One and Only, or Shop Around?

 

There are two philosophies of dating and finding a partner.

There is the idea that some people can find their person at the get-go.  This means that dating further is without purpose and sticking with it, learning how to be in a relationship, and making a commitment is paramount.  There is the other idea that one never knows unless one has experience of the world.  Why settle down when you can sample the finer things in life?  Why settle down when you can check around and maybe find something better?  How do you know that you want what you’ve got unless you see what else is out there?  By see, of course I mean experience.

Which one is more valid in the eyes of conservatives?

Is it more virtuous to know what you want and only date someone when they meet those qualities, then make a commitment from there?  Is it better to see what qualities you might enjoy in a partner and see what kind of people there are in the world that you might want to make a life with?

What about you?  Are you a one and only?  Or are you more of a shop-around kind of a person?

I’d like to say it’s simple for me, but I find that I’m much happier settling down with someone now that I know what I want for sure.  Yes, it’s what I’d always wanted from when I first started dating as a teenager, but now (having dated around) I am quite certain of what I want!

What should we encourage?

What say you?

There are 62 comments.

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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Experience: What every father believes his boys should have, but nobody else’s sons are allowed to have with his daughters

    • #1
  2. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Practice and learn when you’re supposed to, as a child.  Once you become an adult, stop messing around and get on with it.

    • #2
  3. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Experience: What every father believes his boys should have, but nobody else’s sons are allowed to have with his daughters.

    Heh.

    You know, experience has it’s pros, but more than that, I find that it is experience with the right people that is worthwhile.  I think people give more value to experience for experience’s sake and this is a great misgiving.  Teenagers would do better to date their heart and values rather than dating “for fun” or “for experience”.  Those things only bring broken hearts and reinforce the things we already knew.

    • #3
  4. TheRightNurse Member
    TheRightNurse
    @TheRightNurse

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Practice and learn when you’re supposed to, as a child. Once you become an adult, stop messing around and get on with it.

    Define child when dating.  Children shouldn’t be dating.  So how long do we let teenagers date?  How long before they get serious?  When is old enough?

    • #4
  5. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    TheRightNurse: Is it more virtuous to know what you want and only date someone when they meet those qualities,

    How do you know if someone meets those qualities before you date them?  Isn’t dating (among other things) the process of determining whether or not they really have the qualities that make for a good partner?

    • #5
  6. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    JosePluma (View Comment):
    Practice and learn when you’re supposed to, as a child.

    I think that used to be easier in times past.  At least according to my parents, when they were young, casual dating was common among teens and college students.  If you wanted to go out on Friday or Saturday night to a movie, a dance, a concert, or whatever, you had to find a date.  A boy might ask a girl to go, and she might agree, more because they both wanted to see a particular movie than because either had the slightest attraction to the other.  In the process, everyone got lots of practice dating.

    This cultural norm had already largely disappeared by the time I was in high school.  If we wanted to see a movie, we went as a co-ed group.  There were boys and girls in the group, but we weren’t explicitly paired up, we were all just friends.  Then when a romantic connection developed, a couple might pair off and become “boyfriend and girlfriend,” and from then on they pretty much went everywhere together and didn’t dare date anyone else (because that would be cheating), until they got sick of each other’s company and broke up.

    I gather that this trend has continued to the point that among the youth of today, even those paired off in relationships seldom go out on actual dates anymore.

    • #6
  7. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    First of all I’m a Bible-believing Christian conservative, so it’s come to pass that everything I consciously think is filtered through that world view. And so, I don’t believe that people are naturally good, though they may try to be.  And marriage is for life.  (And coincidentally, we just watched Forbidden Planet last night, and I think it’s a pretty good analysis of what human beings are, regardless of how we try to renounce it.)

    Secondly, life is hard and marriage and all relationships are sacrificial, if they are going to be lasting. And literature is full of unhappinesses including in marriages and marriage choices and marital expectations.  That is why the ancient marital vows include the words “for better or worse”; because no one really wants or expects, and in these days tolerates “for worse”.

