A friend of mine, and my boyfriend's, recently announced that he was getting engaged. To a woman he met on Tinder. Two weeks ago. Which shouldn't be that shocking, I guess — people meet online all the time. I myself spend more time looking at my phone than looking at any one person in my life, so if I was out there still trying to meet dudes, it's possible that the same thing could have happened to me.
Still, his actions shook us a little bit. I mean, marriage is a super-serious thing! Or is it? That question — along with the Tinder marriage proposal — set off yet another conversational circle that my boyfriend and I have gone around and around on before. After two years together, I wanna get married, like, real bad. But I'm not sure why. I do know that I want to legally declare my love for the best human that I've ever met and who I seem to love more every day. And he was the one who, about two weeks into our courtship, began talking about getting hitched, having kids, buying a house, all of that shit. He sensibly and quickly pulled back on all of those ideas, but I never let them go. So our most recent marriage conversation ended in a compromise: My boyfriend agreed to say, on Facebook, that he was "In a relationship" with me — and that was enough for me to shut up.
It's funny that something as simple as a modification to a profile on a social network pacified me. I still want to get married, but my boyfriend is right when he says that we are doing fine right now — we're co-habitating, we just adopted a dog, and though we spend a lot of time together, we still like each other a lot. Marriage isn't the next logical step because we don't need to take any steps right now.
On the flip side of fast love, there's divorce. At almost 35, I didn't know my friends would be getting divorced yet. But as I talked through a separation with a good friend recently, I realized that yes — divorce at this age makes total sense. Just like marriage, there are no rules or time frames. We can generalize all we want about the average age people are "supposed" to get hitched and the reasons behind it, but at the bottom of it all, there's this irrational thing called love holding it together. And love can't be held accountable for sensible choices.
It may seem like marriages have shorter lifespans these days, and that we're even waiting much longer in life to get hitched — if we do so at all. Fewer than half my friends are in serious relationships, even fewer are married, and not an overwhelming amount of them have kids. But the real reason I think there can be a preference for a transient and unattached existence over an attached one isn't because we haven't found "the one"; it's because we do what we want. We don't marry people we don't truly like — which sounds crazy as I type it, but I know many older couples whose relationships have long perplexed me. I feel like my age group and the younger set aren't getting married for reasons other than that we like someone enough to want to legally bind ourselves to him or her.
A friend who is in the midst of an amicable divorce after just a handful of years with his partner told me that after talking to his mom about the situation, he knew he was making the right decision. His mother said she had long wished she had divorced his father, but it was too late. They had been through enough, and although she hadn't been particularly fond of him over the past few decades, she was going to stick it out. I can't imagine one of my friends ever telling me that was the reason he or she was still married. Only time will tell if that's true, I suppose.
But beyond that, I wonder: Is my generation just more interested in building a life for ourselves than with a family? I mean, family is subjective; my "family" consists of equal parts blood relations and people who are just damn good friends. I even live in a pseudo "family unit" within the home I share with my partner and two other friends. We have roles, conflicts and good times, just like any other family.
I also think about this a lot: Are people like me just too fickle and flaky and "independent" for married life? Is our freedom to do what we choose both inside and out of our relationships really just our immature inability to see things through to the end? I don't think so. There are unreliable people in all aspects of life. Some of us don't take relationships seriously; others of us can't seem to hold on to a job or a living situation because we are constantly chasing our futures. Whatever it is that keeps you together or on your own, I think the important thing to remember is this: As we go through life doing whatever in the hell we want, we need to make sure we treat each other nicely. Life is an awful trip when you treat people like shit.
Now, go. Log back in to that Tinder account that you've almost deleted, like, five times. Clearly there are people worth swiping right for — er, marrying — on that thing.
Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies
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