An acquaintance of mine recently attended a wedding, where a few weeks before the big day the bride discovered her fiancé had a girlfriend and, as a result, was understandably reluctant to move forward. In my mind, the presence of another woman in your relationship is legitimate grounds to press pause on picking your wedding colors. But despite this the bride decided to go ahead because it was “too late” to turn back.
Also she’d already changed her status to “engaged” on Facebook.
She’d incessantly posted updates about her wedding plans and claimed it would be embarrassing to answer all the questions as to why she’d reneged on her promise. Which is stupid because no one really cares about what happens on Facebook — we just pretend to care. Unfortunately, the pressure to maintain a facade overrode her need to walk away from a relationship that made her unhappy.
This is a problem.
Thanks to Facebook (the club that used to be cool, got played out, yet you still visit from time to time and wonder why you bother), I’m in the know about who’s engaged, who’s recently married and who just used their uterus. According to my timeline, a lot of people I know fit into one of these categories.
The optimistic part of me likes to work under the assumption that most of them are deciding to do grown up things for the right reasons. I love seeing people in love. Because if more people are making love, less are doing asinine things like being rude to waiters and walking extraordinarily slowly for no good reason. But stories like the one above have made me second guess some of these status messages.
Whenever people ask me when I’m getting married, I tend to say something deliberately glib and abstract such as “When the time’s right for me” when what I’d like to say is, “Who knows?” It could be next month, next year, or whenever I generate enough income to pay women to grow their hair especially for me in order to contribute to my ethical weave bank.
This is one of the unfortunate parts of womanhood. One day you cross the invisible boundary into the land where it’s acceptable to be asked intrusive questions about your womb and marital status. And the weird thing is it’s usually people loosely connected to me that are doing the asking. People I’m only “Facebook” close to. Which is amusing because asking questions about a wedding you wouldn’t receive an invitation to isn’t the smartest use of your time.
Influenced by the insidious pressure to get married while in their “prime”, recently I’ve noticed an alarming amount of young women adjusting their behavior — on social media and beyond — with the aim of becoming “marriage worthy.” They’re behaving “appropriately.” Losing weight. Pretending to like sports. Deleting unflattering photos on their profile pages. All this is folly, because if you’ve got to pretend to be someone else in order to get a husband, it’s probably a sign you’re not ready to be a wife, or you’ll be a miserable one.
We already live in a world where women are taught to shy away from being viewed as openly complicated, flawed or messy in any way. Spending your days pretending to be an idealized self in order to attract someone doesn’t help things.
The things we do well and the parts of us that are “perfect” are flat and boring. The beauty of self is found in the complicated, flawed and messy areas. If we’re all becoming these sanitized idealized selves ready for marriage, who on earth will be left to do the fun things like drinking Hennessy straight with no ice (while walking your cat) and pretending to be pregnant in order to be fast tracked at sample sales?
What’s not being said enough is that it’s OK to be single. It’s OK to want to get married but be in no rush. It’s OK to never ever want to get married. It’s OK to wait patiently for Common in all his bearded glory to propose to you armed with a canary yellow diamond ring and a pair of Louboutins. It’s OK to conduct your life according to whatever your truth may be.
I’ve shared my beliefs in certain circles and the ad hominem criticism of my views has been that I’m not engaged, so my opinions are rooted in envy or an unnecessary preoccupation with being single. To which I respond that receiving a ring isn’t hard and getting married isn’t an achievement. Staying married for a significant amount of time and creating an environment where people can flourish? Much harder.
It’s always better to live your truth and do things in your time. And until the day I get married, I will proudly sing my song as a woman who loves being single, and isn’t afraid of walking her cat alone while sipping on Hennessy.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice all that because you don’t want to change your relationship status back to “single.”