Why You Should Date Someone You’re Not Going to Marry

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When my ex and I broke up, I assumed that I’d be single for maybe a year or so before meeting the man I would marry in the frozen foods aisle of my local Harris Teeter. This is despite the fact that I never actually spend much time in the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store. What I didn’t realize is that meeting The One doesn’t always fit into a neat little time frame that you created. Instead, you end up going on a lot of dates with people who may be nice and funny and cool, but not quite what you’re looking for.

It used to depress me that I’d had so many mini-relationships after coming off such a long one. It seemed pointless to even bother going out with someone who would quickly prove not to be the type of person I was looking for long-term. Then I realized I needed to change the way I was approaching the whole situation.

You can view the people you date but don’t end up staying with as seat fillers. You know, those random non-famous people who slide into Justin Timberlake’s seat when he goes up to grab his Grammy so the theater doesn’t look empty and lame. They’re not the marquee star. In that case it’s easy to get frustrated. Where in God’s name is your Justin Timberlake? No one wants to see this rando’s face. On the other hand, you can choose to look at the people you’re dating who may not be The One as a road map to the relationship you’ve been hoping to find. A North Star, of sorts.

When I first became single, I have a distinct memory of jotting down a list of traits that my future partner must absolutely, definitely have. Some of these traits are still important to me. However it wasn’t until I was actually out there meeting real people that I was able to tweak the list and realize that there were traits I hadn’t even thought of that really mattered to me. Others that seemed incredibly important at the time are now deemed  “nice to haves” but aren’t essential.

When I went out with the guy who was super negative, I realized I want someone who is positive and cheerful.

When I went out with the guy who would get upset when I had a busy week and couldn’t see him for a few days, I realized I want someone who is independent and has his own hobbies.

When I went out with the guy who always had to correct me, I realized I want someone who values my opinions and lets me express myself without feeling dumb.

Sure, I think I knew inherently that these personality traits mattered to me, but dating let me zero in on them. I got a better picture of the type of person I’d click with.

Instead of viewing my dating history as a complete and utter waste of time then, I’ve realized that it’s helped me to make better choices when it comes to who I’m going out with and why. I have a better understanding about the kinds of traits that the person I end up with will probably have. And that’s worth the slew of awkward coffee or drinks dates I’ve been on over the past year and a half.

How do you view dating? Do you get frustrated when you’re out with someone who you realize isn’t a great match or do you like to see what’s out there?

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