Ideally all dating should contribute more to your life than it takes. A basic requirement for me for a long-term partner is that they are contributing to my life in someway that makes all of the time, effort and vulnerability worthwhile. Discovering and getting to know a person who is worth it is very exciting though. Also, let's be real, a large part of why I wanted to learn to make and play music in the first place was because it was my one interest that I knew women actually found appealing.
Maintaining one failing long-term relationship was the biggest time suck. Part, or perhaps all of this was due to poor design.
Haha, I'm intrigued, what does this mean?
I initially started couples therapy as a last resort instead of breaking up with my gf ~ 1 year ago. The main benefit of therapy was unanticipated. It opened my eyes to a whole different emotional and social realm while also teaching me to set boundaries and negotiate more effectively (mostly by listening to other people, considering their needs and abondonning my pernicious pursuit of "fairness"). It's also good to have a neutral party, who is trained in certain skills, to listen to you work through difficult intra- and inter-personal problems. When I first started, I thought I was better than therapy and was really blindsided by how helpful it was. I ended up putting so much work into the therapized relationship because 1) my (ex)-gf is actually really great and I really enjoy spending time with her, 2) I realized I'd made a lot of mistakes early in the relationship and wanted to see if I could change things to amend the results of these mistakes moving forward (turns out I couldn't or was unable to wait long enough) and 3) I realized that, while I don't want to get married or be sexually exclusive to one person, that having a long-term romantic partner that has gone through real life experiences and knows you extremely well is both very desirable and massively valuable.