7 Things I’ve Learned About Dating

Dating seems like a rite of passage into maturity and the world of romantic relationships. Historically, dating or courting often came with the expectation of marriage. However, things are different now. As ideas regarding marriage, so have our expectations regarding dating. 

Regardless of your experiences and ideas about dating, here are a few lessons that can help you on your journey. 

  • Figure out what you want. 

As I’ve alluded to in my introduction, dating is different for everyone. So, before entering the dating scene, it’s a good idea to figure out what you want to get out of it. For some, dating is merely a fun experience–a chance to see what is out there. Others may have more serious intentions. Either one is fine. Just be honest with yourself. Let your date know about your intentions once you both have had a chance to be comfortable with each other. Don’t blurt it out right away since it can sometimes close a relationship before it has begun. Being honest helps avoid possible frustrations and miscommunication.

  • Be real about your goals. 

This point is somewhat similar, albeit a bit redundant, to the point avoid. But, you have to be honest about your goals. Once you and your date decide to continue onto a relationship and you both know what you want, you now need to figure out where is the relationship headed. What is the end goal? If you both just want a short-term relationship, figure out how to reach that goal in a way that leaves both of you without regrets.  

For those seeking long-term relationships, this is where you both figure out a) if your goals match up, and b) if the relationship is worth pursuing. I differentiate this point from the one stated above because you could both be seeking long-term relationships, but have different goals in mind. If you have very dissimilar goals, the two options are to compromise or to break off the relationship. Continuing a relationship that is founded with two different goals in mind will just cause frustration and tension. It does not matter if the goals are short-term or long-term. What matters is that both of you are on the same page. 

The success and longevity of a relationship depend on honesty, so please do not change your needs to fit someone else criteria. Relationship success and longevity depend on honesty. So, what are your goals as a couple? 

  • Communication is everything. 

Most of us often say what we don’t mean and don’t say what we intend to say. This obviously leads to frustration in a relationship, but because we’ve become skilled at evading things many of us can get away with it. However, evasion won’t work well in a relationship. Relationships sometimes require us to be vulnerable, honest, and not guarded. In short, communication. 

Communication is vital to make a relationship last, whether it is a romantic one or a friendship. 

Romantic relationships experience all sorts of ups and downs. There will be times when neither of you will want to speak to each other, especially after a fight. But, it is in these moments that you need to communicate with each other the most. Talk your problems out. Work through them together. If things get too heated, allow yourselves to cool off and then talk. You will find that communication will help you heal wounds that you may unwittingly inflict upon each other.  

Establishing good communication will help you both address issues with confidence and eventually work through them. 

  • Timing is not everything.

When you start dating, it’s easy to be swept away with feelings of romance. As a result, you easily can fall into the trap of believing that you need to wait for someone. Let me paint you an example. You find someone whom you think is the one. Your heart races when you see them, and the world fades away when they look at you. Fantastic! However, there is one problem. They are with someone else. In this scenario, the romantic thing to do would be to wait for them. But, it is not. If someone is with someone else or chooses something else instead of being with you, it is not because it is bad timing. 

Unless your partner explicitly tells you they need time because they are working through something personal, then maybe you could use the “timing” excuse. But, even in that situations, most couples try to work through difficult circumstances together. 

Sometimes the wrong time means that that person does not belong in your life. You are not supposed to wait for them. So, don’t. You will find someone who will be your “one.” The right person for you will be the person who will come into your life at the right time. 

  • Love is not enough. 

This is probably the most non-romantic thing to say, but sometimes, love is not enough. We all believe (or want to believe) that love can conquer everything. And, yeah, there are many cases in which love does conquer all. However, for nascent relationships, love is not enough. Neither of you knows each other that well to stay that love will fix, cure, or mend whatever is going wrong in the relationship. 

Hence, a relationship needs more than just lovey-dovey feelings to thrive. It requires honesty, understanding, patience, and many other virtues to make a relationship last. What you feel in the early stages of a relationship is not love, per se. It’s an intense feeling of like, attraction, and care for someone that gets confused for love. These feelings fluctuate. They wax and wain throughout a relationship because they depend on your mood and external factors. It is vulnerable. But, love that lasts is more than that. 

But, love is a verb. It is an action. It doesn’t, nor should it, waver. It endures everything. So, when you say you love someone, it means more than liking them for who they are at that moment. Love is cultivated over many years. It does not happen overnight.  

  • You have more than one soulmate. 

All the romantics might stone me for saying this, but soulmates are not real. They aren’t! 

The word soulmate was first introduced in 1822 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in a letter. However, the idea is older than that. The idea of soulmates is credited to Aristophanes. To explain why we yearn for our other halves, Plato cites Aristophanes in the Symposium.  According to Aristophanes, all humans were united with their other half. But, out of fear and jealousy, Zeus split everyone up. 

While the idea of soulmates sounds wonderful, it’s an idea that exists in books and movies. I do not think that we all have just one person who was picked out and predestined to be with us. We have a choice. You get to choose whom you end up with. 

In the end, you are the one who chooses whom you want to share your life with. I think that’s far more romantic than having someone selected for you. 

  • Relationships go through stages. 

Rom-coms have taught us that relationships sail easily from the honeymoon stage to the happily ever after, albeit with a bit of struggle along the way. Unfortunately, we’ve been led to believe that the path of a relationship is linear. But, relationships don’t always move that way. 

There will be points in your relationship where it will be passionate. But, there will also be points when you both need your space. Passion or lovey-dovey feelings do not have to determine how long your relationship lasts. You and your partner determine how long your relationship will last.  

Whether you consider dating a prelude to marriage or merely an exercise in getting to know what you want, the most important rule is to be yourself. Always. Do not change yourself to fit someone’s expectations. 

Happy dating! 

Sources:

Ansar, R. (2019, July 22). 7 lessons I learned from a decade of dating. Medium. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://medium.com/the-post-grad-survival-guide/7-lessons-i-learned-from-a-decade-of-dating-7ebdd15af628. 

Dobbas, C. (2021, June 29). 11 dating lessons I wish I’d learned in my twenties. mindbodygreen. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-23029/11-dating-lessons-i-wish-id-learned-in-my-twenties.html. 

Mills, E. (2017, July 31). The biggest lessons I’ve learned from dating. Bolde. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://www.bolde.com/biggest-lessons-ive-learned-dating/. 

Quora. (2017, September 14). 26 dating lessons I’ve learned in my 28 years of life. HuffPost. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/26-dating-lessons-ive-learned-in-my-28-years-of-life_b_59badb57e4b06b71800c37b5. 

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