Friday, December 3, 2010

when does a relationship turn serious?

In the past couple weeks I've had a few conversations about chivalry, dating, independence and the role that they each play in dating or relationships. Among those conversations, the one that stood out the most to me was defining the seriousness of a relationship -- and when you compromise your independence.

Most 20-somethings fresh out of college are thinking about establishment...they aren't always focused on a relationship -- which can make for an unplanned transition in priorities and goals. Instead, they are hoping to land a good job with the ideal plan being to find something that has a salary that:
  1. Allows you to maintain your lifestyle -- whether it be one you're growing into or one you're desperately holding on to.
  2. Pay off debts -- school loans, car notes, credit cards, etc.
  3. SAVE! So you can make all the big purchases you want: houses, cars, jet ski, etc.
  4. Invest: business, property, real estate, retirement etc.
For a lot of us, our pay check is dedicated to #1 and #2, leaving less attention to focus on #3 and #4. I'm sure you can see how this can turn into a bigger tangent than intended, so let me go ahead and move into how this ties into dating.

Many times in your 20's you often find the person you will end up marrying, but before you get to the point of marriage there's this little dance we all have to do called "dating." Which many times we can date multiple people -- even at the same time. BUT the biggest question many struggle with is, "when does a relationship turn serious?" and "what will I be sacrificing?"

For me the answer is simple: its when you stop living in the moment and start planning for the future; together.

A serious relationship is pretty much the practice run for how your marriage will work with that particular person. Your communication and approach on disagreements wont change just because there is a ring. If priorities and goals aren't on a similar accord, you'll end up in two different places. And finally, one of the most critical aspects, you inherit each others good/bad financial decisions (debts, credit, etc.).

When you enter into a serious relationship you have to consult each other before making major purchases or life decisions for the simple reason that now your actions don't just affect you -- ring or not. Its crucial for the consideration and mutual respect you should display for each other -- and to also prevent acting on impulse when in hindsight it may be a bad decision.

I know its a hard concept to understand because many men a list of what they need to have/accomplish before they deem themselves ready for marriage...which I can understand and relate to from the perspective of being a provider. Many women want to establish themselves and their independence -- which I can understand as well from wanting the same things for myself. Both are meant for those who are single; when you're in a relationship its simple -- you have an obligation and responsibility to another person and that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you disagree...then you're probably not with the person you believe you're going to marry.


Anonymous said...

I was reading this blog, I think this post assumes, and is applicable to, a heteronormative relationship with hegemonic gender roles/scripts and does not acknowledge relationships outside that paradigm.

However, that aside, I find it interesting that you use the terms of money and economics to discuss the shift to defining a "serious relationship".

Money is the number one cause of divorce (along with infidelity), so I see the parallels and how you might invert this into your lens of
"seriousness." I agree with your statement, "its when you stop living in the moment and start planning for the future; together." However, I
think that future planning can be done independently. I know that may seem
like an oxymoron "independently together" but this describes the healthiest, happiest relationships I know.

Also, the fundamental premise that a man must have his finances settled before engaging in a serious relationship is predicated on the
assumption that a) the male is required to be financially responsible in order to be equipped b) the man must be the provider.
Both, I feel, need to acknowledge that women also need to be financially responsible and able to provide for themselves - even if that means
making financial decisions/investments outside the means of a male or input of a male partner.
I think I am still holding on to the belief and faith that the person that I will be in a serious or life long partnership with will be equally yoked in
similar values/priorities/fate so that a major purchase or life decision will not hinder our relationship, nor do I want to be a boundary for them. Instead I should be someone who is there with them and someone they include in that decision.

My questions to you are the following:

1. What do you mean when you say establishment and independence is meant for the "single"?
2. When you use the term "provider" what defines that condition and

I want to say thanks for opening a dialogue of some of the difficult conversations most relationships avoid.

Randy Z. said...

Thanks for reading. To answer your questions:

1. What I mean by establishment and independence are for being single is that before you enter into a relationship you should have a strong foundation of who you are -- establish that. If not you'll forever be in search of who you are and when you discover that there is a high possibility that that person will not mesh well with your current partner. Independence, well with anything you want in life there is compromise. When you enter into a relationship you compromise some of your independence to the mutual accountability/responsibility of another person.

2. Its pretty self explanatory; depending on the influence of feminism from the perspective of the reader.