If you want to go far… team up when dating!
‘If you want to go fast travel alone, if you want to go far, travel together’ the saying goes. Most of us have a tendency to do dating alone. It often surprises me how few people know about a date someone is having. It’s as if people are ashamed to share the fact that they are dating. ‘But I don’t want my friends to expect me to be engaged next week!’ a client of mine answered when I asked her why she didn’t tell anyone.
When you take your friends with you on the journey of dating you will find yourself better prepared for it. What they expect of your dates and the outcome of them is actually up to you. You are the manager of their expectations. Part of this process of dating is setting boundaries. This goes for the people you are dating, for yourself, but also for your friends. You set the boundaries on their expectations, you are in charge.
If your ultimate goal is being in a more intimate relationship (not necessarily marriage!), then your friends can be the perfect people to practise with. The more honest you share about your journey in dating, the more intimate your friendships will become. And the more space you give your friends to give you loving, honest feedback, the more they feel freed and fired up to help you achieve this goal, and the more you get out of your friendships.
I believe we are meant to travel together. I’ve watched the movie ‘Into the Wild’ with growing agony. It was so painful to see the ever-growing loneliness and state of deprivation this guy was in, despite the flying start of his journey. In the beginning, it all seemed great, so victorious and so revolutionary, but he ended up alone, miserable and in pain. His journey was cut short by his strong conviction of wanting to travel alone.
God provides us with community from the start of creation. Granted, finding a mate will never be as easy anymore as it was for Adam, but you don’t have to journey alone. Your community can be a great resource of wisdom, motivation and embrace when you need it. Furthermore, I believe singles should be part of church to challenge churches to be that resource when they need it. To challenge the ‘safely, comfortably’ married people to ‘have their back’ in dating.
Team up with some friends you trust who know you well. Not with the winey types who judge you as being ‘too critical’, or with those who say ‘just let it go and then…’. Pick some wise people, preferably married, preferably not your parents, and invite them on this journey of dating you are on. Not to actually go with you on a date, but to challenge you before to open up and be vulnerable (within healthy boundaries) and to ask you afterwards for your evaluation and thoughts and feelings about the date.
Ask them to be loving and honest and the same time, just as Jesus invites us to speak truth in love. Ask them to challenge you when it comes to your ‘list’ or your ‘criteria’. Lots of people say no too often when it comes to first dates but say yes too often when it comes to staying in a dysfunctional or vague dating relationship. I call that the ‘inverted funnel’ in my book (Dare to Date).
When you do, you will find that you have way more fun than you used to have when dates were happening few and far in between and the whole ordeal was covered in secrecy. Also, you will experience way more growth coming out of it, because you allow your experiences and thoughts to be challenged by others. For more tips and advice on how to maximize your ‘team’, please read Dare to Date, chapter 3. Have fun teaming up!