Undoubtedly, dating is a lot of fun. The initial phases of getting to know a person is especially charming. You both play love games, gauge and tease each other and if all goes well, you soon become a ‘couple’ doing very ‘couple-like things’ such as going on holidays, celebrating together, living in etc. But when you start dating for marriage, the rules of the game change dramatically.
In an ideal world, dating should be an organic process. Just like you enter the gambling den not knowing if you will hit the jackpot, you enter the dating ring hoping to strike relationship gold. You meet someone, the bells start ringing, you are curious about him or her, and all of these steps set the romantic ball rolling.
It may or may not have a happy ending but the process of meeting, wooing, courting doesn’t stop until you find THE one. (And err… in some cases, it may continue even after you exchange vows but that’s another story! )
What Does Dating For Marriage Mean?
However, not all dating is for fun and to give you an adrenalin high. “When you meet people purely for the hunt of a partner, it’s called dating for marriage,” explains Snigdha Mishra, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Educator and Founder, Life Surfers.
“Today, people essentially seek companionship when they are looking for a partner. But a lot of them also start dating for sex, friendship or togetherness without having the thought of marriage in mind.”
The really focused ones are clear about their goal – they want the process of dating to end in the signing of the papers. Incidentally, as mentioned above, when you approach someone with a ‘date to marry mindset’, the entire outlook changes.
Of course, the dating process essentially remains the same, in that you may look for a potential partner through online dating sites or with the help of friends or family but the conversation, expectations and behavior will be vastly different.
Dating For Marriage? 11 Important Things You Should Be Prepared For
Dating apps and websites have given singles a lot of choices when it comes to seeking Mr or Ms Right. Apps like Tinder or Bumble serve largely as a place to meet up and hook up but there are other more serious dating sites for marriage such as Hinge, Inner Circle, Aisle, Shaadi.com and so on.
Choose your app and website wisely as per your requirements but when you are dating with the intention of marriage, be prepared to follow some rules to avoid getting hurt. And yes, these rules are applicable even if you are not seeking the help of technology but going through the more traditional route of trying it solo or leaning on friends and family to get introduced to a potential date.
Snigdha shares some important points to consider when you are dating for marriage.
1. If your message lacks clarity, you will face issues
The first thing to be prepared for relates to communication. If your message to your potential date lacks clarity with regards to your goals, you will end up causing a lot of confusion. Make it clear right from the beginning that you are looking for a long-term relationship and not a casual fling.
Being candid about your expectations while searching for a life partner will not only reduce disappointments but it is the safety net that you provide yourself and the other person with.
More importantly, you save time by not chatting or getting close to someone who may not share your desires to settle down.
Related Reading: 18 Dating Tips To Find The Right Person
2. Be mindful of rejection
This is something you must be prepared for when you are dating for marriage. You may be clear about your goal for a long-term relationship but does your beau also share them? It is also possible that they may be initially willing to consider marriage but they may change.
They may even begin to want different things. So be prepared for disappointment and disillusionment. Every relationship follows a trajectory that is impossible to predict when it begins.
So when one partner starts being desperate to get married and the other wants to take his or her own time, conflict is inevitable.
3. Know that there are all kinds of people on social media
If you are dating for marriage and decide to seek the social media route, be prepared to meet all kinds of people. Not everyone will be as well-intentioned or honest or sincere as you. So be careful of what you put out there. Don’t be naïve.
The internet is a vast place that houses all sorts of men and women – some are good, others are bad and the rest are well… strange!
Be careful of what you reveal about your intentions and goals. Even if you are seeking marriage, be careful of how you want to word your profile.
You might want to look for some qualities in a life-partner but do you put it all out there? And if you do start chatting, think twice about revealing everything about yourself.
4. Be flexible in your mental checklist
It is neither possible nor practical to ask someone to not have expectations. You will have certain pressures and boxes to tick off when you start dating for marriage. But it is not healthy to have too many boxes on the checklist.
The idea is to be flexible and amenable to tweak the list as and when the situation progresses. You may have a certain vision for Mr or Ms Ideal in your head, perhaps you will be lucky enough to find someone to date who is close to that vision. But as the days go by, differences will crop up. So be prepared for bumpy roads ahead.
