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I’m 21 years old and obsessed with marriage. I size someone up on a first date and start wondering if they are marriage material. If a guy even gives me his number I start wondering if he is marriage material. I know this probably isn’t healthy. How can I just enjoy being single and go on dates without obsessing about marriage?
If every guy who gave his number to a girl was seriously considering marriage then we’d have to all move to Utah and practice polygamy. Joking aside, it isn’t in your best interest to be thinking about marriage before you even get to know the person. It’s fine if you want marriage in your future – that’s respectable and healthy – but not so healthy to be “obsessed” with it.
See this time in your life as an opportunity to meet lots of people and learn more about the type of guy you’d ultimately want to settle down with and marry. What qualities and values would he have? What are his interests and goals? More importantly, are they in line with yours? This is an important time in your life for self-development. Get to know what makes you tick and what you stand for. Failure to do so and jumping into marriage could lead you to feel unfulfilled and to experience marital troubles down the road. Way too often I see couples in my practice who rushed into marriage and shortly thereafter problems arose.
Society has led us to believe that we are supposed to be married and have the proverbial 2.1 kids. This message is supported by cultural norms and expectations and can have quite the impact on people as they get out there and date. Take a step back and ask yourself: what’s wrong with being single at the age of 21? Once you’re okay with this, you’ll be able to go out there and enjoy being single, take things one date at a time and develop a healthy relationship with a marriage-minded beau.
Jonathan Alpert is a Manhattan psychotherapist and author. He appears on national TV commenting on sex and relationship issues as well as lifestyle, mental health, and hot-button issues. Get more of Jonathan’s great advice in his new book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.