If you’ve dated someone for five years do not marry them- Benjamin Zulu

If you’ve dated someone for five years or other strange periods like that, do not marry them. You’ll be making a mistake and here’s why.

The reason you didn’t marry all that period is often a pointer that you’re misaligned. You may be in love but you don’t flow. So you’ve hung on for those years in hope that they would change. Unbeknownst to you, the passage of time bound you more to them because the relationship occupied more and more of your social space. So every passing year it became harder to leave and you may have actually left severally but you always came back because starting over was too much work.

What started as ‘just to see where it goes, nothing serious for now, we’re still young anyway, we just want to learn each other,’ slowly ballooned into a labyrinth. Something you no longer want but you’re too involved to just get out.

When people saw that you were stuck they mistook it as a sign that ‘you truly loved each other’ and you should just get married. ‘After all,’ you told yourself, ‘I never seem to find anyone else even when I leave.’ And yet this is a direct result of having isolated yourself socially to be with this person. To ‘safeguard’ the relationship, or perhaps because of your partner’s insecurities and immaturity, you cut off everyone. You drifted away from other social groups and so without this person, your life is empty.

You were forfeiting lifelong social investment. You were trying to avoid being alone yet you prepared a worse form of loneliness, of being socially isolated.

Over those five or seven years, how much have you been in touch with yourself and where your life is headed? Many people lose themselves and drown in the relationship. They got into it at the season they should have been developing themselves and so the period passes when they’re still at the same place mentally and emotionally. They may have grown career-wise but in terms of self-awareness, self-confidence and being in tune with your emotions you remain fixated. This is how people who have very successful careers live in a series of relationship scandals. They squandered the period of self-realisation in a long term relationship and they didn’t compensate afterwards.

Solution? There’s such a thing as a ‘school of life’ everyone must go through, to understand themselves, relationships and people. The most strategic time to attend this school is during the window of youth between late teens and mid twenties. This is the only time you’re not a child under parents and neither are you a parent yourself.

If you missed out on this period because of an ill-advised drawn-out relationship, you can still make up for it by setting aside two or three years for an intensive immersion in learning and awakening without jumping into any emotional entanglement. This is the only way to wake up inwardly and stop the cycle of blunders and damaging mistakes.

In short, marrying someone after wasting your youth with them is tempting and many people do it but it comes at a high cost. Most likely you will be settling and compromising over many issues just because you’ve known this person for long. Long term is the wrong term in dating. Correct decisions require precision and detachment, not prolonged periods and emotions.

You may know people who married this way and it ‘remained,’ but you don’t know what tradeoffs they had to do about happiness and who they might have become.

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