While in college, I found myself faced with a slew of new relationship problems. Where to meet men? What happened to getting asked out? Who should text who first? How do you celebrate an anniversary if you don’t actually know when you started dating? I had a lot of unanswered questions and learned a lot about myself and what I wanted in a relationship as a result of trying to answer them all for myself.
At a younger age, I dated who I was interested in and even had serious long-term relationships with people who were on a completely different track in life than I was. This difference was always in the back of my mind, but even through college I still found myself settling for a little less than I deserved when it came to relationships. Ok, a lot less sometimes. I dated guys with different religious beliefs, different views on marriage, and some guys who were flat out wrong for me.
Reflecting on all my dating experiences as a single twenty-something versus my present home in a committed and adult relationship with the man I love, I got to thinking about the real problem we face when entering the dating scene as twenty-somethings. It’s no longer about dating someone just because you like him/her, instead we have to start dating with purpose. One could argue that we always date with purpose (i.e. to be happy and share life with someone we love) but what I’m talking about here is something bigger. This “dating with purpose” roughly translates to dating in search of an eventual life partner.
Suddenly we “grow up” and we’re faced with the challenge of searching for someone who’s not only great and makes us happy, but also for someone whom we could presumably spend the rest of our lives with. Even worse, we can’t meet a guy during class or walking around campus, we have to go out into the real world and put ourselves out there in order to meet someone. It’s an incredibly hard and frightening transition to make, especially since we’re faced with so many other challenges at this time in our lives (becoming financially independent, finding a job, etc.)
My advice? Understand what you want and need in a relationship. More importantly, have the courage to walk away from people who don’t share any of those same needs and wants with you. If you’re dating a guy who never wants to get married while you’ve already planned your entire dream wedding on Pinterest (and want him to be the groom), you’re probably going to have problems. It’s important to get all the heavy stuff out of the way early in the relationship, like religious views and background, marriage, children and finances. If a relationship just doesn’t feel right, then get over it and walk away. Realize that people are going to walk away from you, too. And all of this is okay, because every time you walk away you make room for the right one.