How Dating is Not Quite Like Buying a Car

Dating is not like buying a car. The Kelley Blue Book won’t help you determine—based on manufacturer, year, accident history, and specific features—the market value for the model you’re considering. 

Now, I realize this article isn’t for everyone, but it may help that sector of dating singles who, like me, grew up hearing that we should only date people who were “marriage material.” Or those with a Myers-Briggs personality type ending in TJ (thinker, judger). Or those who self-medicate their decision making anxiety with pro-con lists  

Dating is risky business, so some of us gravitate toward the Blue Book method. Gather information. Assess cost vs. benefit. Compare. Only invest when we’re certain that we’ve found the best deal.  

It’s a good approach for buying a 2009 Honda Accord, but doesn’t help us get to know the man or woman eating tacos across the table from us. Because, unlike cars:

  • People are more than a list of features, condition ratings, and history of damages. Really knowing someone takes time. 
  • People are dynamic. Regardless of who buys the Honda, the car will run the same. Not so with people. We each thrive in varying setting and when interacting with different personalities. Dating allows us to discover whether we will flourish in a relationship with the guitar player from church and vice versa. 
  • People build relationships together. While car ownership implies possession and control, dating requires mutual investment. If we want to explore the possibility of life, love, and friendship with the stranger we met at Starbucks, we need to embrace risk, loosen our grip on control, and start contributing to a relationship.

Pro-con lists have their place, as do comparative analyses, but dating driven by these things won’t work, because a relationship boils down to more than a decision.

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