“It doesn’t matter if the guy is perfect or the girl is perfect, as long as they are perfect for each other.” – Good Will Hunting
This morning, Rocket and I went to breakfast with a few old friends from his time in China. Although most of them no longer live in China, they had all traveled from various parts of the world (Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Bahrain, Ethiopia, U.S., Saudi Arabia, China and more!) to celebrate the wedding of a close friend. The whole weekend showcased what love and community should look and feel like. During breakfast we discussed the wedding and their time in Dubai, but most of the conversation centered around relationships.
One of our friends asked a very good question:
“You two are blessed in that you are both intentional in your relationship, but in my experience that isn’t common. I have learned a lot about relationships: reading books and blogs, but if I have all the information and try to apply it, sometimes it doesn’t matter. Normally one person is more intentional and invested in a relationship then the other. How do you deal with that?”
I paused and looked at Rocket and he looked back at me. I knew exactly how she felt. Before Rocket and I started dating, I had practically given up on love. I was focused on my faith, ballroom dance, and career both at ESPN and as a writer. I had yet to meet someone with whom I felt I could date with the intent of getting married. I wondered if there was a guy out there that could actually take my decision to abstain seriously. Most of them respected it, but that doesn’t mean that they wanted to pursue an intentional relationship. As another lonely Valentine’s Day passed, I wondered if I was destined to be a 40 year old virgin (not that there’s anything wrong with that)!
As Rocket and I thought about our responses to our friend’s question this evening, we had a hard time remembering examples of how we were intentional while dating. I realized that intentional dating is a phrase we all have heard, but it is not necessarily well understood.
So, in practice what does dating with intent of marriage actually mean?
For Rocket and I, it meant dating to figure out future marriage potential, and making that clear early in the relationship. When we first started dating, we didn’t necessarily know exactly how to date “intentionally.” However, we learned as our relationship progressed, and made time to talk about our faith, values, plans, finances and timeline for marriage to see if they aligned or how they might in the future. We had fun getting to know each other and exploring our interests.
Being intentional during courtship meant dating only one person, and being willing to let the other know if we didn’t see a long-term future for the relationship. For us, this involved getting comfortable being increasingly vulnerable with each other. Gratefully we never faced this, but if we found that we weren’t compatible, than instead of lingering in a relationship, our idea would have been to cordially end the courtship sooner rather than later.
Before I continue to answer our friend’s question about unequal intentionality in a dating, I want to hear from you!
In your opinion, what is intentional dating in theory and in practice? And how would you answer our friend’s question?
I will use your answers and follow up in a later post with part 2 of this discussion. Comment below or send me a message!