    Thirdly, I tell everyone who cares that you’ll never know the possible depths of a marriage after 30 or 40 years if you always quit after seven, or these days two. So “test relationships” tell you nothing.  Neither do starter marriages and living together.  In fact, it was long ago published that marriages entered without living together first were happier, and lasted more often than marriages preceded by cohabitation, and the reasons for this I can pretty well guess at: one is that living within boundaries shows discipline, to remain with a potential sexual partner without cohabiting, and this discipline is good; and the other is that for a couple which is living together and then decides to marry, that shows something has changed – either a child is on the way, the effects of which no one can predict – or else someone feels something is lacking and they should take it to the next step to try to bring something more to the relationship, or are trying simply to cement it.

    One more thing: People do change, so find someone who has the same core values as you; this doesn’t take experience or experimenting.

    In other words, if you ever intend to marry: marry once, marry for life; life is hard but love grows and transforms.

    • #7
  8. Freeven Inactive
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    I don’t subscribe to either philosophy in the abstract. The answer is both personal and situational. Some will find the person they can share a life with right away. Others will take longer. Still others may never find them. The priority should be on clarifying what one should seek in a mate, rather than on whether it needs to happen sooner or later.

    This has become more complicated as the custom of courting has fallen away. We’re so quick to jump into bed that we’ve lost the ritual of discovering one another and allowing true attraction and compatibility to develop and reveal themselves across multiple dimensions. There is real magic in that exploration, and too many of us rob ourselves of it.

     

    • #8
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I married my college sweetheart, who was the first lady I was ever serious about. She dated more than I did, but was only serious about one other guy. 

     

    • #9
  10. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    There are as many tastes, circumstances and personalities as there are people.  No generalization is possible.  Still I wouldn’t give up those years for anything,  just the flirting and getting to know hundreds of interesting women.  Neither would I give up for a second the 50 years of my marriage.  Youth is marvelous, the human female glorious and life rich.  Feminists and progressives seem to hate it all so I’ll never understand them.

    • #10
  11. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Practice and learn when you’re supposed to, as a child. Once you become an adult, stop messing around and get on with it.

    Define child when dating. Children shouldn’t be dating. So how long do we let teenagers date? How long before they get serious? When is old enough?

    Legally, a child is someone under 18.  Practically, if you are dependant on your parents, you are still a child. 

    • #11
  12. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I married my college sweetheart, who was the first lady I was ever serious about. She dated more than I did, but was only serious about one other guy.

     

    #MeToo

    • #12
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    My plan in my late teens was to shop around, floating like a hummingbird from one flower to the next sampling the nectar from each, and do this until I was . . . oh 30 or so . . . then settle down and have a family. Eventually. Maybe start a family at 35 or 40.

    But, then in high school I met Janet, then 14. (I was 17.) She was the kid sister of a friend. She hung with the group I was with, and we got to be friends – not romantically linked, just friends. But good friends. A couple years later I was in college, trying to implement my plan with limited success. She was a few years older by then. And we were still friends. After a year or so of limited success, it dawned on me that she was the best option I had encountered. So, I stuffed plan A in the dumpster, and decided to go straight to settle down and have a family. Which we did when she was 19 and I was 21. And we lived happily ever after for 40 years, eight months, and three  days. (And, yes. Happily ever after consisted of the normal quota of disagreements and fights.) 

    So, all I can say is don’t ask me for advice on this subject. I’d planned to do one thing and did something else entirely. Plus, I am now in the position where I have to consider the issue again, at some time in the future.

    • #13
  14. Pony Convertible Inactive
    Pony Convertible
    @PonyConvertible

    I don’t think this is a choice you can make.  If you meet the person you can’t live without early, you will not get experience.  If it takes you awhile, then you will have experience.  If you think you can plan this, expect your plan to fail. 

    • #14
  15. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    I married my first boyfriend, so I never really dated. But I have many, many friends who have.

