Dating with Purpose

A heart-shaped leaf thriving in my front patio's jasmine. July 2013.

A heart-shaped leaf thriving in my front patio's jasmine. July 2013.

When you reach your midthirties, dating changes. (And as this statement begs the question: I have passed my midthirties.)

In college and young adulthood—which we’ll define as the early and midtwenties—singles hang out in groups. Inevitably, you begin to spend an increasing amount of time with one person. Without a conversation or concerns about “where it will go,” you become a couple.

This life stage? Necessary. Through it, we learn. And for many people who don’t commit permanently during this period, the education shapes our later dating activities:

Defined Requirements

The big picture has come into focus.

A date or two with someone tells whether we mesh. I’ve learned what doesn’t matter when it comes to an interpersonal dynamic—and what does. I don’t need to hang out with someone for weeks on end to figure it out, as I did in my youth.

Limited Time

Clarity in what works brings huge relief—because I’m busy.

I have many fantastic friends and I love my career; cultivating both takes considerable time and energy. Given my druthers, I’d choose friend and professional time over hanging out with a near stranger for weeks on end.

College students and twenty-somethings don’t realize how much free and flexible time they have. Also, they feel like they have a gaping maw of years ahead in which they can “figure stuff out.”

I’ve got it figured out and I’m charging toward my goals.

Singlehood = Good

I enjoy my single state. (Mostly.) A relationship? It has to prove better than singlehood—and that’s a tall order.

When younger and less sure of ourselves—and with seemingly endless time—our identities and activities tie more closely to significant others. Our selves fluctuate as we try on possibilities. Once we’ve answered many of the open questions through introspection and life decisions, we don’t need to define ourselves by our relationships.

Thank goodness.

Do or did you have any dating priorities?