It's only been a few months, and people may think this is crazy, but I know I found him. The man to sweep me off my feet; the man to hold me when I 'm crying; my perfect soul mate.
Through dating, we can learn a lot about ourselves and the qualities we would like in a future spouse. It is through those experiences and the advice we receive from others that we find our perfect match.
I asked many married people - who I believe are incredibly happy with their decision to be with each other forever - for advice on dating. I wanted to be sure that I was making the right decision and that the amazing feeling I get when I am around him was real. This is the advice I received:
"Don't keep your strengths hidden."
Be open about what you feel you excel at. Surprisingly enough, hiding all of your talents is just as bad as hiding all of your flaws. After being encouraged by a few of my closest friends to share with my boyfriend my strengths, our relationship changed. Once he learned that I love the arts, he shared his artistic talents with me. We have now enjoyed art exhibits, museums and theatrical performances together, which are things we both love and thought we would not be lucky enough to find in a future spouse.
Sharing your talents at first sounds like you are trying to impress him... but is that so bad? He will see what your special talents are eventually, so why hide them now?
"What are you struggling with right now? Share your weaknesses with him."
Many might say that keeping your worst qualities hidden for as long as possible is best, but why? To suck him in when he's seen all of your good qualities and then let him find out for himself that he is stuck with the rest?
Being advised to share your weaknesses with the man you are dating is a great idea because you can see how he reacts. You're being honest right up front, and he may even share with you some of his weaknesses, which allows you to build connections.
Sharing my greatest weakness with my boyfriend opened my eyes to the ways he could help me conquer my fear of failure. His willingness to listen to me and help me set goals to be a better woman was a quality in a man I didn't even know I wanted, let alone needed.
What better way to get to know someone then spending hours and hours in a car with them? Traveling together comes with extensive planning, problem solving, compromise, and many more things. This would be something that you cannot always experience before you are married unless you go on a trip together. The stress of planning a road trip along with the lack of sleep and different ideals of what makes a vacation fun can determine whether the flame of love is true or a bust.
I was given this advice from someone I looked up to and it definitely worked for me.
As my boyfriend and I packed the car and headed out on a 12 hour drive to Oregon, I quickly learned that he expected us stop and look at the mountains, the trees, the abandoned buildings, the random shops, the viewpoints etc. I, on the other hand, wanted to get there as fast as possible. Understanding that his idea of a fun road trip was very different from mine allowed us to work together on a problem we never thought we'd have.
"Marrying someone like you is no fun. Differences are a good thing!"
Although this may not sound like advice, it is. A healthy couple enjoys doing activities both with each other and without. Can you imagine dating someone exactly like you? Think about it.
If one of you enjoys time in the home and the other would much rather be outdoors, embrace it.
My boyfriend likes to go out to eat whereas the idea of spending money stresses me out. This, among many other differences, are small things that have made me realize that we are two completely different people, but that is what makes us interested in each other.
You learn from each other every day because of your differences and that is what makes your relationship so exciting!
"Always be open and honest. Don't beat around the bush."
My sister-in-law gave my boyfriend and me the same advice the day after we met, and that was to be open and honest with each other right away. Holding back the things that worry you from the man you are dating will make them one day come pouring out whether you want them to or not.
No one is perfect, and I learned very quickly (on date number 2) that by telling me some of the things from his past that he had the desire to be as close to perfect as possible.
Telling the truth and being willing to share the 'deep stuff' can strengthen the bond between the two of you. Worrying about where the relationship is going or what he is thinking can cause anger, sadness and even stress.
Sharing the truth about his past meant everything to me. What girl couldn't fall for a man so honest and open?
"All that matters is that it is right for you."
Ask yourself how you feel about the relationship, not someone else. It shouldn't matter what they think because they are not going to be the one married to him.
Worried that my relationship was escalating too quickly, I called my mom for advice. She told me, "All that matters is that it is right for you." She reassured me that the opinions of others could only impact me if I let them. I love my mother and respect her, so this advice is one of the most helpful of all.
Tana is a student with a passion for words. She believes that written words can touch people in ways unimaginable. In her spare time she enjoys singing, hiking, cuddling in a fuzzy blanket, and spending time with her friends and family.