(Photo by Selma Komisky)
The Pitfalls of Entering a Relationship Too Early
It’s almost a requirement to date someone by the time you’re 16 years old in the US. People think it’s even more odd if you’ve entered college and haven’t gone on a date. I’m a 21-year-old college senior, haven’t dated anyone, and am still single. On the other hand, I have at least six married or engaged friends. People frequently ask me how I’ve navigated life without a guy catching my eye and tease me when I tell them, “I just haven’t found the right guy yet.” They say I’m too picky––and maybe I am. I don’t want to settle for just anyone and want to make sure that the guy I love and I are both ready for a relationship. Entering a relationship too early, even if it’s with a great person, comes with pitfalls.
It’s important to figure out who you are before you date someone, and especially if you’re considering engagement or marriage. If you know who you are, you won’t change yourself to fit your significant other’s standards. For example, some girls love eating lots of food. However, they’ll order a salad on dates when they really want a juicy half-pound burger, complete with fries and a milkshake.
In conjunction with this, it’s important to make sure you’re mature enough to handle a relationship. Relationships require two committed people and a one-sided relationship cannot flourish into a beautiful flower. You have to spend time with the other person and realize that they are a human being with emotions, desires, and needs. They may unintentionally snap at you when they’ve had a bad day, but you can’t take it as a personal attack. They may need personal space and just want a day alone, even though you want to watch a movie together. They might have a different idea altogether of a relationship and you’ll have to sort out your standards together. You’ll have fights and will have to work through them. It’s a myth that the perfect couple never argue.
Another downside of rushing into a relationship is prioritizing your new relationship above other important ones. Many people spend a great amount of time with their loved one and tell their friends “I’m too busy” when they want to hang out or “I’m already going on a date that night.” Quality time with your girlfriend or boyfriend is important, but friendships hold higher value. Don’t desert friends for dates, but don’t ditch your date either. Figure out a plan that balances the scales, such as designating a specific date night.
And, of course, there’s love at first sight. Although I do have a good friend that met and married her spouse within a year, establishing a relationship too early can also make it die quickly. My friend gave me a great example that illustrates this. For example, when you mix soap and water, it foams up and stays for a bit, but then it fizzles out quickly. That’s what happens when relationships begin too quickly. Don’t date someone simply because you feel attracted to their looks or one particular thing. Get to know them first as a friend. Find out what makes them tick, what angers them, what annoys them, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You want to know who a person really is before, not after, you start dating.
If you have a good guy or girlfriend, don’t assume you have to date them, especially if other people pressure you into a relationship. I’ve heard too many stories of good friends who dated each other and couldn’t stay friends after they broke up. It’s a sad, yet true tale that plagues society. If you know you really want to start a relationship with a good friend, talk it over with them first and make sure what you feel is actually love and not just familial affection.
On that note, relationships of convenience are another thing to avoid. Family, friends, and peers may pressure you to find a significant other because you’re over the age of 20, but don’t let them run your life. Settling for someone just for the sake of dating is not a good idea because love should come naturally. It’s also not fair for both of you because you’re not devoted to the other person, so the relationship can become one-sided. Although these relationships can work out, it’s better to remain patient for the man or woman God has for you.
These are just a few of the problems that arise when people enter a relationship too early. If you’re still single, don’t fret. Patience is a virtue and you’ll receive a great reward for the time you’ve waited. Avoid the trap of pressure. If it’s God’s plan for you to marry, you’ll find that person eventually. Even if you’re ready for a relationship, He might still be working in the other person’s life and molding them into the person you’ll eventually marry.