Being in a serious, monogamous relationship takes a lot of commitment, dedication, selflessness and maturity. It requires you to be willing to fight for it; to put the relationship as priority in your life, not just something that is convenient and fun. In the 2000 Sandra Bullock film, 28 Days, Bullock plays a recovering addict. In one scene, one of the recovering addicts in rehab (Gerhardt) asks the AA counselor how they will know when they can date again. His response was: "Well, in your first year, buy a plant, at the end of that year, buy a pet, and IF... at the end of that second year, they are both still alive, that would be when I would recommend starting a relationship." That advice is not only applicable to recovering alcoholics. The plant, pet, relationship plan could be a good idea for anyone looking for a serious relationship, especially after you've been through a difficult relationship, a series of relationships, or if you're thinking about getting married. Take some time and go through a process. Try the plant, pet, relationship plan.
The plant - Getting a plant will be a great start to nurturing something and taking care of something other than yourself. Many people go through life only thinking about themselves. What am I going to wear? What am I going to eat? What will I do today? A plant is a great step towards the relationship. It allows you time to pause and care for something other than yourself. It gets you in the habit of checking on something else with the watering and feeding and sunlight and what not. A pet is too much of a commitment to be step 1 it requires a lot of work. Start slow. Start with plants and go from there.
"Shop Owner: Sir, I can't replace the plant just because you killed it.
Gerhardt: I did not kill this plant, it was sick or something. I gave it everything. I was talking to it, telling it stories. I drew a sketch of it, and put it on my refrigerator.
Shop Owner: Did you water it?
Gerhardt: I-- I have-- It's important that I did not kill this plant, you understand? So if you're just saying that because that's how you're making your excuse, you have got to understand-- You can't mess with-- I'm never gonna get laid. [Sobs] You obviously don't care. And that's one thing I do, is care. I feel sorry for all the plants in here. I'm going home."
The pet - If you can master the plant, you can move on to the pet. Skip this step, if you must, but skip it at your own risk! Having a pet is a huge responsibility. That's what parents tell their kids when they beg for a pet. But when we grow up and decide to get a pet, we somehow forget how serious that warning is. People get pets because they want to. It's usually an emotional and spontaneous decision. But it shouldn't be taken likely. Depending on what kind of pet you get, it could require a lot of time and effort. For instance, if you get a dog, you will need to walk it and feed it and find someone to watch it when you go out of town. But caring for a pet will help prepare you for a relationship.
The relationship - After the pet and the plant, you're ready for a relationship! The lessons you learn in caring for something else will prepare you for the time and effort that a relationship takes. Watering the plant, feeding the fish, walking the dog... the love and affection you show towards the plant and the pet will help prepare you for a relationship. This is not to trivialize a relationship, but oftentimes people jump from relationship to relationship without taking time to just be alone. Owning a pet and caring for a plant will allow you to have some me time while you prepare yourself for your next relationship.
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Also read: Why you should stop dating "your type"
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