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12 Reasons Not to Marry The Only Guy You've Ever Dated

No one can dispute that life choices become more numerous and harder to make as you age. Almost overnight you go from choosing between a waffle or cake cone for your ice cream to picking out career paths and/or colleges, followed by deciding on a major field of concentration or study. And in the midst of all these life-altering decisions, you're probably in the throes of young love, excited, confused, hormonal, and getting unsolicited feedback on your choice of partners from family and friends.

To simplify this transitional period, many women decide – either consciously or unconsciously – to keep dating their high school sweetheart. In theory, this appears to be a sound, logical decision. He's tried and true, always there when you visit home from college or your new city of residence; he'd never cheat on you. He's your best friend, your first and only lover, his family adores you – why rock the boat?

You should not only rock the boat; you should capsize it! You're a smart woman on so many levels, so why can't you see the flaws in this line of thinking? Did you rent the first apartment you saw? Only test drive one car before buying? Buy the first prom dress you tried on? Even if you made one of these rash decisions and it worked out, choosing a life partner is arguably the most crucial selection you'll ever make, so getting it right is key to your overall happiness for the rest of your life.

Here are 11 reasons to rethink making your first and only boyfriend your husband:

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11 Gnawing Curiosity

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Everyone is curious, a bare necessity to live life to its fullest. Imagine only tasting one type of fruit your whole life or wearing the same color clothes every day or…only experiencing intimacy with one person. He may literally press all the right buttons, be cognizant of your needs, have the passion and charm of Valentino, even enjoy the afterglow of cuddling. But somewhere down the road, maybe 5 years, maybe 20 years, you'll find yourself in line at the grocery store or reading a book or just day or night dreaming and suddenly see yourself in the embrace of another man, a man who's obviously ignited a fire in you that you don't recognize …because you've never felt it before. That image will be burned into your mind forever.

10 Convenience

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You've had the same gym bag for over a decade. It's not very stylish, maybe never was, but it's functional and there and convenient, so why change it? A lot of women stick with their first love for the same reason. You've got a guy who loves you, you love him, you like the same pizza toppings, and enjoy the same music. And, of course, he's your "best friend," which lets you off the hook for having a separate best friend. Convenience is great for getting the most out of your time and energy in daily life but when you stick with the same guy for convenience, it sounds more like laziness.

9 Time Investment

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There's a lot to be said for well-invested time. It makes you a better piano player, hones your cooking skills, earns you more money. But when invested time becomes a reason you stick with one guy, you're in trouble. Much like a timeshare condo you invested in years ago, there comes a moment when you say to yourself after exploring new venues, "I'm so bored with this place, I'm willing to cut my losses to get rid of it and move on." Of course, you may eventually miss the old place and buy it back but keeping it solely for the time you've invested in it is pointless and unfulfilling. A lifelong partner shouldn't be chosen based on how many years you've invested in him.

8 Hurt Feelings

Unless you're a sociopath, you don't want to intentionally hurt anyone's feelings, especially a man you love, a guy who's been your partner and best bud possibly since you both were on the precipice of puberty. Maybe you've talked marriage or perhaps you've carefully avoided the M-word by mutual consent. Whatever semantics you choose, the fact is a breakup is always hurtful, often devastating to one or both parties. But like ripping off a bandage strip, a clean break causes a lot less heartache than clinging to each other for security or simply out of habit and feeling anguish down the road that will cut through both your hearts like a rusty dagger.Growth and Change.

7 Growing Apart

If you think the changes you went through transitioning from your teens to your 20s were big, hold on tight for the upheaval awaiting you in the next decade. Before you're 30, many people radically change career paths, religions, and political views, not to mention states or countries of residence, hair styles and colors, eating habits and friends. More than any other time in history, changes will come at you fast and furious. You may be ready for – or even excitedly anticipating – these transformations. How about your partner? Is he ready to join you on the journey? And what if you each grow in opposite directions in any or all of those categories?

6 Passion

Steamy bed sessions may not be everything but you can't deny it's definitely a major component of intimacy. Having only one partner, even if you didn't happen to be his first, is special because you've learned each other's turn-ons slowly and lovingly, without pretense or pressure. But familiarity can easily turn into a series of tried and true rituals you rely on. Talk to any couple who has been happily married for 20+ years and most will credit creativity as an important part of their success. Not to say you can't be creative through educating yourselves but if you already feel like you're often just going through the motions in the boudoir, image how complacent you'll be 10 years down the road.

5 Look into a Crystal Ball

Though you can't actually see the future, you're smart enough to imagine many options you might have. Whether you fancy yourself destined for greatness on stage or screen, imagine helping young minds develop through teaching, or yearn for a high tech career stateside or overseas, is your partner in those mind pictures? Do his personal and career goals mesh with yours or will one of you feel resentful? Dating a variety of men is the only way you'll know if there's someone who might be better to accompany you on your life adventure.

4 Simple Logic

Despite what poets and songwriters tell you, love is not some ethereal force that sneaks into your room while you sleep and burrows into your soul like a deadly tropical worm you can't control. As intoxicating and scary as that image is, love only really works if it's tempered with logic, which is why people may warn you against marrying someone 10 or 20 years older or younger than you, or quote statistics about the failure rate of long-distance relationships. But aside from those two red tags, consider more mundane issues with marrying the one-and-only boyfriend of your life. Is he willing to move thousands of miles away from his family if you get a job opportunity you just can't pass up? When it comes to kids, do you two agree on child care i.e., stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home dad or nanny? There are hundreds of questions like this that every person has deep convictions about and the one who shares your outlook may still be out there.

3 Time Flies

If you're in your 20s or 30s, you likely still have that youthful glow and boundless energy you think will last forever. They won't. Stick with that high school sweetheart too long and, cold as it sounds, you'll start to lose your marketability. Of course, you don't want any man so shallow that only your looks and vigor attract him but realize your shelf life and seriously consider dating around while you still have plenty of options.

2 Giving Advice

Imagine yourself 20 or so years down the road with teenagers of your own. They come to you for guidance on dating, relationships, sex (it could happen!). Since you married a guy you started dating before you were old enough to drive, what good are you for advice? Even if your marriage happens to be successful, could you honestly advise them that dating only one person during the course of a life that will likely span 100+ years (remember, this is 2036) is advisable? Any way you look at the situation, you'll have a lot of explaining to do.

1 Confidence Building

Remember how nervous you were when you first started dating your guy, sure you wouldn't know what to talk about, how to hold hands the right way, how to kiss, how to dress? When you master those social graces for only one guy, you're stunting the development of your self-confidence. Dating guys from a variety of backgrounds with a vast range of talents and interests not only expands your vision of the world, it makes you realize the meaning of the old phrase, "So many men, so little time," and gives you the confidence to get to know them and appreciate just how many choices are available.

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