Why does dating have to be so hard? Thus has been the cry of many single Latter-day Saints. Everything’s complicated. Saying the right words could be significant. But so could saying the wrong words. Or nothing at all.
And, goodness me, you better not sit next to someone unless you’re a couple. And watch those knees. Touching signals scandal. And in like manner, a date signals marriage intentions. After all, what’s the point of dating someone who you know won’t do? Asking someone out on a date must mean something.
Of course, lest we forget, we eventually always encounter that pesky DTR. (For those living under a rock, that’s Define The Relationship.) Anything could mean anything, so we have to clarify what every little thing means. No one likes these awkward discussions which almost always end with someone disappointed. I mean, who really wants another friend?
Many LDS singles think this way. I used to be right there with them. For these folks dating is hard. But it doesn’t have to be if we understand the fundamentals.
The importance of fundamentals
Walking illustrates well the importance of fundamentals. Most of us can walk without any problem. We don’t lose sleep worried whether we’ll ever walk well enough or fear the future because of our lack of walking.
Why is this? We’ve mastered the fundamentals of walking. In fact, we’ve mastered walking so well we have no concerns about our ability to walk whenever needed. Walking is easy for us because we’ve mastered the fundamentals.
Conversely, seeing toddlers fall down doesn’t really surprise anyone. They’re still learning how to walk. They haven’t yet mastered the fundamentals of walking. For them, walking is challenging.
Everything in life — including dating — works the same way. When we understand the fundamentals of what we’re trying to do, we can execute with ease. It’s when we don’t have the fundamentals mastered that we encounter challenge and struggle.
The fundamentals of dating
This discussion now begs the question: What are the fundamentals of dating? LDS dating has conventions we all at least intuitively understand. But if we can’t speak them well enough to teach them to others, we don’t really understand like we think we do.
The ultimate purpose of dating is marriage, but that doesn’t mean marriage considerations should guide every decision in our dating journey. After all, dating starts with friendship, but what friendship offered only to those who hold the potential of offering something in return is considered true?
Yes, the dating journey has stages. To understand the fundamentals of dating, we must understand the fundamentals of each stage and how we move between stages.
Dating starts with Friendship and then can move in turn to Casual Dating, Committed Dating, Engagement, and Marriage. Agreements connect these stages together. If you don’t agree with someone to progress to a certain stage, you don’t progress to that stage.
Each stage has its own agreement. To progress to Casual Dating, you must agree with someone to go out on a date, which is simply a commitment to spend a set time with a specific someone doing a specific activity. Once the date is over, there’s no more commitment; that’s why it’s called Casual Dating.
For Committed Dating, you must commit to date only one person who in turn commits to date only you. For Engagement, you must agree to marry someone who in turn agrees to marry you. For Marriage, you must demonstrate your agreement by accepting the ceremony together.
The freedom of the fundamentals
This very brief description of the stages of the dating journey is just the tip of the iceberg in understanding the fundamentals of dating. You really need a whole book to get all the details.
Fortunately, I’m working on just such a book and will release it as soon as it’s ready, together with a book about habits and their role in LDS singles life. Progressing in our dating journey becomes even easier when we add together an understanding of how we’re biologically hardwired to function and an understanding of dating fundamentals.
For me, the greatest benefit from understanding the fundamentals of dating is the freedom. I’m not concerned what the other person is thinking. I don’t need DTR. I know exactly where I am in my dating journey because I know what agreements I have and haven’t made. And because I know what the next agreement I need to make is, I know what my next step in my journey is.
Dating is hard when we don’t understand the fundamentals. But when we do, dating becomes easy. And that will bring more journey in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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