The Dating Middle-Ground

Ever since I started college, I’ve noticed two major trends when it comes to the dynamics of boy-meets-girl. When both are attracted to one another, they tend to gravitate toward one of these two extremes: either meaninglessly hooking up (however you choose to define those terms) over a certain course of time without regard for anything other than the physical, or they dive into an exclusive, very serious relationship that sometimes resembles a marriage. I’m sure each of those options has its merits, but at only nineteen years old (twenty in less than an hour!) I often wonder how good of an idea it is to stick to such extremes.

On the one hand, we’re young, and we deserve to have a good time. On the other hand, it is important for us to develop strong relationships with the people around us, and surely, committing to one person for a while would help us to do so. (After all, according to many psychologists, now is the time in our lives when we must overcome the crisis of intimacy vs. isolation.) While I agree that it’s best not to rule out anything that is ultimately going to make you happy, I do think that it’s a wise choice to consider the middle ground between these two extremes, and that is going on dates.

It’s a foreign concept for a lot of us, because our generation is so used to either (a) hooking up at a party and then occasionally seeking one another out afterward, or (b) diving into a relationship with someone simply due to a fleeting attraction. The two of you might have nothing in common, but because of a simple feeling, you’re together, quite seriously, even though you might not even know one another all that well.

Going on dates without immediately becoming a couple, however, allows you to recognize that yes, there is a connection between the two of you, and you would like to explore that further. It doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time with that person and it doesn’t mean that you have to be out with different people all the time, either. But going out with the person you’re interested in and walking around at the park or going ice skating or doing something you love — that’s how you can really get to know someone and see how compatible you are. If you realize that there’s still something there after a few dates, then you might consider an official relationship, but why not have a little fun together first before you launch into something that may not be real?

You’re young and vibrant and wonderful, so you definitely don’t have to settle for a relationship just because you feel like you have to. Be open to meeting new people — don’t just cast someone away because they don’t seem like someone you would be “serious” with — and enjoy your youth. Hopefully someday our generation will revert back to the ways of some of our predecessors, and date won’t seem like such a foreign word. 🙂