I’ve been talking to my friends a lot about dating lately. Many of my friends are married already, and some are engaged and then there are the few that are still in the dating process. For those of you that don’t know, the dating process is when you are looking for a mate. You weigh out the pros and cons. You make sure they fit your personality. You make sure that they fit into your dreams. You make sure that you like them and that you can see it working in the end. Most of us went through this process, and so its not to debunk the process, but after going through it, being hurt by it and just at the tail end of it, I think the process is a small sign of how our culture as infested itself into all aspects of life.
Dating is not much more than consumerism of people. Basically it is just looking for the best possible deal. If it breaks or goes wrong you can always take it back and get a new one. You see how the product best matches your needs. You need something that can laugh at your jokes, take care of you when your sick, satisfy you sexually and of course we all want something that is smart. We check out the different stores of school, church and work and we find out what is available. Sometimes we test out the product in the store never really committing to buying it. Much of dating has been reduced to how we feel. We want to be around those that make us feel great and we usually would choose those who make us feel the best.
I’m not sure what a good alternative is to this, but I do know that dating the way it is now doesn’t make that much sense. It is self-focused and consumerisitc. At least in pre-arranged marriages you were forced to learn to love someone, something that happens anyway in dating but we think its easier for some reason when we pick someone based on looks and personality types. There is no trick in pre-arranged marriages, you realize that the person in front of you is the one you will spend the rest of your life with, when you like it or when you don’t and you need to learn to love them. Dating gives the false impression that you can leave and come back at your own will. It makes us think that the relationship is for us and making us happy. It makes us think that our love for someone is based on some sort of criteria that we have made up ahead of time. So what happens when they fail to pass the criteria in the future? With dating, like pre-arranged marriages, you still need to come to the decision that you will love the person no matter what, even if everything you discovered in the dating trial ends up being different or changes in the future. You aren’t choosing to love a package of options that you have decided upon, you are choosing to love a human being and they change, get better and get worse.
Dating is not like test driving a new car. I’m not even sure what analogy to use to describe it but we need to get out of our consumerisitc approach to absolutely everything we do. Love is different. I’m not sure how yet, I’m very new at this, but I know its different. I know that the check list that Rachel passed when we first met isn’t going to hold in five years and I know that all the things that Rachel loves about me may come and go over time and some new things will come up and vice versa. Love isn’t like dating. Love is permanent, love is a choice and the checklist doesn’t exist, so why should it exist in dating? Is it because we want to marry the person that is going to make it the easiest to love them? So where do we go from here?