Dating & Uncertainty: Is There a “Right” Way to Date?

(3.7 minute read)

The only consistency is uncertainty. Am I doing this right? What does ‘doing this right’ even mean?

We’re surrounded by a million examples of how we’re supposed to date, how we’re supposed to feel, how our relationships are supposed to progress.

I started reading this post and got inspired (go ahead, click the link). Here are my two cents.

During the last week-long camping trip, one night everyone ended up sitting around a fire talking about romantic relationships. A lot of questions came up. Dating or courting? How long should you date before you get engaged? How long should an engagement last? How do you know when you’ve met “the one?” Does “the one” even exist? Is there a “the one” for every one? Is dating in college wise, particularly freshman year? Should it be a crime not to date in college? What about going to college for an MRS Degree? Can you casually date, or should it be strict discernment, or is there a balance of both? What even is dating?

Now, to add some background, I go to a very, very Catholic college. I love it, but there are some uber-traditionalists I have trouble getting along with, particularly on controversial topics like this (I guess my viewpoints fall somewhere in the middle: not necessarily 21st century, but not 19th century either!). The dating culture at my very small, very Catholic college is straight up weird because there are all these extreme ideas on opposite sides of the spectrum floating around.

Anyhow, the point is that, as 12 people discussed this topic, about about 4 of them shared their very strong opinions or, facts, as they would like to believe, 6 of them toyed with different ideas and looked at them from several angles, and the remaining 2 whispered to each other. I told my boyfriend, “I am so confused. These are some odd ideas. We’ve talked about some of this and obviously agree on a lot of things, but I don’t get how you’re supposed to figure all of this out easily, and quickly, and correctly.” He turned to me and remarked, “I don’t know either… say the only people here who are even in a relationship.”

I could be wrong, but I think there’s something to that. We didn’t have a lot of expectations for our relationship, and certainly didn’t care about fulfilling anyone else’s. We laid some basic ground rules (which was easy because in addition to both being Catholic we share similar viewpoints on gray-area topics), but past that, acknowledged that dating is a scary, wonderful adventure that you figure out as you go; and, that isn’t affected by how many people you’ve dated before because it will be different every time. We don’t know how a relationship is supposed to progress or how we’re supposed to date… and I’m not too worried about it. As my boyfriend said, this is our romance, no one else’s.

So, if you’re stressed out trying to answer all these complicated questions, take a breath, focus on right now, and you’ll figure it all out in good time.

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