Are You Wasting Your Time With 'Expiration Dating,' Or Could It Be What Your Love Life Needs?

One of the main reasons so many people hate dating is that it can be rife with heartache and disappointment. According to a 2017 report by Pew Research, only 14% of Americans reject the idea of getting married. As a result, so many of us set insanely high expectations for our dating lives. We want and indeed need every match we go out with to knock it out of the park and fulfill all of the desired qualities we're looking for in a long-term, monogamous life partner. 

Upon realizing someone isn't our soulmate, we often spiral into anxiety, ending things immediately and wondering whether "soulmates" are even real. Dating is exhausting and the reason why so many people have opted to take breaks from dating apps. Even if your date is lovely, when they don't hit the nail on the head as a fit for that specific kind of relationship you're after, it can easily leave you feeling deflated. 

However, we often forget that not all relationships have to end in "happily ever after" to be worth our time. In fact, short-term companionships can be immensely valuable. Without the pressure of needing your partner to be a fit forever, a whole layer of complexity and stress is lifted. This is why, if you're tired of dating pulling on your heartstrings and hopes, "expiration dating" might be a refreshing experience. 

What 'expiration dating' actually looks like

The phrase "expiration dating" is frequently credited to an episode of "Sex and the City," during which Carrie bemoans the idea of going out with someone who's leaving town shortly thereafter. It generally refers to dating someone who can only be with you for a finite period of time. The traditional dating mindset encourages us to partner up as quickly as possible, so this may seem like a waste of time. But, if you step outside of that paradigm, expiration dating can be a really exciting, enriching experience. 

When you know a relationship isn't going to last, there are no worries about the future. All you have to do is appreciate the person in this exact place and time. Further, if you're going out on dates, you don't have to expect anything to come of them. Crucially, you don't need to worry about being perfect either. Dating coach Julie Spira told Bustle that when you have no expectations, "It reminds you that it's fine to go out and have fun with someone interesting, rather than staying home staring at your phone, wondering why someone hasn't texted you back."

Or, you could even date someone for a few months and get to know them well before going your separate ways. As long as the relationship is a nurturing space and you can both accept that it's not going to last forever, you'll likely come out of it grateful that it happened at all. 

How to know if expiration dating isn't right for you

While seeking a long-lasting, monogamous relationship can potentially make dating more intense, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it if that's what your heart desires. You cannot deny it if you know you would prefer someone with whom you can build a deeper connection over time. Someone may be an absolute catch, but if you feel like the relationship is lacking the deep connection that you need in order to feel your happiest, take decisive action and let them know. 

In fact, mental health and dating expert Brooke Sprowl LCSW, CNTS reassured The Everygirl: "If you're very clear on what you want, eliminating options is a better use of your time because any option that doesn't fit with you is an opportunity cost to getting in the way of what you do want." This is especially true if the other person has set a clear end date, of course, since they've already made their intentions abundantly clear. 

And yet, expiration dating might be wrong for you even if you're the person who has to set a clear end date. If you don't believe that you'll be able to wrap up the relationship with a neat bow and say goodbye when you have to, it could be in your best interests to focus on yourself rather than jumping into the dating scene. Simply put, always trust your gut.