Relationships 2.0: the dating game is screwed up

To start this series at the very beginning, I have very little respect for the way our culture handles relationships and marriage. If you want to see why, look no farther than your TV screen…

The Bachelor

And now I’m forced to admit it publicly… yes, I watched an episode of the Bachelor on Hulu. (I know, I know, stone me now…) To me, it was the most radical statement about what’s wrong with dating culture in America. 20 girls all date the same guy at the same time. They go on the world’s most amazing dates in some of the most beautiful parts of the planet, and most of them fall in love and get heart broken when they don’t get a rose.

Thankfully, most people don’t use this system for finding their soulmate. We all recognize that this is a really dumb way to meet the person you plan to marry.  But, without really thinking about it, Americans, even those who genuinely want to get married, fall prey to all the same problems by treating dating like it’s a game.

How cultural dating turns out like the TV show

Now I said most of The Bachelor‘s girls fall in love, but I didn’t mean they fall in love with the man in front of them. Nooooo… they fall in love with his TV personality, or the kiss of way to much experience, or the amazing scenery, or the adrenaline of an adventure date. Seriously; they put themselves in situations where you’re going to fall in love with something. A lot of people call this “infatuation.”

They kiss; they talk about the scenery, but never do they talk about anything that helps them decide if their relationship will actually work. When was the last time a contestant talked about their religious convictions, checked if they were on the same page about children, where they wanted to spend the rest of their life, or any of the other important “boring” stuff?

</ end rant about the bachelor>

Ok… here are what I see as the top myths about dating in our culture:

Myth 1: Dating is just entertainment. Just like in the Bachelor, people go on dates someplace beautiful. They watch a stirring movie or a beautiful sunset and then look at their date and say “this person makes me feel amazing.” No kidding… what were you expecting? Entertainment dating is a horrible litmus test for whether you would work married to a person. Do you think you’ll feel the same way watching the local news with your spouse?

And the sad part about it is that you can have a lot of fun asking hard questions. Toni and I talked for five hours the first time I asked her and I can say I really enjoyed that time. This doesn’t mean we don’t watch sunsets or movies (the new Spiderman was pretty legit) or go out to eat, but it does mean that our focus is different.

Myth 2: All that matters is us, baby. Most couples spend a lot of time looking into each other’s eyes. But a couple doesn’t exist in a bubble; it’s important to hang out with other people and I think it’s especially important to hang out with your families. It’s also really important to get some outside perspective from friends.

Myth 3: It’s in his kiss. It is really easy to get fooled on a one-on-one date. That’s one reason it’s important to be around other people, but also why I’m a big fan of dating friends. And, no, contrary to the infallible wisdom of 60s pop music, you can’t tell whether the guy is good and really loves you from his kiss.

And then there’s shacking up. Always confused me… Maybe I’ll write about what’s wrong with cohabitation later. Basically, everything’s all casual until we want to be married, but then we won’t get married, just pretend… because marriage is special. Whaaaaat? Yeah, I am not doing that.

Purposeful dating

When I first approached Toni about this relationship, I asked if she was interested in “courting.” The reason I was using this kind of vocabulary is because I definitely didn’t want the cultural norm in “dating.” But let’s be honest; there’s no point in being counter-cultural just for the sake of being counter-cultural.

I think the term we’re using now is “purposeful dating.” That really highlights the key difference between us and the world: we’re not just playing around. If you really value your date, then you won’t treat this like a game.

But don’t worry… that doesn’t mean things can’t be fun. I think, and Toni agrees, that we have a blast. This is a really important principle for the rest of life, too: It turns out that living for a purpose is more fun that just living to have fun. (make sense?)

This has been a pretty negative post. It pretty much summarizes why I see a need to think so carefully about how relationships should work. But more positive stuff is coming… trust me. Leave some comments! Maybe share what you think the solution to these problems is…

And, to end this post, a “hey christian girl” meme:

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Relationships 1.0: an introduction

Yes! I’m in a relationship. And totally excited.

First date...

Since I’ve started dating the gorgeous and wonderful Toni Maisano (her photography website), I’ve started thinking a lot about love, marriage, sex, purity, courtship, and… yes… dating. The D word… for my homeschool friends. That why I want to start a blogging series about relationships.

There are a lot of different courtship ideas floating around the Christian community, especially among homeschoolers. I kissed dating goodbyepractical courtship, the “10 commandments”  or the “middle ground“… and the list goes on.

Honestly, I still don’t know what to make of this, though I have plenty of thoughts on how to have a purposeful relationship that puts God first. Any advice from wiser, experienced peoples? Just leave a comment below.

Blogging about it is as much about helping me as it is trying to share my experience with you. Maybe you could learn something from a messed up bloke like me. Look for more coming up…