Courtship, Dating, and Regret

Courtship, Dating, and Regret August 6, 2011

I was taught that if I dated someone and then broke up with him and married someone else, I would spend the rest of my life regretting that first relationship. I was taught that if I kissed someone and then married someone else, I would live with eternal regret. My parents did not want me to feel this kind of regret. They wanted to protect me and set me on a path where I could have a fantastic marriage with no regrets.

Well, I have news for them: I married the first guy I ever dated and I regret that. Okay, let me back up here and say that I do not regret that I married my wonderful awesome amazing husband. What I regret is that I did not date before meeting him.

I wish I had dated around in college, and maybe even in high school. I wish I had dated casually. I wish I had done double dates. I wish I had had a boyfriend or two. I wish I had had both the experiences and the knowledge that would come with this. I was taught that dating was practice for divorce. Actually, dating is practice for relationships. You learn things through dating.

My husband dated before he met me, and I have to say, he was a better boyfriend, and is today a better husband, because of it. I would not undo his previous relationships for the world. The truth is, when two young people who have never dated before are thrown together, they have no idea what they’re doing. Yet this is the ideal of the courtship movement. The expectations are high and the experience is low. If you ask me, this is a recipe for disaster. In contrast, when two people who have dated before meet each other and start to date, they have knowledge, skills, and experience they would not have had if they had not dated before. There is a maturity there that is not present in those who have never dated before.

When people date, they learn things about themselves and about what they want in a partner and about how relationships work and don’t work. Yes, sometimes there are mistakes, and yes, sometimes relationships end in disaster, but that is how we learn. We can’t learn without doing.

I can say today without a doubt that I would have been a better girlfriend, and perhaps I would even a better wife today, if I had dated before meeting the man who is now my husband. I would have known more about relationships and about myself. I would have been more mature and experienced. The truth is, when I first started dating my husband I had no frickin clue what I was doing. I was so green, so naive, so inexperienced. And so, I regret the fact that I didn’t date before meeting my husband. I’m not saying that dating is perfect and I well am aware that by not dating I skipped out on pain and possible heartbreak as well as experiences, knowledge, and self awareness. Still, I regret it. Strange, I don’t think my parents ever thought of this potential outcome!

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