it doesn’t matter if you just met someone today, if you are already seriously dating, or if it takes you more time to find the right person. The key to a great relationship isn’t getting lucky, it’s getting serious about who you are and what you want. You have to decide if you are ready to “date with purpose.”
- Are you ready for a serious relationship?
- Are you mature and responsible enough to consider getting married?
- Are you clear about the most important qualities you seek in a partner and are you determined to find them?
When you date with purpose, each date can help you figure out what kind of person would make you happy and what kind of person wouldn’t.
The key to a great relationship isn’t getting lucky – it’s getting serious about who you are and what you want.
“Richard and I were raised the same, so we just understand each other and do things in similar ways,” explains Maryanne of her husband of seventeen years. “When we were dating and were invited to a friend’s house for dinner, I thought it was important to bring flowers or a gift. That’s how I was raised, and he was, too. So when I said I needed to swing by the bakery to pick up a cake to bring, there was no argument. Or when we entertain at our house now, I like to cook the whole dinner thing, make a real effort, not just put out beer nuts or junk food. I think that’s really important, and Richard does, too.”
If you’ve been single for a while, you may feel that you’ve already been through the dating mill. Or you may feel like dating is an ordeal that you’ll never master. But once you begin dating with purpose, you’ll have a new sense of focus and motivation to guide and inspire you.
You’ll be surprised at how clarifying where you stand and what you want will reduce your anxiety about dating. You won’t take things so personally. You’ll see that if someone rejects you, it isn’t because you are an unworthy person; it is probably because you weren’t right for each other, and it was necessary for you to move on and find someone who is. Such a perspective takes a lot of the pain out of the process and makes it more enjoyable.
When you date with purpose you are learning what kind of person you are really attracted to, who gets your heart beating fast and makes you feel as if you’re counting the minutes until you see each other again.
Kathryn and Roger have been married eight years, both for the second time. They knew they wanted something different in their second marriage.
“We both wanted someone kinder and more understanding,” says Roger. “It wasn’t a physical attraction at first I know that sounds crazy, because it is now. It was a spiritual attraction. Kathryn and I became sort of soul mates; we understood each other.”
Kathryn concurs. “We trusted each other. We enjoyed being together. We made each other laugh. And that was something neither of us had had in a long time.”
Knowing what they wanted paid off. “I still get butterflies in my stomach when I’m at work and I think about her.”
Gone are the days when most people encountered their love interest at high school or college. If you are like many others in the United States, you may have moved far away from your hometown and where you went to college. You may not have a network of friends and family to introduce you to new people and to include you in events where you can have fun at the same time you expand your social life. So it probably will not surprise you to hear that men and women are marrying several years later than they used to, up four years to age twenty-seven for men, and up five years to age twenty-five for women since the 1960s.
Meeting people isn’t the only hurdle. Consider this: Our expectations for marriage are higher than ever. It makes sense because our standards for everything have risen. We want it all. We want healthier, more exotic foods from all over the globe in any season. We want bigger houses (the average new house in the United States is about 30 percent larger than fifty years ago), more television stations than anyone a generation or two ago ever dreamed of, and faster, cheaper travel. We want shopping malls with hundreds of stores, not just a handful of local stores.
With marriage, too, we want more than ever before. Financial security and a safe place to raise children are not enough. We want love, passion, and fulfillment, along with the rest. And we want our love to last a lifespan that now stretches a good ten or twenty years longer than it did a century ago. And why not? Why shouldn’t we have a great marriage?
We should. But all of these changes in society, plus the intimidating 50% divorce rate, make it seem harder to find and choose the right partner with confidence.
Whether you are working toward your first marriage, or your second or third, you need to be aware of the essentials of finding a great partner for life. There are four things you’ll need to consider:
- What do you want in a partner?
- What strategies will you use to meet a great partner?
- If this is your second (or third) marriage (or long-term relationship), what are you going to do differently?
- If you are dating someone casually, when is it time for greater commitment?
This article was adapted with permission from Wonderful Marriage (BenBella Books, Inc.,
2008) by Lilo J. Leeds, Gerard G. Leeds, Terrence Real and Susan Seliger. For more information about this book or the authors, gvisit Wonderful Marriage.
Other articles from the book Wonderful Marriage include: