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Sex + Relationships

5 Ways Dating Teaches Us More About Ourselves and the World Around Us

Socioemotional growth is arguably as important as academic growth during college. According to David Osher, the vice president of the American Institutes for Research, “an increasing number of studies have shown that social and emotional learning can improve the factors known to help students through college.” Dating can be one of the more prominent avenues that enable a student to develop socioemotional navigational skills and develop a growth mindset that can better prepare one to thrive once outside the classroom. Why exactly does dating create opportunities for personal growth and help to expand one’s worldview?

1.Dating Teaches Us The Virtue Of Patience

Humans are bound to make mistakes, disappoint, and sometimes surprise us in ways that we did not anticipate. When we are challenged to continue to love someone despite their flaws and look beyond mistakes made, we begin to exercise our ability to be patient. Much of young adulthood requires us to be patient, whether it be working out flaws with faculty and advisors to create a good schedule for the semester, put in the effort to achieve a certain GPA, petition to graduate, or secure a job after extensive searching, interviewing, and praying for financial stability. The road to success is often filled with obstacles and doors that can sometimes only be opened by long term persistence, or relationships with people who have access to providing opportunities. Dating is naturally filled with ups and downs as couples work through barriers to get to know each other, overcome conflict, and find ways to rebuild their relationship to work better and embrace change over the years. Moments like these test our patience to the max, and the challenges of exercising patience in dating can help to better equip us for long-winded obstacles in life. 

2.Dating Challenges Us To Seek The Good In Others

Whether you met your significant other through a dating app, through a mutual friend, or organically as a stranger in public, the process of relationship-building challenges us to be upfront about our flaws, and find ways to compromise, sacrifice, and embrace our significant other as a whole, unique being. Much like you gave your significant other a chance to get to know each other when you met them, we should also afford other people in our lives a chance. Often we can be so quick to dismiss acquaintances or people we run into in our everyday lives as insignificant, or perhaps irritating. Why should we deny others a chance to be a part of our lives, when we afforded that chance to someone who was once likely a stranger? Every person we interact with, whether it be a classmate, distant relative, or even your local barista, is a whole, unique individual with a story and background as extensive as yours, or your significant other. Instead of nipping the chances of having a new friendship, mentor, or adventure buddy in the bud, why not be more receptive and open to appreciating others for who they are?

3.Dating Teaches Us What We Desire For Ourselves, And How We May Appear To The World

Learning what you want, how you love, and how you want to be loved, are key ingredients to establishing direction in life. A simple test like the 5 Love Languages test, can help us to identify how we communicate in relationships. These concepts can similarly be applied to other contexts, such as friendships, work relationships, and family dynamics. For example, you may realize that you enjoy a workplace supervisor that provides daily words of affirmation about your progress, rather than receiving gifts. In another context, you may realize that receiving hugs from your family provides you more reassurance than advice shared about emotional struggles. The five love languages are a simple way for us to identify and categorize how we operate as a person and appear to others, and what steps we can take to teach others how to love us. 

4.Dating Allows You To Meet Different People Who Can Expand Your Worldview

Dating allows us to meet an array of people from different backgrounds. Whether your date comes from a different country, town, college, political party, religious affiliation, or is studying or working in an industry radically different from yours, we learn more about the world as we exchange stories about our experiences and how they have influenced our current state of being. Sometimes our views are limited because we do not have an insider view on a specific topic, country, or job. Speaking with someone intimately who has experiences in those areas enables us to develop a more personal connection and nuanced understanding of worlds that may be radically different from ours. Dating enables us to learn and embrace new norms, ways of viewing the world, and beliefs. 

5.Dating Ultimately Teaches Us To Love One Another As We Love Ourselves 

Relationships simply boil down to the basic concept of treating others how you want to be treated. In a world that can be challenging and cruel, showing love is key to creating a more healthy society, and can brighten someone’s day. You never know what someone might be going through. The extra mile that we put in to show our significant others’ love, is the same type of energy we should be putting out into this world. Whether it be giving back to a community in need, carving out extra time for a family member who needs help, or volunteering at an organization making a difference, the love we put out into the world always finds a way back to us. 

As much as academic success is a key ingredient to thriving in college, socioemotional development cannot be neglected if we want to develop a toolkit for success in life. Although there is some stigma against dating in college in some circles, dating can actually be an avenue of emotional growth, exploring our desires, and developing skills that can benefit our roles as friends, citizens, family members, and professionals. If you are interested in someone and have a good feeling about them but have hesitated to go out with them, now may be the perfect time to give them a chance. You never know where things may go. 

 

| Hawaii Pacific University | Communication Studies Major |
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