If you're single and you're absolutely freaking terrified about the prospect of tying yourself to one person for the rest of your life, don't worry — you're not alone. Fear of marriage is incredibly common, for obvious reasons: there's the idea that you'll likely never have sex with anyone else again, and there's also the reality that marriage is hard work that requires compromise and constant communication.
That said, marriage is also pretty bloody cool. You're about to commit to the one perfect person who just "gets you" — what could be more awesome than that?
Until you find that person and are ready to make that commitment, however, there are a few things you have to get out of the way. Until the moment you’re actually ready to delete Tinder and tie the knot with someone who will happily put up with your shit, here are the 11 things you should do before you get married. Call it your Single Gal Bucket List.
PLAY THE FIELD
This might sound obvious, but it still deserves a shout-out: your single years are your time, so you should be dating around. Date people at the same time. Date different types of people, from different backgrounds and with different beliefs than you. Treat dating like Pokemon — try to catch ‘em all. That way, you’ll learn who's a good match for you... and who isn't.
LOCK IN A FORM OF CONTRACEPTION
Until you’re ready to get married (or until you’re in a committed relationship) use contraception. Always. Because there's no better lesson in the importance of safe sex than a pregnancy scare.
HAVE A “VACATIONSHIP"
At one point, you're going to meet someone awesome on vacation. She’s sexy, spontaneous, and worldly. You're going to have lots and lots of sex with this person, and you're going to spend mornings watching the sun rise on the beach while talking about your hopes and dreams. But when you come home and try to make it work long-distance, you'll inevitably realise that the only thing you two ever really had in common was the vacation.
That's OK. It's to be expected. It's not a relationship. It's a vacationship. And every woman should have at least one of them before they get married.
HAVE GROUP SEX
Live out that crazy porn fantasy by going to a sex party/club and having sex with a lot of people at the same time. After all, you’re a young lass in your prime, and group sex is hot, not to mention healthy. Just remember to play it safe. And who knows? Maybe you’ll meet Mr. Right, who is equally into sexual experimentation and your marriage will be the envy of all your peers.
DATE AN ARTIST
Artists are some of the most intriguing people out there. They’re passionate and creative, and you can learn a lot from them. Dating one of these people can be a transformative experience that can help you key into your own creative passions — just don't contribute to their Kickstarters to fund their vegan paint lines or stop-motion animation movies, because those projects are never coming to fruition.
DATE SOMEONE WHO'S MEAN TO YOU
You've probably dated someone you just didn't like very much. This person probably belittled you, expected you to pick up the bill, and got mad at you when you wanted to spend time with your friends. But you stayed with this person because the sex was great, even though hot sex does not a healthy, lasting marriage make.
If you've already dated this person, know that something good will ultimately come out of it. At a certain point in every woman's life, you kinda have to date someone who doesn't treat you well, so you know exactly how you want to and deserve to be treated in the future. If you're already dating this person: break up with them immediately. Life is too short to waste time with someone like that.
DATE SOMEONE YOUNGER THAN YOU
To be clear, we're not advocating that you date someone, like, 40 years younger. But dating someone who's a different age than you are can help open your eyes to other perspectives and get you out of your comfort zone.
DATE SOMEONE OLDER THAN YOU
Same reason as above.
TRY TO REKINDLE AN OLD FLAME
As we get older and realise we’re ready to settle down, we flip through past relationships to see if there were any worth revisiting. It's totally normal to do this. Just keep in mind that you guys probably broke up for a reason the first time around.
TRY TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP OUT OF SOMETHING THAT IS CLEARLY ONLY ABOUT SEX
If you’re having epically hot sex with someone, it's worth seeing if you can connect on a deeper level. If you can, then that's awesome, and more power to you. But if you can't, it's usually a good reminder that most relationships are built on something other than pure physical chemistry. If you want to find someone you're going to spend the rest of your life with, you need to depend on them for something other than mind-blowing orgasms.
TRY A SEX TOY
I mean, why not, right?
This article originally appeared on Men's Health