I remember when a close friend of mine was dating a guy who is still a close acquaintance. One day in the midst of girl talk she told me about his philosophy on relationships. She told me how at the time he had never been in a relationship before. So instantly I began to think, “this man is full of crap.” She then begins to explain the thought process behind his extremity. She told me how he believed that you should only be in a relationship with someone you plan to marry. He told her how he thought that jumping from relationship to relationship, having break up after break up was unhealthy. He held the belief that dating around would make it difficult for someone to want to commit to marriage. That it manifested a “break up culture” if you will. At this point I was completely mind blown because he had taken dating with a purpose to a new level. I then began to ponder his philosophy. Is dating tainting how we look at marriage. Are we becoming complacent in the idea of the break up?
When I really thought about it, he was right. I always say that divorce only becomes an option when you go into a marriage with it as one. I never though thought about what was making that option more relevant and accessible. See things become a lot less scary when you know you always have the option to leave. Initially it doesn’t seem as though it is a bad thing to break up with someone you don’t want to be with. In essence though I get what my brother was saying. Maybe if we entered dating relationships with the same caution of marriage, people will learn early on that walking away is not an option.
Some people may say this is extreme. “How can you know how to be in a marriage if you’ve never been in a committed relationship?” Well my question is how committed were those relationships if they all ended? We make it seem like we have to have been in all these “committed relationships” to understand marriage but the fact is the only committed relationship that counts is the one that leads to marriage. Here me clearly, this is only for the people who desire to be married. I know the more liberal “what if you don’t want to be married” folks are ready to come for my throat so let me clarify. For those who do want to be married, we have to start considering how our dating lives are impacting our subconscious views of commitment.
We look at dating as a precursor and practice to marriage but if you are dating wrong is it still beneficial? We view it like an elimination process if you will. There is nothing wrong with that in a sense, depending on what you are doing while dating. If you enter into a committed relationship with every person you go on a few dates with, you may become desensitized to breaking up. Are we losing the essence of making it work? See it’s hard to stick things out with someone when you know that as soon as they push the right button you have the option to walk away and never deal with them again. Now I’m not saying stick with people just because if the relationship is truly unhealthy to the point of no return. If we acquiesced to this man’s philosophy though, would as many unsalvageable relationships occur in the first place? Would we need to break up as often if we carefully chose the relationships we entered into?
See what we fail to realize is that unfortunately we go into marriages with dating mindsets. Oh I don’t like how he gets when he’s mad, I’ll just dump him. She can’t really cook all that well, I’ll just dump her. We got into an argument and haven’t spoken in two days, we might as well end it. Basically what I’m saying is maybe if we made breaking up less of an option in dating relationships, we may be better equipped to fight for the long haul in our marriages. Now I’m not saying don’t go out on dates and get to know people. But the minute you realize you are not seeing anything in that person that would make you want to commit to them, leave them be. Again, this can be tricky because you may be selling people short too soon. Ultimately if you are not in a place where you know what you want and are willing to give the same in return, don’t even put yourself in the dating pool.
Hear me clearly, I’m not saying this is fool proof or scientifically proven. People are different and every relationship is different. I’ve known people who were in numerous relationships with healthy marriages and people with few relationships under their belt and marriages are jacked. My point is, maybe we should start to covet the relationship that leads to the marriage almost as much as the marriage itself. This way we go into them with caution and purpose. Hopefully this will lead us to less heartbreak and more lifetime commitments.