Relationship Tip #13 – Date With Intention

In the midst of breaking up with you, have you ever heard a guy say, “I don’t know what I want”?  On the other hand, have you ever been the one delivering that statement to the guy with whom you were breaking up?  If the truth were to really be told, you actually did know what you wanted and that’s to not be in that particular relationship.  For one reason or another, you were just afraid to say so.  My question would be why did you get involved in the relationship in the first place?

Over breakfast not too long ago, I was sitting with a girlfriend who was dating a guy she really liked.

“Do you want to get married some day?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

Okay.  What would it be like if someone asked The President, “What are your goals while you’re in office?” and he responded, “I don’t know.”  Huh?  At that point, the purpose and drive of his cabinet would vaporize.  Confusion would ensue.  Believe it or not, this is what many singles do in relationship.

Having an intention is important.  People respond to purpose.  This principle applies in the realm of dating and relationship too.  Intention requires for you to be clear about what you want.  When you know what you want, you can say “Yes!” to the things that fit and “No” to what doesn’t.  It means that you’re clear with the person you’re dating.  If you’re like me, being with someone who doesn’t know what he wants is royally annoying because the indecision shows up as him being wishy-washy — in a sense, weak.  We owe it to the men we date to be clear about what we want.  That leaves them the opportunity to proceed saying, “Yeah!  That’s what I want too!”  or, “No.  That’s not what I’m looking for.  I need to move on.”  Well, okay!  At least we know.

Without intention, a relationship goes nowhere.  You can only go nowhere for so long.  At some point, someone asks the uncomfortable question, “Where are we going with this?”  Until then there’s no way of knowing why you’re spending time with the guy you date other than you just want the company.  What then happens over time is you become attached to him and he says, “Well, I don’t want to be in a relationship.  You know I’m not the relationship type.”  Ummm, no.  I didn’t know that because you never told me.  Had I known that, I wouldn’t have wasted so much of my time.

This has happened to so many people I know, both men and women, even me.  Now that I look back I can take responsibility for the situation and honestly say that I was not clear with my intentions with my “boyfriend” and barely expressed them to him, if at all.  I wanted a relationship.  To him, we were just hanging out.

Why did I do this?

  1. Like most people, I thought I could avoid disappointment.  Without any intention, I set no expectation on the relationship.  That’s what we’re encouraged to do, right?  What a farce!  What I was really doing was prolonging the disappointment.  When you want nothing you expect nothing and you get nothing.  Getting nothing out of a relationship is disappointing.
  2. I didn’t want to hear the word, “No.”  Whenever I heard that word, it meant “rejection” to me.  Just like so many others, I would rather have been in a wishy-washy, lukewarm relationship than be rejected.
  3. I didn’t think enough of myself to actually say what I wanted in relationship.
  4. I didn’t think enough of my boyfriend to believe that he wanted to provide for me what I wanted in relationship.

Now, I have but one intention for dating:  to determine who my husband will be.  With my intention set, here’s what it does for me in relationship:

  1. I respect the man I’m dating with honesty.  He deserves to know me.  He also deserves the opportunity to respond to what I want with a choice to either say, “yes” or “no.”
  2. I can look for qualities in the man that are aligned with my intention.  If he doesn’t have qualities that would make a good husband for me, I can quickly make my exit.  If he does, I can invest more time with him.
  3. I avoid being discouraged.  Listen, quantity does not equal quality when it comes to dating.  What I mean by that is going out on a lot of dates could actually work against you if you’re looking for a lasting relationship.  The more frequently these dates don’t work out, the more likely you are to become jaded thinking, “There are no good men out there”  (my readers know how much I detest that completely false statement).  I’m selective.  I seldom date, but when I do I date guys I really like.
  4. It saves me time.  I don’t want to be in another long-term relationship that goes nowhere.  When I’m in a relationship with a man it’s because we’ve talked about what we want, we are in agreement and we’re interested in pursuing it together.
  5. I hear “No” and I say, “Next!”  The word “no” simply expresses a difference in preference.  It has nothing to do with me.  In fact, there is infinitely more comfort in the word “no” than the word, “maybe.”  I can act on “no.”  “Maybe” leaves me in limbo.
Be honest with yourself.  Know what you want.  What is your intention for dating?  While my intention is ultimately marriage, yours could be different. You might just want someone to take you out every now and then; you may want a companion; you may be seeking someone with similar business interests.  Whatever it is, it’s up to you to be straight about it.  If you don’t know, don’t date.  It ends up being a complete waste of your and his time.  When you do know what you want, say it clearly so that your date can respond with either a “yes” or a “no.”

4 thoughts on “Relationship Tip #13 – Date With Intention

  1. This is really good advice. A friend of mine loaned me a book several years ago called “How to Find a Date Worth Keeping.” I don’t usually read that sort of thing, but he had so many good things to say about it that I gave it a try. The book advocated a philosophy that up until that time I was totally against. I’m still against it, but not quite to the same degree. This is how I used to look at it. Whenever you date somebody, one of two things is going to happen. Either you’re going to end up splitting up, or you’re going to end up married. Very few people date each other for the rest of their lives. If you know you’re never going to marry the person you’re dating, there’s just no point in spending any more time in the situation because you’re going to end up causing each other a lot of grief and wasting each other’s time. So you should only date somebody if it’s at least possible that you could marry them some day, and dating is, at least in part, for the purpose of exploring that possibility.

    But the author of the book (whose name I can’t remember) advocated dating for the fun of it. He had a whole chapter that argued AGAINST my point of view. While I could see from his arguments that there was a practical advantage in his approach, it just struck me as wrong. Essentially, he condoned using people, although I’m sure he’d object to my characterization. He said you should date outside your type and date a variety of different people. The reason is because most of us, especially at a young age, have an ideal in our minds of what we want that, if we had it, we wouldn’t be happy with it. By dating a variety of people, even those outside of our type, we can discover things we like and things we don’t like that we never would’ve thought of before.

