I’ve heard that archeologists will date anything….. oh come on – that was gold, GOLD I tell ya!
Dating can be a lot of fun, or it can be disastrous – either way, it always ends up as a great story to tell your friends. For example, a long time ago in a land far away, a young lady (who now operates some online women’s magazine based out of Springfield, Mo) was set up on a blind date with some friends. It started out fun enough until said date became a little inebriated and ended up kissing one of the lass’ friends. She never saw him again and lived happily ever after! Lucky for this dashing dame, not all of her dates ended so badly – although there was that one time where blueberry-flavored vape juice ended up in her nostrils, but that’s a story for another day!
So what happens when things start to get a little serious? How do you know when you’ve crossed the “dating” and “committed S/O” line? Do you freak out and dodge your partner, do you become clingy and needy, or are you looking for a long-lasting mature relationship? And more importantly, if it is the latter, how do you know marriage is for you?
First and Foremost, Marriage Isn’t for Everyone
Contrary to popular belief, marriage isn’t for everyone and there are tons of statistics that prove it!
According to a recent Gallup poll, 64% of adults aged 18 to 29 have “never been married” and are not living with significant others. This number has risen since 2004, when only 52% identified as single.
I know what you are thinking – 29 years old is still young. There’s plenty of time to get married. You are probably right, except that more and more women nowadays are chasing career dreams instead of the accepted norm of coming out of college, settling down with someone and making some babies.
In time.com, Kerry Close writes, “from 1980 to 2010, the proportion of American women who were married fell from 74% to 56%. Now one researcher has looked more deeply into the reasons for that trend. In a recent paper, Na’ama Shenhav, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, contends that women’s rising earnings relative to men’s is responsible for about 20% of the decline in the marriage rate.”
While marriage may be declining, this hasn’t stopped people in the U.S. from becoming a parent – about 41% of all births in the U.S. are now taking place outside of marriage.
In summary, it isn’t wrong if marriage isn’t your cup of tea – and if marriage is something you want to treasure and hold, that’s fine too! My philosophy is live and let live. Rumi summed this up perfectly when he said, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Signs You Aren’t Ready for Marriage
So there are some obvious signs marriage isn’t for you, whether that is because it simply isn’t the right time yet, you aren’t ready or because you genuinely aren’t interested in the whole concept of marriage. Keep in mind that experiencing some uncertainty or fear about walking down the aisle is totally normal, but in the case of whether or not you are ready for the jump, behavior speaks louder than feelings.
- When talking about your dreams and future, your significant other isn’t anywhere in it.
Going back to school, getting that awesome corporate job, buying that fancy car and house are usually a part of someone’s grand dream, but if a relationship doesn’t fit in your life vision, then marriage may not be in your near future..at least not now anyways.
- You avoid meeting your S/O’s relatives like the plague.
You’ve been dating for a while, and then they pop the question, “Would you like to meet my parents?” Instead of jumping at the chance, you immediately start thinking up excuses as to why you will have to cancel that dinner with your partner’s parents.
- If you are unreliable, emotionally immature, and/or super flirtatious with other people.
Breaking agreements, flirting with others nonchalantly in front of your boyfriend or girlfriend or even leaving them wondering if you are interested in them at all are tell-tale signs you aren’t ready to settle down. Or, if you leave your partner crying or disappointed more often than not, this usually means you aren’t emotionally mature enough to be in a relationship – why not hit up tinder instead and go do your thing with other individuals who also aren’t ready to settle down?
- You aren’t ready for marriage if you are “me” centered instead of “we” centered.
Being in a relationship means having to think about your partner and their needs, interests and schedule too – if this is beyond your capabilities, then a long-term relationship isn’t going to make you or your partner happy.
- You have complex ongoing relationships with exes.
Being friends with your ex is a perfectly normal thing, but when you still have feelings for them and ache at the fact your relationship is over, then you probably shouldn’t be in a relationship with someone else. Maybe you are trying to fill a void or perhaps they are simply a rebound to you, regardless, you are just going to end up hurting them, so you might as well let them off the hook and suffer alone – that sounds mean but it’s true.
- You have gecko syndrome.
Something many people have experienced at one time or another, gecko syndrome is when you have one eye on your current partner, and the other looking out for something better to come along. You may even love who you are with now, but if you are always seeking the next best thing, marriage is definitely not for you.
- You don’t trust your partner enough to share your emotions and thoughts with them.
Communication is a basis for all relationships whether personal, professional or familial and if you are holding back in your relationship, marriage may not be the best bet for you. Spending the rest of your life with someone means learning how to be with them – you are going to hit a few speed bumps along the way and if you can’t talk it out, then marriage is going to be one massive hurdle for you and your partner.
- The majority of your relationships have been short.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that you will never be ready for marriage. I have a friend whose longest relationship was three months, and his next longest relationship, which is currently ongoing, has been with his wife of four years now (and counting). Whether you sabotage the relationship by driving your partner away or you are a chronic dumper, your relationships perhaps started off sweet, but ended rather abruptly – if this is you, be weary of putting a ring on someone else’s finger or accepting a ring from your lover.
- You are injured or broken in some way.
Bringing your past into the present, punishing your partner unconsciously (or consciously) for what your ex did to you is a sign you aren’t ready for marriage. It’s time to either heal and get over it, or stop using your pain as an excuse to not commit. Why not just try being honest in the first place and say, “I just want to fool around and I’m not looking for anything serious.” Sure, many people won’t want to waste their time on you, but others will appreciate the honesty and may take you up on your offer. Either way, at least you aren’t hurting anyone.
- You have “hot and cold” syndrome.
One minute you can’t stop thinking about or talking to this amazing person you are seeing, and the next you go days without a simple text or phone call. All passion in one moment and crickets in the next make for an uncommitted person indeed.
- You find and focus on all the reasons your current relationship won’t work.
This can be a really subtle behavior, partaken in the privacy of your own mind. Whether you are nitpicking how your partner is, or purposely finding reasons why you both won’t last together, keep in mind whatever you focus on may become a reality. Where’s your main focus in your relationship?
As stated before, getting married and settling down is neither right nor wrong – it is all up to your own personal preference. And while the norm is to eventually settle down and get married, you aren’t weird or bad if it isn’t for you. And if you ARE the settle-down-and-get-married type, that is fine as well! My recommendation is to find a partner whose interests match your own.