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On Not Feeling The Pressure To Settle Down

On Not Feeling The Pressure To Settle Down

Recently one of my friends got married to the love of her life, and then a year later, my best friend got married to the love of her life. My friend group was in a semi-panic. ‘Is it time?’ ‘I don’t really love my boyfriend, but should I marry him anyway?’ ‘I don’t want to end up alone!’

All of a sudden, marriage and settling down became a common topic for us, and every time we saw each other, we asked, “So do you think he’s going to propose?” “Soon,” was always the answer.

Right before my best friend got married, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend – the longest relationship I had ever had. We’re still friends, and I still love him as a human being, and it was exhausting trying to explain that to other people without receiving the reaction of a frown and a strained neck. “I’m so sorry, I regret bringing it up!” they would cry. It’s not awkward, we’re still friends, there is no drama. My friends cried out for me, “Oh no, Claudia! We loved you together! Are you sure? Do you think you’ll change your mind?” Yes, I’m sure. No, I won’t change my mind.

Most of their fear on my behalf, I think stemmed from the fact that people in our friendship group are actively getting married, and currently I’m the only single one. They’ve all been dating their boyfriends for several years now, and it’s probably only a matter of time until another one of them pops the question.

I’m not the type of person to always have a boyfriend. Forever jealous of those who break up with their boyf one day, and are happy as ever with the next 3 weeks later. That has never been me. Perhaps because I have never been bold enough to tell a crush that I like them – but I have also never been dumped, so you win some, you lose some, I guess.

My overriding thought is that I would rather be single, than be stuck in a marriage with someone that I only half-like. Being stuck in a relationship is one thing, but stuck in a marriage is a whole other kettle of fish. Suddenly your financials come into it, your family is involved, their family is involved, it is no longer selfishly yours. Changing your mind becomes very, very complicated.

Perhaps my fear is that I do change my mind so often, that I’m afraid of suddenly not being able to. I’ve gone through so many phases in my life – I’ve been a goth, I’ve been preppy, I’ve been East-London-edgy, I’ve been West-London-polished, I’ve been a skinny-jeans gal, I’ve been a straight-leg jeans gal, I’ve been it all. I have changed my mind on who I am so many times, and I’ve changed my mind on who I have loved even more so. Five years ago, my dream man was a skinny guitar player with questionable tattoos, and now I wonder, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’

I can confidently say that my friends are married to the loves of their lives. Perhaps because they’ve known each other forever, and they have been together during the formative years, and come out stronger on the other side. Teenage angst and pubescent personality changes are hard enough for anyone to weather, let alone a relationship. But they did, and now they’re married, and (not surprising to anyone) happier than ever. They deserve that. And they were also so lucky to meet their person so young.

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I am not ready to pick the person with whom I want to be with for the rest of my life, because I haven’t yet picked the version of me of whom I will be for the rest of my life. Perhaps I’m still going through my post-pubescent personality changes, (even though I have definitely relaxed since then – I’m not dyeing my hair pink again anytime soon), but I also just haven’t found my person. I will not pick someone I only half-like to deal with me for the rest of my life – when I know I will grow to resent them – just because of peer pressure, of all things!

You could meet the love of your life at 18 years old, and marry them 6 months later. You could meet them at 50, or not at all, or several times over. If you meet the love of your life, you should love them. If you don’t, you need to love yourself anyway.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite poems of all time. It’s called ‘Bride’ by Maggie Smith.

How long have I been wed
to myself? Calling myself

darling, dressing for my own
pleasure, each morning

choosing perfume to turn
me on. How long have I been

alone in this house but not
alone? Married less

to the man than to the woman
silvering in the mirror.

I know the kind of wife
I need and I become her:

the one who will leave
this earth at the same instant

I do. I am my own bride,
lifting the veil to see

my face. Darling, I say,
I have waited for you all my life.