Choosing the person you want to spend your life with, whether it be 1 year of your life or the rest of your life, is one of the most important decisions you will make. Your significant other impacts your health, your mental well-being, your finances, and a slew of other things. Whether you have your heart set on marriage or not, being intentional about the kind of person you date can improve your quality of life drastically. Deciding the kind of person you want to become is an essential step to dating with intentionality. Consciously think to yourself who you see when you think of the kind of person you would like to become 10, 20, 30 years from now. I am not speaking about the things you would like to do or have, but the characteristics and traits you would like to embody. A few years ago, I asked myself what kind of woman do I want to become and wrote down a list: a woman who gives back and makes a positive impact on the black community, knows and serves God, is fully herself and does not minimize or alter herself for the pleasure of others, eventually a mother and a wife, happy, and at peace. I am happy to say that as I write this today, I am that woman, with the exception of being a wedding planning fiancee instead of a wife just yet.
Before I could get to this place though, I had to make a lot of changes. I had to figure out who I did not want to be and who I did not want in my life, then figure out who I wanted to be and who would be the best person to compliment that woman. I began the everyday process of making sure that everything that I did and everyone I surrounded myself with in some way contributed to me becoming the person I wanted to be, the very best version of myself. This required a serious questioning of my mindset, behaviors, friends, and the kind of men I was dating. I, like so many other woman, thought it was something hopelessly romantic about dating the “bad guy” based on his potential. Of course, we all are just balls of potential, but when you’re the only one in the relationship working on this potential it turns into what my fiance calls “projects.” With this romanticizing of the “bad guy,” came me dating men who struggled staying out of trouble with the law and keeping a job. Tie that with the cheating, lying, and emotional unavailability and you have a HOT mess. As I grew older dealing with the instability of hot messes and projects became less appealing and more and more risky and emotionally draining. By the grace of God, I got out of that mentality and began dating with intentionality, which led me to the healthiest relationship in my life with my future husband.
For me, I wanted a man who I could learn from and one that was open to learning from me. It wasn’t about wanting someone with as many degrees as me, it was about wanting someone who had the capacity to help me grow into a better person. I also wanted someone as hardworking as me, if not more. I came from a family of hard workers and laziness was my pet peeve. Consistency was non-negotiable, as was honesty. I have a very giving heart, especially with the man I love. From my previous failed relationship, I found that I needed someone who would not take advantage of that. I tried the whole heartless thing and it’s not really my forte. Finally, I wanted someone spiritually grounded that would support me in my journey to develop a more intimate relationship with God. Honestly, once I became serious about devoting my life to God, the man I was supposed to be with became very clear to me and I stopped making stupid decisions that were keeping me from him.
Figuring out who I was and what kind of person I needed drastically improved my dating life. I was able to easily let go of anyone who did not meet my needs and find the man God made for me. I wasn’t dating aimlessly, giving the time of day to whoever was cute and seemed cool, but I also wasn’t counting people out based on shallow, immature standards.
For me, I wanted a woman who was as excited about intellectually, professionally, and spiritually growing as I was. What did this look like? This meant intentionally engaging in ways that reflected a larger purpose in all of these areas. I also realized all of the areas within myself that needed work. Growing up, I became comfortable with being guarded, sharing only parts of who I was and never being completely open and honest with anyone. Knowing that I wasn’t my true self in any relationship, even as an adult, reaffirmed what I already knew from my upbringing. I learned as a child the void left in relationships when people are not required to be vulnerable. Not satisfied with living a life devoid of vulnerability, I prayed to find someone who I can be completely open and honest with, who would not accept the half-truth version of myself I had given others. Although this wasn’t going to be easy, it became my top priority in relationships. I knew I could find someone who could stimulate me intellectually, professionally, and spiritually anywhere, but finding someone who pushed me beyond my emotional boundaries would truly help me become the man, husband, and father I was meant to be. I knew I wouldn’t pursue marriage with anyone until all of these needs were met.
How do you or how did you (for those of you tied down) incorporate intentionality into your dating pursuits?