Since many of us are sustaining singleness until the late 20s and even late 30s, we may wonder if indeed we are making it practically impossible to find love. Take these arguments for example (against staying single longer and longer):

1. I’ll get so used to being single, more and more independent, that I won’t want to compromise. I’ll become apathetic to love, because, hey – I’ve done just fine this far!

2. I’ll grow in self-actualization and confidence so much that I’ll be way too picky. After all, I am my longest relationship.

3. As we get older, our options decrease. ‘Nough said.

Regardless of these arguments, which stand on pretty solid observations initially, I actually think that delaying marriage has its advantages. Among those might be the following:

1. One problem for many is that we’re always wondering if it is greener on the other side, or thinking about how exhilarating it is to be single and open to all the hotness. But by spending practically a third of our lives on many lawns (tee hee), we sort of see that it’s actually not all that easy to connect with others on a significant and romantic level. Most lawns are sort of scruffy. To find someone we think is hot and emotionally available? If we do, yes, please. Right. Here.

2. While it is true we’ve dated and dated, all that experience helps us hone our senses of whether someone is right for us or not. What may seem like pickiness may really be us just being super efficient at weeding people out and so avoiding wasting time with people we won’t end up with.

3. Options decreasing? Maybe it depends where you live, but I certainly don’t feel that way in SoCal. On the contrary, is anyone in a relationship here? ūüôā

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the relationship options that are available to us. Nancy Polikoff has a great book (and Bookslut.com has a great review on it here if you want to know more) about how, while relationship options have expanded, laws have not adjusted, and heterosexual marriage is the relationship still privileged. While the usual arguments against hetero marriage center around allowing same-sex marriage, Polikoff suggests such expansion still limits the reality and desire of people in the US. She points out that the concept of a nuclear family consisting of husband, wife, and kids is actually a relatively recent idea, and that in the past, one simply considered everyone in their house.

With more people delaying marriage, some (like me) start to wonder what is in store for us if we happen to see marriage as outside of our personal realities? Indeed the fantasy of marriage as the Ultimate Goal is still there in my mind. Half of me is always looking out for my soulmate or the miraculous awareness of a crush to occur upon which follows basking in the imaginative happiness of whatever togetherness might look like (for me it is a marble balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea and myself all dressed in white while my lover comes from behind me to kiss my neck).

I’ve been with some incredibly sweet, trustworthy, generous, sensitive men whom would make wonderful husbands, life-partners, etc. if I only had loved them back enough. And I’ve dated enough men who were not compatible or who just left me apathetic to know that once I did find someone, I would know I could be completely committed without wondering whether there was more verdant foilage on the other side, because there is most certainly not. So I have to conclude that I question now whether that Holy Grail that is Marriage is what is really the Ultimate Happiness. And if it isn’t, does that mean I can’t develop other meaningful relationships that¬†as fulfilling?

The thing is that as long as society marriage, it is to the detriment of all other possible ways of including the host of amazing people into life whom do not fit marriage. Female roommates room together, but with the understanding that the situation, no matter how , is temporary – one eye always on the opportunity for Happy Ever After. Asexual friends with deep spiritual connection likewise understand they have to protect their feelings to some extent so as to prepare for their True Love. Life and people many times are not savored for what it is/they are, in the moment. And people can become very lonely and depressed as a result.

How can we go about de-centering the marriage relationship (not doing away with it! but removing it of some of its authority) so as to create space to value alternative couplings, and not just “until we get married”? Films like When Harry Met Sally, Just Friends, ¬†No Strings Attached, Just Go With It, ¬†and Friends With Benefits make some progress. . . until the end when we find that the protagonists have to end up together. Because if they don’t, it’s not really a happy ending. In Adam, the two ultimately incompatible (for marriage) people did not end up together, but, while the end did leave open the possibility for a renewed, different type of relationship after the closing credits, ultimately, they didn’t get married, so they had to break up all possibilities of being together in another way.

Can we keep open the possibility of marriage (after all, we’ve been taught it’s the goal of everyone’s life. . . that’s a hard message to externalize) while mourning it’s certainty and privilege so that other relationships might be given the opportunity to flourished to a full, full bloom? This goes beyond the question “Can men and women be friends?” In college I learned the favorite thing in Greek to point out: there are 12 words for love, all encompassing a different nuance. There are that many and more possibilities for significant human connection. We just need to begin imagining language and constructing fantasies that encompass them.

Beyond bro-mances, of course. But that pretty already much rocks.

Gentlemen’s Choice?

March 4, 2011

Subject A: Isn't it Time We Chose?

A book I read once told me I should go out with anyone once, even twice. So I generally try to follow that rule. But then I end up accepting requests for evenings out with men who like me, but it’s not always the other way around. What’s a girl to do?

These unwritten gender rules about guys being the ones to choose their potential mates need some close examination. While one might say that women also participate in the mating call by luring their catch to them via physical and behavioral markers, most human women I know don’t do much more than note the attractiveness of a guy and possibly look longingly in his direction before returning her undivided attention to her friend. Otherwise she might seem desperate. (sigh).

I’ve been thinking that women need to resist seeing pursuing a love interest as a masculine or male act. It is empowering to be aware of your surroundings and then take action in a situation where something significant is of note. Yes, some men might dub us “aggressive” or think we’re desperate or boyish. And so we’ll be rejected. But that is just the nature of the beast.

Eventually, perhaps we’ll meet a guy who is open-minded or we’ll learn some “game.” I don’t know. But for the past 12 years I have let men run the show in my dating life. And what results has it brought me? Most of the guys who have stuck and transitioned into actual boyfriends have been guys that I, for the most part, chosen and pursued. All the rest? Interesting people, but no cigar.

Let’s stop wondering if that crush likes us and just ask him out and be done with it. Move on.

It is always flattering to be liked and asked out. But it tends to jolt me when I realize that on the date that I’m on, the guy is having a really great time, and I’m rather wondering when the night, albeit sweet and lovely, will be concluding. This may seem rather harsh, but it happens enough where I realize I either I need to learn how to spot a guy and lead him to me, or I just need to throw off the shackles of dating gender roles altogether and ask a guy out. I’ve recently had at these two conversations now where we (the other conversant was male) were trying to figure out (ala the discussion in Blue Valentine) why guys find it so easy to fall head-over-heals for a girl they are dating and why girls usually just settle for the one who seems best at the time they refuse to hold out any longer.

While initially, I held the position that guys had it lucky because they were “wired” to be attracted to both appearance and emotional connection while girls didn’t have the lust factor, this is really just regurgitating age old gender stereotypes that are for the most part probably not true. Instead, I come to another conclusion.

Guys have a much better chance of finding a girl whom they can fall in love with because they are %99 of the time choosing candidates they desire. If women only reject/accept when they are presented with an opportunity, their probability of falling in love would naturally decrease. Think of it like this. If a person parades down a street, (with cv clearly visible), hoping the CEOs of companies will catch notice, emerge from their buildings and offer a job, what are the odds this person will find a suitable position compared to someone who is persistent in calling on those companies she most wants to work at? Sure dating isn’t alwaysto¬†analagous to the workforce, but I hope you get my point.

So I am going to try to be more on the offense when it comes to playing the game of love. No more waiting around to be the chosen. . . I’m going to choose.

But then, if someone says yes, does that mean I’ll have to pay? Damnit.