“All right, Sparky, here’s the deal. If you wanna court the little lady, you gotta be a straight shooter. Do ya got it?…. Tell her the TRUTH!” – Genie, Aladdin
3 weeks ago I wrote about a conversation Rocket and I had with friends over breakfast (read it here). We started discussing relationships and one friend, “Angela” (for blog purposes), brought up an interesting question:
“You two are blessed in that you are both intentional in your relationship, but in my experience that isn’t common. Normally one person is more intentional and invested in a relationship than the other. How do you deal with that?”
As I thought about my answer, I realized how many different meanings “dating intentionally” could have based who you talk to. So, I reached out to you (the readers), friends, and family to define intentional dating. As answers started to come in, although each definition was different, a core theme started to emerge: making your intentions known. Whether you are dating casually or looking for “the one,” I will define “being intentional” simply as honestly communicating your intentions in the relationship and keeping your significant other up-to-date on any changes or uncertainty.
So back to Angela’s question, typically, if your significant other isn’t as invested (time and effort) as you, either:
- They are casually dating, and assume you know that or they haven’t been completely honest with you.
- They can’t invest as much due to short-term extenuating circumstances, such as illness, death in the family, etc. Although at the moment they might not be able to invest as much time, hopefully they are forthright and communicate that.
- They have decided not invest time or effort. Generally, this occurs when they are holding back because of an unwillingness to commit or are taking it slow in case someone better comes along. Your significant other might not see as much long term value (“return on investment”) in the relationship as you do. People can change, so you’ll have to decide if the relationship is worth the continued unequal time/effort for the time it takes them to change.
If your significant other isn’t intentional it could be because:
“If your interest is a long-term relationship with the potential for marriage, you will need to find the right time and place to discuss both of your intentions.”
- Their intentions don’t align with yours and they don’t want to hurt your feelings by sharing that. Similar to above, it could be because they don’t know what their intentions are, they haven’t thought about it, aren’t ready to discuss marriage and commitment, or are taking it slow in case someone better comes along.
- They don’t know they are supposed to be intentional in dating. Unless you are surrounded by examples of successful relationships, its hard to learn that being intentional is an important part of a healthy relationship. Even still, your significant other ’s definition of intentional dating might be different from yours.
If your interest is a long-term relationship with the potential for marriage, you will need to find the right time and place to discuss both of your intentions. Wait until you you are ready for an honest answer even if it is not what you want to hear. Make sure that your significant other fully understands your desire for honesty before you bring it up.
What if your intentions aren’t the same?
If your intentions don’t align, but you share that openly, the relationship has progressed significantly just by being able to discuss this difficult topic.
Communication is key in any relationship. Ask questions about their future plans and see if they match up to yours. Watch their actions to see if they are willing to change for you and are you willing to change for them? It’s hard to make a relationship work (next to impossible) if only one side is willing to change.
However, if your intentions don’t align AND no one is willing to change that’s a reason to amicably part ways. If they don’t align, but you are both willing to see where it goes, the relationship will be on a stronger footing as long as you keep each other up to date on changes in how you feel about the relationship.
I will end the post with a good definition of intentional dating by one of my friend’s:
Intentional dating is dating with a purpose beyond just the present connection. And when you are dating with a purpose in mind that directs everything that you do in the relationship. Defining it specifically with a Christian context means dating with a future mindset that is driven by God and walking in a way of godliness. Intentional dating suggests more of a long term approach so that changes how you treat the person and how willing you are to change for or along with your significant other. It changes the entire way in which you decide to build and structure your partnership and how you approach vulnerability in a relationship.