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March 21, 2006

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D K J

I always thought I would only date Catholics. Well, I married a Baptist - who is more faithful about attending church with me now than any Catholic guy I ever dated. He has also challenged me to learn and understand my faith on a deeper level, as we share and learn about the role religion has had in our pasts and will have in our futures. When we first met, he wasn't going to any church and was kind of taking the I am to cool to be religious or spiritual, but through the first few months of what we now affectionally refer to as pseudo-dating(we hung out, went ever where together, but we weren't "dating", we were just friends, we wouldn't even consider dating, are you crazy!) we talked a lot about our families, our pasts, where we were going as individuals. When we started dating, I though I was a democrat...turns out I am conservative republican.

My cousin says, "That ever date is a possible mate" So I think you need to have in mind some deal breakers - but for me deal breakers were always BIG picture things like how he treats other people not how he defined his philosphy - you and he are young and that can change.(*Although, it is a horrible idea to set out with the intent to change someone.) To me deal breakers aren't just for the realm of dating, but friendship, as well.

As casual as our society has become, I think you have to be in it for the real thing or you will get mired in the mess of casual dating. That is not to say that you shouldn't accept a date from someone outside you norm - but you have to draw lines about what accepting that date means. I am sure you know that you are less likely to meet the one through hooking up...But developing platonic frienships with people of the opposite sex has great rewards. The whole expression friends with benefits never made sense to me - don't I benefit from all my friendships and hopefully my friends see my friendship as a benefit to them, as well.

Ron

Nobody is too young to have deal breakers! He's not a Christian--for you, deal breaker. He smokes - deal breaker (nasty habit very hard to break!! He's not kind, gentle, good to you - deal breaker! He's slovenly - deal breaker (at least for me!)! He makes less (more) money, has less (more) education - totally irrelevant. You should always date with the long term in mind. You never know haw a relationship will develop. Never date anyone that is not first a friend! God bless!

Traci

I'm 22, and I always dated for fun, to give guys a chance because you never know how wonderful they might be, etc. And it's the sophisticated thing to do. But my last few years in college I became more self-assured and determined to get what I want out of life--and that meant finding out what is important to me. And dating "for fun" was no longer fun. It was just annoying to attach myself to guys I already knew had different ideals or less ambition, or whatever the "deal-breaker" was. I felt like I was wasting my time. And it is unfair to the other person to waste their time. Even if the two of you agree it's just hanging out, things tend to get complicated.

Dating to get to know him may actually be based on false beliefs. Why not hang out as friends to get to know him, without the complications of dating? (I still get shocked when I realize I've come full circle and admit my mother was right, years after I had decided she didn't know anything.) You mentioned being "pursued by a suitor in whom I note one or more traits or habits that I had in the past always considered deal breakers" and giving the guy a chance. What if you fall in love with this suitor who has all these "deal-breaking" traits? Depending on how romantic you are, that's just playing with fire. What are these deal-breaking traits? Do they stem from principles or just preferences? You might be able to cave about preferences, but if his principles aren't something you can admire, you'd be shooting yourself in the foot by getting involved with him.

I question if it is possible to "date casually" and not risk becoming emotionally impaired. How else can you justify spending time with, money on, or being physical (however far you go)with a person and not worry about the effects it is having on yourself and them? You can't really open up, because in a casual relationship, you know they don't want to know who you are. It takes so much longer to get to a point where there is any real possibility of love or a future when you start a relationship as people who are just out to have fun--that is, out for what they can get from the relationship. I'm not bashing people who date casually. As I said, been there done that, and I understand the appeal. But if you feel there's something lacking in that, go with that feeling. Find a way to approach dating that gets you what you really
want.

Jason Bontrager

I would say it depends on what you want long-term. Dating for fun can be a way to put off long-term committment. If you want to get married and have kids, then you need to start at your current age. If you have no intention of doing either (now or any time soon) then dating for fun would be the way to go. However, I will point out that many men who "date for fun" are looking for more than just someone to hang out with. They'll want a degree of physical intimacy that you may not be comfortable with.

Best of luck in your ultimate decision.

Josie

This topic reminds me of something that my grandmother told me when I got into high school and all the other girls around me were discovering boys. She told me that I ought to have lots of guy friends and have fun getting to know them, having nice friendships, and to save dating for a time when I am more experienced in the ways of the world and ready for serious commitment (i.e. marriage). And I have to admit, she was right. I've seen too many girls hang onto unsuitable guys because they "need" to have a boyfriend or because he's a good distraction from the pain that their last boyfriend inflicted.

Dating is serious business. People can get emotionally hurt when things progress too far too soon, or progress too far with the wrong person. You need not risk that just to get to know someone casually, to have fun, or to maintain some sense of identity/ self- worth. Enjoy friendships with some of the nice guys that you know, as they can be quite refreshing. However, save dating for a time when you are sure that you can manage the responsibility of handling someone's emotions, or even handling a portion of someone else's future.

Amy

I married at 22, so I feel I might have a few words of advice to offer...

Yes, you should definitely have deal-breakers. But they should be items of character rather than those of circumstance. An education is circumstance, being devout and hardworking are elements of character.

I think that it's impossible to entirely date for marriage in the first few weeks of getting to know one another, but at the same time I very much advise that you learn as much about character as you can at that stage, not giving out your heart to someone who might be unworthy.

In other words, when you think it possible that any young man escorting you to the movies might be the man holding your hand in childbirth, you'll be interested in looking past the immediate - and also interested in being as honest as possible about your own feelings and not wasting anyone's time.

Best of luck!

