Can We Make Sense of Dating and Mating? (Part 2): “It Takes a Village”

Can We Make Sense of Dating and Mating? Part 2: "It Takes a Village" by  Dr. Jay R. FeldFor most of history, your pool of potential marriage partners was limited to the people who lived in your village. You knew just about everything there was to know about each of them.

Today it’s often the case that the only thing you know about someone is what they choose to tell you in their dating-site profile, whatever you can glean from their social media and the results of a criminal background check. In a world where people hardly know each other, how can you stack the odds in favor of making a healthy, lasting match?

In my last post  I passed along psychologist John Van Epp’s useful acronym about criteria for marriage readiness, “FACES,” which stands for:

  • Family background
  • Attitudes and actions of the conscience
  • Compatibility Potential
  • Examples of other (past) relationships
  • Skills in relationships

In today’s post I offer another time-tested tool for healthy dating and mating.

Use Your Village

In his book, In Over Our Head: The Mental Demands of Modern Life, developmental psychologist Robert Kegan observes that:

In traditional cultures or subcultures there exists … a shared sense of how the world works and how we should live in it. When we live in communities of mind as well as geography, the number of original decisions we have to make about how we conduct our lives is dramatically smaller.

One of the most important “original decisions we have to make about how we conduct our lives” is the way in which we find potential marriage partners, and how we ultimately choose one.

We can’t live long enough to learn all the important stuff we have to learn. The great value of Tradition (with a capital “T”) is that, if we use it discerningly, we won’t have to repeat all the mistakes made by every previous generation. The wisdom of Tradition, used discerningly, will save you time, money and heartache.

Elders, Models, Mentors

In the past, wisdom was transmitted via elders in family, school, and faith community. Today many people are disconnected from these traditional sources of wisdom — elders, teachers, spiritual guides, wise women and men who have been around the block a few times, have made lots of mistakes (and, hopefully, profited from them), and are willing to share what they’ve learned.

Where can such guidance be found today? I’d like to challenge you to try this: Ask a few people whose lives you admire:

“Who are some people you know who have some miles on them, some scars and some wisdom?”

Once you have some names, go to where these people are; take them out for a meal (perhaps an Early Bird special); come prepared with good questions; take notes; afterwards, send them a thank you note. You’ll be surprised at the resources that are available to you if you’ll ask, seek and knock.

Further questions about this? Feel stuck in the process? Need some encouragement and direction? Let’s talk!

Jay R. Feld HeadshotDr. Jay R. Feld
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
(917) 572-4068

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