Do you ever wonder why all of your friends are desperate about getting married or have been married for a while, and you are left on your own?
I have been doing a lot of reading about women my age (thirty-something) trying to find the perfect match and not being able to find it. Some of the stories are linked to our professional goals and the importance of being independent, self-sufficient, confident, and not relying on another person to be fulfilled. I have read lots of articles that consider that most of us career-driven women are left behind because men are not interested in waiting for us to settle … either they got married or found that single life is more fun and less expensive and stressful than married life.
On the other side, I have read a lot on the world of expectations. We are not willing to “settle” … So, we are always looking for something better, someone who responds to our perfect-guy checklist, and the older we get, the less we are open to meet people different from what we would like to have.
In my opinion, we are living the biggest love and relation paradigm change in the last hundred years, and we are getting the worst of it. For centuries, marriage was a mutual consent linked to economic, social, religious, racial, cultural, and political reasons. Couples were meant to stay together and build through family a patrimony or a legacy. Sense in life was linked to that consent. Most of the time, many other people took the decision, but somehow you knew that was what you had to do. I am not saying I would like that, I just wanted to point out the difference.
Later on, specifically after the great romantic writers of the nineteenth century, love became the base of a matrimony, or at least in the most important occidental communities. You still knew it was important to fill the religious, cultural, social, economic, and politic expectations, but love took an important role. It gave a sense of independence, a sense of being in charge of your own life knowing that someone else would be there for you … no matter what.
After the fifties, things changed a lot. Wealth changed lifestyles and interests, the sexual revolution introduced new elements linked to freedom, pleasure, experimentation, but the most important part was getting rid of all the social stigmatization that opened the door to a more independent way to understand love and relationships.
When we were born in the seventies, we were told by our parents that we had the whole world for us. That we had the freedom to choose to get married or not, to choose our life partner no matter where he came from, what he did for a living, what religion he had. We had the power of building our own reality and choosing what was best for us. At the same time, they told us how important it was to have a good education, to have a career, to have financial independence so that if something went wrong, we could be able to move on without depending on someone. And we believed that plan … we studied, we didn’t settle for any guy, we decided to have a career and be good at it.
Where is the change of paradigm? When you have so much freedom, so many options, so little social, religious, or familiar limitations, you are left on your own. Completely alone, no one to blame for your life decisions. People are not willing to take that chance, it’s too complicated. So love is still important, but nobody knows if it will last and are already thinking what to do after. I have met so many unhappy couples who are already thinking about separating, they don’t even remember what made them get together on the first place. The mutual consent faded right after the honeymoon. I am not saying that there are no loving couples; there are millions around the world. But the social, religious, and cultural protection that surrounded them is getting thinner every single day. And for those of us who decided to wait, we are being constantly contacted by married men who are unhappy with their situation, single men that are not interested in anything serious because it is too complicated and there is no need for it, or emotional disasters who suffocate you trying to lock you inside suburbia and become a good wife.
I have no idea what new generations will face. Most of the twenty-something girls I know have had more sexual encounters than me and six of my best friends together. They are more individually driven than us and consider that most men are cheaters and liars. Most of them are not religious and consider most of the social rituals like marriage an old-fashioned primitive act that is only worth doing because of the party.
So, is it good to be so free? Or have we not found how to deal with that freedom? Why are we so afraid of commitment? And why are we so many saying that there are no options? Thousands of people are in the same life situation incapable of finding each other. Online dating sites are becoming so big, but at the same time so shallow that even if you decide you join in, you already know that has no future. We all are losers in the other person’s point of view.
How do we find our soul mate in a world filled with distrust, greed, stress, self-consciousness, and judgment? Will we ever know how to deal with our freedom?