Lori

My best friend and I are 38 and 37, and we agree: casual dating is a distraction and a time waster. In her case, she would become interested in something (say, going to Germany) and end up dating someone who was into that instead of pursuing the interest (e.g., dating the German instructor). My experience suggests that, once you know someone isn't for you, it's better to break it off early and completely.

I don't know when you should start looking for Mr. Right, but keep in mind that at my age, the men are, for lack of a better term, picked over. A lot of the available ones may be nice men, but they have kids, exes, lots of debt, big alimony and child support payments, emotional baggage--stuff I don't have and don't want to take on. But I've known people who regretted getting married in their teens or early 20s. There's no one age that's right for everyone; you have to decide for yourself.

spudmomof6

If you are dating for fun, does that mean that you don't have fun unless you are dating? There are lots of ways to meet and get to know men without pairing off for dinner and a movie (during which you are usually either worrying about food in your teeth or where his hands will end up.) I remember feeling so insecure during high school if I didn't have a boyfriend that I would do (almost) anything to keep one. You will be much more attractive to the right type of guy by being confident and happy on your own. Take advantage of your own family activities or those of your close friends to help you meet people with the same values (which matters much more than interests.) If you have marriage in mind, now is the time to be courted rather than hooked up. Besides, being a little more choosy for those first dates will make you a more tantalizing target!

j's

I think what Lori says is very true.

In general, good men are hard to find--especially these days where many young men think a productive evening is watching OC or looking at sexy babes online. (blak!)

Overall, I find that friends have a million gallons of advice, they will never come up short for advice. But in brief -- watch out for advice -- it comes in gallons and can be very destructive "noise".

But with that said, I'm going to be hypocritical and offer advice.

The right man is a miracle that enters our life -- some of us are lucky to find that, some of us give up and marry 'whatever' to avoid loneliness, some of us don't want marriage, some of us never find that love, and some of us thought we were marrying the right one found out he is terribly hurtful.

So be careful. Be prayerful. Trust that gut feel (not the butterflies when he's around, but that deep gut feel when you are alone). Be open to miracles. Don't depend on a formula, but always look for loyalty. Look for how he treats others. Hope for patience and an underlying optimism. A real man doesn't always look for the easy way out. Someone, who when life kicks you all in the gut, you and he will help pull each other up off the floor. Someone who when stuck at some airport with you during a storm, when everyone around is cranky, can still manage to crack a joke -- or laugh about it all afterwards -- someone that doesn't follow the dower moods of others. Someone who has known tough times, and risen above them.

Watch out for men with a long string of dumped girlfriends, his current girlfriend is usually next.

If he has all this, he'll expect the same from you. So we have to prepare ourselves to be equally worthy.

Lastly, I think we girls do have to accept those imperfections -- that slightly crooked nose, that awkward gait, the bad taste in shirts, a tendency to be late, propensity to lose keys, the inability to fix things, the inepitude in hanging anything straight, the annoying sneeze, irksome inlaws, the sloppy cereal eating, the choppy lawn maintenance, the need to have shoes lined up or enjoying slopping muddy shoes across the floor --you know, every single happily married person I know has mentioned one of the above and many many many more. Be ready to have your share of annoying clumps too. Why? He'll probably find some in you too -- and you can share and love all that together.

Above all, be active in the things you love to do, be loving, be hopeful.

And never never never never never succumb to the cynicism regarding love that so many have. So many cynics do in fact get some guy to share their digs with -- and they prefer that you give up too and shack up in some sort of half-love. But I've never found their version of love enviable. It's headache inducing.

Be hopeful. The world needs it. And he will too.

Amy F.

Lily, you know me, and you know my husband. You've said we're your marriage role models (and we've told you to watch out about that 'cause we're not perfect). You probably have already heard everything I could type here coming straight from my mouth. So, just know that if you have deal-breakers, it's in your best interest to stick with them -- and ultimately, it's in the best interest of your future husband that you stick with them, too.

I always thought I would marry someone who could either sing with me or dance with me. When John and I married, he could do neither. Obviously, those were icing-on-the-cake wishes and not deal-breakers. But you know what? Turns out he's a pretty good ballroom dancer when I actually let him do the leading. And after nearly a decade married to me, he's starting to develop the ability to follow a tune, too.

I agree with what the other Amy up there said about circumstance versus character. Sort them out into those categories, and you may be surprised what can happen with a change of circumstance. (Except for smoking... it might be categorized as a circumstance by some, but it's still a deal-breaker for me.)

Love you, and I look forward to dancing at your wedding someday!

SBW

A good book for you might be "5 Paths to the Love of Your Life". Its by Lauren F Winner ( one of my fav authors) and a few other people. Its a collection of essays on dating for Christians and it provides 5 different perspectives.

I think that as a modest woman you should date purposefully, meaning with the end in mind of finding someone to be with long-term. Otherwise you might just be wasting your time in fruitless relationships.

orlandogirl

Lily-- you certainly have a way of posing the questions that get a lot of attention! You got a lot of good advice, but I think you don't really need it. You are very self-possessed and self-assured, and I think you will know the right thing for you when you see it. You are working at becoming the best person you can be-- and that's likely the best thing for your future plans also.

I've been out of the dating scene for so long, but it does look a little grim from where I sit-- boys being raised to adolescence and then going no farther-- living with Mom and Dad till they are thirty and making self-gratification their Holy Grail. Ugh. But looking at the great women on this website, I have to hope there are families out there raising great young men too. If you keep your antenna up, you'll find one. I do agree with some of the commenters that first impressions can be wrong and you should give everyone at least a chance to impress you. Just don't waste your time on anyone who doesn't!

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