Or you can stick with tradition, have fun, remain fuquitable (open to deception and manipulation), and screw all the girls you can get your hands on—and there will be plenty. But before you do, see how that turned out for some of the pro athletes whose jerseys you aspire to fill, many of whom can barely keep up with child support and other obligations even with their multi-million dollar salaries, to say nothing of what happens when their playing days are over. Every baby born today will cost nearly a quarter-million dollars from birth to age 17 (not including college). Just so you know, your bills—including child support and alimony—don’t just go away when you retire from playing. (Did we mention the many marriages that end in divorce?)
It is critical to know the difference between being loved for what you have, what you look like and what you can do, and being loved for you. Too many athletes, whether they achieve their dreams of wealth and fame as pros or do not, find this out the hard way. The only way to protect yourself and separate those who are genuinely committed to you from those who just covet what you have or can pay for, is time. Buy time by delaying procreation, joint financial obligations and marriage for as long as possible. Better single wishing you’d married, than married wishing you’d stayed single. The right person is worth the wait; the wrong person—no matter how hot, available and into you she claims to be—is never worth the risk. Embrace your single life as an opportunity to get to know and love yourself beyond your identity as an athlete and potential meal ticket. Then, keep anyone who can’t see past your team uniform, or your projected ranking in the draft, at a distance.
This may seem like a heavy discussion to have with a young athlete who should be focused on enjoying life, having fun and achieving his goals and dreams. Yet if you take time to talk to some of the athletes you idolize, you’ll find that many of them wish that somebody had warned them about the people waiting to prey on and exploit them, including women who themselves desperately needed a dose of Grown Zone Relationship Education. Do yourself a favor, as an act of both self-protection and self-love: Don’t wait to enter the Grown Zone.
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