We were asked recently if it’s okay to casually date or if someone should only date with a purpose. Our short answer is that if you are going to date, you should only date someone who is a “potential” spouse. That is a subject for a future blog post, but the purpose of this post is to identify some key foundations you should keep in mind while dating.
As a couple is dating and their relationship deepens, it is important that they have a solid foundation in several key areas. Every relationship will be tested, to some degree, and their ability to weather the storms of life will depend on the strength of their core values. We suggest the following five key components for a solid foundation to build your relationship upon.
When a couple is dating, they are typically communicating constantly. Or so they are led to believe. They discuss their interests, their pasts, their common experiences and hopes and dreams for the future. They spend an inordinate amount of time together, laughing and talking with one another and they never seem to run out of things to talk about. I know that when I was dating, I spent an incredible amount of time on the phone with my fiancé Debby, and that was long before cell phones hit the scene.
In spite of spending hours on the phone with one another, we discovered soon after we got married that we really had no idea how to communicate with one another. Oh, we were accustomed to talking quite often, but once we were married, we found it hard to get one another to understand what we wanted and needed.
We hadn’t discussed our goals and expectations in detail, and we found ourselves going in opposite directions.
It wasn’t until we learned how to truly communicate with one another, and listen intently to one another, that our relationship began to flourish. In the first five years of our marriage, we fought continually due to unmet expectations. When we learned the importance of clarifying our expectations to one another, our relationship began to thrive.
I learned how to listen to Debby and validate her feelings and she learned how to communicate with me in a way that demonstrated love and respect. If we would have learned the importance of communication while we were still dating, we could have avoided many of the challenges and problems we faced in the first few years of our marriage.
Just as good communication is important, so is the building of trust. Trust is one of the primary foundations of a successful relationship. Without trust, it’s hard to build a relationship that will last. Trust is a vital component to any relationship and without trust, there could likely be misunderstandings and shattered confidence in one another.
There are so many aspects of trust when it comes to a relationship. Trust is confidence that we will be true and faithful to one another; assurance that our lover has our best interests at heart, and a belief that our partner will support our dreams and aspirations.
3 Compatibility – common interests
One aspect that may appear to be trivial to some may indeed be one of the most important components of a solid and long-term relationship. I’m talking about compatibility. While most people take compatibility for granted, it is extremely important in a relationship that will develop and grow over time.
Generally a couple that has been together for any length of time will share common interests and goals, or there would not be many reasons for them to be together. It may not always be through shared experiences or interests that we meet and begin to develop an interest in one another, but rarely will a couple establish a long-term relationship without sharing common interests, goals, and priorities.
If a couple does not share interests and only has their own individual hobbies and interests, they will find that over time they drift apart from one another and will spend less time together. This is always detrimental to a relationship.
The art of compromise is a critical component in any relationship. Compromise simply means that each partner gives up some of what they want or need to give their partner what he or she wants or needs. There are times when we need to set aside our individual desires for the sake of the relationship and we make compromises.
A key component of compromise is acceptance. We have to accept one another as we are, and often that leads to compromise. If a couple doesn’t learn the importance of compromise while dating, they will undoubtedly struggle to accept one another and will have difficulty compromising later in their relationship. If they get married without learning how to communicate and compromise, they will have rough waters to navigate in the years to come.
Far too often we see couples who have no idea what mutual respect is. They talk to each other with language and terms that would make a sailor blush. They do things that set each other up for failure, rather than creating an environment of mutual love and respect.
Couples who treat each other with respect and hold one another in high regard build up one another’s self esteem and confidence. When there is mutual respect, the relationship will grow and develop in a healthy way and they will deepen their commitment to one another. Everyone wants to be treated with respect, and when that happens, the natural response is to reciprocate that respect. It becomes a ‘win-win’ situation and that has an impact on every other aspect of the relationship.
When a relationship is built on these basic foundations, you are generally off to a good start!