This week I’ve come across two interesting but conflicting concepts- the dating fast and the dating binge. What are these strategies? Is one is right for you?
The Dating Fast
Sunday’s NYXs wedding section featured the story of a couple who met while the guy was on a “dating fast.”
After a new relationship crashed and burned, Joseph kept asking himself why that relationship – and others – had failed. He consulted with Pastor Craig Holliday who suggested a fast from romance.
Joseph knew he needed time to think about what he wanted it a woman. So he thought of Serena as having the potential to be a great friend and left it at that. They started spending a lot of time together – always platonic in nature.
After New Year’s Joseph did start dating again, but his friendship with Serena remained unchanged. Until one day in April when she mentioned she was planning to go to El Salvador with the Peace Corps. A light bulb went off over Joseph’s head, they started dating and he proposed in October. They were married January 31st. Despite the near miss, he considers the dating fast worthwhile
Pastor Holliday explains that he has advised dating fasts in the past, usually lasting from six months to a year.
The Dating Binge
Couples psychologist Peter Pearson has a different view – the opposite, in fact. He believes that the only way to figure out what you want in a mate is to be out there practicing until you get it right.
Pearson notes that when you’re not interested in long-term commitment, standards for compatibility are relatively low. A person may only need to be fun to make dating them worthwhile. But when you want to find a life partner, lots of other criteria must be met.
Pearson does recognize that it’s not all about judging someone else:
In the case of the dating fast, the idea is to look within, to figure out how you might be contributing to your failed relationships. Only through time, grace and self-reflection can you become a person who can contribute to and sustain a healthy relationship.
In the dating binge approach, the focus is external – how can I refine my checklist and filter more accurately for the highest possible quality mate? There’s a nod to what one is bringing to the table, but even there the focus is on compatibility, not emotionally healthy behaviors.
I’ve occasionally recommended to readers that they take a break from dating. It can be especially helpful after a breakup, when introspection is necessary to healing and moving forward.
But I also think Pearson has a point – dating is shopping, and checking around for the best “products” at the best “prices” is sound strategy. And I agree with him that failed relationships can teach us a lot about what we don’t want. That helps narrow down a set of criteria that represents compatibility, or in his words, a good teammate.
Maybe the best course is to date as much as you can tolerate, then take a break when you’ve reached your limit. Because dating is hard. It’s awkward, risky, time-consuming, frustrating and exhausting. It’s hard work, and we all need a vacation from time to time.
I do agree with Pastor Holliday that it is important to look inward and think about what we bring to the table – and whether it’s enough. I also strongly believe that when we are in a relationship with another person – even a casual one – we affect that person’s life, and we need to take responsibility for the pain or distress we cause others.
What do you think of these opposing points of view? Can they be reconciled?
Have you ever voluntarily done a “dating fast?” Was it a worthwhile experience? Is it something you would consider?
Or does the idea of taking a break stress you out and make you worry that you’re wasting time? Does the incessant cultural tick-tock tick-tock make you feel as if you have to date 365 days a year without a vacation?