    I think Casual dating can work when you are young, as long as sex isn’t involved. When a relationship becomes physical too early it can be really detrimental to the relationship, and can really be damaging to women. There have been studies that say the more sexual partners a woman has the higher likelihood of divorce for that woman.  Women usually emotionally bond very quickly with physical touch. This is why they used to have a high level of protection for young women, because they would usually become emotionally attached with a complete jerk, usually because inexperienced girls with pair bond very quickly and also become blind to any negative character traits of that male. This makes sense as young women are very fertile at this time and if they are physical with a male and become pregnant she’s stuck with that guy for life (supposedly) and will need his protection and care. Because dating now is basically “hooking up”, the relationship usually become physical very quickly and can really be damaging to a long term relationship. Of course there are outliers, I have a friend who married her “one night stand”. He was her rebound after being dumped, they stayed together and now are married with two kids. Not the most ideal start to a relationship but they make it work, but that should not be the norm.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    My plan in my late teens was to shop around, floating like a hummingbird from one flower to the next sampling the nectar from each, and do this until I was . . . oh 30 or so . . . then settle down and have a family. Eventually. Maybe start a family at 35 or 40.

    But, then in high school I met Janet, then 14. (I was 17.) She was the kid sister of a friend. She hung with the group I was with, and we got to be friends – not romantically linked, just friends. But good friends. A couple years later I was in college, trying to implement my plan with limited success. She was a few years older by then. And we were still friends. After a year or so of limited success, it dawned on me that she was the best option I had encountered. So, I stuffed plan A in the dumpster, and decided to go straight to settle down and have a family. Which we did when she was 19 and I was 21. And we lived happily ever after for 40 years, eight months, and three days. (And, yes. Happily ever after consisted of the normal quota of disagreements and fights.)

    So, all I can say is don’t ask me for advice on this subject. I’d planned to do one thing and did something else entirely. Plus, I am now in the position where I have to consider the issue again, at some time in the future.

    I only know Janet (may her memory always be a blessing) from your descriptions of her, Sea. You chose well, and so did Janet.

    • #16
  17. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    I never really had any interest in casual dating.  The way I figured it (and numerous pop-culture tropes told me so dangit!), was that if I did find “The One”, then I should be quick and not let opportunity slip by.  This was, of course, especially driven home by my relative inability to find dates – I mean, I figured that anyone interested in dating me had to either be mad or truly exceptional, and well, fortune favors the bold.  I was right on that point.  I never dated in high school.  I met my wife very early on in my freshman year of college, and within a couple of months of us being good friends (though not formally dating) I was convinced that she was the one.  It took her 3 years to reach the same conclusion – and for her that was a mix of both thinking she was too young to commit, and then seeing over the next 3 years that I looked pretty good by comparison.  When we met up at the start of our senior year, we clicked, and by end of that semester we knew we were getting married.  When I made my proposal, by that time it was really just a formality.

    My parents are kind of a case in point too – my mother was already engaged when she met my father, but it wasn’t a happy engagement.  9 months after she met my father, they were married.

    When it’s right, it’s really right.  I know it’s different for everybody, but when you know it’s right, don’t hesitate any longer.

    • #17
  18. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I have a good friend that picked up a girl in a bar for a one night stand, that was 51 years ago and three kids.

    • #18
  19. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I married my college sweetheart, who was the first lady I was ever serious about. She dated more than I did, but was only serious about one other guy.

     

    #MeToo

    Met my wife in college and that was it.  That was 42 years ago.  I have no experience in dating in the “real world”.  Real world meaning living and working on your own and not in school.  I’m sure I would not negotiate that very well.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Let’s go back to matchmakers.

    • #20
  21. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I knew what I wanted young. Husband and children. Be a stay at home mom. Have kids young. So dating for me was about finding the husband.

    I was always serious, which basically made dating in high school a non-factor. I was the girl who was for keeps, not the girl for fun times.

    There was a short list of necessaries I had that included faith, desire for kids, hard work, and intelligence.

    I got it all wrong the first go, but some idiot had put it in my mind that you don’t marry your first boyfriend. So I tossed my list. He’s a feminist atheist, now.

    The other two fit my list. The third, I married.

