Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The perils of prolonged dating (and cohabitation)

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I tend not to give lifestyle advice in this blog - but here is a subject which I am pretty sure about...

For this post I will leave aside the Christian perspective, and simply use the the mainstream secular hedonic/ utilitarian calculus about 'what makes people happy'.

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It is nearly always a mistake to have long term and sexual relationships outside of marriage if you ever hope or intend to become married - especially for women.

This is because a prolonged close relationship induces psychological dependency (yes, it does); and this dependency is exacerbated when the relationship is sexual; and this dependency is further exacerbated when there is cohabitation.

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(Plus, the gratification of a sexual relationship makes it easier to delay and delay a decision to split; but if there no sexual relationship outwith marriage, then there would be a greater and increasing pressure either to get on with it and marry, or split ASAP.)

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So it may prove difficult/ impossible/ or take a prolonged and miserable period for a person to extricate themselves from a long term dating relationship.

Yet the very fact of a long term dating/ cohabiting relationship is de facto evidence that the other person is not suitable for marriage, that the couple are not suitable marriage partners.

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So people get stuck, sometimes for ages, in a relationship that is 'going nowhere' because on the one hand they do not want to marry (to 'commit') to their partner, but on the other hand they have become dependent (psychologically, perhaps sexually) - and find it extremely hard to break away.

(Plus, being in a relationship going nowhere, or especially cohabiting, will at least deter much more suitable potential marriage partners from dating you - and may mean that you altogether miss the chance of marriage to a real soulmate due to the complications and compromises of being in a semi-detached situation.)

This situation of 'cannot commit but cannot split' can persist for many years, especially through the careerist twenties; and (especially for women) may continue until it is 'too late' for marriage and/or family.

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So, my advice is, if possible, to date people from your 'circle', so you already know their reputation (and what they are like) before you start dating; then swiftly evaluate whether they are suitable to marry (to make a permanent commitment with) - and this process should take a few months at most.

(Therefore do not, except in exceptional circumstances, let the dating drag-on past 6 months-a year.)

You will soon know either to get engaged with a fixed plan to marry at such and such a time, or else to split-up.

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(The above almost always applies except where the person involved is a psychopath, and is immune to dependency (or rather, is unable to love); and is simply using their partner as a supplier of sexual gratification. But there is also a sense in which prolonged dating relationships tend to make people into exploitative psychopaths: to develop psychopathic habits.)