The Love Series: Do We Know How to Date Anymore?

Remember when you were a teenager and a guy would ask you out? I remember being giddy when a guy I liked asked me out. I would make sure I had the perfect 1st date outfit, and put together my cute girl look for the evening and wait for my date to pick me up and take me out. Our dates were much simpler then…movies…an amusement park or a walk along the lakefront.   My date would hold my hand or give me that look that would make me smile.  I remember that initial “first date” feeling; spending time with a man who was as thrilled to be on a date with me as I was with him. As an adult, things seem very different.  

Do we even know how to date anymore?

Courtship/Dating is defined as a “period during with a couple develop a romantic relationship or the process of attempting to win a person’s favor or support.”   Ideally, you would meet someone you found attractive and strike up a conversation. If that went well, you would exchange numbers and agree to speak later.  From there if the phone conversations went pretty good, you would make plans to go out on a first date, and from there you may or may not begin dating.  It’s not like that now.  People meet and flirt via inboxes and DM’s on social media agreeing to meet or “hook up” and begin these “situationships” based on nothing more than superficiality.  Getting together for a drink turns into “relationships.”    Then when the “newness” wears off, and the mask falls away, those relationships crash and burn and leave a trail of heartbreak, bitterness, hurt feelings and anger behind.   What happened to “courtship”?  The dating game seems to be full of people who want it "quick and easy".  Women seem to require less while revealing and giving more and men are more than comfortable in putting in minimal effort because it isn’t required.  Then there are the ones with standards and requirements who seem to get left out of the dating game altogether because they refuse to be easy and continue to be more selective.  It’s a frustrating cycle for many of us who crave the dating experience for what it was meant to be; enjoyable and fun.

Dating is now a game of chess where two people size each other up and attempt to figure out one another’s angles instead of enjoying each other’s company.   We walk into dating situations with our guards up, each of us trying “not to catch feelings first.”   It’s as if we anticipate drama from the beginning.  I’ve often wondered why that is and I’m convinced it’s because we have forgotten how to date properly with intention.   Dating is the process of getting to know another individual over time.  I call it the auditioning phase.  The time when you are interviewing potential life partners.   Dating is supposed to be fun, light, and easy going.   There are no commitments because you don’t know one another.  Dating more than one person is fine because you are simply getting to know someone and how can you be exclusive with someone you don’t know?    It becomes complicated because people become intimately involved with one another during this “get to know you” phase and judgment and good decision making become clouded.    With intimacy comes expectations and responsibilities that most are not equipped to handle during the initial dating phase.  In an effort to satisfy loneliness or the need for companionship, people often get involved intimately too soon and find themselves in the dreaded “gray area” or even worst, giving of themselves to someone who reveals themselves to be “unworthy.”

Dating isn’t a relationship, at least not yet.  I’ve found people don’t realize that a date does not equal a relationship or a promise of commitment.  It’s like people skip the dating phase and rush into relationships with people they barely know.  It’s no wonder so many relationships are dysfunctional.  The only way to know if someone is worth the title of “your significant other” is time.  It takes time to get to know someone beyond the superficial.   We need to be patient and just enjoy dating for what it is supposed to be, a time of getting to know someone to see if you are compatible not just attracted to an individual.  Do I like you and the time I spend with you or are you just someone I enjoy looking at temporarily?  Not everyone you date is meant to be in your life for the long term and that's okay.  People get into relationships based on superficial reasons such as physical appearances and lust and become disillusioned and disappointed later down the line because they find that exterior package doesn’t match the interior.   Why not slow down and be patient in dating? Why the rush?  Dating is a time to focus on developing the friendship because that’s the part that lasts beyond the superficial.  I spoke about the importance of friendship in relationships in a previous blog (Click here).

Maybe it’s time to get back to basics when it comes to dating; becoming more intentional with who we date and how we date. What do you think? Are we doing this wrong?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Until next time,

Take care of yourselves and one another

D. Sanders