So, you’re dating. You’re meeting people, you’re getting to know them, you’re wondering whether one of these people you’re meeting is The One you could commit to. You’re doing this because you want to share your life with someone, you want someone to witness to your life while you are witness to theirs, you want a partner, someone you can go the distance with.
That’s what we all want, isn’t it?
We’ve recently written a book on marriage called The Zimzum of Love, and as we finished the book we realized that a lot of the concepts we explain in the book about how to have a thriving marriage can be applied to dating — because when you’re dating, you’re building a foundation for the kind of relationship you’re going to have in the long term. As you build this foundation, there are questions you can be asking yourself—and each other—that will help you see not only whether or not this person is someone you can go the distance with, but what you can both do to make your relationship even better.
Before we get to the first of these questions, then, we’ll give you a bit of background on what a zimzum is and how it transforms our understanding of what marriage is, let alone dating.
To begin with, your life is mostly about you. Your interests, your work, your friends, your family, your hobbies, etc. You have a center of gravity, a life that you’re living. But then you meet someone, and that person has their own life with their own center of gravity. As you get to know them and your lives become more and more intertwined, you find yourself more and more involved in their life. (Maybe you’re experiencing this right now with someone you’re dating.) As you fall in love, you find yourself becoming more and more invested in their well-being, often finding yourself making sacrifices for them. As you create space in your life for that person, they’re doing the same for you. This creates space between you—vibrant, humming, pulsing space that is electric with love. The word for this creation of space is zimzum. You zimzum for another, while they’re zimzuming for you.
Relationships—dating and marriage—are about becoming more and more aware of how this space works, learning what you can do to increase the flow of energy and love between you.
The first question you can ask while you’re dating, then, is: How’s the space between us?
Are the energy and love flowing? Is anything blocking the flow of love? (We’ll cover this question in detail in the next post, so stay tuned … ) Are we too far apart? Do we not have enough space such that we’re losing our sense of individuality?
Do you see how just this one question—How’s the space between us?—can lead to so many more questions? (Which is itself a question! Ha ha.)
Now here’s why this question is so important and why it’s crucial to begin asking it while you’re still dating: You’re learning when you ask this question whether or not this person in your life is someone you can have these kinds of discussions with.
Being married is like being in an endless conversation in which you never stop talking and you never stop figuring out your life together. So when you’re dating, as you talk about how the space between you is, you’re learning what you both want, what you both think is healthy and normal, what you’re looking for in a partner—you’re laying the foundation for a lifelong conversation that will help your relationship flourish and thrive.
Kristen and I were friends for four years before we ever got together. So when we started dating, we knew a lot about each other. There weren’t any secrets—we could talk about anything. But often, you meet someone and start dating and you have no history. You’re learning so much about them on the fly, from how they handle conflict to what they want in life. All of it, everything about both of you, affects the space between you.
You zimzum, they zimzum, the two of you creating space for the other to thrive, space that is electric with love and energy and possibility. And just asking the question, “How’s the space between us?”, can begin the most important conversation you can possibly have about your life together.
Rob and Kristen Bell are the authors of THE ZIMZUM OF LOVE: A New Way of Understanding Marriage (HarperOne, October 28, 2014).
Order the book here: