The Value of Dating

After a catch-up session over caffeinated beverages or food, I've had many a friend tell me that I should write a book--or a blog--about my dating experiences. (Sorry, folks, that's not going to happen. I have some sense of decorum. A modicum, anyway.)

I won't lie: I find dating awkward and depressing.

In college, no one dated. We simply all hung out and, eventually, two people evolved into a couple. Thinking back, I can't remember how that evolution exactly came about. Whatever the case, dating in the '50s-television-show sense just didn't happen. And if we did go out to dinner with romantic interests, we certainly weren't dining or even hanging out with multiple romantic interests at once until we decided that one was "exclusive."

So I suppose I haven't had the right experience for this dating ordeal. For me, the first few dates are goofy--and that's if you have a few. More often than not, it's a one-and-done situation. Both parties are perfectly nice people (well, usually), yet it's just not a match.

Flip the coin. Change the lens.

I looked back at my dating life recently and saw it in a new light. You know what? As painful and despair-inducing has it has sometimes been, dating is an incredibly valuable experience.

I can't imagine another scenario in which I would have had one-on-one conversations with so many different people. Yes, I meet a lot of people in my corporate role. However, my conversations with these people are framed by work agendas. We talk about what my company does or what their companies do. Or how I can help them professionally. Or how they can help me get FrogDog to the next level. Not the same as an open-framework conversation with a near or complete stranger.

Once I decided to put myself out there and truly date--another self-appointed task borne of my initial goal-setting session--I met so many interesting folks and heard so many interesting stories. People talked about their careers and how they ended up in them. People shared their decisions to move to the United States--and what it felt like to leave behind everything and everyone they'd known. People described hobbies and passions--some I'd never uncovered. I saw the ravages of heartbreak. People revealed tales of lost parents and siblings. My eyes opened anew to human emotional and spiritual hunger.

None of these men were my soul mate. But it hasn't been a waste. There's a lot of life learning in sharing an hour with people I otherwise never would have met. They shared their stories. I gained insight into new worlds and lives. I could tell you details, but the particulars are theirs to tell--not mine.

To all of them: Thank you.

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Reader Comments (4)

You always learn more by interacting with people that have nothing in common with you.

It enriches your personal life to interact with people from other walks of life. Making friends and new contacts can open up wider possibilities for you, both personally and professionally.

From a practical standpoint the fact that you get insights into other viewpoints can give you a a wider worldview and can be a valuable tool in learning how to craft a message that will resonate with a wider audience.

But do you feel you are making progress towards your goal? Should this be a goal? I don't mean should you or should you not date. That's up to you obviously. But what I mean to say, is this something that lends itself to 'goal setting' or is it something that happens more organically?

You're walking down the street and suddenly "OW!", a cupid's arrow strikes from out of the blue, or you're talking to someone you've talked to for years and suddenly think "wait a minute, what about him?"

I don't think with love you can ever really tell.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

I still don't really know how one meets people after college (because you're right, that's exactly what it was like). I met my husband on the internets.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

"Awkward and depressing" sums it up for me.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

William, I hear ya on wishing that love would strike organically--and I think most of us wish it would happen that way. Thing is, most of us have our routines, and unless we actively make it a goal to be open to dating, it just doesn't happen. Or, at least in my case, it didn't. I had to look up and realize that I'd like to find someone, and that spending time in the same places with the same people wasn't going to do the trick. As the old saying goes, you can't expect different results from the same ol' activity. And hence the goal setting. But you never know: Maybe if I ever do find someone, it'll be a guy I met in a bookstore by chance. It's possible!

And Melissa and Rebecca: Yeah. Just... Yeah. Sigh.

September 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

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