Dating and Relationship Advice

A few summers ago, I was sitting around a bonfire at a family party. One of my cousins had recently gotten engaged, and all the talk centered around the bride, the groom-to-be, and the upcoming festivities. At some point, the conversation shifted to interrogating the unwed cousins. Including me.

“Do you think you’ll be getting married any time soon?”

“No.”

“Why not? You just haven’t met someone you see a future a with.”

“Well, maybe I don’t see a future with anyone.”

“Oh don’t say that! Marriage is wonderful.”

“But maybe I don’t want to get married. Maybe I want to stay single for the rest of my life.”

The barrage continued until I got up and left. I think I killed the mood, but they had killed mine by repeatedly asking about something that I obviously didn't want to talk about.

Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings. I enjoy browsing the bridal department at Nordstrom and reading wedding drama on Reddit. I’ve been to a few ceremonies and been in a few, and I can honestly say I have no problem with weddings. It’s the marriage part that gets me. I’m not against marriage, and I’m certainly not against people getting married to someone they love and want to grow old with. I just think it’s all happening so fast and it isn’t for me.

In previous centuries, women married young. Beyond child-bearing, there were minimal expectations for a woman's career; she was supposed to care for the family and the home, no questions asked. While those expectations have abated and women now make up a large chunk of the workforce, most people still seem to think that you should settle down and get married.

In reality shows like Say Yes to the Dress and sitcoms like Friends, women gush about how getting married is the major event they have dreamed about since they were young. Their parents brag about how the bride-to-be has been prepping for her wedding since she first tried on a dress. In my case, I don't remember either of my parents pushing me towards marriage. They didn’t joke about "wedding bells" every time I brought home a date. If anything, my mother told me to hold off on getting married and spend time working on what I wanted.

It didn’t occur to me how quickly people tied the knot until I was in college and  it seemed like everyone was getting engaged. That "ring before spring" deadline is real. At one point, I saw a new Instagram post every other week featuring a shiny ring and "So I did a thing" in the caption below.

Some people want to get married right away, and that is fine. Others like to be on their own or with another person for years with no wedding, and that is also fine! When it comes down to it, constantly asking someone when they are getting married shows that you don’t actually care what they are doing for themselves. Just because they haven’t made a serious commitment to another person doesn’t mean they haven’t made strong commitments or changes in their own lives.

I’m working, in grad school, and have committed to learning to cook a new meal every week. I have found that the time I'm single allows me to focus on my own life and happiness. When I hear “When will you marry?” or “How come you aren’t seriously dating?” it frustrates me. I’m not looking to be recognized for my achievements, or to be applauded for not choosing marriage right now. I’m looking to be seen as something other than my relationship status.

Maybe one day I will walk down the aisle. Until then, catch me going gaga over the latest gown in the Nordstrom wedding boutique, happy that I’m without a ring on my finger.