Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

candlelitdinner.jpgYou’re on a first date, gazing into the eyes of the perfectly lovely (or handsome) person across from you, when they casually mention that they don’t have plans to marry, ever. Or to marry someone white. Or perhaps Jewish. Or Catholic. Or left-handed, for that matter.

Regardless of how they fill in that blank, this is probably a date from which you’re already hatching the quickest possible escape plan. After all, who is this joker? It’s one date! The first date no less.

Or is stating your intentions so blatantly the right thing to do?  I know a surprising number of people who have very set and defined ideas of who they want to eventually end up with, and the possibility that they just might fall in love with the “wrong” person matters not at all. But that doesn’t mean they stop dating people they deem, for whatever reason, unsuitable.  So do they owe that person the details of their master plan from date #1?


I don’t know. On the one hand, it seems a little crazy. Imagine a
scenario like the one above – that’s just strange. In this day and age
it’s simply not done to be so upfront about your motives and plans. You
have to play the game, talk the talk, be coy…or the other person thinks
you’re nuts.

But what’s so wrong (and isn’t it actually right?) with being open and
honest –letting the other person know your intentions, and allowing
them to decide if they want to continue seeing you, even knowing that
the precious time they’re using on you is leading nowhere. Dating has
become more and more casual, but I still would say the number one
incentive to date is to find a potential
partner
. Is it ethical
to date someone when you have no intention of ever becoming serious?

As a first-generation Indian daughter, the whole concept of dating is
new to my family. Trust me, it was a big deal to get started. By my
recollection, I started prepping my parents for my eventual foray into
the world of dating when I was 12. It was completely against the Indian
culture, but I didn’t care. I had been born into the Western culture,
and by God, I wanted to take part in it.

By the time I was in college, my parents had become accustomed to the
idea. However, even now, with an adult daughter still testing the
waters, my mom has the bad habit of asking after the intentions of every man
I date. Sometimes she manages to wait until the 3rd date before
quizzing me about his salary, job prospects and family history. Oh, and
if he’s ok marrying someone Indian and Hindu.  

Though I’ve finally broken her of this habit (I think?), and convinced
her that not every single date or series of dates must result in
marriage, I do get where she’s coming from. In her world, marriages are
an intricate arrangement of matching personalities, families and yes,
careers.  Dating is a type of micro-matching.  And if I followed her
customs, then sure, I’d want to know what’s what upfront. Let me add,
my mom is a fair woman – she’s equally concerned that the guy I’m
dating knows that I may not be interested in him in the long run.

For my part, I don’t really worry about telling people my intentions
(or lack thereof) from the beginning. I’ve always been open to the idea
of dating someone different than myself, Indian or not.  I’m open to
changing my mind, as long as my heart follows. I put a great deal of
weight in the importance of the heart – well over differences in
religion
, culture and whatever else might be at conflict.

However, I
understand that for many people, these differences are not negotiable.
(Sidenote: my opinion is that usually men find these differences
non-negotiable, rather than women. Is that just my biased female-self
talking?)
And if that’s the case, I want to hear them tell me pretty
darn quickly if I have no place in their future. Sure, it’d be a strange
conversation, and I’d probably have a hilarious time with
my girlfriends in the re-telling, but I’d appreciate the respect – and
the warning.


How about you? Is that what you want to hear on a first, second or third date?

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