Outside The Box: The Problem With Making Relationship Checklists

by The Ambrose Girls

One of our favorite movies featuring the ever-so-sexy Zac Efron is “That Awkward Moment.”

As it follows three best friends on their quest to not date any women (which they all miserably fail at), this entertaining rom-com encompasses everything about the dating lives of young 20-somethings.

However, we couldn't help but notice one huge, striking commonality with this movie, and a sad trend in our modern dating world.

In the movie, Zac Efron’s friend, Mikey, is going through a separation with his college sweetheart and wife. She cheated on him, and the whole situation hits him like a ton of bricks.

While seeking counsel from his bros, he says, “I did what I was supposed to do. I checked all the boxes.”

This struck a severe cord because when it comes to dating, people do this all of the time.

Checking the boxes is a gloriously flawed concept. It promulgates the idea that there are milestones in our lives that should come in a sequential order, and it is our duty as functioning adults to check them off accordingly.

For a relationships, the ingrained path of checking boxes goes like this: boy and girl meet; boy and girl start dating; boy and girl continue to date for a certain amount of time; boy and girl get engaged; boy and girl get married and boy and girl live happily ever after.

Does anyone else see any glaring issues with this?

For starters, life is far too unpredictable to be able to simplify the major milestones in any sort of sequential order.

The second and most offensive part of this concept is the pressure it creates to check off boxes, purely just to follow what society deems is the right path.

It influences some poor souls to make decisions they otherwise would not want to make.

So yes, when it comes to relationships and checking the boxes, many people do it. But the fault is not solely on the people who check the boxes; it is a much bigger issue than that.

We have been exposed to what we “should” be doing for basically our entire lives. These “shoulds” are now deeply deep-seated in our collective subconscious.

If any young adult is in a relationship past a certain point, people start to ask when he or she will get engaged, or if this partner is “the one.”

How frequently do people congratulate a newly engaged couple with the phrase, “It’s about time already?"

This phrase proves how often we blindly follow and abide to this checking of the boxes.

Why else would that be an inherently asked and appropriate question if it wasn’t “our duty” to get engaged after a relationship reaches a certain point?

What if the man or woman in said relationship is not genuinely interested in furthering the relationship, but does so simply because he or she feels obligated to check that box?

Why does there have to be a relationship timeline? And why does anyone feel a need to get engaged?

Is it possible to be perfectly happy in a healthy committed relationship, without a diamond perched on a woman's perfectly polished left ring finger?

According to society and our dating world, it is not possible to just be happy being happy.

There is an escalation for more, and a need for society to categorize your relationship. You have to get engaged and continue your box checking.

The whole idea of checking the boxes is a sad concept most of us follow.

It can put unnecessary pressure on a relationship, and it can make the couple feel as if they have to make a decision about their future after an allotted amount of time passes.

This results in the couple hastily making a decision that affects them for a lifetime, and that is straight up f*cked.

We vote to screw the damn boxes.

Who cares if you’re 40 and single, but you love it? Who cares if you have lived with your boyfriend for six years and have no plans for engagement, but you are happy all the time?

Who cares if you have a good relationship with your child’s parent, but do not want to get married?

Life's too short to be classified into tiny little boxes you have to check off. You’re the only one who needs to dictate your life, and only you choose which boxes to check.