The Case for Dating at Least Four Seasons

by Dana Boyle on November 11, 2011

Falling in love is one of the most powerful intoxicants.  Scientific studies show that all the feel good hormones in your body go wild when you fall for someone, and all those sparks give you more energy than you would otherwise have, make you feel like you’re on top of the world, and sometimes even cloud your judgment.

Some say when you meet “the one” you know it immediately.  I did.  I probably would have married him six months into dating him had he asked me then, even though my more logical and rational mind would have whispered to me to evaluate things a little longer.  We talked about marriage very early on, but it was a “when the time comes” kind of conversation.  I think we’ve both known from the beginning, but we took our courtship deliberately and enjoyed every moment of it.

Every step of the way, we tried to be present in the moment and enjoy where we were, one milestone and moment at a time.  We talked about our expectations for marriage, how we envisioned our potential spouses, how we envisioned engagement, wedding topics, you name it, in those first months of dating.

About four months into dating my husband, one of my best friends got engaged.  She met her husband about two weeks before I met mine.  When I told David, he was a little nervous about it.  I could tell he was wondering what I thought about it.  I made it clear that I thought it was a little off the deep end – a little whimsical, a little irrational.  He said in no uncertain terms, “Well, I hope you don’t expect me to propose that quickly.  That’s a little irresponsible.  I think you should know the person you’re going to marry for at least four seasons.  Anyone can fake it for a while, and you should know your potential spouse through all the seasons at least once, if not a couple of times, to get a sense for how they really are.”

 

He had a very good point.  I’ve been in relationships where the person was amazing for about a year or a year and a half before their stunt double went on break and the real person showed their colors.  Most people are probably somewhat close to what you see is what you get, but every once in a while you may find that someone is a very good con-artist and they will manipulate you to get what they want or need and then turn toxic when they’ve hooked you.  Thinking back to past relationships, I’m so glad I never rushed into marrying someone because I’d have probably been divorced or be miserable for the rest of my life.

Even more important is being yourself in a relationship so that you are true to yourself and you make sure that your needs and wants are met by the person you’re considering marrying and spending your life with.  I’ve been guilty in my younger years of being who I thought the guy wanted me to be so I could make him happy, even if that meant I wasn’t happy or wasn’t existent in the relationship.  What I didn’t realize back then and what I know now is that I’m the only one living in this skin and I imagine it’s a very long life if you’re married to the wrong person.  Make sure you let your own true colors shine, and then evaluate honestly whether the person you’re with meets your needs and makes you happy on a consistent basis.  If you make them happy while doing that, then you might have a match!

Create a blueprint for yourself.  That blueprint has to include a vision of what their ideal mate, relationship and marriage looks like.  Set up deal-breakers, red flags and escape routes, so you know when to pull the plug if it isn’t a match.

As a divorce lawyer, it makes sense to me to do the work before you get engaged, move in together, create a domestic partnership, have kids, get married, or buy property together.  Know who you are with and what you relationship is made of, know yourself, and know what you can live with and what you can’t before you entangle your life with someone else’s life in a way that requires hiring a lawyer to untangle the mess.

I know you can’t truly know the person you’re going to marry before you marry them.  It’s a different kind of getting to know each other once you get there.  I’m not suggesting you never get married because you can’t know everything about them, but getting to know them well enough to know their character, their background, their history, their temperament, their finances, and whether you are happy with them on a long-term, day-in and day-out basis is a good start to preventing unnecessary heartbreak and turmoil that will spill over into other areas of your life.  Knowing them long enough to identify deal-breakers while the deal is just dinner and a movie is a whole lot better than finding those deal-breakers after a mortgage and two kids.

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