Competing dating philosophies
I apologize to you who aren't interested in all this relationship stuff. It's not usually like me to write about this kind of thing. I'm certainly no expert. But I'm reading this book, you see, and it makes me think of stuff.
This book advances a philosophy about dating that is completely opposite of mine. Now when I was in middle school/high school, I remember having this revelation that everybody was taking the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing too seriously. It was a big revelation to me that maybe people ought to have these relationships merely for the fun of it. Then when you break up, there's no hard feelings.
As I got older, I began to change my mind. Now up until today, I have a different philosophy about dating. This is the way I look at it. Whenever two people start dating, one of two things are going to happen. Either it's going to come to an end at some point, or they're going to end up married. Very rarely do two people date each other for the rest of their lives. It makes absolutely no sense to date somebody if you know it's going to come to an end. First, you're just wasting each other's time. You could be moving on and possibly meeting somebody else you could marry some day. Second, somebody could get hurt that way. If you keep seeing the same person knowing you're never going to marry them, one or both of you are going to end up hurt. The longer you're together, the worse it's going to be.
So my current philosophy is that you should only date somebody if it's possible you could marry them some day. And dating is, in part, for the purpose of exploring that possibility.
But Dr. Henry Cloud disagrees with me. He has a whole chapter called "Dating is not about Marriage." Here's how he looks at it. He thinks that even if you date somebody you know you're never going to marry, there is still some advantage. The advantage is that you learn something about yourself and about other people. He thinks you should date just for the fun of it and for the learning experience. It teaches you people skills, it gives you practice, and it helps you figure out what kind of things you really like and don't like in other people, and it allows you to have a good time.
In some of his anecdotes, he's dialoguing with somebody who has as different philosophy. His method of debunking their philosophy is always the same. He asks them, "How is that working for you?" or "How long has it been since you've had a date?" And the poor ole bloke confesses that they haven't had any luck.
But is that a good argument? I haven't even tried Cloud's method, but I am enclined to think his method will work. But just because it works, does that make it right? The problem I see with Cloud's view is that he basically advocates using people. I think it's unfair to them.
There are some practical advantages to Cloud's method, too. I've always thought dating was paradoxical. On the one hand, you're supposed to have fun, but on the other hand, it's like going to a job interview. How can you have fun in a situation like that? Cloud's method avoids that paradox. Since dating isn't about marriage, there's no pressure. You're free to have a good time and be yourself. Forget about hurting anybody of course!