Dating is Not Marriage: You Can Leave Anytime

October 17, 2016

Last week I got an email asking for advice from one of my listeners. She had been seeing her boyfriend for two years and described their relationship as average. She was contemplating breaking things off because she couldn’t deal with the monotony of the relationship and saw her boyfriend as a boring person. My advice to her was to initiate a conversation with him and to be specific about her need for fun and variety. I also told her that if he wasn’t able to deliver, she should break things off without any guilt. You can listener to the full letter and response here.

 

Immediately following the Facebook live broadcast, a faithful listener, who also happens to be one of my good friends, Diana, called me say that she completely disagreed with my advice and even considered it, “dangerous to have people believing that any reason is a good reason to leave a relationship.” We went on to have an hour long conversation about marriage, happiness, and settling. Before getting into our differing opinions, a little background on Diana; she has been married for a few years. Diana and her husband share a house, a child, cars, insurance policies, dinners with the in laws; the complete marriage starter pack. In contrast, I’m single with zero attachments and proudly so.

 

Diana believes in sticking through ALL the struggles. Although there were many things she would change about her husband, she knows that she has much more to consider than just herself and her needs, so she has learned to let a lot of “the little things go”. Afterall, marriage is supposed to be forever. I wholeheartedly believe that once you enter into a marriage it’s not all about you anymore and little things must be overlooked for the greater good. But when did dating become marriage? Why is it necessary to adopt a “stick through it” marriage mentality when dating? It’s not! We need to treat dating like dating. The purpose of dating is to get to know different types of people to identify qualities that you like as well as the ones you don’t. In the process, you get know know yourself and you can easily identify which type of people you are happiest with.

 

I won’t even begin to cite examples of friends who have stuck through the hard times in hopes of securing a ring and a future. However, I will tell you that several of them wasted their twenties in situations that they knew weren’t right but felt bad abandoning their boyfriends; boyfriends not husbands. You have the right to abandon relationships that just don’t make you happy.

 

Dating is essentially like shopping, you are allowed to try things on, decide you don’t like them (for any reason), and put it right back on the rack. You also have the option to buy it, bring it home, wear it once, and forget it even exists. And then there are the rare finds that you buy, they fit perfectly and you want to wear it everyday. Those pieces deserve special care but not every t-shirt of pair or blue jeans should be taken to the dry cleaners.

 

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A few months ago, my ex-boyfriend broke up with me out of the blue without much explanation. Did I like it? No. Was it fair? Yes! He bought the outfit, wore it for a while, and then one day decided it just didn’t fit well anymore. You are allowed to date and then decide that you don’t want to be with someone anymore. I’m not suggesting that we go around playing with people’s emotions or breaking hearts just because. I’m suggesting that we don’t waste our time or anyone else’s when we know something just isn’t right. When my ex broke things off, I was sad and disappointed, but I quickly realized that I preferred this outcome far more than the alternative; staying with me out of fear or to spare my feelings. I do not want to be in a relationship for any other reason than love.

 

*names changed for privacy