One of the reasons why I cringe everytime someone tells me to date someone is not because I'm against the idea of dating and romance, but because the kind of relationship that's considered normal here.
I mean, a lot of people I know are dating with the mindset of getting married with each other as soon as they started dating. And both parties don't seem to think that it's a big deal. It's the way it's supposed to be, right? You date people, and then you marry them.
Well, to me, it's not. And to be blunt, it terrifies me.
To me, a romantic relationship is always as simple as being with someone that you like. I admit that I'm employing this word in the broadest sense. You enjoy each other's companion, you relate with each other, you care about each other, you respect each other, whatever it is that make both parties feel like they need to be with each other.
Marriage is a different thing. There is a reason why it is called an institution. Relationship has commitments, but the commitment between two people in a relationship rarely affects things beyond the relationship itself, and the kind of commitments between two dating people are very different in shape and power compared to the ones exist in a marriage. These commitments can range from financial to cultural, and they are often formed not by the couple themselves but by the expectations of people around them, even by the states. So often it involves not evolved and improved kinds of commitment that existed in a relationship, but it changes/replaces these commitments and adds new and different ones altogether (while of course, this is not to say all the previous commitments are erased at all).
I'm not saying that marriage is a bad thing, but clearly it is not just "a step forward" from a relationship. Yet, it's baffling how so many people think of marriage as something that will come to them and their partners naturally. I suspect this is also one of the reasons why divorces happen, because people "forget" to check whether they or their partners are suitable for the kind of commitment awaiting them post-wedding vow, as they only think 'hey we're so great together let's get married ehehehe'.
Aside from all the seriousness, I also blame this kind of mindset--taking the decision to get married for granted--for making the kind of relationship we have around here not as appealing as the ones in the rom-coms. We don't see two people getting engaged as something special, because for all we know, if they were dating each other and not breaking up, that's going to happen sooner or later. I mean, where's the fun in that?
What I can say after all this is that I'm not terrified of what marriage is per se, even though I am not interested in getting institutionalized anytime soon (pun totally intended). I am terrified by how many people seeing marriage as something that just happens anyway, and that how ready they are for it is always measured by financial capabilities, while it is rarely the factor that decides whether a marriage works or fails.
One might argue that there are many people, especially in my generation, that think the same way I do when it comes to marriage, so it doesn't have to deter me from dating anyone I like. But the society always seems obsessed with this concept, that even though the one I date doesn't think about it, the pressure will definitely come from both of our families, and let's just say I am not eager to tend to such nagging.