5 Things I Know Now That I'm 34, Part 2: TIME

5ThingsIKnow34_Time Summer is family reunion season. That usually means that in addition to looking forward to chatting with distant family members over burgers, fried chicken, and 'nana pudding, single women over 25 all over the country are also finding themselves preparing answers for the usual questions and comments that we deal with every year:

  1. You've gained weight
  2. When are you getting married?

Both are equally off-putting and reductionist and both play on the assumed anxieties that all women are expected to have. Many times, the family members who say or ask these things are explained away as not "meaning any harm".  Nevertheless, both questions temporarily heighten my insecurities I have especially in regards to the second question.

I've always wanted the fairy tale when it comes to relationships. Although I have had fantasies about what my wedding will be like, as most women do, my fairy tale isn't centered on one day filled with decorations in my favorite colors and a white dress.

My fairy tale has more to do with what comes after the wedding. I love the idea of having a life partner, being married to my best friend, and having someone in my life who knows me better than anyone else.

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These things all have one thing in common; they require an investment of time and effort from both people involved. That's what's been missing from my dating experience, and that's the answer to the ever looming question that I keep getting asked about why my marital status hasn't changed from single to married yet. I just haven't found a man who is willing to invest the time and energy that's required to develop a relationship that would justify even the consideration of marriage.

I keep getting the guys that say that they “don’t believe in timelines”.

On the surface, “I don’t believe in timelines” sounds ultra romantic. It sounds very Love Jones-esque, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that the man who says it is the patient type who just wants each milestone of your relationship to happen on its own time and fall naturally into place.

“I don’t believe in timelines” usually means “I’m not waiting 90 days for sex” and typically it is said by men who still have beef with Steve Harvey for creating the 90 day rule.

It could also mean that a man is the non-committal type. And yes, there is always a timeline. Actually, there’s three types of timelines: ones that only benefit him, ones that only benefit you, and mutual ones.

Of course, the goal is to come to a mutual consensus on a timeline that works for both people in the relationship, but many times the “I don’t believe in timelines” crew doesn’t understand the value of this very important decision (or series of decisions) that every couple must make.

Some things just aren't microwavable. At the same time, some things just can’t be put on ice until you get yourself together or until you get too old/tired/played out to have fun playing the field.

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At 34, I've learned to protect my time and be discerning about who I give my time to, especially as it relates to men and romance. It’s something I’ve always known, but I’m one of those people who feels guilty when I don’t give people “chances”. Over the years, I’ve learned that chances have to be earned. People have to demonstrate that they are going to be intentional and deliberate about using time wisely. After all, the minutes, the hours, the months, the years, these are all pieces of your life that you’ll never get back.

Anything that's important in life has a timeline. Most ambitious people set goals, but goals alone don't accomplish themselves.

TIMELINES make things happen.

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They turn dreams into accomplishments. They also turn a connection fostered over a meal on a first date into that fairy tale relationship rooted in a deep friendship that is the goal of most of us who put any effort into dating.

Balance is always key. No one wants to be forced into a false milestone of a relationship because someone is on the fast track to get married, but intentional people who want quality relationships know that the appropriate amount of time, both for you and him, is critical for a healthy foundation for a relationship.

Question 2 has officially been answered. I expect to eat my burger and 'nana pudding in peace next year.

How do you feel about time and relationships?