Here’s some honest dating advice

I certainly wouldn’t presume to call myself a “relationship expert” (or an expert in anything else), so take this with the appropriate portion of proverbial salt. I’d like to direct it to the “young people,” who certainly aren’t suffering from a lack of advice; the problem, however, is that 90 percent of the advice they get is total bull crap. This is especially the case when it comes to the prevailing “wisdom” about relationships and dating. It’s on that subject — the subject of dating — that I’d like to offer this to my fellow whippersnappers out there:

Don’t date just for the sake of dating. Sure, you can take a stroll through the park just for the sake of strolling through the park, but dating ain’t a stroll through the park. It’s a complicated and serious thing; it can also be fun, but it isn’t something you should do for pure recreation. Dating is supposed to be a means to an end. Or, maybe a better way of putting it, dating is a means to a beginning.

To put it simply: If you know for a fact that you would never marry a certain person, then you shouldn’t be in a romantic relationship with them. Knowingly staying in a relationship without a future is like riding a dying horse into the desert. It’s a slow, painful death march, and there is no chance of it working out in your favor. So go ahead and date, but date with a purpose. Date with a goal. Date with your eyes toward marriage. I know that might seem old fashioned. In fact it is old fashioned, which is why you should listen to it.

Back in those old, dark days, they didn’t have anything called “dating”; instead they had “courtship.” And courting would have looked a lot like dating, with one difference: There was a point. They had a purpose. They had a goal. They were interested in being adults and making a commitment, and the courting process would tell them whether they should or could make that commitment to each other. Marriage was the ultimate destination, and if it became apparent that this destination could not be reached, they ended the courtship and moved on with their lives. The modern dating strategy is different. You don’t have one common goal or desired destination. Instead, you spin in circles together until someone gets dizzy and jumps off. The sudden stop sends the other person hurtling into space, while you wander aimlessly away, searching desperately for another random stranger to latch onto for an indefinite period of false hopes and disappointments.

I’m not ridiculing the people who do this. I did it myself for many misguided years, before I met my wife. It’s hard to describe what a beautiful revelation it is: you emerge from the choking haze of the “dating game” and find a self assured, emotionally mature woman, who isn’t simply looking for some dude to “hang out with” for a few pointless years. My wife was in search of an actual relationship, one that could move forward, not one that could tread water until we both became too emotionally exhausted to continue. I picked up on this within minutes. Six months later I asked her to marry me. We never dated, it was a courtship from the beginning, even if we didn’t call it that.

Here’s the thing that everybody knows but few will say out loud: this pointless, confusing, heartbreaking, soul eating, nihilistic dating game we play nowadays is, in the end, a chaotic disaster, and you’ll gain nothing from it.

In fact, if you’re currently in a relationship with someone and you know that it will never actually progress into anything — end it. End it right now. Seriously, call your poor girlfriend or boyfriend on the phone and tell them it’s over. You’ll be doing them a service. They’ll kick and scream and argue with you, but they’re lashing out against an inevitability. They’re mad at you for forcing them to deal with a harsh reality that they thought you’d both agreed to ignore. You’ve both been lying to each other in so many ways for so long, that now the truth stings like hell. See, that’s all that our new dating philosophy is: A lie. You lie to yourself and you lie to them until you can’t maintain the mutual delusion any longer.

Let me assure you, the dating scene doesn’t teach you any skills that will help you build a successful marriage in the future. Pointless, directionless dating does not teach you how to be IN mature relationships, it teaches you how to get OUT of them. Dating — the sort of dating I’m talking about — is dress rehearsal for divorce, not marriage. You’re learning how to leave and refining your ability to forget. I don’t know how any rational person could claim that having a string of failed, shallow relationships could somehow prepare you for a serious and permanent union. On the contrary, failed relationships prepare you to deal with failed relationships. That’s it.

Drowning doesn’t make you a skilled swimmer. It just makes you afraid of the water.

Trust me, once you’ve actually made that final commitment to someone; once you’ve conceived children with them; once you’ve loved them so deeply that you’d literally die for them without hesitation, you’ll see that your entire dating history was a frivolous, embarrassing waste of time. At best. At worst it was a tragedy, and now everything you have to give your spouse is worn, rusted and secondhand. Really, isn’t it sad that so many of us will say “I love you” to a dozen people before we finally say it to the only person who really deserves to hear it?

I see folks on Facebook all the time throwing pity parties for themselves, posting things like: “I can’t trust anyone!” It’s pathetic, but it reveals a truth. This is what modern dating teaches people. It trains you to remain closed off, to avoid commitment, to be guarded and suspicious, to never make too many plans for the future, and to be fake and manipulative. The dating scene requires this disposition. You can’t parade around with trust and vulnerability when you’re playing the field. You’ll be ripped to shreds.

