email Bag: How do I know if I’m all “dated out”?

I was reading your book Before You Get Engaged and in it you talk about a situation that I feel fits me perfectly. You were talking about making sure that you are all dated out, and that you would be okay with never dating anyone else. I don’t feel that I am all dated out. I tend to flirt with girls a lot even though I don’t mean anything impure by it. However, I don’t know what to do to get “dated out”.

My girlfriend and I have been dating for three and a half years. She is thinking marriage but I still am not so sure. I want to know for certain that it is God’s will before I make that decision. But I also tend to be very doubtful of all decisions I have to make until I make them, even if one choice is obviously the best. So I don’t know if this doubt is grounded or just my normal second guessing. I am doing a 10 week internship this summer and won’t see her for that entire time. I really want to use this time to evaluate our relationship and see if I feel that God is okaying us to move forward or not. So I don’t think it would be fair to my girlfriend to tell her I need a break to date other girls, but I don’t know how to get it out of my system. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated! -John

My response…

Hi John, I am grateful to know that Before You Get Engaged has been helpful. I really appreciate your candor about your feelings and uncertainties. It sounds to me like your 10 week internship is coming at a perfect time. I think there is a strong possibility that during the time you are away from each other, God will make it clear what you should do next.

A time of separation like this can be really healthy. I think it will either show you:

1) That you are done dating others. You may find yourself counting the days until you get to see each other again. That would be a good sign. I found that when I was in college and away from Bernice (who I ultimately married) for 3 months, I got my feelings for other girls straightened out. I came back only wanting to date her and only be with her for the rest of my life. This time away could do that for you. Or…

2) It could show you that you still need to keep your options open. If that’s the case, I’d think after the internship it would be best to be honest about your uncertainties to your girlfriend and your desire to possibly date others—if that is what you want to do. One thing is for sure, if you do decide to get engaged, you need to be done with flirting and ready to make a one-woman commitment. Until you can do that, keep dating.

It’s also important to realize that for most men, being attracted occasionally to other women is not something that completely goes away once you’ve found the woman you want to marry and spend the rest of your life with. Probably somewhere along the way you’ll run into women that you would have made a point of getting to know better if you were still single. Being ready to get engaged and married means that from here on out, you are ready to make a commitment to not act on that attraction if it ever comes along.

So the question for you is…Are you ready to give up the possibility of a relationship with any women that you might meet in the future? It would be good for you to think about what you’re really feeling now. Are you seriously interested in dating other women? Or do you simply enjoy the flirting, which you could stop doing if you put your mind to it.

Dr. Dave
(Permission granted to publish)