    We are celebrating 10 years next week.

    All three had something in common – nerds. 1 & 3 are both larger, hairier, and darker than most.

    Appears I have a type.

    I intend on teaching my kids that dating is an interview. Know the basics you want. When you find someone who meets the basics, check if you like to do things together. After that, you go for a deeper relationship that tests compatability and chemistry.

    If they check the boxes, marry ’em. If at any point they don’t, end the relationship. It isn’t fair to either of you to pursue a deeper relationship with someone you have no intention of committing to.

    My first relationship was horrifying. We got along wonderfully, had chemistry, and I did love him. But I always knew it would go nowhere. And I hurt us both horribly in pretending it was just “practice” for the sake of experience. It’s not worth it.

     

    • #21
  22. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    I had always thought that I would wait until my 30’s to get married.  At 22 I met my now wife (she was 19); after getting to know her I felt that I couldn’t let the opportunity slip away.

    But that was easy; I had found someone as close to perfect as I probably ever could  have found. It would be a lot harder if everyone I dated made think, hmm – maybe.

    As an aside, my wife believes that there no such thing as a perfect partner (we certainly all have our quirks).  After we had been married a few years one of her former bridesmaids had fallen in love with, as she described him, “Mr Perfect”.  I asked my wife if I had been Mr. Perfect.  She thought for a while and then said maybe, but that I was certainly “Mr. Close Enough”.

    • #22
  23. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    I asked my wife if I had been Mr. Perfect. She thought for a while and then said maybe, but that I was certainly “Mr. Close Enough”.

    You made a good choice. No one is Mr. (or Miss) Perfect. If your spouse marries with the assumption you are, once past the honeymoon phase the discovery that you are not sometimes shatters the marriage.

    Janet wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. We were perfect for each other, though.

    • #23
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Stina (View Comment):

    All three had something in common – nerds. 1 & 3 are both larger, hairier, and darker than most.

    Appears I have a type.

    Half-orc Barbarian? 

    • #24
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    I asked my wife if I had been Mr. Perfect. She thought for a while and then said maybe, but that I was certainly “Mr. Close Enough”.

    You made a good choice. No one is Mr. (or Miss) Perfect. If your spouse marries with the assumption you are, once past the honeymoon phase the discovery that you are not sometimes shatters the marriage.

    Janet wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. We were perfect for each other, though.

    Just so. Perfect is also a verb, and there is much imperfection in any starting marriage. 

    • #25
  26. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I had always thought that I would wait until my 30’s to get married. At 22 I met my now wife (she was 19); after getting to know her I felt that I couldn’t let the opportunity slip away.

    But that was easy; I had found someone as close to perfect as I probably ever could have found. It would be a lot harder if everyone I dated made think, hmm – maybe.

    As an aside, my wife believes that there no such thing as a perfect partner (we certainly all have our quirks). After we had been married a few years one of her former bridesmaids had fallen in love with, as she described him, “Mr Perfect”. I asked my wife if I had been Mr. Perfect. She thought for a while and then said maybe, but that I was certainly “Mr. Close Enough”.

    I agree with your wife; there are better and worse choices, even optimal and doomed choices. What I don’t think exists is a single unique soul mate/’the one’. 

    Nevertheless it would be great if your mileage varied. 

    • #26
  27. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    I told my thrice married secretary the Mr Perfect story and she said “I’m married to Mister I’m Still Waiting to See”.

    • #27
  28. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    I knew what I wanted, and thought I might’ve found it at least once. Apparently no one I encountered wanted anything similar; so I relish the extended family and the friends with which I’m blessed…Incidentally, GHWB married the first girl he ever kissed. It lasted 73 years.  Wow!

    • #28
  29. Hank Rhody, Red Hunter Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter
    @HankRhody

    The question rests on the assumption that we have the wisdom to know the right partner. That assumption seems a bit shaky to me.

    • #29
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter (View Comment):

    The question rests on the assumption that we have the wisdom to know the right partner. That assumption seems a bit shaky to me.

    Thus, matchmakers.

    • #30

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