But this necessarily cynical demeanor will surely doom a marriage. That’s a problem. What makes you “good” at dating is precisely what will make you horrible at marriage. That’s what happens when you go through one relationship after another where both parties make a full emotional investment without any meaningful commitment. You wouldn’t invest 50 thousand dollars into starting a business that you plan on closing within the first couple of years, so why would you invest your heart and soul into a relationship that you plan on abandoning before next summer?

You’re just buying yourself heartache and betrayal, even if you’re putting it on layaway. You can only be thrown into an emotional wood chipper so many times before you suffer some lasting psychological damage. And then one day you’ll take those wounds down the aisle, and your spouse will have to pick up the pieces.

So the point is, do all things with a purpose. And that especially includes dating.

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120 Responses to Here’s some honest dating advice

  1. bolumichael says:

    Great higher order thinking here,really learning a lot.http://highflyersarena.wordpress.com

  2. Roy says:

    I find it a little arrogant on your part to tell people how they should approach dating. You don’t seem the type of person that likes to be told how to behave yet you’re willing to tell others how to behave. That seems a little hypocritical to me. What gives? I don’t know what kind of dating you did but not everyone finds it to be a waste of time. I don’t regret the women I dated. We spent wonderful moments, learned about each other and in the process I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like in a partner. I eventually met the woman I knew I wanted to spend te rest of my life with, but that journey leading up to that was wonderful too.

    • Nick says:

      First, what brought you to the conclusion that Mr. Walsh does not “seem the type of person that likes to be told how to behave?” I am sure that he, like most, does not like being screamed at, but I have no reason to believe that he uninterested in sound advice.

      Second, you do understand that this is his blog, yes? Did you think that he was going to be advocating advice or comments from somebody else?

      Finally, you have completely missed his thesis. He is not positing that you should never date; he is simply advocating that people should have a goal in mind when dating, as opposed to attaching yourself to whoever happens to be sexy that week. This sounds completely reasonable.

      I give my siblings the same advice: dating for the sake of dating is not only irresponsible, but foolish. You date someone for a purpose, with a goal in mind. The process is designed to give you the opportunity to find out if this person could be a potential life long mate.

      Next time, try reading, and then thinking about what you read before you regurgitate some straw man nonsense.

      • Matt says:

        “Next time, try reading, and then thinking about what you read before you regurgitate some straw man nonsense.”

        Seriously? Roy had a legitimate comment to make, and rejecting it because you don’t disagree is not only rude, but asinine. Not everyone is going to date with a purpose. Or, more accurately, everyone does not have the same purpose in dating. You and Mr. Walsh seem to think that the endstate of dating is marriage, and perhaps it is, but that’s an assumption. How do you know that the goal is not companionship? Who are you to say that ‘dating around’ is pointless?

        Say I’m a really short guy buying a car (an often used metaphor for dating, but it works). Do I know what I want in a car? Maybe a truck is my ideal vehicle, but I find that I can’t get into it, it doesn’t fit me. If I just went with my ideal vehicle (or ideal partner), without checking things out, then I’d be pretty unhappy with my choice of transportation.

        Same thing with dating. Maybe from the outside it looks pointless and doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but hey, that’s life sometimes. And as far as giving that advice, I have some counter-advice for you:

        Dude, mind your own business.

  3. Sara says:

    I just wanted to chime in and say that a friend of mine posted a more recent blog post. And I couldn’t help but stay and continue reading. I love this post. And unlike Roy, I did indeed take it as advice not a mandate or telling people how they must live. Just more of a friendly suggestion to avoid some heartache. Something we always could use.

  4. kat says:

    I like your advice, and think it’s pretty sound. However, I see one major flaw. Many people think that they are dating with a purpose. They hope to marry that person, they think it will work out and they want that long lasting commitment. It doesn’t work out that way that way and this is why many people are distrusting and jaded.

    I can say with certainty every long term relationship I’ve had was entered into thinking it would last and was the beginning of a life together. Does that mean that’s how it worked out? Clearly not. Was I misguided? Sure. Was I aimless? Definitely not.

  5. Doug says:

    Yes! This! A thousand times, THIS!

