Monday, July 5, 2010

As the Clock Winds Down, Pickings Grow Slim

I had lunch with a friend the other day and she impressed upon me the urgency of “settling down” because we weren’t getting any younger and soon all the good ones were going to be taken. I quipped that I’d get my shot at a good one on the next round after the divorces. In all honesty, I was slightly taken aback and even a little offended by the comment. Does the fact that I’m not married mean that not only have a passed up the opportunity to find a good man, but I, myself, am not included in the good batch because if I were, I would be snapped up already? At 25 I hardly feel that I’m at an age where I’ve been completely passed over in the marriage department.
I prefer to think that it’s the complete opposite. Perhaps settling down quickly and early is more settling than anything. Lucy Maud Montgomery once said that young marriage is a sure indication of second-rate goods that had to be sold off in a hurry. Rather than take a chance at finding true happiness, individuals just take what they can get when they get it.
It’s true that the dating field shrinks as we get older and people get married, but I’ve interacted with a number of married men who certainly don’t strike me as the pick of the litter. Maybe the good ones are more selective, maybe they are taking the time to become the individuals they want and need to be to contribute all that they can to a lasting, worthwhile marriage.
I’m not saying people can’t find the love of their life at a young age, I’ve touched on this before, some people are incredibly fortunate in this realm, but I think the majority of people need time to mature and become a complete person before getting married. I also think that this maturation has slowed for many people, the college years are prolonged by four-year degrees that are drawn out to five, six or seven years.
So although the selection is shrinking as we age, in some cases it may be getting better as some of the duds are being weeded out as they head down the aisle. There aren’t many people who wish they had gotten married at an earlier age, and even fewer who wish this for the sole reason that if they had, they wouldn’t have missed out on some fantastic catch that they haven’t met yet.
I personally don’t regret not marrying any of my past boyfriends. They would have been my only ticket to a younger marriage, and if those are my only options, I’d rather settle comfortably into my role as an old maid.


  1. woo-hoo! I agree whole-heartedly. I think there may be some shred of truth to the advice to "not be too picky," but women are catching up and surpassing men in education and professional positions. Many women are even forgoing marriage and buying their own homes and raising kids by themselves later in life. We don't necessarily need husbands in order to be successful and financially secure, and it appears that we don't need husbands to be happy, either.

    There's a great article in this month's Atlantic about the future woman-led economy, I think you'd like it.

  2. When it comes to marriage (or even just relationships for that matter), the grass will always be greener on the other side. People like to point to the fact that they won't "settle" as the reason they're not married yet (not that I think 25 is too old not to be married). The problem with "not settling" is that it becomes a convenient excuse for being unattached. The truth is that nobody is perfect and there will always be someone out there that is better than your partner in one way or another. I mean, what woman wouldn't want to marry the tall, handsome professional man who earns a six-figure salary in a career of serving as a pillar of society (doctor, lawyer, upwardly mobile businessman; take your pick), a man who is great with kids and has a great sense of humor who can make you laugh? What man wouldn't want a woman who is beautiful, good in bed, good in the kitchen, and good with kids? But there is no perfect man or woman, and we each have to make our own choices as to what will make us the most happy. The key is to make realistic choices.

    We're fast approaching an age of female freedom. As I've written (, in our modern times, marriage really ought to be an informed decision, not a relationship choice to be ushered into choosing, whether by society, family, or some unrealistic expectations of self.

    Personally, I don't see being an unmarried 25 year old to be odd in the least. I'm close in age to you and I'm not worrying about it, at least not for until I approach 35. Of course, things are considerably different for women who wish to maximize their fertile years, something I can't speak on.