Love and dating

And once again there’s a thread about relationships. Mucky things, those. I tried to search if this particular subject has been brought up before, but apparently guests are deemed unqualified to handle the search engine.

I’ve never been in love. Right now, I’m 21 years old and I’ve never had anything as much as a puppy-dog infatuation with the girl next door, my biology teacher, the local firemen brigade or any kind of farmyard animal*.

I’ve had a serious relationship before with one of my female friends which was quite serious. She was hopelessly in love with me, and I simply thought she was great to hang around with. I told her this (I think you’re great but I’m not in love) which resulted in bucketloads of angst. For different reasons that relationship ended a year later. (We had fun in the mean time, though)

Now, I’m kind of a hopeless romantic. I have this idea in my head that a relationship should not only be based on friendship, understanding, mutual interest and attraction (plus a whole lot of other things) but also pure, undying love**. Whatever that is.

I’d love go get into that whole dating thing, and there are (at least) two people who I’d be interested in pursuing as they’ve both got wonderful and interesting personalities. Thing is: I’m not in love with either of them. Dating would be an option, but hooking up? Nope. Based on their personalities and interests I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life with either one, but for some reason it doesn’t seem right to me to do this without being in love. It feels wrong and deceitful to me.

Why? Well, I’m kind of afraid that if I do successfully hook up with either of them and things work out, I’ll be married and 20 years later I’ll fall in love with my secretary / neighbour / car salesperson, and this development will thoroughly wreck my (theoretical) marriage.

As this is the Dope, I figure someone here has been there, done that and received a shiny Tshirt because of it. I hope I’ve been clear enough, and that someone will come along shortly to offer some advice, their own experiences or a good solid kick in the rear. I can use all three.

*sorry to beat dead sheep, Hal.
**personally, I blame The Princess Bride.

I’m puzzled by your statement that you’re not in love with either of the two people that you’d consider dating. Anything that you feel before you spend a lot of time with someone in a dating context is infatuation, not love. Most people fall in love while they’re dating someone- you’re going about it backwards to think you should be in love with them even before you start dating them.

Go ahead and ask someone out that you think you may be compatible with. Don’t worry about the love part yet- talk about putting the horse before the cart!

Er… yeah, I think that’s “the cart before the horse”… whatever, it’s early.

I agree with trublmakr. Besides just being fun, dating’s more of an audition process to see just who exactly you could fall in love and spend the rest of your life with. If you see that potential in either of these two people, then maybe they’re a good place to try out your dating training wheels.

And dating, even for a long time, doesn’t mean that you’re locked into a promise of marriage. If you don’t want to be married, then don’t get married. If you date and decide that you don’t want to be married to them, well, then it might be a good time to stop dating them. But it might not matter either, if the both of you are above-board about being into it for other reasons than marriage. Plenty of dates don’t lead to marriage, and in many cases, neither do plenty of long-term relationships.

So ask one of these interesting people out. Chances are, you’ll either decide (and it may be only one or the other of you that decides) that there’s something basically incompatable about each other, or you’ll actually give yourself a chance to fall in love with them. Love isn’t exactly something you can decide ahead of time without getting to know someone. And it doesn’t always happen instantly, either. Go give it a chance.

I’ll echo what everyone else has said. Sure, I felt like I was In Love with Mr. Bunny from the moment I met him, but through many years of getting to know him I’ve come to recognize that there is a gigantic difference between “Damn, he’s hot and cool and I’d like to spend more time with him!” and “I can honestly say I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.” The only way to get from the first to the latter is to spend time with that person and get to know them, not only all their good points, but the bad ones too. Mr. Bunny does not change the toilet paper roll when it’s empty. He rarely cleans the kitty’s litter box. He snores. All things that, were they presented to me upfront, might have sent me looking elsewhere. But, through a long process of getting to know him and falling in love with him, they’re just more facets to the awesome person that is Mr. Bunny. *

You’re single, you have nothing to lose, go out and date and get to know the person that’s out there waiting for you, already!

