Dating is a normal part of life. We look at the adorable couples in kindergarten holding hands for the first time, and it’s nearly impossible not to melt from the cuteness. But unless their names are Cory and Topanga, we don’t expect it to last long.
Fast forward to about 15 years later, and it’s not so cute when the man in the relationship is still acting like the player running the playground of chicks.
Dear all men in their early 20s,
The dating world may be as much fun for you as the monkey bars were as a little kid. There are plenty of obstacles and levels of difficulty to work up to, you have the ability to show off your smooth skills and superior strength, and when you conquer the row and make it out the other end, you’re practically ready for your coronation as king.
But, you’re in your 20s now and you're trying to enter the real world — if you’re not there already. Dating no longer belongs on the playground.
Asking a girl out is about more than running up to her, asking her to be your girlfriend and then running away quickly, only to break up with her the next day. (Let’s face it: There was always that kid in kindergarten.)
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, either. Dating a woman in her 20s by no means at all translates into her necessarily wanting commitment from you. You both may be too far from achieving certain educational or professional goals to plan out the next 50 or even five years together. That’s normal.
However, commitment and consideration are two very different things, and they should not be confused. The very fact you are in a relationship means you’re not in it alone, at least not at the moment.
That comes with a lot of good things (often including an endless supply of baked goods, too), but it also means you both will be considering each other in the decisions you make, or at the very least, be considerate enough to include each other in your own decision-making process.
It’s four simple words: “What do you think?”
Realize if you’re making a decision — whether it’s how to spend your summer or what city you’ll live in for the next few years — and you do not want to consider your girlfriend in your choices, maybe you shouldn’t be in that relationship. And that’s okay! But, if you’re dating her, I’m assuming you care about her. And, if you care about her, be considerate enough to her to take the time to think through your relationship before stringing her along.
If it ends well for you guys, that’s awesome. But, more often than not, our early-20s see a lot of breakups and heartbreaks. If they didn’t, the story about the Princess and the Frog wouldn’t resonate so well or become the classic story every bride uses at her wedding.
But, the way you handle the break up is important. Not every relationship ends because your feelings for one another are gone. But, pulling on our pigtails and hurting us doesn’t communicate the message you still care either.
Leave the tough guy act at the bar or on the football field. When dealing with someone you care about, you’re doing a lot more harm than good by lying about your feelings instead of being slightly vulnerable.
Next time you’re having a problem — whether you’re confused about whether you’re on the same page or you’re having trouble making sacrifices for her — I have an easier solution for you: Think through your issue and just tell her.
She might surprise you, or you might find you shouldn’t be in that relationship. Either way, you’ll both have answers. There’s nothing more frustrating for us than being left in the dark.
And, we promise it won’t harm your street cred.