Written by Tessa Torgeson in collaboration with Clarity Counseling
After cultivating self-love, you might feel ready to begin dating. Perhaps you feel disillusioned with the dating game, keep repeating the same cycle in your dating life, are attracted to the wrong type of guy or girl, or feel just plain tired of waiting for “the one.” You want dating to be different this time around, but aren’t quite sure how or where to start. Rest assured, the cycle can be broken.
It starts with unraveling many preconceived cultural notions and ideals about dating. Our culture condones serial monogamy, treating dating as a sort of “trial run” for marriage. A healthier, more practical perspective of dating is that it is a time for meeting new people, having fun, and opening yourself up to new experiences.
Dr. Henry Cloud challenges cultural notions about dating and offers realistic advice in his book “Finding a Date Worth Keeping.” Cloud asserts that casual dating is crucial to the process of finding a mate because it helps you learn what your true needs and wants are in a relationship through trial and error. Dating helps reveal who we like and are compatible with.
Keep your mind open to many possibilities! Try new things and challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone. Go places where other single people go, walk your dog in the dog park, sign up for an online dating service, ask friends to set you up. Date younger people, older people, people your age. Date people who have your hobbies and interests and those with completely different ones.
You can date multiple people at a time, just be sure to be open and honest with your dates that you are not ready to make any commitments yet. Set a time limit for yourself (let’s say three or six months) for dating multiple people at once and keep firm to your limit. Although this might be contrary to your inclinations, the benefit is that it takes pressure and expectations off the first date. It allows you to just get to know somebody while maintaining boundaries, meeting your own needs and desires.
Through this process, you learn and grow. You discover that dating is a process rather than your salvation. You discover that your worth is not entwined with whether or not you are in a relationship and who your mate is.
Just because you are dating multiple people at once, this does not mean that you have sex with multiple people at a time or make one relationship exclusive in order to have sex. Regardless of one’s religious or moral standpoint on sex, the reality is that it is a vulnerable and emotional experience. It is not something to rush into recklessly or carelessly.
Overall, casual dating is a fun experience and can lead to long term partnership or marriage. If you have dated a variety of different people, you will truly know that you have chosen a partner, husband or wife based on who is best for you.
Recommended Reading: How to get a date Worth Keeping by Dr. Henry Cloud