5. Understand that there are some values you can’t deviate from
This can considered as a rider to point 4. Being flexible is important but bending over backwards to please your beau or make the relationship work (because hey, you need to get married, right!), is not going to help either. Self-awareness is the key.
Understand which the values are that you refuse to compromise on. For instance, if you are not okay with threesomes or pre-marital sex, you should not give in.
Even thorny issues that are likely to come up after marriage – having children, career problems, living with in-laws and other things to know before marriage – should be cleared up at the earliest.
6. Give it time
Just because you are serious about marriage even you officially begin dating, does not mean you hurry up and try to make things work before their time. Even if you begin your relationship on the right note, the average dating time before engagement or deeper involvement should be at least 6 to 8 months.
Give them time to understand you and where you are coming from. One or two meetings is not enough to get to know a person even superficially.
So do not trap your date into the ‘marry or else…’ mode. Give it time, nurture it and be prepared that things may not always turn out the way you want them to.
7. Know that you will take time too
You may be dating for marriage and nothing else but there would be many things you are not aware of about yourself and your needs.
Hence you need to allow yourself the freedom to change your wants too. You can’t decide whether you love someone or not based on a few chats or meetings.
So even if your ultimate goal is to tie the knot, when you actually begin dating, try not to focus on the marriage part. Instead, give your energy to start ‘liking’ your date, matching your interests and ask questions to connect at a deeper level.
Marriage is the end destination, what will make the journey smoother is ensuring that the ride towards it is happy.
8. Your partner and you may not be aligned perfectly
One of the biggest myths about marriage and relationships are that a couple has to be aligned in every way. Of course, we would like to fall in love with a person who shares our core values but it is possible to like someone with different values.
Be willing to adjust unless and until your core beliefs are diametrically opposite to one another. For instance, if you are a Democrat and your partner is Republican or if you are a left-liberal and s/he is a right-winger, it might be difficult to meet at the middle.
So it is best to emphasize what matters to you most and then leave the rest aside. Don’t expect perfection and you won’t be unhappy.
Related Reading: 25 Questions To Ask Before Marriage To Be Set For The Future
9. Create your emotional support system
Finding a partner, especially a life partner can be emotionally, financially and physically taxing. It might sound fun and games but there is a lot of investment that you put into each relationship, more so when you are dating for marriage.
Hence, before and during your endeavor, create a great emotional support system consisting of friends of family.
You will need them to rant, seek advice from and turn to when you get triggered. Having a good support system will also prevent you from taking any foolhardy steps in your quest for a husband or wife.
10. Be prepared to introduce your date to your family…
….. and more importantly ensure that he or she is comfortable about it. When you start dating for marriage, the next step is obviously having to introduce your boyfriend or girlfriend to your family. Also, be prepared to face their myriad opinions about your love life.
In casual dating, families don’t play a part but when you are serious about a relationship, they do come into the picture. So prepare both, your partner and your family well in advance before the meeting takes place.
And once again, let your partner know that s/he will be expected to get to know your family after a period of dating.
11. Match your love goals
Having the intention to marry and being committed to staying married are two different things. It’s great to date with the idea of being completely loyal to each other. However, if you actually want to get married to the person you are dating, ensure that your couple goals are at least somewhat similar.
Your partner may be in love with you but is she or he willing to put that 100% effort to make it work even if there are odds against it? How deeply committed are they? Are their ideas of marriage and family similar to yours? Know the answers to these questions before you seek a commitment.
Marriage is the union of two souls but it’s never going to be ideal or perfect. Hence it is advisable to have a realistic picture in mind when you start dating for marriage. And here is a piece of advice: While it is great that you want to be serious about a relationship, do not take the fun out of dating by focusing too much on the ‘knot’ty issue!
Dating is an integral part of the love journey and learn to enjoy it and let it lead to the right path meant for you and your partner.
Dating gives you an opportunity to know your would-be spouse so it is always a good idea to spend enough time to gauge your compatibility through serious dating.
There are many people who believe in ‘love at first sight’ however, it is not possible to know a person or understand him or her in just a couple of meetings. Hence at least devote six to seven months before you even think of marriage.
Dating is the first step towards marriage. You may not always date to get married to the same person but when you decide to marry, you would have definitely spent time knowing him or her well through dating.
If you are mentally prepared to commit yourself to a relationship and find a person who matches your interests and attitudes, you can be certain that you are ready for marriage.