The Fine Line Between Dating to Date and Dating to Mate

Most women say date for fun in your twenties and learn more about what you want from each experience. Many also say that it’s when you arent looking that you find love. As one woman put, “It’s when you give up on finding a man and find happiness.” I think it’s true you have to focus on what you want and get into living your life rather than waiting for someone to complete your life. But you need to be open to it. Don’t give up on finding a relationship, give your life some purpose and you will perhaps see opportunities where you did not in the past.

Here five women reflect on what they learned about dating on their way to finding a mate.

“Dating in your twenties is tricky. Trying to find a match while you are trying to find yourself is an interesting conundrum. You think you know who you are but to be honest you really don’t. It’s like you are sampling all these different ice cream flavors and I feel like you can get a little bit lost. You find yourself dating some guys who aren’t really on the same playing field so you are constantly trying to make it okay. Maybe they aren’t as emotionally mature or as evolved. You are not living a lie per se, but you end up not being authentic. Then one day you realize you are going to be who you are and you have to dig into that. The best thing to do is just concentrate on the things you love to do. When you get there, I
don’t think you should date just to date … because then you might
not be open to the one.”

“Probably the same way that you shouldn’t be so confident and sure about who you are and that your identity is defined, you shouldn’t be so sure about who they are. I look back and see I was very superficial about how I made my choices. I probably missed out on a lot of guys who were great because I wasn’t looking for the right things. If I’m honest, I was looking for an image or a presence. Give the other guys more if a chance.”

“I think there is a balance between enjoying the moment of each interaction and trying to decide, ‘Is there anything I should be investing here?’ You don’t want to go through all your twenties dating experiences thinking, ‘Is he the one?’ But at the same time after a couple of months if you don’t think it’s going somewhere how long do you invest? Try to figure out where that line is. Know that it is probably a good thing to date a number of people somewhat casually to get a sense of what you like. But there comes a point where you may want companionship more than just these dates. Then you have to find that line. It’s somewhere between after a couple of dates asking, ‘Where is this going?’ and being so casual that you don’t focus on what you want and therefore don’t find someone.”

“When you are ready for a relationship make a list of 10 attributes and carry it around with you in your head. You are not going to find all of them in one guy, but it will help you differentiate a major leaguer from a minor leaguer — the ones you should throw back to the bench.”

“You should make a list of what you want. But it should be based on your interests and values not on some unrealistic qualifications. I had a girlfriend who had this list — it had all sorts of things like a certain salary and that he had to have a PhD. I said to her, ‘You don’t have a PhD — why does he have to?’ I think people look in the wrong places. It’s guys too. I say to my husband’s friends who say they can’t find women to date “You like Indie rock and beer…why are you asking out the model-esque girl you met in line at Starbucks out? She probably likes opera and champagne. You probably would be a poor match. Hone in on what you like doing and where people who like to do that go … and you may be surprised.”

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