“When do you know whether you want to go out or not? I liked the women I dated. But every time I was six or seven on my date, I couldn't remember. And apparently she didn't either, because she usually dropped out. What am I doing wrong?"
Isn't it surprising that when you apply for a job after the first or second interview, you can decide whether you want to go for the job, and at a house after the first or second viewing you know whether you want to make an offer, while dating can sometimes be endless gets stuck in the dating phase without making decisions? Of course, you don't choose a job and a house for your life right away, but you just as well don't choose a courtship for your life. At least, I assume you're dating to decide whether to marry someone or not - but maybe I'm old-fashioned.
In general, people are perfectly able to decide after two or three dates whether they want to continue with someone for the time being. Of course they do not know whether they want to marry him or her, but they do know whether they think they can have fun with this person in the coming months, in order to discover whether there is also a relationship for the longer term. It helps to be clear about this to the other. Conversely, it can then be immediately clear that the other does not want to continue. But openness prevents you from feeling too connected before it becomes clear where things are going, and then rejection is less harsh.
Three dates. You don't need more to determine whether you want to be together for the next three months. And after three months, you can already have a good idea about whether you want someone for the next three years. And three years is long enough to gather the information you need to decide if you want to get married (unless you started dating at 14, then there's something to be said for waiting a little longer).
So three / three / three. Keep that in mind when you are dating.
The underlying problem, of course, is difficulty in choosing, a problem that only seems to grow as we have more choice. If you experience a certain amount of time pressure, you are often quicker to choose. Hence the 3/3/3 rule. It helps to have a deadline that is proportional to the choice you have to make. "Trial" is not such a big step yet, you can decide on that within three dates. Give it a try!
Finally, don't fall into the "we'll remain friends" trap. Dating is for watching
whether you want a relationship or not. If not: not equally good friends, but no friends at all. This way you keep your feelings clear!
Aukelien Van Abbema is a singles and couples counsellor, public speaker, and successful author, including the title Dare to Date.
Helping people with Christian dating, relationships, singleness in church, dating in church, loneliness, connectedness, christian connection, healthy relationships.