Dating -How Long is Long Enough?

 

Leaning back into the patio chair at Starbucks Ladera Ranch, I took a big gulp of frothy yumminess and released a contented sigh.  AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Faith caught my eye as she intently focused on my drink.  She looked perplexed.  “Mommy, you’re cup says Jason on it.”

I looked down in horror and snorted in laughter.  It was true.  On the outside of my skinny mocha frapachino with whip was a name that was most definitely not mine.

But I knew it was my drink.  I saw the guy make it just the way I like it, it was simply a case of mucked up identity.  It was my drink but not my name.

Unfortunately, I was too embarrassed to tell Jason I snarfed the whole thing down.

And while the incident was stupid and dumb and funny it also brought to mind a reader’s question –How long should you date someone? 

It’s not an obvious connection- wrong name, mocha frap, mistaken identity??? (But stay with me here for relevance)

I considered some of the past dating relationships I’ve been involved in where I messed up my own drink –figuratively speaking.  I messed up my identity by pretending to be someone or something I’m not.  It was me in the relationship, but not the best parts of me.  And there was a guy, but did I really know him?   

My best (or possibly worst) experience with this lack of knowing was when I dated Mr. B (it stands for bad word) for a mere four months. 

Mr. B was a producer.  He was wealthy, maintained a powerful edge in the entertainment business, and he showered me with clothes, and Mahnilo Blahniks, and the life of the flouncy flouncy.  And I got sucked into the vortex of all things material and shallow for a time. 

Our relationship came to a head one night at a ritzy restaurant with Mr. B on his knees holding out an engagement ring.  I stared at him in shock.  Ironically, I thought this is what I wanted until it actually came to pass.

I didn’t say no.  I didn’t say yes.  I did worse than no…I hesitated.

And in a weird Holy Spirit minute where time stood still, the four months of our brief relationship flashed before my eyes.  I saw laughter and luxury and a carefree existence, but I also saw glimpses of impending darkness.  I remembered Mr. B berating a waitress, Mr. B hounding me with text messages when he didn’t know where I was, and one horrible evening when Mr.B picked on my son for crying.  I saw a guy who went to church with me but didn’t share my faith.  And I saw a future of selling my soul for box seats at a Lakers game.

And so I hesitated.

Mr. B jumped up and ripped my arm out of the seat.  He screamed at me, “It’s the Jesus thing, isn’t it?  I’ll never be good enough for you?”

I looked out the window as he drove me home and thanked God for saving me from possibly the worst mistake of my life.

“Yes, it’s the Jesus thing. (And I secretly thought an A-hole thing too).”

It was the last time I would see him.  But I discovered an “oh so important lesson” about dating that night.  Getting to know someone takes time.  There are no shortcuts on this one.  Generally speaking, happily ever after doesn’t exist when you get married by Elvis in Vegas.  And even if you stay married for the rest of your life, you will more than likely doubt your hasty decision.

People can pretend to be anyone for a few months.  Usually it’s just little lies –like girls pretending to enjoy camping and endless afternoons at sports bars (when they are secretly bored to tears) and after a while the truth leaks out she’d rather go shopping.  Guys pretend to be sensitive and attentive to a woman every need and then reality bites hard when she becomes a football widow at the first kickoff in August.  Typically, after the first six weeks, the cracks start to show and hints of people’s true personalities emerge.  But skilled deceivers can last up to three or four months.

When my husband and I were dating, Tim was advised by a well respected Christian counselor to spend as much time as possible with me.  The reasoning behind this was to see how I operated under different circumstances.  And in turn, I got to see how Tim dealt with the stresses of life.

We were also advised to date through all four seasons –one full year of getting to know each other through the good, the bad and the ugly.

And it certainly wasn’t all pretty.  During our first year of dating, we experienced together: job loss, two moves, a home sale, health issues (me), a cross country road trip with two little kids, pre-marital classes (before we were engaged), holidays with family, a crazy mission trip, vacations with family, 38 planned dates, and plenty of time with our respective friends.  Dating wasn’t just dating; it had become a mission to get to know each other.

At the end of each season we celebrated with a special night out and Tim gave me a “season charm” to be placed on a dating bracelet he had given me after our first winter together.  It was an intentional move on Tim’s part that both honored our time together and held out hope for a future with one another.

By the time Tim proposed at the end of the first year -we knew each other intimately and the only secret I wasn’t in on was a surprise proposal.

This time when Tim dropped to a knee in front of my parents, children and sixty of our closest friends I hollered out a resounding “yes” through tears of joy.  There was no hesitation!

It was fifteen months from first date to the altar.  And then a whole new way of knowing each other began.  But the foundation had been built on rock and not the shallow sands of compromise.

Don’t cheat yourself on the knowing

Marriage isn’t the time to find out he or she has got another personality, a gambling addiction, or a secret love child and garnished wages –dating is ♥

Comments

  1. GREAT post!

  2. christina c wright says:

    loved reading your post SAM! there is much to learn when a single man takes on a woman with two kiddos. 🙂 a gift he is and a treasure he finds!

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