You know the moment. You’re a few dates in and you’re finally getting real — not what-does-this-all-mean real, but rather giving-the-other-person-an-unfiltered, unflattering-look-at-some-aspect-of-your-life real — and you see that familiar look in their eye. It’s the look that says “maybe this person isn’t such a great bet.” It could be that you revealed your credit card debt, let it slip that you’ve never had your own life insurance, or laughed when asked about your favorite book because who reads anymore?
While you’ve always prided yourself on your youthful approach to life, this increasingly common pattern in your dating life makes you think that you should give this “adulting” thing a try. The reality is that while dating someone who’s in touch with their inner child is fun, getting serious with someone who doesn’t even know the zip code of their inner adult is not.
Adulting doesn’t require a personality change; you can still be your same old goofy self. But if you’re tired of getting “the look,” and are ready to get into a serious relationship, you’ll need to acquire a few adult skills to make you a more attractive partner. Here are two, big changes that will give you a very serious head start.
Get Your Finances in Order
This is the big one. Financial irresponsibility is a huge turnoff. But finances stress even the most adulty of adults, so it’s no surprise that most people would rather avoid the issue altogether. Take a deep breath and start at the beginning. Learning to manage your money has little to do with your actual salary, and more about how you prioritize your spending.
The first step to financial responsibility is making a budget and sticking to it. Start by making a list of your fixed income and expenses, including debt payments and bills. Then, track every penny for a month to get a realistic view of where your money is going. Finally, use this information to make a budget that’s realistic to your lifestyle, but that also leaves some room to save and invest.
Once you have a handle on your budget, it’ll be easier to anticipate expenses and look for ways to cut back, which is a very adult thing to do. For instance, think about essential possessions that you will eventually need to replace or replenish, like clothing, batteries, tires, etc. Instead of waiting until it’s absolutely necessary, stock up on items when you find a deal on websites like tirebuyer.com for tires or Amazon for batteries and other sundries. How satisfying will it be to be able to replace a light bulb when it goes out and know that you got it for a third of the price?
Get Ahold of Your Health
Ignoring one’s health is a young person’s game; a young person who is still covered by their parents’ insurance. It’s somewhat funny when a 20-year-old subsists on candy bars and never goes to the dentist, but it becomes exponentially less charming with every year that passes. One of the biggest parts of being an adult is not avoiding the hard stuff. So, when you feel sick, go to the doctor; when your tooth hurts, visit the dentist.
When you feel ready to earn another adulting badge, just like with your finances, start anticipating your health needs. This means eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and thinking about preventative healthcare. You don’t have to be perfect, just aware of your health and strive to be better. There’s something very attractive about a person working on bettering himself or herself.