Why wanting doesn’t work
On the surface, that may sound counterintuitive. How can dating not be about what you want? How could dating even pretend to bring any semblance of happiness without accounting for individual preference? Am I suggesting we’re all interchangeable parts or that we should embrace arranged marriages?
No, we’re not interchangeable parts. And although there have been days I wished I could have an arranged marriage just so the frustrations of my dating life would end, those days are far behind me. Now I approach dating differently, and my approach comes from more effective thinking which aligns better with the fundamentals of the dating journey.
We’ve discussed countless times in previous broadcasts about one such fundamental: To progress to any stage of the dating journey, you must have the requisite agreement. And how do you secure that agreement? How do you secure any agreement? You do it by being agreeable enough. So if you aren’t progressing in your journey, you need to become more agreeable.
This is why dating isn’t about what you want. You can want all you want, but no amount of wanting will compensate for not meeting the other person’s definition of agreeable enough. It’s easy to focus on how the other person’s standards are unrealistically high. But even if they really are, you still won’t progress in your dating journey if you aren’t agreeable enough. That’s why it’s called a fundamental.
Why bringing works better
Yet many LDS singles approach dating with the assumption it’s about what they want. And many LDS singles experience great frustration with dating. That’s not a coincidence. The one follows the other like night follows day.
Instead of approaching dating with the idea it’s about what you want, focus instead on what you bring. Think about it. The ideal marriage is the union of two imperfect people who help each other achieve perfection. That last part — “help each other achieve perfection” — isn’t based in either partner taking. It comes from each partner giving. It’s about what you bring, not what you want.
Of course, to give, you must have something to give. That’s where working on yourself and having a personal ministry take center stage. When you improve upon yourself and devote yourself to making your own unique combination of goodness to the world, you build an interesting life that others find more inviting. Fundamentally, you become more agreeable.
Bring on the real
I’m not saying what you want doesn’t factor into dating at all. There is a place for expressing and acting on personal preferences. It’s just not behind the driver’s seat of the most effective approach.
And you do have the option of finding someone whose standards of acceptance are low enough to admit you just as you are, but that’s not the more satisfying route. You’ll likely attract only others who want to stay as they are, and a union with such a person is just a mediocre existence. The real relationship is one that leaves you better for being a part of it. That’s one where each partner gives freely to the other, not just exist in the same space.
Dating is not about what you want but about what you bring. Embracing that truth allows you to adopt a more effective approach to dating. You’ll more easily embrace the work needed to make you a better you. You’ll put yourself in service to others. Then you’ll experience the satisfaction of making progress. You’ll piece together your best life and thereby increase your probability of finding the companion who will with you make an truly real and ennobling relationship. And that will bring you more joy in your 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 and podcast 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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