I was just reading this article on HuffPost, about women in their 30s and their take on being single/unmarried. One of the women made a comment that really spoke to me–she learned that being married “wasn’t a given,” although she grew up and lived most of her life assuming that it was.
I think this is something a lot of people assume by default. We see so many people married when we’re young, and so many people ask us about dating and it’s just such an ingrained part of society–why wouldn’t it happen to us? Everyone does it; it’ll happen for you eventually.
I think this kind of thinking is really unproductive, and it’s something that a lot of young people think today, too. Most millennials I know have the attitude of “it’s not that I don’t want marriage; I just want to focus on my career first and then find a partner.” Which is fine, but that’s like saying, “I just want to focus on being a student first and then find a job.” Young people go after their careers so vigorously and with such determination because they know the odds are not in their favor, and they know that a job they love isn’t a given. They know that it’s something they need to work toward and something they need to seek out for themselves; it’s not something that just “happens to everyone.” So while they’re young, they start thinking about what kind of career they want. When they’re teenagers, they start exploring their interests. When they’re in college, they look for internships and jobs. Their entire life is made up of small steps taken to work their way up to that dream career. It’s not something they think about after focusing on something else; it sits there at the back of their mind, no matter what stage of life they’re in. It influences their decisions. It’s a big deal.
Well, finding a partner (whether a spouse or just a long-term partner) isn’t something that just “happens to everyone.” I don’t know if it’s just that people these days don’t really care about finding a partner or if they still have the mentality that “it’ll happen at the right time.” But if finding a partner is important, I don’t think it’s wrong to actively pursue that. I think it’s really the only logical option if that’s a goal of yours. If it’s what you want, you can’t actively wait till it falls in your lap; you have to go after it and work towards it, the same as you would any other goal. If it’s something you’d ultimately want, why wouldn’t you live your life trying to grow into the type of person you think is worthy of a great partner? Why wouldn’t you make decisions that go towards becoming the person you want to be in order to be a great partner to someone else? Why wouldn’t you work on figuring out what you want and meeting people you think you could get along with? I get that a great career is a part of preparing yourself to be a great partner, by being someone who can contribute to society in a valuable way and be financially ready to support a partner and family–but pursuing only a career thinking that a partner will naturally follow is doing only half the work.
Furthermore, if you meet a great person, but you happen to be young, why would you throw that away just because you think “the timing is off” or “you’re too young”? You can’t control when the right person comes into your life, but you can control how you react to that. If you were young and someone offered you the right career, would you not take it? Would you not realize that opportunities like that don’t come often, if ever, so you’d jump at the chance at something that really isn’t guaranteed to anyone? It’s the same with finding a partner. People treat this aspect of their life as something that they can just go back to if all else doesn’t work out, rather than as something that is rare and not guaranteed. People are too eager to risk not having a partner if all other aspects of their life are not perfect yet, rather than take the plunge and risk having to work a little harder to make all those other aspects of their life work. I see people cross oceans in their early 20s in order to take a job; I only see people accommodate a partner because they fit into their lives and won’t have to make that many adjustments. I wish more people would accommodate partners the same way they do their dream jobs. If it’s that important, it wouldn’t be such a challenge to do so. People these days are too focused on themselves; there isn’t enough focus on others–and I think the root of it is just fear of getting hurt and fear of change. It’s great to live your life for yourself, but if that were the key to happiness then more people would actually be happy. I think people have convinced themselves that they’re happy being single and not having to share the bed and being able to jump on a plane and go anywhere they want….but if they truly were happy, they wouldn’t need to write articles proving why their lives are so much better than those of married people, or people who are in long-term partnerships. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me. But I think it takes guts to admit that yes, you do want to find a partner because you do think it would make you happy. People these days are pretty slow to admit that, but I think it’s something a lot of people still think. I think most people just learn to be content with being single, but if given the choice, I’m sure they’d choose differently. Maybe I’m wrong though; what do I know?