I remember vividly one summertime, my mum came visiting and usually when she comes into town, she stays at my sister’s house (you know, it’s better to stay in a family home than in a bachelor’s apartment) – that’s if you don’t mind starving and probably eating some sort of unbalanced meal of solely carbs, no proteins and oils. Just joking. So she comes into my apartment and she’s like hmmm.. “this house is so masculine! It’s just black and white and blue, no colour, no flowers, no pictures, no nothing. And I’m thinking to myself, em, excuse me, mother, white is a colour, so also is black and blue! She then went on to say, if I had a “lady friend” now, there would be more life in the house.

That got me thinking for a bit, not that she was saying to co-habit, but having a “lady friend” put some feminine touch into my apartment would make it look more homely.

The funny thing was that I was actually seeing someone at the time, but the whole brouhaha of playing housemates or home buds was something that didn’t cross my mind for a second. I know folks who are dating, whether they’ve been together for donkey years or just fresh in the business when you go to theirs to hang out, there’s lots of the girl’s stuff in the guy’s house and vice versa and they are literally playing husband and wifey whilst dating.

So where does one draw the line in the responsibilities of a dating relationship and the ones in a marriage? When are you crossing the line between being the girlfriend/fiancee or boyfriend and being the husband?

Here are some of my thoughts. (Do note that this all depends on the perspective one is looking from, as for me, I coming from a Christian and also reasoning perspective)

First of, until you say those two words “I Do”, anything can happen, you can’t afford to be acting out, overly demanding and expecting the perks and privileges of marriage in a dating or even “engaged” relationship.

Playing House

If you’re in a relationship whereby you’re always expected to cook, clean, tidy up, do the laundry, go food and market shopping or perhaps you are very happy to render these services on a regular weekly or daily basis, you might just be short-changing yourself as your partner may be satisfied with having a free of charge house maid or sitter who does this for them. These are good behaviours that are admirable and desirable but are more rewarding in a marriage setting than in a dating relationship. I’m not saying one shouldn’t do any of these for you partner while dating, occasionally it’s cool, as an everyday affair, you may be probably be giving too much away too soon that may not bring you the desired results and rewards you get if you were in a marriage situation.

Sex

Now, you have the situations where some folks think that if I sleep with my partner, it will bring us closer together, closer to the end goal of walking down the aisle, he may be encouraged to pop the question, she may see that I’m very committed to her etc. How grossly mistaken and wrong!. Sex outside marriage is just sex. Physical exercise. Calorie burning! You can say some sort of emotional connection self, but one that can lead to unnecessary soul ties and baggage being carried going forward.

There is no intimacy in sex that’s engaged in outside marriage, regardless of how good you may think it is. That’s meant to be reserved for those who have made vows to one another and are fully licensed to explore and access all areas.
You are giving much away and saving little for later when you are giving yourself away totally in this regards in a dating relationship. There isn’t any mystery, wonder and longing desire that you or your partner would have to look forward to in marriage when it has already been sampled in the dating stages.

Remember, only 1 or 2 out of 10 people who test drive actually go back to buy the product! A lot of folks prefer to test drive for life, as they say, why buy the cow when you are already getting the milk for free!

Living together

I know times could be hard, it’s good to save money etc but don’t fall into the mindset of “if we live together, we would get to know each other better, work out our dynamics, find our rhythm and even save money. There is absolutely no guarantee that you’ll even fully know the person you are married to after 25 years of marriage. Even if you’re engaged and the wedding date has been set, it’s not the best practice to live together until you’re married, not for the fear of the wedding not happening, simply because you might be putting yourself in situations and scenarios that you will be better equipped to deal with and handle if you were married. Remember, it’s still an engagement or a dating relationship, no formal contracts and agreements have been made till the “I Dos” have been said. Anyone can walk away at any time. Then one party will have to move out…

