Dear Dating Coach,
I am a 23-year-old guy being pressured to start dating by my family, friends, and even shadchanim. They all think that ‘it’s time” and don’t understand why I keep trying to delay dating. But I’m just not ready for the responsibility! To me being married means I will have to support a family, physically and emotionally and I don’t feel prepared! I don’t know enough about being a husband or a father and I feel like I need to be more settled before I make such a big commitment (that lasts forever!). When I try to explain this to my family, they brush off my concerns and tell me I am making a huge mistake. Who is right?
Whoever thought that a corn maze was a good idea? If you’ve been in one, you are totally nodding your head right now. It’s the brutal torture game that requires hopeful players to navigate dead ends on a route to nowhere. There you are surrounded by corn stalks that dupe you into thinking that the answer lies just beyond the bend only to mislead you with twists and turns until you want to raise your hands in defeat. The worst part is hearing victory shouts from those who sailed through the stalks with ease; leaving you stuck and wondering why their x-ray vision was not passed along to you. Were they given some sort of magical navigational map? A corn maze sixth sense that you missed the sale on? Mired in frustration and corn maze misery, always remember, however, that no man gets left behind in a corn maze. (Yes, that’s a real saying. Maybe.). Never forget, a bit of direction and determination will always lead you through.
Whether You Think You Can…
I am sorry that you feel pressured to do something that you feel unprepared for. It is never a good feeling to stand at a precipice sure that you will fail. Your friends are seemingly dating with excitement and you don’t share their enthusiasm for a future that you are not ready for. Your family disregards your concerns sure that many boys feel as you do and somehow still make thing work. They want you to take a leap into the pool and you don’t even want to go outside. Of course, your worries are valid and deserve to be addressed.
Or Think You Can’t…
I would be remiss however not to mention that it can take time to find the right person that you will want to marry. You can date for years before finding Mrs. Right. Additionally, not everyone is blessed with children right away, and that too can be a journey. Your family is aware of this possibility and may be concerned that you are refusing to start a process that could have a longer timeline than you envision. They may also believe that like many young men before you, you will learn as you go with a wife at your side to support you.
That being said, you are nervous about the commitment that marriage and family entail and that should never be discounted. It can be difficult to transition from being single to be part of a couple – where your life’s choices affect your spouse and the family you hope to build. There is a financial, emotional, and physical responsibility that can feel foreign to you now. Especially if you are the first in your family to date, without the gift of watching an older sibling through the process. So, give yourself a timeline, 3 months, 6 months, or a holiday season. During this time, instead of relying on fear, combat your worry with knowledge. Give thought to your future and how you want it to look and then take steps to prepare yourself. Albeit with education, job opportunity, advice and counsel from your parents, and building upon your emotional intelligence. Make a list of your concerns and make a concerted effort to tackle them. They don’t all need to be solved per se – merely set in a tentative blueprint. Focus on becoming stronger and better equipped for the future so that your fear doesn’t determine your future – but rather your inner confidence in your sense of self. Not only will this offer you the stability that you crave before embarking on your future, but it will also make you a better future husband and father. Don’t let fear dictate your life – navigate and plot a course that works so that you can face the maze of the future head on, with confidence.