Actually, there’s a really important rule about dating: it mustn’t go on for too long. Whether or not you’re having sex.
Because dating is just the first phase of a relationship. And relationships that get stuck in that phase usually fail.
For most couples, the first few dates are just casual. No strings attached, as you decide whether you two get along well.
But a few weeks later, if the relationship’s getting serious, you need to define it. Agreeing that you’re an item. And that neither one of you will be seeing anyone else.
Couples who fail to do that usually get into all sorts of trouble. Like one of them thinking they’ve really met the one, while the other thinks they’re just having fun.
Gradually, after a few months, all those flashy dates start to fade away. And instead you find yourselves just doing ordinary everyday things together. That’s how you find out whether you really could live together successfully.
And then, after a year or so, you start talking about marriage. Confirming that that’s what you both want. Talking about your career plans. Children. Your finances. It sounds unromantic, but it’s the couples who do all this who have the most successful marriages.
And generally they’ll go on to actually get married within a couple of years of their first meeting.
Starting to become intimate is an essential step somewhere along that path. A few unlucky couples find out on their wedding night that they’re totally incompatible. I know I might upset some people by saying so, but it’s really important to find out whether you suit one another sexually – before you agree to marry.
All of which means that if you’ve been going out for four years, and are not intimate, then you’re not on track for a successful marriage. And probably not really in love with one another, either.
Instead, maybe one of you thinks you’re getting married. Eventually. But the other’s desperately scared of commitment. Or perhaps you know it’s never going to work out. But you’re scared to be on your own again.
Either way, your relationship’s not likely to result in a marriage. Especially if there’s no sex. So take stock, and decide what you want. Because if you want to start a family, then you should probably cut your losses. And find someone who shares your dreams.