    This I can agree with. Several years ago, I dated a girl who was completely outside of the kind of person I was looking for. I did it because her dad set us up, he was a good friend of mine, and I didn’t know how to get out of the situation without offending somebody. But I really learned a lot. Some of the things that used to be important to me were no longer as important, and other things became more important. Ultimately, things didn’t work out between us, but I don’t regret the relationship for what it taught me and also because I enjoyed being in the relationship for a while.

    Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because there’s something I wish you had said more about. While I totally agree with you that people should make their intentions known, and that you can spare each other a lot of disappointment and wasted time if you’re just open and honest about your intentions, the reality of the matter is that when two people are in the process of getting to know each other, one of them usually figures it out before the other. You can’t know the first time you go out with somebody that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. That takes time. At best, all you can know at that point is whether you want to go on another date and continue to explore the possibility. Within a few dates, you may confine the person to the ‘friend zone.’ Personally, I try not to be too hasty. But whether you end up deciding you want to continue or you want to end things, there’s going to be a time of uncertainty while you’re trying to figure it out. You’re not just going to be uncertain one moment and certain the next. It’ll dawn on you over time.

    Since people usually don’t figure out what they want at the same time, the one who figures it out first is likely going to be a little frustrated with the other person who hasn’t figured it out yet. And if a person took your post to heart without considering this, it’s easy to see how they might make a hasty retreat from the situation–not wanting to stay involved with a ‘wishy washy’ guy. I’ve noticed that women seem to figure out what they want from men a lot quicker than men figure out what they want from women. It seems like women figure it out almost immediately, and once they do, there’s no changing their minds. But guys can take two or three months sometimes just to figure out whether they really like a girl–whether she’s relationship material or friend material.

    So although I respect your sense of self-respect and wanting everything to be crystal clear in a dating situation, practically speaking, I don’t know if that’s a reasonable expectation. Consequently, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have a little patience with people you’re dating when they’re less clear about their intentions than you are. Where to draw the line, of course, is a judgment call. It’s inevitable that we all make those judgement calls because the decision falls between two extremes–not wanting to waste time on the one hand, and not wanting to give up prematurely on the other hand and risk missing out on something good.

    At least that’s how I see it.

    • Thank you for reading my blog, Sam, and for taking the time to craft such a thoughtful response.

      You make two points here, 1) Dating for fun someone who is not your “type,” and 2) Not rushing to end a relationship with someone because it takes time to get to know him/her. I will address them separately.

      1. I do believe that people should get to know a variety of people to determine what they’re seeking in a mate. When I was in high school and college I dated for specifically this purpose; some would call it “sport.” I did not have the wherewithal to find perfect mate or be a good girlfriend (much less, wife) because I was focused on getting my career off the ground so I could make a lot of money, buy a house on my own and get a nice car. I dated frequently and learned pretty quickly what I like in a man and what doesn’t work for me. Sport dating is okay for some young, college kids who are just trying to figure things out. It should be a short-term phase because it is shallow and unsustainable. It ends up being exhausting for both parties because every first date is like an interview and ultimately someone’s heart breaks. Think baggage.

      2. The point that I was making in the blog post is that if someone just wants to date for the heck of it, they should be clear about it. If a woman dates because she wants to be married some day, she should be clear about that. A woman who is dating because she is looking for her husband would want to know whether or not the man she’s dating wants to be married. Some guys don’t want to ever get married. Those guys need to date someone other than me and I will be glad to tell them that so as not to waste anyone’s time. Does that make sense? Beyond that, what you’re saying is accurate: it definitely takes time to get to know someone. It’s easy to form a hasty judgement about someone after spending just a few hours with him/her via a date or two. However, I hear my friends make snap judgements all the time. In fact, I’m guilty of doing it too.

      • Thanks for the response. I misunderstood what you meant about making your intentions known, but this clarifies things for me, and I agree with you. But lemme ask you for some advice. Let’s suppose I go on a first date with somebody I just met, and this is the first time we’ve really had a chance to talk. And let’s say I blurt out something like, “I gotta be honest with you about something. The whole reason I’m in this dating game is because I want to get married some day, and I hope to find somebody this way.” Would that kind of bluntness freak a girl out? I’m not usually quite that blunt because that seems to me that sort of thing that would send somebody running for the hills. How would you recommend bringing up a subject like that, and how soon after meeting somebody?

      • Okay. That’s a good question. The key is not to make a big deal about it. Here are some things that I’ve said. “I, personally, would only date a guy I would consider marrying,” stated very matter-of-fact-ly. Nowadays, I’m curious about people’s opinions on dating and relationship. I ask just about anyone who’s single, “Do you want to be married some day?” That’s a great way to get a conversation about marriage started.

        Another way I’ve handled it was when I became unexpectedly attached to someone with whom I began to spend a lot of time. I could sense that he was becoming attached to me also to the point we both agreed that we were dating. Once again, in a very not-so-big-deal sort of way I said, “You know, I’ve enjoyed spending time with you and I really look forward to it. I’ve found that I’m becoming attached to you and want you to know that I would only spend this kind of time with someone I would consider marrying. I do want to be married some day. While I’m not saying that it’s you or not, I want you to know what my intentions are and I would like to know what your intentions are. This way, we can make a choice about where we’d like to go from here.” I was really that straight about it.

        It’s not a big deal to talk about the subject of marriage even if it is a bit awkward to bring it up at first. At this point, I talk about relationship so much with so many different people I’m pretty comfortable talking about it with just about anyone. . .I think. 🙂

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