I read a book over the break called The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition. (cynical eyes) I know...
I generally steer clear of all books featuring the oh-so-motivational "colon: singles edition" - but this one came recommended by my sister Dani who is the smartest person I know between the ages of 21-25 (I have a 20-year-old sister too).
More on those Five Love Languages on Monday, but for now - within the book's intro was an interesting set up question (rolling of eyes) because no self help book is complete without a set of questions you have to ask yourself before you're qualified to read the book sso that when it probably doesn't work they can say, "well, were you really open to the ________? Did you take the time to examine the ___________ in your life?" (same eyes Carrie gives that "Open to Love" instructor when she stands up for Charlotte).
In the case of The Five Love Languages, though, the qualifier question was a one-liner that seemed to make a lot of sense:
"one of the most important pieces of being successful in dating is asking yourself, why am I dating?"
I know... What does being successful in dating entail? Marriage? But also, hhmmm - ask yourself why you're dating...that's weird slash novel slash seemingly important.
I have asked myself why I'm dating a specific person - as in, "ugh whyyy am I daaating this guy??" I have asked myself why I'm dating at all - as in, "why am I even dating, I mean really?" I've sure as hell asked myself (read: a lot of other people) why I'm not dating give people, "explain to me why I'm not dating _______?" But I cannot say that I've ever sat down and said, "why am I pursuing the act of dating? what is my end goal? what exactly do I want out of this and what am I not interested in?"
You hear people say, "I'm not really dating at the moment," all the time. Ask them why and they'll rattle off any number of things from the list of valid reasons people take a break: I just got out of a serious relationship, I've trying to prioritize things in my life, All men are bastards/women liars, etc. I haven't done this (yet), but I imagine if you randomly survey a group of people currently in pursuit of dates they won't be able to say, "I am dating right now because I'm lonely and I just want someone around" or "because I have decided it's time to settle down and focus on finding the person I'm going to marry" or "because I really like sex but not casual sex so I'm looking for someone to have regular sex with."
There are, of course, more reasons people date: because they can't handle being alone, because collecting a number of dates makes them feel empowered and wanted, because (I'm-onto-your- game eyes) dates usually pay for dinner...the list goes on.
But it's the point, or maybe power of the list that I find most interesting. Does everyone only have one, main reason? And, more importantly, does everyone need that one, main reason to be most successful in their endeavors? And, even more importantly than that, are some slash most people slash women lying if they say anything but, "I'm dating right now because I'm hoping to end up in a serious, committed relationship" (eyes like RDJr as Sherlock Holmes before he jets off on another adventure where he'll inevitably take his shirt off).
This - of course (disclaimer eyes) doesn't take into account people who fall into dating, relationships, marriages by chance, fate, or force. But forgetting those people is the best piece of self-help advice I can offer. Until Monday, at least... (wink).