Truths in Dating vs. Marriage

dating vs marriage

I laughed—but it wasn’t really funny. My daughter has a friend who is dating a guy who looks great on the surface: smart, pre-med, plays the guitar, very charming. What’s not so great about him? He gets jealous easily, he “dabbles” in drugs, and he’s dishonest. But my daughter’s friend, who is also highly intelligent, thinks she can get him to change if she just loves and supports him enough. Sound the alarm!

Sadly, it’s not only teenagers who fall victim to relationship pitfalls. It’s happened to most of us, and awareness of those pitfalls is especially relevant for single moms when you’re looking at dating vs. marriage. So, here are 4 realities to help you make wise choices in the world of romance.

The Change Myth

We know logically that we cannot change people. But boy do we try. We try with subtle suggestions or outright annoyance or plead our cases at every turn. We identify someone as a diamond in the rough and really believe with a bit of polishing, he’ll shine. And, sure, if it’s something small like the way he dresses or how he chews his food, change is possible. But look out for the biggies. If he’s got lots of debt, character issues, or anger problems, even if he’s a “really good guy,” run.

Space is Good

New love, at any age, is powerful. It can make the minutes we’re apart from our beloved feel like hours. We can want more, more, more of his time and worry when he’s not with us. Strong relationships need space to breathe, and it works both ways. Try not to demand all of his time, and watch out for the red flag of him insisting to be with you 24/7, especially if he wants to keep tabs on where you are and who you’re with.

Sistas Before Mistas

I have a friend who’s the mother of three boys. She teaches them that while girlfriends come and go, brothers are forever—in her words, misters before sisters. For single moms, this means it’s important to keep your friendships going, even when you get into a new relationship. And let your close friends get to know the person you’re dating. Since they aren’t under the spell of infatuation, they can be more objective.

Family Matters

I understand that sometimes a new marriage will require a mom to move away from her children’s father. But, if at all possible, prioritize your children over your new relationship. If you marry the guy, healthy boundaries will require you to put your marriage first. But—and I know this might sound harsh—you might have to put your romantic happiness on hold until your children are older. Children aren’t equipped to handle a world where you’re in and out of relationships. It’s too much to ask for them to navigate your new romance. While you might be happier when you’re dating, it’s difficult for children to emotionally process all that comes with it.

Of course, these are just things to consider in dating vs. marriage; there are always nuances that affect each of these points. What are your thoughts?