The usual route to finding love and marriage, or at least a long term relationship, usually involves a period of Dating, and it is expected that when a couple have been dating for a reasonably lengthy period, that they will make some kind of commitment like getting married or setting up a home together. But things ain’t what they used to be! Times have changed and so has Dating.
Dating With A Difference
Many people on the dating scene today aren’t there to find “the one” person that they want to settle down with for the rest of their lives. Dating has now become a standardised term used for social networking. Although the word implies that those who embark on a dating experience are doing so with romance in mind, the reality is that many people who date people who have similar interests to their own are more likely to meet again socially with nothing more than a friendship in mind.
While this isn’t so good for anyone who is looking for romance with a view to a long-term monogamous relationship, it’s a positive change to the way that dating has been perceived in the past. At one time there was a lot of anxiety placed on anyone preparing for “a date”. They wanted to make a perfect first impression because they wanted their date to like them. They were looking for romance and hoped to find it. In today’s dating scene, there may well be an underlying hope that one day the romance button may be clicked when meeting someone in a dating situation, but generally expectations are lower with most people looking to just enjoy themselves with someone that they think they have enough sufficient interests in common with to relax and have a little fun. This takes the pressure off the date and allows authentic personalities to shine rather than ones that are edged with a “best behaviour” hang-up!
Western culture in particular is increasingly moving towards a trend of increased work ethic where single people, especially those following a career path, have little time for a serious relationship. The current more informal dating rules allow people who are working towards their professional goals a release to get out socially (although some choose their dates selectively in order to use this as a networking opportunity as well as a social one!) and meet with people outside of their professional environment. It is a good thing too if you are in this group to discuss with your dating partner what you both want to get from the relationship. If you are studying for a Phd for example, you probably won’t want to think about settling down and having children. You need to have relaxing leisure time, without making any serious life decisions. This need to be made explicit.
There are also an increasing number of people on the dating scene who have been seriously hurt in a previous relationship. They also are looking to connect with others in a warm companionable way, but they aren’t necessarily ready to entrust their feelings, or commit to anyone else at this time. Retired people who have lost their life partner are also among those who are initially looking for friendship rather than romance from a dating experience. It is a good idea if you are in this category to make it explicit from the outset that you are not looking for a life partner.
This doesn’t mean however that informal dating doesn’t lead to romance. There’s many a relationship that has started out as one thing and ended as something else. My mother-in-law had been widowed for many years and at the age of 79, whilst on a solo holiday to Portugal, she met Alfie, who became her partner for the next 10 years until he died recently. They danced a lot together!
Any long-lasting permanent relationship needs a number of foundation stones that will hold it together during difficult times and one of these is friendship. If you can find someone whom you like, and trust as a friend, and this relationship grows into a romantic one, then this relationship has a much stronger chance of surviving the long-haul than one that starts with a romantic spark which then fizzles out because there’s nothing else holding it together.
So it may be worth shifting from looking for “the one” to building up dating confidence and friendships and see where that takes you ,
In the meantime, live, love, laugh and be happy!