When you think of what it means to date, you probably think of a series of activities like going to the movies or concerts or going out to eat. In other words, you probably think of dating as doing a lot of fun things with someone. While it is certainly important to determine whether someone you might be considering spending your life with is fun to be around or not, the truth is that life is not all fun and games.
Theoretically, we all know that life involves less fun things like death, dying, illness, stress, and tragedy. Perhaps that is why we want to just do fun things when we date, as a kind of escape from all of the realities of life. But what kind of future life do you think only doing fun things sets us up for? It is actually quite sad how many shocking things people learn about their partners only after they are married! In addition to all of the other challenges that life throws at us, it is also full of an overwhelming abundance of extraordinarily mundane tasks such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, child care, and errand running.
While on some level we realize that relationships demand a lot of our time and energy, we unfortunately don’t go far enough to realize that relationships are an investment. Like all smart investors, it is important to get a real look under the hood before deciding just how much of ourselves to invest. As we all know by now, Walgreens famously invested $50 million in Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos without ever fully validating that they actually had working tech. With that in mind, it can be easy to understand how so many people commit to relationships without ever really knowing who they are “getting into bed with” (sometimes quite literally). So before you decide to take the plunge and make a major investment of time and energy in a relationship, here are 5 dates you need to go on.
1. Laundry Date
According to a 2020 Gallup Poll, women still do the lion’s share of the laundry (58%), cooking, and cleaning (51%) in American homes. Although men take the lead in things like car care and yard work, the reality is that we eat and wear clothes every single day while the yard only needs care a few times a month and sometimes only for a few months of the year.
Even among same-gendered couples, household chores like laundry, cooking, and cleaning will need to happen much more often than yard work or car care. To make matters worse, more Millennials don’t even know how to do laundry than any other generation before them. If you do know how to do laundry, going on a laundry date is a good opportunity to figure out if your potential partner also knows how to do laundry. If they don’t, a laundry date provides a good opportunity to teach them or to motivate them to learn. If you don’t even know how to do laundry, going on a laundry date will also provide a good opportunity to learn. There is a 100% chance that learning to do laundry is a skill that will come in handy in almost any relationship.
2. Cooking Date
A 2017 poll estimated that the average American would spend more than $70,000 on takeout in their lifetime and that number has probably risen exponentially since then, thanks to the pandemic. Not only is takeout bad for your wallet, however, it’s bad for your health. While making a full meal as a single person can be almost as expensive as takeout due to the large portion sizes you are forced to purchase, chances are good that eventually you will need to switch to making food versus buying it. If not for your health, then to meet financial goals.
Before you get into a relationship with someone, however, it is important to know whether or not they are even capable of making a significant contribution to the chore of cooking. While they may not have great cooking skills now, it is important to know up front what you will be dealing with if the time comes when you need to make meals for yourselves or your family.
3. Child Care Date
Although both the birth rate and the number of married couples with children is declining in the U.S., that doesn’t mean you should wait until you decide to have them to figure out if you are both capable of taking care of them. Unfortunately, while many girls still grow up babysitting, many do not. In fact, many men don’t even lay a hand on a baby until they actually have one of their own.
While it is not advisable to leave a man who has never actually cared for a baby or child alone with one, spending time caring for children can tell you a lot about the person you are thinking of investing in a relationship with. If they spend the entire time checked out or with their face buried in a screen, that may be a big red flag. If they at least seem eager to learn and participate, that might be a giant, glowing green light, even if you yourself are not sure you want to have children.
Life can come at you fast and has a lot of twists and turns. It’s better to know if the person you are contemplating a relationship with is at least competent at caring for children rather than find yourself completely unprepared and caught off guard.
4. Camping Date
While you yourself may not be a great lover of the outdoors, getting away from all of the amenities city life has to offer can be a great way to see what happens when the going literally gets tough. It is important for both of you to see if you can problem solve together and/or what your planning skills are like.
If your potential mate or partner becomes energized at the thought of a weekend outdoors, that can also tell you a lot about what their idea of a dream vacation might be versus yours. If they spend the entire time complaining, well, that should also tell you a lot. And if you spend the entire time complaining, then that might reveal to you some areas you might need to grow in before you are ready to accept the increased responsibilities and lifestyle changes that relationships often bring.
5. Hands-free Date
There is no doubt that dating and sex are inextricably intertwined in our culture. While sex is, and should certainly be, a healthy part of any intimate relationship, it cannot be the only thing that holds you together or your relationship will not last long. It is estimated that as many as 20% of marriages in the U.S. are actually sexless, which is defined as having sex on average of once a month or less.
So, the question is, can you enjoy spending time with the other person even if that time doesn’t involve physical intimacy? This can also be a good opportunity to figure out if the other person is interested in you as a person or if they just see you as easy access to the high that sex and physical intimacy can give.
Although not everyone dates for the purposes of looking for a long-term relationship, dating for any reason can eat up a significant amount of your time and emotional energy. It is probably far better to use your time determining if the person you are interested in has long-term potential or not than invest heavily in dating someone that you eventually find out isn’t really long-term material.