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If You Have to Ask, You're Not Ready

Dear Dating Doctor:

My friend and I are in a similar situation so we decided to write you a joint letter. We are 21 years old and have been dating the guys in our lives (they are 21 and 23) for just over a year. We both sense that we will be proposed to very soon (call it intuition or constructive snooping). We agree that we love them but aren't sure if we are too young to be getting married. What do you think?

- Lovelorn in Loveland


Dear Lovelorn:

The "politically correct" answer to your question would be: If you feel unconditionally in love with these men, and they feel the same way, it's time. If these are the people that you want to spend the rest of your lives with, go ahead. However, I have a different answer. In my opinion, 21 is too young--especially if you had to ask the question. I may ruffle a few feathers with this response but it needs to be said.

It saddens me when I meet women in their early to mid-twenties who are attractive, intelligent, caring and seem to have common sense, but have already been divorced from two to six years and are raising children on their own (while their ex-husbands are off "finding themselves".) Their commentaries run like a broken record: "I really thought I was in love," "He said he just didn't love me in that way anymore," and "It was so nice to have someone take care of me."

People who marry at a young age often cheat themselves out of the pleasures of youth. They limit their opportunities to spend fun, carefree time with their friends, to set off on travel adventures at a moments notice, to meet a variety of people different from themselves and most importantly, to learn to live independently. Many young people jump from the security of their parents and family, to a job or college, then directly to marriage. They never allow themselves the time to live on their own, to depend on no one but themselves, and to come to an understanding of who they are and what they are looking for in a lifelong partner.

When is the right age to marry? It is the age when you have made a conscious effort to explore, understand, accept and commit to your relationship. It is the age when you are satisfied that you have spent adequate (no strings attached) time with your family and friends. It is after you have gone beyond your comfort zone to visit new places and meet diverse people. It is the age when you are resilient and self-sufficient. It is the time when you are sincerely in love and ready to settle down with another person for life--without having to ask the question, "Am I ready?"


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This article is copyright © 1998 David D. Coleman ("The Dating Doctor")
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