Written by: Charneise Alston, M.Ed
Did you know that singles are now the largest population in America in contrast to married adults? Wow! Increasingly so, millennials are in the driver’s seat of their own destiny and no longer rushing to the altar. I believe that singles are taking their time to discover their purpose, start careers, and live out their dreams prior to getting married. More and more people are learning that happiness is a state of being and not linked to external factors, which is why many people are content with their single status. While marriage is still a desire for most singles, due to the alarming rise in divorce rates, choosing the right partner has become more critical than ever before. As a result, I have developed wise dating tips to preserve the optimistic, positive attitude one should possess when dating. Dating is a process and if approached wisely, you can confidently navigate the journey, avoid needless pain, and arrive at your desired destination.
First, define your purpose for dating because everyone’s end game is not the same. It is important to keep in mind that every person does not desire to be married. Some individuals are seeking short-term or long-term companionship outside of the institution of marriage. For this reason, do not assume and make sure that the person in front of you shares the same objective. I define wise dating as a process of evaluation which requires conscious effort and momentum to reach a mutually agreed upon end.
Many singles view dating as draining, stressful, and a waste of time. However, wise dating is designed to be a fun, exciting, and enlightening experience. I am not selling a new gimmick to improve dating, but I am promoting a possible change of perspective. One of the reasons why many singles are frustrated with the dating experience is because he/she is not choosing to be selective. Wise dating requires discernment, every invitation does not need to be accepted. Figure out what is most important to you so that your standards are measurable. I chose to use the 5 C’s to help me sift out good contenders: character, chemistry, consistency, chivalry, and compatibility. Stop giving everyone a seat at the table.
I am not suggesting for you to “play hard-to-get” because games are childish and tend to backfire when coupled with grown intentions. However, I am urging you to be hard-to-get by knowing your worth. Far too many people gain access to a person’s time and interest without having to put forth much effort. Superficial characteristics cannot be the main determining factor to earn access to your life. Fleeting particulars such as physical attractiveness, charm and fortune can lose luster or even dissolve over time. So, be wise and discern who is worthy of your time especially since time is the most expensive gift offered to anyone.
When being selective, it is very important that you are being realistic and fair. Discard the fantasy-based wish list and make sure that you are the person you seek to find. The best perk of dating is self-discovery. In the midst of deciding and learning what you do and do not want, it is imperative that you are whole and have much to offer in exchange. Are you where you want to be in your life as an individual? If not, work on what can make you happier. If you are not happy when entering the dating season, your emotional health might not prevail against the disappointments and rejection that comes along with the dating process. There are pitfalls of dating but your resilience is contingent on a healthy realization of self-love, self-care, and self-worth.
Another important tip is to protect yourself when dating. Safe-guard your heart from becoming prematurely vested in a person of interest prior to knowing how the other person feels about you. Avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket because time and behaviors reveal the true intentions of a person. Do not exclusively date anyone who does not offer you a commitment. When you are not in a committed relationship, enjoy your options. To some, the thought of having options is exhausting because of society’s influence to rush the process and marry. We live in a culture that is consumer-based and demands instant delivery for everything: food, entertainment, and even love. Nonetheless, true love requires delayed gratification and the dating season is a perfect time to cultivate your patience.
As stated earlier in my definition of dating, evaluation requires observation. It is important to be sober and alert when dating to detect inconsistencies. In the initial phase of dating, everyone puts their best foot forward and says all of the right things that you want to hear. Yet, words are void without corresponding action and behavior. Pay attention to patterns and undesirable behaviors because those initial red flags are usually magnified in the context of a relationship. Your intuition is key so do not ignore your physiological and spiritual responses to an uncomfortable, unsafe, or unhealthy exchange. Cut romantic ties with people when you realize that you are linked with an incompatible person, don’t waste time.
Everyone longs for connection. So much so, we are willing to risk the drama of dating for the reward of a meaningful relationship. Drama? Yes, dating comes with drama due to three things that have prevented people from successfully building worthwhile connections. Fear, pride, and lust taint the purity of dating and causes unnecessary drama.
Fear is a crippling disease and many people fear getting hurt when choosing to trust and love again. Are you completely healed from your past? If not, it is not the right time to date. Dating someone new, when you are not healed from the pain of past relationships, will exasperate emotional wounds and hinder the healing process. Love is the only cure for fear so when you are healed from your past, do not let fear keep you from having a lasting, meaningful relationship. Faith is an essential tool needed for wise dating. You have to trust that if you do the work to improve yourself, you will attract what you are so there is no need to fear.
Pride is detrimental to dating because it impedes on your ability to be vulnerable. Pride will prevent you from being fully honest about failures, restrict you from asking for help, stop you from apologizing when wrong, and obstruct you from seeing the other person’s point of view. Do not allow stubbornness to keep you from what you truly want. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Relationships require compromises and sacrifices, so pride must be suppressed for love to thrive.
Lust only considers pieces of a person. Unfortunately, lust has fueled many relationships which eventually fizzled out and died. Lust is not a driving force to sustain a stable relationship. Lust is selfish and looks for instant gratification. Love, on the other hand, is entirely opposite. Do not let lust destroy your chances of completely knowing someone because you’re limited by the bits and pieces you choose to see.
What I’ve grown to know is that self-love precedes romantic love. Love must first be within before it can ever be offered to anyone else. Wise dating is beneficial because when you understand your worth, you do not settle for what’s simply available. In fact, most singles have plenty of options but are looking for the best fit. Being single is no longer stigmatized by loneliness. Instead singleness is peaceful, empowering and filled with inner revelations.
To avoid unnecessary emotional pain, be intentional, honest, whole, healed, and do not waste anyone’s precious time, including your own. We must move past selfishly using people for an opportunity to get out of the house or receive a free meal. Wise dating is purposeful, discerning, protective, and has an objective that is mutually agreed upon by all parties involved. After years of dating, I felt compelled to create a precautionary alternative that is grounded in having discernment, qualitative standards, and a positive mindset. So yes, millennials are taking their time to discover themselves for themselves before choosing to become one with someone else. And for that reason, singles have already found the secret to their happiness.
“Dating should be less about matching outward circumstances than meeting your inner necessity.”