13. The Purpose of Dating
Have you ever been nervous before a first date?
We’ve all been there. And most of us were nervous because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make each date “successful.” Especially the first date. We tell ourselves things like “don’t mess this up, or you might miss out on the person you’re destined to be with!”
So we try to impress each other on first dates. We avoid controversial subjects and we tend to play it safe by getting dinner. We look for ways to make it more romantic in order to set up opportunities for attraction to manifest out of thin air… so maybe you buy your date flowers or put on a special outfit. You make sure to laugh at each others’ jokes, you wait a certain amount of time before calling or texting afterwards--there are so many rules and rituals to make sure you get that first date right!
Rethinking The Rituals
We often get so wrapped up in the rituals of dating that we forget the purpose of dating in the first place. There is no formula that creates attraction. Attraction doesn’t appear suddenly after you do a certain number of things right on the date. Instead, attraction is built over time, like compound interest. Love and attraction are results of relationshipping, creating a series of experiences together.
The first date is only an introduction. You can’t get to know each other within the few hours you spend together on that first date any better than you could get to know Europe given the same amount of time.
You can’t know from the first date, and probably not even the second or third whether or not the person you’re spending that time with is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. It takes time to develop that bond. Not romantic rituals. In fact, wooing someone with flowers, dinner, and a movie might not be the right foot to start off in your journey together.
Friendship is a Stronger Foundation To Build On
We’ve all heard that true love should be based on something deeper than just physical attraction. That base lies in friendship.
Not that you should try dating your platonic friends, or expect that platonic friendships will blossom into romantic relationships. But the reason why it’s often easier to cultivate platonic relationships with friends is because we usually don’t have the same pressure to ritualistically create friendship the way we do romantic partnerships. It would feel strange to court someone into friendship, wouldn’t it? Usually becoming friends, close friends, or even best friends is just something that happens from spending time with someone that has similar interests, goals, and preferences.
In order to cultivate a healthy romantic relationship, it helps to take a similar approach.
Activities you might think to do with friends are actually excellent activities for dating. While it’s great to enjoy a movie with someone, how well can you get to know them if you’re both staring at a screen? You can learn more about someone by going on a journey with them, playing a game with them; creating an experience with them. In other words, having fun with them!
And the fun should never end.
You Don’t Know Them Until You Know Them
The early stages of dating only serve the purpose of getting to know each other to a point. You can have a good time and good conversation with anyone in the right circumstances. And when you’re on a date, everyone’s only showing their good side.
That’s why dating can’t truly and completely reveal you or your partner. That will come later in the relationship, usually during the early stages of marriage and living together. Once you discover each other, your habits, your pet peeves, your true nature, that’s when your relationship is truly put to the test.
The best way to pass: be really good at dating!
Many happily married couples didn’t like each other at first. That’s because when you discover someone’s flaws and their most annoying habits, the illusion that develops from dating and only seeing your partner in a positive light shatters. How can the man who always remembers to open the door for you always forget to put the toilet seat down? How can the woman who didn’t mind you hanging out with the boys in college suddenly want you home every night?
It’s normal for these types of discoveries to be jarring, but successful couples find ways to work through their differences, create intimacy, and evolve as a very happy, very loving, and very loyal couple.
Dating is one of the most fundamental tools they use to create that relationship:
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TLDR: The Purpose of Dating Is To Create Experiences Together
We often think the meaning of dating is to impress our partner, but the true purpose is to build experiences with them. Instead of thinking of compatibility as being based on who we are, we can think of compatibility as being more based on how well our values are aligned and how well we create experiences with our partner. Ultimately, it’s the people who want to make it work that make it happen, one date at a time; many dates over time.
What does dating mean to you? Feel free to let us know your thoughts on facebook or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org