If you’ve been following along with Southern Weddings’ Fruitful Summer series, you may have seen Jess and I writing about “dating well.” It’s a topic that has been on our hearts for a long time. All you single and dating readers out there–we see you and we care about you! Whether you’re focusing on building your individual life and passions, dating to see who is right for you, or you’re in a relationship and taking things at your own speed, we want you to feel confident in the place you’re in. When you’re equipped to handle all the relationships (romantic or otherwise) in your life well, the day that you are ready to plan a life with someone, you’ll have a rich and deep well of experiences to draw from.
The first thing we’d like to do in helping y’all date well? Dispel all the myths surrounding dating out there! Whether these myths have actually been spoken to you, or just planted in your mind, we hope you read on and see that they’re not true!
Myth: You have to be perfect and have it all together to date someone.
The truth: Jess: The perfect relationship doesn’t exist, because no one has it all together. Early on in my relationship with Logan, I remember being terrified to take my shoes off. Why? I can’t believe I’m about to say this on the internet, but it’s because I have smelly feet! I felt this need to make sure that Logan thought I was cute, funny, AND smelled good all the time! It’s such a silly example, but it demonstrates the need I felt to have it all together :)
A few years and some smelly feet later, letting go of perfect has freed me up to be fully myself around Logan. I’m still learning, and our relationship doesn’t always bring out the best in me, but that’s something I’m finding myself being grateful for. Logan is able to graciously point out my blind spots and force me to confront them in a healthy way. We make mistakes. We communicate poorly at times. We forget things that are important to the other person. We hurt one another. We also ask for forgiveness. We are able to do all of those things because we are willing to admit that we aren’t perfect.
Myth: Your significant other will complete you.
The truth: Jess: Yes, having someone to share pieces of your life with is wonderful! But hear me loud and clear, I firmly believe that Logan will never complete me. My pastor always says “Unhappy, insecure single people make for unhappy, insecure married people.” His point is simply this: how we feel about ourselves while single translates into how we view ourselves in dating relationships or marriage. A boyfriend won’t have all the answers, and he won’t be able to solve all your problems. He will be a great sounding board for those problems. He should be one of the many things that bring joy to your life, but he shouldn’t be the only thing. It is good for me to pursue my passions and make time for my family and friends–and all of those things will also ultimately make me a better girlfriend.
Myth: You must not believe in marriage if you’re not planning to get married.
The truth: Nicole: No matter where you are in exploring the possibility of marriage, planning your life now and exploring relationships fully invested in the present is important. The last thing we’d want y’all to feel is pressure to walk down the aisle before you know you’re ready and he’s the one. I’ve had many moments where I’ve thought critically about marriage (raise your hands if you have, too–I know I’m not alone!), but it has given me more conviction about my beliefs on marriage and how I want to live my life and relationships well before the big “I do.” That means planning date nights so my boyfriend and I are more connected, trying new hobbies so I’m improving and fulfilling myself as an individual, and being open about my passions and plans.
Myth: You’re only in it to get married.
The truth: Jess: Every relationship is different. We know that, but we’re so quick to forget it, especially when scrolling through our social media feeds! We’ve had friends that knew on their first date that they were going to marry someone, but on the other hand, Logan and I were friends for years before we were ever romantically interested in one another. When we were venturing into dating, I remember a friend asking me whether I thought I would marry him. We had only been on one date! I immediately felt overwhelmed not knowing the answer to that question. But here’s the thing: it takes a lot of time to get to know someone. Dating is an investment. Fight the urge to compare where you are to where your friends are, and enjoy the things you’re learning about one another right now. Relationships aren’t a race, and marriage is not the finish line. The more you embrace the timing that is right for you specifically, the stronger your relationship will be…and the more prepared and equipped you’ll be for marriage someday, should you choose to move forward in that way.
Myth: You can only [travel/set goals together/talk about the future] if you’re engaged or married.
The truth: Nicole: To me, these are the most important things to do before you get engaged or married! Though Taylor and I aren’t planning on tying the knot soon, we talk about our “couple goals” and how we want our future to look a lot. Once we had established that we were in a serious relationship, this was our way of making sure we were on the same page of the same book. We’ve talked about everything from marriage to kids to retirement, and we know that if we do get engaged, we both envision a similar future (lots of puppies and traveling ahead!). Our “couple goals” involve our shared passions, and I love that we’re creating memories together now and becoming closer because of them.
Jess and I are really excited to be back on this column in the near future to talk about dating! In the meantime, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to say hi! This topic is on our hearts all the time, and we love hearing from friends who are in the same place!
Photos by Graham Terhune