Thought Catalog
March 8, 2017

Obsessing Over Marriage Will Ruin Dating For You

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What is the issue?
unsplash / Zivile& Arunas

I recently read a Christian Facebook page post “Date with the purpose of MARRIAGE. It is not for intimacy but for CLARITY to check if the person is suitable for you…”

I am a Catholic. Although I do practice the core aspects of my faith and believe checking your and your partner’s compatibility is a part of dating, I disagree with the above sentiment. Marriage may or may not be the end game to dating, but to claim that “dating with the purpose of marriage” is the correct way to date is misleading. There is no hard and fast rule to dating, not even future marriage.

Why you should date

Date with the intent of discovering yourself.
Date for personal growth.
Date to experiment.
Date to socialize.
Date because it’s fun.
Date because they are good for you, at this point in time.
Date because you want to.

Date people because they’re interesting, they’re funny in a special way, they challenge you, they make you better, they make you happy, you love being around them, their soul is beautiful, they make you feel awesome – not because you feel obliged to get married for getting married’s sake. Give each other loyalty, respect, and love – even if a marriage contract isn’t at the end of the journey.

Dating is both for clarity and intimacy. If you date someone because you want to find your future husband or wife, that’s fine. If you date someone because you like the companionship and physical comfort, that’s fine, too. The important thing is it’s consensual and you’re not leading your partner along if they want a different thing from what you want.

Don’t pressure your dates and yourself with a hypothetical marriage

If you decide to date someone, don’t pressure them to commit to marrying you someday and don’t allow yourself to be pressured, too. Don’t allow other people’s principles to become your own without question. Don’t date because you feel socially obligated to get married one day. Don’t date or get married simply because it’s expected of you.

Society has conditioned us to believe marriage is a universal objective couples should aim for. Our parents, family, friends, and media lead us in that direction, but is it what YOU want? Yes? Cool. No? Equally cool! Your love, attraction, or affection is not any less legitimate either way.

We must do away with the stigma that if a person is unwed then there must be something wrong with them or that if a person doesn’t deem marriage as a priority then they have psychological issues. Marriage has always been a social norm and construct, and just because you choose not to adhere to it doesn’t make you any less of a good person or potential partner. Any commitment or sentiment attached to marriage is completely man-made, and those aspects can still be applied to other relationships including couples who don’t consider marriage as an important to-do.

Dating for a future marriage isn’t for everyone and that’s okay

People have different preferences and reasons for dating.

Mating and courting rituals have existed long before religion came into play or weddings became popular practice. We love, commit, and date in different ways. Just because you date someone does not mean you have to marry him/her eventually, and just because your relationship will not lead to marriage (whether you break-up or stay together sans marriage) does not mean it’s a waste of time.

Don’t date for others – not your priest, your family, or your bible – date for you. You shouldn’t feel ashamed if you feel attracted to other people or wish to date many suitors before settling down. An emotionally healthy and secure individual knows it is the essence of the relationship that matters no matter what type of commitment it will lead to in the future.

If you want to be with someone for the rest of your life, your relationship doesn’t need to be registered by a clerk in order to be deemed an authentic union. I’ve seen unmarried couples who have stayed together for years and emulate a marriage without actually having wed. And I’ve seen many – so many! – married couples (usually Christian) who are severely unhappy, who are abusive, who are not good for each other, who don’t enjoy each other, who don’t have fun together.

Marriage is not a synonym for “forever” or “happiness” or “fulfillment”

Don’t date with the goal of a hypothetical future marriage. Don’t get married just to validate your faith. You are still a true child of God regardless if you date with wedding bells in mind or with the zest of living-in-the-moment beating in your heart.

So relax. Allow things to happen and come naturally.

See that cute guy on Tinder? Go for it! I promise you Jesus doesn’t care whether you’re interested in six-pack or his marriage proposal. TC mark