“If you aren’t dating to marry you are dating to get your heart broken”
The statement above is attempting to highlight the pain and heartache of relational drama caused by casual dating and recommend against it. It presupposes that the cause of the drama is dating without the intent of marriage. This assumption is erroneous and the opposite is true. The drama is caused by forcing a unique seriousness on dating that doesn’t exist in close friendships. Dating isn’t about getting married at all. A wedding is about getting married. Proposing and the subsequent engagement is about getting married. Dating is getting to know someone while enjoying life.
The question, “do I want to marry this person” shouldn’t be asked. It creates far too much pressure with far too little information to support it. This would be akin to asking if you want a job without a job offer and no job description – and it’s the only job you are going to have. The question you should ask is, “Do I like enjoying life with this person?” if the answer is yes, then keep doing life with them.
The only question to ask ourselves on the first date is, “do I want a second date?” all things being neutral the answer is yes. You never know if the other person was nervous, just got bad news, or any number of outside circumstances. So, barring an obvious hard stop deal breaker or relationship killer, go for a second date. It is the exact same filter that decides if you hang out with friends. If you like hanging out with someone keep hanging out with them and becoming close. Friendship is your guide.
If marriage is not the goal then why would relationship killers or ‘dealbreakers’ matter? It only matters because we have limited time and resources. There are qualities in people that I put up with as friends that I do not want in a marriage partner. Whether you realize it or not by choosing time with one person you are choosing less time with another person or activity.
Consider this scenario: You are on a date and realize you have opposing views on kids. This would be a good reason to not pursue that person in marriage (though don’t be deluded, these feelings can change after marriage and then it must be worked through – you just want to start with as much in common as possible). But, you find out during the date that you both play tennis. If none of your friends play tennis, you found someone you can enjoy the activity of tennis with. Eventually you want to spend time getting to know new people because you haven’t met the person you want to be your spouse. You then must choose to spend time getting to know someone new instead of playing tennis.
If we date with the sole purpose of getting married, then when the person is no longer a viable marriage option, we drop them. It treats people like objects to fit our needs. If dates don’t end up in marriage, they become wastes of time. If the purpose of dating is enjoying life and getting to know new people then their value doesn’t end and the time spent isn’t wasted. It doesn’t mean we must stay best friends with them anymore than we are best friends with all our co-workers, pickup soccer game players etc. How close of friends they become all has to do with shared interests and time.