Exploring the pros and cons of the ‘talking stage’: Let’s date more intentionally

(Photo by: Josh Hild)
(Photo by: Josh Hild)

What’s the process you imagine for finding a long-term relationship? Does it involve any goals like marriage, a family and/or a specific place? How do you choose to meet those goals in the near future? At the risk of sounding like someone bashing our generation, one thing we all could learn is to act with purpose and courage in the context of dating. Unfortunately, the prevalence of “just talking” instead of purposeful dating can lead to miscommunication and uncertainty.

How does someone get a job? You don’t just send up a couple prayers and then stand awkwardly outside of the place you want to work, hoping you’ll be the manager in a few weeks. Surely not! You send in an application. Then the employer, if interested in hiring, works with the applicant to arrange an in-person interview as swiftly as possible. If the interview goes well, the applicant gets hired. 

Why don’t we do this with dating? Social media and texting are fine, but if you want to know someone and be fully known, just ask to hang out in person.

You may feel that there’s too much pressure or it’s too scary to ask someone on a date. Think of it this way: If you ask out Person A, and it doesn’t work out, you both know where you stand. There are no blurred lines. If it does work out, great. On the other hand, if you fear losing Person A as a friend, consider what happens if you marry someone else, Person B. The friendship with Person A is probably going to change drastically. So, if you ask Person A out and it fails, or if you marry someone else, the stakes haven’t changed very much.

A couple final thoughts: Dating with no endgame is like cooking with no recipe. Some people are great at cooking without a recipe, but that comes with years of experience and wisdom, leading to internalized rules that guide thought. Most people our age don’t have that kind of experience yet.

I leave you with some words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Look not mournfully into the past, it comes not back again. Wisely improve the present, it is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear and with a manly [womanly, etc] heart.”

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