When I mention that I’ve been in a relationship for four years, I get a lot of mixed reactions. There’s usually a lot of “Aw, how cute!” or “Damn, I could never do that. Don’t you want to play the field?” and the classic “If I was dating for someone that long I’d be bored.”
But, I’m not bored. I haven’t been bored for a single day in four years. And, if I was 10 years older, I’d never get asked that question.
The general stereotype for dating in college revolves around “playing the field.” We are encouraged to “date around” and discover what we like and don’t like in people. I am by no means against this tactic and I’ve seen a lot of strong relationships grow out of it. But once we’ve found what we’re looking for, I don’t think we should be interrogated about it regardless of age.
“Dating around” can involve a lot of social gatherings and not everyone is a party person. Everyone knows how difficult it is to talk to someone they like and it can be 10 times more challenging to get to know someone in a crowded room. Our college years are often full of crowded rooms.
It’s rare to see stable, healthy relationships, especially in early adulthood, but when it works, it works. So why would we ever suggest to one another that we dive back into the dating pool, where so many of us drown?
If I was in my early thirties rather than twenties, no one would blink an eye at the length of my relationship. People can fall in love at any age, but it is only taken seriously once we have diplomas, jobs and bills to pay. But before we become responsible adults, we’re expected to “get out there.”
I’ve never “gotten out there” per se, but that’s because I’ve already reached the goal my peers playing the field are trying to achieve. I’ve discovered what I like. I happened to, with a lot of luck, get a jump start in the game.
There’s an old cliché preaching, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” The same can be said for long-term relationships at any age. Though when we met my boyfriend had braces and I hadn’t even learned to drive, we were able to build something that helps me get through the day. Four years later, I still have that feeling. Why would I go looking for something I already have?
For some teens and twenty-somethings, it’s great to test the waters and learn which personalities work best for them. Some prefer to stay with partners for months or years at a time. Others are perfectly content with being single. Every option is okay and each one should be both accepted and respected. But, if two people make each other happy in a healthy way, there’s no point in asking if they’d have it any other way.