High Stakes Dating
I saw a young woman in the elevator the other day. In her arms, she lightly bounced a newborn baby. I told her that her baby was beautiful and asked how old he was. She replied that he was just three weeks old.
“Your first?” I asked.
“No, my fourth,” was her reply.
I was surprised. When I say she looked young , I mean she looked around my age. Certainly not old enough to have four kids. “Wow! You look so young; I never would have thought you could have four kids!”
“I mean, I am 28.” Her tone basically said, “I am so old, of course I have four kids.”
I’m only a half a year away from 28.
At some point, if you are a person who wants to get married and have children someday, you enter this phase I am calling “High Stakes Dating.”
It happens to different people at different times. For me, it happened somewhere right after I turned 27. Suddenly, every decision I make is crucial. Every month I stay with someone is a commitment to the future.
Gone are the days of “just having fun” or “seeing where this is going.” No longer can you stay with someone unless you can see yourself marrying him or her. And when you break someone’s heart, or they break yours, the stakes are different.
They are higher.
Maybe you date someone for a year, and then realize they aren’t for you. Well you just took away a year of this person’s life in which they could have found someone else. Gone is a year of your fertility (particularly if you are a woman). Gone are all those guys who were single a year ago, and have been snatched off the market while you were wasting your time with the wrong guy.
Most days, I don’t let this kind of thinking get to me. But then I see a 28-year-old on the elevator who has four kids.
Things have been going great with Chef. He makes me incredibly happy. I could not ask for a more caring, attentive man. We have a lot of fun together and I love being with him.
But then ask me how long we’ve been together, and I get a little panicky. It will be two years this summer since our first date.
And I think he wants to marry me.
Okay, I don’t think. I know. He’s said it.
Chef’s apartment complex is being demolished in September, so he needs to move. We’ve been talking about him possibly moving in with me. He’d like to use the opportunity to save money to buy me a ring.
He doesn’t want to move in with me unless we are planning to spend the rest of our lives together. He’s learned from his past and says he doesn’t want to move in with someone casually ever again.
I, however, am in the other camp. With my ex, I insisted that we get engaged before we moved in together. And then, when living together revealed the truth about him, I vowed to live with a guy before I committed to marrying him.
I love Chef. I’m certain he’d be a great husband and father. But something is holding me back.
I’m scared for everything to change. I’m worried about making a mistake. I don’t trust my own instincts. Scratch that, my instincts are all over the place. I truly don’t know what I want to do.
When did life get so complicated?
When did I become an adult?
Why can’t there be a test drive for living together? Or for getting married, for that fact?
Why is every decision so critical? When did the stakes get so high?
Chef has been feeling some of the same emotions as me. While I think he’s less commitment-phobic, he’s also somewhat uncertain about the next steps in our relationship. We’ve decided that we should make a decision by the end of July. Which should be interesting, considering my sister’s baby is due just around then. A new baby could have an interesting impact on my emotional well-being.
I asked advice of my happily married friend. “At some point, you just make a choice,” she said. “You decide that this is the person you are going to commit your life to. And then when you have a family, you commit your life to the family. You don’t worry about if there are others for you. You’ve chosen a life with him.”
I jokingly told Chef I would poll my readers on whether we should move in together. You should have seen his face. Clearly, this is not a decision I should ask you to make for me (although that would probably make my life a lot easier!).
But do you have any advice for how to make the decision? How do you know what’s right?
Is there anyone out there experiencing High Stakes Dating?
Can anyone recommend a good life coach?
Copyright 2012. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.