Update from 2021: this post was written nearly 10 years ago, and reveals about my own naivete. It's judgy and reflects society's bias towards being in a relationship. But I'm going to leave mostly unedited, and hope it entertains you.
There are two types of relationship virgins: voluntary and involuntary. I’m speaking to those who actively avoid romantic relationships out of pickiness, not wanting to be tied down, or any various factors—but secretly desire to be in one. For the latter group, I hope you don’t identify as an incel. But if you do, try reading this.
Most of my argument to get some relationship experience is based on one assumption:
You want to be married one day.
Getting relationship experience is hugely important. There are skills related to maintaining and growing relationships that most relationship virgins don’t realize. You have a gauntlet to go through – a relationship journey, if you will – that involves not just learning how to treat someone you’re intimate with, but also learning about yourself as a person. In fact, relationships can be the truest mirrors. Here’s a short list of valuable things I learned about and experienced through relationships:
- How to keep your social life balanced
- Jealousy and a range of other emotions
- Pettiness (arguing over who’s right about stupid shit)
- Hilariousness (some of my fondest memories in life are funny things shared in relationships)
- Being judgmental (the #1 killer…)
- Physical intimacy is ridiculously addictive
- Using each other as backup plans if we have nothing else to do. Muahahah.
- Figuring out my likes and dislikes in a long-term partner (I LOVE a woman who likes to cooks. Even better if it’s for me.)
No matter how smart you are, no one can predict how competent they can be in a relationship until they start one. This isn’t something you can study. Like almost all worthwhile endeavors in life, relationships have to be experienced.
With that said, this is the most common reason I hear from people on why they’ve never been in a relationship:
I don’t want to be tied down right now. I’ll settle down when I’m ready.
There is nothing wrong with this statement. But this may speak to an underlying mentality that one can simply start a serious relationship when ready. That’s like thinking you can run a marathon tomorrow without any previous training. The thing is, it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to completely feel like we’ve “figured our lives out.” Doubtful? Let’s do a rough life plan right now:
- Let’s say you’re 24.
- You want to be dating at least 2 years before marriage.
- You want to be married by age 28.
- You want kids by age 30 (biologically preferable for women).
That means you should meet your wife when you’re 26. If you think you’d like to have at least 1 – 2 years of relationship experience before meeting your future spouse – and you’ve never had a significant other yet – then the time to experience relationships is now.
I know the above assumptions don’t work for everyone, and I’m too lazy right now to build an Excel model for different scenarios. But the point is that our window of time to “figure things out” and be ready for marriage, depending on our assumptions, may be a lot shorter than we think.
Aside: it’s okay to set goals for relationships, marriage and having kids. Your peers might argue that you can’t plan out something like “love”, but then why do we plan out our careers and the rest of our lives so much? Is the person we’re going to marry and the children we hope to raise someday not as important as our career goals?
Before I make you think you have to start a relationship now, here are a few considerations/exceptions to my arguments above:
- Being in a relationship will not automatically make you a better person / ready for marriage. Some people can end up bitter and even disillusioned about the other sex.
- On the other spectrum of this post, you may need to experience being single, because you’ve only transitioned from relationship to relationship. It’s important to develop a sense of self, too.
- Just because the above life plan seems structured, doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous and flexible in your relationships.
Agree? Disagree? Have a completely different way that you think about relationships? I’ve enabled comments now (had problems with spam before) please leave your thoughts below.