During my early 20s, I pursued women aimlessly and recklessly, or at least that’s what I’d call it. I sought after women with the sheer idea of momentary fun, nothing more. I dated because it was something to do, not because I saw a clear, meaningful purpose in the process. Initially, I didn’t care who I hurt because of how selfish I was. That all changed when the tables were turned and I experienced my first relational sting at the hands of a woman I was genuinely interested in. After that situation happened, I thought I would never take anyone serious again (I’m sure all twenty-something-year-olds have thought this before), but after a while, I got back out in the dating world. Eventually, I was disappointed…. again. I’d gone from the heartbreaker to the heartbroken. With each experienced hurt, my perspective on dating and love became more tainted, and more unhealthy.
Truthfully, it doesn’t have to take us two or three heartbreaks to get it right, but because many of us don’t have a clear understanding of the purpose of dating, we end up a victim of perpetuated heartache. In order to avoid this vicious cycle from happening again and again, there a few of things that we need to understand. First, we need to develop a marriage mindset, before pursuing marriage. Secondly, we must work on preparing ourselves to be the best man we can be holistically. Lastly, we need to understand that there are several stages involved in connecting with your significant other (dating, courting, engagement). I truly believe in the core of my soul that if we come to grips with these fundamentals, we could better avoid the unnecessary emotional pain of a romantic heartbreak. Let me explain.
A Marriage Mindset
My brother, you must make it a resolve from the beginning that matrimony is your focal point before you even decide to engage with someone on an intimate level. When I counsel singles in general, one of my first questions is, “Are you serious about marriage right now?” If they aren’t serious or sure, I strongly advise them to hold off from dating. The reason being is because each level of connecting with a prospect is a stepping-stone towards marriage. If you’re not ready to say, “I do,” those stepping-stones will quickly turn into you stepping out. Furthermore, I know there’s a man reading this that will interpret this as me saying you should be overbearing or pressing about your decision to marry. That is not at all what I’m attempting to convey. I’m also not putting a timeline on how quickly one marries. I’m simply saying that dating should be done with intentionality, not for the purpose of random, temporary enjoyment. Marriage should be the emphasis for why you pursue a woman.
Mr. Right Now
If we’re being honest, many of us guys already have an idea in our head of what type of woman we want. She has to look like this and be like that. She must have this type of character and want these specific things. All of us have preferences, and that’s fine. In fact, I encourage men to seek what they want, but make sure you’re at the level of what you desire as well. As men, we shouldn’t wait until we officially become a husband to be a husband now. Even more, we shouldn’t wait for a good woman to come along to make us become a good man. Before marriage, we should work to become a well-rounded guy, committed to growing in the areas of spiritual maturity, physical wellbeing, emotional stability, mental stimulation, and financial security. Enhancing these facets of life is not about perfection, but more so preparation.
Stages of Connection
Understanding the stages of connection is important because these are the stepping-stones that may lead one to marriage. As previously mentioned, I am not saying that you should want to marry everyone you date. I am saying that you should have a clear desire for marriage, and date with the intention of discovering your significant other. Let’s talk more about the dating stage and each one thereafter.
When you’re interested in someone, you get to know her by going on dates. You two connect through conversation to learn more about each other. This stage is important because there are two mindsets to dating: singles who date casually and singles who date exclusively. There are two outcomes to dating: singles who do not marry and singles who do marry. The purpose of dating is to lead to the next level of the potential relationship, which is courting.
When a man is in the courting stage with his woman, there is no ambiguity. It has been clearly established that the two individuals are in a monogamous relationship. He treats her as the one he plans to be with. He is invested and fully committed to the advancement of their lives collectively. The purpose of courting is to lead to the next level of the relationship, which is engagement.
When a man gets on one knee and asks a woman for her hand in marriage, this becomes a public declaration to the world that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. During this process, the man’s attention becomes even narrower as he focuses on becoming a husband. The purpose of an engagement is to lead to the final level of the relationship, which is marriage.
In a perfect world, it should be this way, but I understand that many of us have made plenty of mistakes, and that has caused us to have a negative outlook on marriage. On the other hand, some of you may have done everything I’ve mentioned and still find yourself stuck and lonely. I don’t know your situation, but as a man, I do understand that we must have some order in how we prepare for and eventually approach our women. On the flip side, this doesn’t mean our women don’t need the same advice. They must also decide to marry, work on themselves, and understand the stages of connection. But regardless of what women do, we as men must become more responsible in this manner. If you become serious about these things, I’m confident that you may find that special girl.