Expenses and Responsibilities

While I believe that being considerate, compassionate and kindhearted are admirable and desirable traits and behaviours to possess, there really isn’t mandatory obligation that your dating partner has to fend for you, pay your bills, pay your rent, pay for your shopping etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if one is in the capacity to help or be kind, they shouldn’t. I’ll give and offer to help the person I’m in a relationship with, within any and every way I can, if needed or asked or not even asked. But being in a dating relationship is not a reason to automatically demand or expect that what is his is mine, and what is mine is his so if I have a bill, it is his/her responsibility to pay the bill or meet the need. This is not to say that people in dating relationships can not have agreements between themselves like, splitting the dinner bill on a night out, or I’ll cover this, you can cover that, this one is one me, that’s a treat for you. That shows good partnership, good foundations for a good marriage.

Parents and Family Involvement

This one is a bit greyish, as it really boils down to personal preferences. I remember once back in the days, I had never introduced anyone to my parents as “this is my girlfriend” and I had been seeing this person for a bit and I thought it was probably time to allay the fears of my mother (you know how mothers would worry over you, isn’t it time for you to settle down..them kinda talks). Anyway I introduced her to my folks, my mum was acting like my “mum”, probably thinking hmmm is this the next Mrs …. (I’m the only boy in my family, apart from my dad). My dad and her got on well, so did my sisters.

But then when things didn’t go too well according to plan, I can remember my mum saying to me (please note, my parents give 100% into anything and everything they do) that it’s probably best to introduce someone to one’s family for accountability purposes and for the knowing, when you’re quite certain that the relationship is heading down the marriage-ville route. It’s always heartbreaking when things don’t work out and ties and relationships have to be broken. Well, it depends on the type of family one has in the first place!

Your needs vs their needs

In marriage, it’s pretty straightforward. His needs are mine and my needs are hers. When a man satisfies his wife’s needs (whatever they are – emotional, physical, social, financial, dietary <- what’s that doing there?), it goes without saying that the wife will do the same. That is, in a normal relationship.
But in a dating relationship, if you’re always putting your partner’s needs before them, I can tell you, without holding back, that there is no guarantee that your partner will do the same! And you might just end up meeting their needs and be left empty with you trying to satisfy yours.

You’ve planned to go out and he says no, he needs to go to the gym so can you please help him to stay in for the delivery of the washing machine at his place. You find out that you’re doing more of his or her things and having to make more compromises by putting your partner’s needs ahead of yours in a dating relationship, you may be overstepping the boundaries. Even in marriage, it should and it is, well balanced out. In dating relationships, you’re still single, and primarily responsible for yourself and your needs. Yes, you can share, you can meet each other’s needs, but it should be reasonable and mutually agreed.

Often times, you see folks taking on roles and responsibilities in dating relationships that they really shouldn’t be doing. I’ve spoken to numerous folks who act like the wife or the husband in a dating relationship, hoping to seal the deal or make their presence known and felt.
I say this: the best book ever, the Bible says a man that finds a wife, finds a good thing. Don’t play the role of a wife when all he sees is a girlfriend. (I know a few guys are quite unsharp, but still…) A woman shouldn’t act and play the wife role for a man to see that she is a wife… Don’t give your all too early too soon, there are things that you should save to be explored, enjoyed and discovered in the haven of marriage and not the “testing” grounds of dating relationships.

Know your worth, have your boundaries, know what your responsibilities are and aren’t, whether agreed or shared. You’ll find different rings on the window display in the jewellery shop, even pricey ones. But there are some rings that the shop owners will shut down shop, and take the buyer into the strong safe room after the credentials of the buyer have been tested and verified and there is much security to protect the ring that is being bought.

It’s simply your choice… am I going to be in the window shop for full display and access to anyone or everyone, or will I be that one that the “buyer” will do what it takes (not plan the heist) to get into the secured zone and get his/her priceless desire?
Don’t give marriage privileges to dating relationships. They often don’t bring in the best returns.

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