    I can’t begin to express how much my local culture (Utah) needs to hear this…especially the young ladies… A girl agrees to go out with a guy just because he’s a friendly guy that she gets along with socially, but without any intentions of anything romantic happening. Then after days, weeks, or even months, he finally realizes he’s been wasting his time, & ends up feeling led on & lied to. And then she acts all surprised that he’s upset… Welcome to my dating life… And even when romance IS present, it comes & goes so quickly…far, far too quickly…

    There’s a difference between “hanging out” and “going out” (at least there SHOULD be). And even if you’re “romantically involved”, if it’s not going where, what are you even doing? It’s just a casual fling–it’s just having someone to hang out with & make out with until things “go bad”, things “go stale”, or “someone better” comes along. Great sentiment for a supposedly “serious” relationship…

    In the past week or two I’ve seen several people randomly post links to really good Blog-Posts–which I just found out tonight are all from your Blog in the last month. You have another reader hooked 🙂

  6. ale says:

    I love you blog now i’m hooked to it! i love the way you express yourself, the way you are very straight to the point, but still with humor. is sad some people get offended by the post, but they still read them :).

  7. Pingback: Lessons Learned From Dating | Streams of Conciousness

  8. Does it occur to you that the “haze of dating” in which you wandered before “waking up” to the beautiful woman who was ready to be in a Relationshipo…. all that stuff was, in fact, life experiences? That it’s asinine to say “cutr to the chase! Skip all the silly stuff” because maybe some of that stuff made YOU the person who was “ready” for said “real relationship.”

  9. Jay says:

    “In fact, if you’re currently in a relationship with someone and you know that it will never actually progress into anything — end it. End it right now”

    Unless the sex is great, then milk it (no pun intended) as long as you can.

    • Tionico says:

      if a lasting marriage is the end goal, there should BE no sex before that marriage is begun, formally. Otherwise, you’re playing the other for the harlot, exchanging “activities” such as dinner, theatre, picnics in the park, for other activities, in bed… forbidden to those who are not yet married. In other words, you are USING that “dating partner”.

  10. Good word. I hope some people will read your advice and put it into action.

  11. Vincent Egoro says:

    Reblogged this on Vincent Egoro.

  12. Eric Halls says:

    There are only four stages of dating. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Home Plate.

  13. EnWolf says:

    This is great! And should be put out there more. I totally agree that most of our youth “date” just for ‘fun’ and that there isnt much of a point. Now often, one of the two participants DOES have a goal in mind but is going about it incorrectly. A life of “failed relationships” may very well lead someone to a prosperous life, they know, i would hope, what NOT to do and they can avoid those scenarios with their counter part in mind.
    @Matt: If someone desires COMPANIONSHIP, they shouldnt be DATING. they should be spending time together (what they do, i dont care) and have a good time, but dating someone keeps you away from other people if you actually WANT to get married, which you seem uninclined to. “Dating around” is quite pointless if you are not seeking to get married. It is a means to an end, or should be. Why DATE and give bits of your heart away when you can just have extremely close friends? I think it’s silly to think dating doesnt have to have a purpose.

  14. I like what you said, some how we have different perspective in life and how they going to deal with it especially going through a relationship or dating. A particular type of connection existing between each other related to or having dealings with each other is most likely they been looking for that what i learned after reading a book that Haley Hil wrote.

  15. daniellovett says:

    Reblogged this on Daniel Lovett and commented:
    Wow. This is awesome advice. So well written I wish all my nieces and nephews would read this. Why do I doubt they would listen? Some will and THAT is what makes this worthy of a reblog.

  16. Usher Ottikan says:

    this is what i’ve always been advocating for. and i think, Matt you’re on point. wish Christians would all read this. PS: the single ones that see marriage in their future, not those called to singleness. thank you again.

  17. KB says:

    Awesome article. We’ve created a dating blog, check it out. http://datefailblog.com/category/home/

  18. Sophia says:

    I loved reading your advice. I was always raised the same way in that if I date, I need to date with a purpose. Dating should be taken seriously and not just some fling a person has.
    Loved the blog.

  19. Debby says:

    great post! While having a purpose to your dating is very important, that purpose needs to be based on a solid foundation of knowing yourself and what is important to you. Otherwise you will be trying to create a relationship with someone who is not a true match – which will cause a split in the short term or lots of dissatisfaction in the long term.

  20. Mr.T says:

    Good post matt. Its good to know and learn from the insights of other people. NO advice is bad, only people needs different advice for different situations.
    Mr.T
    Website Owner
    http://www.datingadviceforyou.net

  21. this is a good read! 🙂

    check out our “Confessions of a Girlfriend” column here at http://thecommoners.net as well!

  22. Pingback: Here’s some honest dating advice | VenusxFaith

  23. I enjoyed your professional manner of writing the post. Thanks, you have made it easy for me to understand. I would like to say thanks a lot for discussing this useful information.

  24. mick says:

    It is good to read things from another perspective. I agree with much of what you say but dating so difficult to call. I think one has to judge each date “on the fly” so to speak. They are all so different and different approaches and tactics are need. I have never been on a date that has been similar to a previous one, although i would’nt class myself as an expert by any means lol.

  25. i wish i read this when i was younger! great post!

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