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  • Dr. Teresa Edwards, LMFT

The Purpose of Dating

Dating is a normal part of our culture. However, we don't usually sit down and think about the purpose of dating beyond getting to know someone and possibly finding a life partner. But, I think that dating has a much larger purpose.

What is the Purpose of Dating?

1. Knowing yourself and others.

Dating is a great opportunity to learn about yourself, others, and the dynamics of relationships. While dating, you have the chance to define your expectations of a long-term relationship and decide what personality characteristics are important to you. Dating also provides the context to figure out your likes and dislikes, and what you're willing to tolerate and what you're not.

You’re never going to find a perfect person – they don’t exist. But, since 69% of relationship problems are perpetual, according to research by Dr. John Gottman, you want to commit to someone whose quirks and habits you can live with. Dating gives you the chance to figure it out.

purpose of dating

2. Building relationship skills.

Dating presents the opportunity to learn and cultivate the essential relationship skills required for having satisfying and healthy long-term relationships. These skills include effective communication, conflict resolution, adaptability, problem solving, self-awareness, compromising, emotional regulation, and setting and respecting boundaries. Dating also gives you the chance to build character through the development of qualities such as patience, genuineness, empathy, honesty, and self-control.

3. Practicing boundaries.

A personal boundary is similar to a fence on a property line. It signifies where your space ends and someone else's begins, defining your responsibilities from theirs. Boundaries define who you are, what you will permit, and what you want. They let others know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. A healthy person with good boundaries understands that they are responsible for their own choices, beliefs, actions, thoughts, and emotions.

Clearly and honestly defining your boundaries around values, morals, and preferences will make the process of dating easier. This transparency allows the other person to know the real you, and you can't have a real relationship if you're not being the real you. It's important to date someone that acknowledges and respects your boundaries. A lack of acknowledgment or respect for you boundaries may indicate underlying character problems. You can’t have a healthy, long-term relationship with a person who disregards your boundaries.

The purpose of dating isn't simply to find the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, it's an opportunity to grow and develop into a mentally and emotionally healthy person.

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