*disclaimer. Sorry, I’m feeling mushy today. :smiley:

You may need to be infatuated with someone first to know the true difference between being in love and being in lust. I’m not trying to be condescending - I believe I was much like you at one point, and I know what it’s like to be there. However, everyone is different, and this may not be the case. :stuck_out_tongue:

You are still young, and that’s a great thing. Don’t marry someone just because you feel obligated to do so, as that is wrong and deceitful. Don’t get married until you are ready - truly ready, not “Hmm. This will do.” Marriage isn’t everything, and isn’t necessarily for everyone. I’m not saying you never will, if that’s what you want, but there’s never any reason to rush into it.

Get yourself out there, date some people. You may or may not fall in love with them. You may or may not become infatuated with them. Just have fun, make sure the people you date understand that you are having fun. It’s all lessons learned.

My anecdotal offering: I wasn’t in love with the man who is now my husband when I first met him. I thought he was attractive, polite, and we got along extremely well. But I was in love with infatuation. I actually had to get majorly hurt (and I don’t wish that upon anyone, but yet I kind of do - sometimes you have to crash and burn to see the truth in something - but I do hope it is easier on most people than it was on me), and for a long time, I didn’t want anything to do with that stupid, crazy “love” deal. What a ripoff! :wink: Eventually, my (not yet) husband settled me down, talked long hours with me, and just had a lot of fun with me. He invited me to his place for Christmas a couple of years ago, and presented me with an engagement ring. I wasn’t quite ready for that. I needed to think, and so I stuck around a little longer, to see how I really felt. He gave me space, even though I was staying at his place; he let me be alone. I came to the realisation that I was indeed in love with this man, but it felt different than what I had always called “love” before. It went deeper, it was stronger. It had roots. There was a deep trust, and no jealousy. It was bigger than what I was used to and scared me a little bit. But that February, we got married. Today, I’m madly in love with this man, in a way that doesn’t feel at all as precarious as infatuation. Oh, and the sex is great. :smiley:

Naturally, your experiences will be different. My definition of love may not ever be your definition of love, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you are happy with it. I wish you luck, love, fun, pleasant and unpleasant surprises, a few sour experiences, but ultimately, a good life, no matter when or if you decide to marry someone, for whatever reason you choose. But get yourself out there, and have some fun! Date people you know, date people you don’t know. Be careful when it comes to sex, of course, but not all dates have to lead to that if you’re not into them. If you are into that, just be up front about it, as some people have a very different view of sex, and histrionics may ensue. Ugh. It’s inevitable that it’s going to happen sometimes, anyway, but save yourself some trouble by being honest beforehand.

Aaaaand, I’m rambling. Let’s sum up: date people, don’t settle for less, don’t feel hurried to marry, be honest, have fun. That sound about right? All right. :cool:

Don’t get hung up on the word “love”. Sometimes it means drastically different things to different people.

True Undying Love at First Sight ™ is more a literary device than a reflection of reality (a movie about two people who gradually learn to love each other over the course of many years might not be the most exciting thing to watch). Anastasaeon is right – that level of emotion takes a lot of time to develop, and involves feelings of trust, intimacy, familiarity, and mutual understanding that don’t just “happen” at the flick of a switch.

Sounds like you’re doing fine. Keep dating people, keep being honest with them about your feelings, and eventually you’ll stumble into the right person (in theory, anyway).

But it most certainly does happen in reality.

Be careful, though; if love does come, make sure it’s someone you’re really prepared to spend your life with, in ways other than the emotional. For example, are these people doing something positive with their lives? will you and one of these people be able to build a comfortable lifestyle or will you be circling the first and fifteenth on every month on your calendar? Be afraid, be very afraid, of falling in love with someone or something that may bring you down.

True Love, I believe, only happens after a period of time, when you have gotten to know someone and have built up a certain level of trust and emotional intimacy. What you are speaking of is, IMHO, an overly romanticized version of lust or infatuation at first sight. How could someone possibly truly love someone that they don’t know at all, when the very essence of true love is having a deep knowledge and admiration for who they are as a person?

My brother and his wife. They met and fell in love immediately, she ended it, not because she didn’t love him any more but because she wanted a career. She later realised she’d made a mistake and waited for him to become single again; they got back together and are now enjoying wedded bliss.

‘The course of true love never runs smooth’ has a lot to be said for it.