So, I'm getting engaged very soon, and I recently had a series of conversations with some guys who've been in the community for a while and whose game I respect, and where most of us came into this thing eventually expecting to settle down. I had a few recent experiences that also helped put things in focus I'll get into below.
Some thoughts on getting married after being in the community
BTW, I'm going to deliberately not talk about how awesome my GF is, because I think that creates the appearance of a guy rationalizing his own decision.
Sorry for the lack of organization. Too many topics and I don't want to run multiple threads.
Getting Better at Dating and Then Settling Down
A weird thing happens as you greatly expand your dating experience. In my early 20's, breakups, even breakups that were bad relationships, were pretty devastating. "I don't want to imagine life without her" is something I'd thought (not from a suicide POV, just a melodramatic one).
Today (I'm in my 30's), if something happened with my girlfriend and she left, I know I'd be fine sooner than I might otherwise think. We'd split up once, and I was certainly down about it, but I never believed for a moment that I couldn't find somebody else.
This is a very helpful mindset when you're trying to date successfully, and a tough one when you're trying to decide if you want to propose, because the feelings of togetherness are to a certain degree mitigated by the fact that you have a lot of options. It can feel like somebody who has options "loves less" than somebody who doesn't, even though he's just coming at this from a more healthy mindset. Anyway, this gave me cold feet. You might feel the same way someday.
An economist buddy of mine pointed out this is pretty normal. The more options you have, the bigger then cost there is to making any one choice. A guy who only has a couple options has a lot less to lose.
Naturals don't have this problem to the same degree (assuming their natural-ness extends to LTRs and not just getting laid). They have the same mindset throughout and pretty much pick a girl they love and get along with the best. They still have the economic cost but they're used to it and it's normal to them.
Primacy of Physical Beauty for Women's Value
This is where being in the community can get you weird for marriage. I had a bit of a mind fuck a few months ago while I was in Vegas for work. A girl about 10 years younger than my girlfriend sat down next to me at a restaurant bar. She wanted to grab a smoke but didn't want to leave her beer (she was probably underage). She said, "Can I trust you?" I nodded and said "No," and it was on right away from an attraction standpoint.
Now, this girl was not gorgeous from the neck up. Pretty but that's it. Neck down she was a college track athlete in a minidress and was certainly turning heads. I was bothered by the fact that I really wanted to bed this girl. She wasn't interesting, I didn't really respond to her personality. Certainly my GF was more attractive at the same age, but 10 years is 10 years and you don't see a 30-year-old with a hyper-fit 20-year-old's body.
That night I met an extremely wealthy client's wife. She was 10 years older than my girlfriend, and was obviously a 10 in her day, probably a model, who married for her husbuand's mansions, jet, etc. She was incredibly socially calibrated and it was clear she'd had very high value men persuing her until she got married. But she was 40'ish, still beautiful neck up, didn't live in the gym to try to undo what age does to everybody, and I felt absolutely nothing in terms of attraction. Too old.
The weirdness of this gave me pause, because frankly 10 years doesn't feel like a long time by your mid-30's for a 60 year relationship. A girl who's not particularly beautiful turns my head in a pretty big way, and a solid 10 who's not that much older than was not attractive any more. Because the youngest one is only a few years from being a lot less pretty than my GF, which is nothing in LTR terms. We all realize this intellectually, but it slaps you in the face when you are thinking about settling down but you still want to keep your options open. You can't have everything, and that's not easy to accept when you have legit options.
The fact is you should probably be making sure whoever you date when you are considering an eventual marriage is "attractive enough" whatever that means to you (and hopefully that means a much higher level than when you started working on your dating). Holding out for an even more physically attractive woman is really silly. Also, it appears that men tend to see their wives for who they were at the beginning of their relationship though out their lives. I kinda wondered about this because I've known guys who married really attractive girls who turned into frumpy moms by their 30's (not totally letting themselves go, but still), but the husband was still happy. That's not a single-guy mindset, to say the least.
A fellow who worked for anything dating company figured this out faster than I did. I met his future wife, who I thought of as quite pretty (7 or 8?). She was awesome, just a sweetheart, but I had an idea in my head that a guy who could date 10's should probably be marrying one. He was smarter than that. The other stuff matters more. For example...
True Compatibility and "She's Not a Magical Snowflake"
It takes a while to find out if you can really live with somebody long term. If you've dated a lot, you know there are a lot of girls out there who either you couldn't get along with or who couldn't get along with youx. And when you did get along, it still took over a year to see if differences could be worked out (effective conflict resolution dynamic). When you find somebody who really does make you a better person and you can pretty much overcome any disagreement, that's a dumb time to take the line of "She's not unique." She's not, but finding really good compatibility is not easy, because it's too time consuming to establish. So you have to value it when you find it very, very highly when you get it.
BTW, there's a flip side to this compatibility thing. People in small communities have been making marriage work for millennia and still do today (before you say half of marriages end in divorce, if you are educated and/or don't get married before your mid-20's, those stats skew dramatically towards permanent marriages). A guy in a smaller town might only have 2-3 women total to choose from, he doesn't get to date dozens of girls for a while and seek out the one he's got the best LTR compatibilty with. The reality is as two people are in an LTR together, their rough edges get worn down and there's a bit of a puzzle-piece fit that helps things work. Hopefully it's in a healthy way, but it pretty much happens. I'd bet the odds of divorce are higher for these folks than a guy who had a lot of options and picked the most compatible girl, but it's worth thinking about if you're in the three-month stage and you're grating on each other a little.
Don't Try to Change Anybody
It won't work. Don't date somebody for their potential. Even if they want to change themselves. There are enough people out there who don't need changing. Try to see if you can make it work with those people, instead. The early stage of the relationship is where you make these judgments and try to "fail fast" when it comes to LTRs. Nobody's that special in the first few dates.
Why Get Married?
I think it's a pretty normal question to have for guys who develop options. The reality is marriage makes men happier. If you want to have kids, it's a good way to make sure they don't grow up to be assholes. And the things you value now may be a lot less important as your hormones change. Age adjusts our priorities for us (as does having kids). Family men tend to achieve more than single ones. It's pretty much an overall great deal for a guy these days.
I may have more to add, the bold points were the ones I don't really read much about and it took some time to feel like I was making the right decision, even though all my friends and family thought it was obviously right. My community buddies got it, because they got a little weird too Given that:
Careful Using the Community for Engagement/Marriage Advice
Yes, I see the irony. Most legit PU instructors are awesome at correcting what's holding you back at dating. Most have zero experience pulling the trigger on engagement and/or marrying successfully, or even long term monogamy. If you are looking specifically at marriage, talk to people whose opinions you respect who have stable relationship experience.
Anyway, I hope this is helpful to some of you. I'm probably going to be permanently signing off soon. I have always been of the "don't talk about fight club" camp and continued private involvement on dating forums isn't congruent with the level of integrity I expect of myself once you go from "has a GF" to "has a fiancée". I'm very appreciative of the people I've met, and the help I've gotten. Some of my best friends are guys I met through the community, and I've changed greatly for the better.
Go find a nice girl