions; they are still valid. However, you should refrain from pulling them out on the first date. Instead, wait to build a relationship before prying into their personal life. Ask your questions in a curious, friendly and non-threatening way as if you were meeting a new friend – which is what you are actually doing.
If we treat our dates like neighbors or friends, then we offer them respect and value without expecting or demanding anything in return. We ask questions simply to get to know them better and process their outward behavior and responses through a detached filter, which is no different than if we were meeting any stranger for the first time. We wait and get to know people before we decide if they are someone we want to draw closer to. Placing a burden of romantic expectation on a complete stranger only leads to relationships built on sexual attraction, not a foundation based on character and similar values – traits needed for any long-term relationship to last.
Desperate vs. Confident
When we act like every date is our one and only chance at marriage, it hinders getting to know someone. It puts undue pressure on a person to act or perform in a way that is inauthentic. But if we go on many first and second dates and treat these as opportunities to make new acquaintances and friends, it takes the seriousness out of the occasion and puts the fun back in dating. When we don’t expect sex or the man or woman of our dreams from a first date, we lose the agenda and act like ourselves, not a person trying to impress or take something that’s not ours to take.
It’s a great idea to continue dating other people, even when you start to like someone a little more than the others. It keeps your new relationship light and it prevents you from acting desperate. But much of this is predicated on taking the sex out of casual dating. This isn’t about hooking up; it’s about meeting quality people so that eventually, the right one will stand out from the others.
Inability To Discern
One of the most important parts of dating with the intent of finding a more serious relationship is discernment. If we are desperate to be in a relationship, then we compromise our core beliefs and settle to be with someone who isn’t good for us.
Another issue is that having sex too soon is a huge blunder when it comes to evaluating if a person is worth your time. Sex clouds your judgment. Find out if you actually like the person or if you just like how they make you feel. You cannot maintain a marriage based on performance in the bedroom. Certainly it’s a factor, but simply a part of a greater equation. Before we get married, we need to keep our eyes wide open and watch out for red flags. Then, after marriage, put on our rose-colored glasses and settle in for a long ride filled with grace and mercy.
Dating is supposed to be fun and light, not a terrible burden, so don’t take it so seriously. Enjoy meeting new people, treat them with value and respect. Then, when the right person stands out from the pack, move slowly, use discernment and begin to take this one seriously. Invest your time in the important things and keep dating with the right perspective so you can be the best you!
You may also be interested in How To Set Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship That’s Just Beginning