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Let’s face it, dating life was much simpler in college, when being romantic was paying for your current significant other’s bar tab, and all you had to have in common was free time and your own room. The older you get, the more your dating life has to mature and evolve. It all depends on personal preference. Some like to continue to play the field and just have fun throughout all stages of their 20s, but more than likely at some point in your life you’re going to realize that you don’t want to die alone and you may actually want kids to love, care for, and spend every single goddamn dime you’ve ever earned on.
This is where things get more complex. When you’re getting to the point where settling down is actually an option, there are some real world factors that matter a little more than whatever faux romantic bullshit happens in The Notebook. While Hollywood has given an unattainable aura of how romantic and sappy a relationship is supposed to be, in reality, there’s some serious shit you really need to address before you decide you’re taking the plunge with someone. The romantic stuff can help out, but eventually, the real issues will be what decide if you make the grade.
You can’t start anything new without factoring in the past, and while it’s not recommended to bring that up on the first date, at some point if you’re getting serious you need to address the baggage you both bring in. One of you has some serious trust issues due to a shitty ex? Oh, you’ve cheated in a few of your relationships? Relationship with your family either extremely volatile or almost creepily Bates Motel close? These are things you don’t want to have come up for the first time after you two have already walked down the aisle.
Also important is addressing each other’s life goals and future hopes. Yeah, you guys may have clicked in college when you both were fun and only had to worry about getting to class the next day, but when she wants a suburban family life while you envision a life of non-stop traveling and spontaneity, you’re gonna clash a bit. When people say “opposites attract,” they forget to add “opposites attract, but then their fundamental life differences and goals caused a huge rift and one of them ended up in a bitter life they didn’t imagine for quite some time.” While you may find someone who shares your exact dreams, more often a reasonable compromise needs to be accomplished before you can even think about a long term together.
Cash Rules Everything Around Me, but unless you guys have Wu Tang Financial calling the shots, you’re going to need to agree on how you spend your money, and how to handle each other’s debts if they are brought into the relationship. So what about how the person you’re dating in college spends their cash? That’s not your problem. But when you’re thinking about signing a long-term extension with a significant someone, you better damn well hope you can agree on how you value money, saving, and budgeting. If not, you’ll be at each other’s throats like Sprewell.
Moving in together will address a lot of that, and I highly recommend living together before you choose to go any further. Nothing gets you acquainted to what life will be like with this person for the next 50 years like a few months in close quarters. This isn’t the 50s, so go ahead and give living together a trial run before marriage. You’ll thank yourself. Couples who choose not to live together until they say “I Do” are setting themselves up for stress and failure. You think you’re head over heels for your spouse until you realize that they have a habit of leaving their trash around the house and haven’t ever done their own laundry. There are few better ways to get a scouting report on someone than waking up next to them every morning.
One thing that won’t address for you, however, is what will become the most important thing at some point: kids and parenting. You scoff now, but at some point, you may like to leave behind your legacy in the form of some unappreciative children. That’s when you really need to be on board with your significant other more than ever, because nothing will drive a couple apart faster than disagreeing on how to raise your kids. Diet, punishment, values- even how much damn TV you think they should watch- it’ll all come up and you better be on the same page. If not, it’ll be a whole different kind of shitstorm, because people can be animals when it comes to their kids.
Also, be comfortable farting in front of each other..