The Long-Term Commitment
Before you read any further:
We all want to get the girls, no point arguing about that, but we all have different reasons. Some of us are looking for sex with no strings attached. Some of us are looking for something "serious" but for a short term, and some of us are looking for a long-term commitment, even (gasp) marriage.
If you belong to the first two groups, then this post is probably not for you, but if you belong to that third group (or think you'll eventually belong to it) I think you will find it interesting.
Let's take a minute to fantasize about the perfect committed relationship: having a relationship like that means that you have a companion. Someone you can trust. Someone you can completely open up to and get to know better than anyone else. Someone who will stick by your side for better and for worse, through thick and thin, forever. Someone you can love.
Now let's go back to reality and try to figure out how we can find this perfect someone.
As with everything else in life, a good place to start is trying to figure out what it is exactly that you want. Don't be afraid to be specific. On the contrary, be as specific and picky as you possibly can. Telling yourself that your ideal mate is a brunette with straight, shoulder-length hair, brown eyes, slim figure, about 5'7", 115 pounds, small butt, C cup chest, who is a part time novelist, part time veterinary doctor who lives in a small house in the suburbs, drives a Honda, owns a brownish-gold Labrador Retriever named Sparky and spends her spare time playing the Cello is far better than thinking: "hmmm… a blond would be kinda nice". By having a pretty good idea of what you're looking for, you will have better chances to actually find it.
Now that you know what you're looking for, it's time to start looking. I'm not going to discuss this process in detail as it is continuously being discussed in this community . Suffice it to say that this step is mandatory and you should have enough confidence to pursue every woman that strikes your fancy. If you don't make the effort to find what you're looking for, you will never find what you're looking for. Simple, cruel and very true. Ms. Rights do not tend to fall from the stars straight into your arms.
Once you've found someone that seems to match this incredibly picky profile of yours, it's time to start the most important step – qualification. People are complicated beings. Part of what makes them so complicated is what we call their "personality". A "personality", according to Meriam-Webster, is "the totality of an individual's behavioral and emotional characteristics". Each person has hundreds (or thousands) of these "characteristics" and the combination of them is what makes this person unique.
Now, when you're looking for a long-term relationship, compatible personalities are probably the number one issue. But with so many characteristics involved in shaping one's personality, how can you really tell what's compatible and what isn't? Well, I actually have an easy way for you (you lucky bastard). You need to make two lists (in your mind or in your notebook):
The first one should include positive traits that you absolutely require and even more importantly, negative traits you will not tolerate under any circumstances. We'll call this list the Requirements List.
The second list should include positive traits that are important to you but are not mandatory, as well as quirks you can live with. We'll call this second list the Bonus List.
Now, you should have a pretty good idea of what your Requirements List includes even before you go looking for someone. The Bonus List really comes into play once you meet a person that seems to have passed your requirements. These lists are not written in stone either. They should be modified as you get to meet and qualify (or disqualify) more people. Having these two lists makes it relatively easy to judge whether the woman you're dating is "relationship material" or not.
When you make your final judgment or qualification you have to abide by one simple rule: you should never compromise on your Requirements List! If you do, then sooner or later your relationship will explode, causing pain to you, your partner and anyone else involved in your relationship (can you say children?). Compromises should be limited only to things on your Bonus List.
After you've found your perfect match, the next step is to spend a long time together with her to prove that your perfect compatibility is not a fluke. By "long time" I mean exactly that. A very long time! A couple of years! The reason is simple: if you're in for a long ride anyway, you may as well delay the really big commitments (the ring, kids, buying a house together, etc.) until you're absolutely sure she is indeed "the one", rather than rush things and get burned. This approach will also address another serious issue – the "should I stop looking?" issue. If you spend a couple of years with one woman and you don't feel the need to continue looking, then I'd say you're ready.
Now, in a perfect world, everything I wrote here would probably be true. Sadly, however, this world is not perfect. People change. You might find the perfect woman who matches you initial profile, complies with every requirement on your Requirements List and have most of the things on your Bonus List, get married, have kids and after 10 years find out that the two of you are no longer compatible. I'm sorry to tell you that I don't really have an answer to that. The only thing you can do to minimize the chances that this will happen to you is to take things very slowly and one step at a time. Making a commitment is something very serious that should not be taken lightly. There are too many divorces and too many single-parented families in America today as a result of people "rushing" into commitment.
Take your time and you will have better chances to be successful.
Thank you for reading this long post. As usual, your comments are welcome.