In the course of my usual morning blog-reading on Saturday, I was led to this post by Jill on the winding path of dating when it’s complicated by the fact that you’re a very vocal feminist. While I will be the first to admit I’m (generally, in person) not a vocal feminist in the slightest and quite probably do nothing to help feminist causes at times, there was a particular section that really inspired reflection upon my own path through the world of romantic relationships:
It would be nice to be in a long-term stable relationship, but only in the sense that I would like to find someone with whom I am actually motivated to build such a relationship. In reality, though, I’ve kind of settled into the idea that I will probably not end up creating such a relationship; I feel like maybe that reads as sad or depressing, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. I mean, I’ve never been the person to fantasize about My Ideal Wedding, but I have fantasized about My First Published Book since before I could actually write. … I read all these stories about women my age who are totally anxious about finding The One and getting married, and I keep hearing that women my age have this biological clock thing ticking quite loudly, and even a lot of my friends seem to be feeling like they should be locating their person right about now, and I often wonder if there isn’t something seriously deeply wrong with me not only because I don’t feel any of that anxiety but also because I don’t at all fear A Life Alone. Maybe that will change in a decade â€” my mother says it will, and then she reminds me that she would be a really great grandmother. But it means that in the meantime, I can get to know a lot of different people without feeling like I’m auditioning them for the role of Jill’s Perfect Mate.
I can distinctly remember declaring to my dad at the age of four that I was never getting married and never having children. Once I got a little older and it became apparent to me that getting married wasn’t the act that created children and it was indeed possible to have one without the other, I began to entertain the idea of getting married as a potential activity in my life someday, but like Jill, I was still never one of those girls who planned out these wonderful, elaborate weddings, dreaming of the day they would walk down the aisle in a gorgeous white dress and recite vows asserting eternal love and devotion.
Instead, I spent hours upon hours going through my dad’s old books of house plans (he at one time owned and operated an incredibly successful construction business), picking out which ones I would someday love to live in: tremendous, extravagant, luxurious homes that would be a testament to my infinite success at whatever occupation I currently saw fit for myself “when I grew up.” I emphasize the I in that statement because I honestly only ever pictured myself living in those grand homes. Whenever I imagined days spent in the library reading and writing, hours working out in the dedicated gym room, cooking in the professional-grade kitchen, and lounging on the vast patio by the in-ground swimming pool and landscaped gardens, there was no one else residing in the home with me, partaking of these various luxuries. It was only me, single-handedly enjoying the material fruits of my impressive talents and labors.
While I still entertain the possibility of someday finding someone that is so thoroughly Awesome I can’t not want to share my life with them, just as when I was dreaming of my single life in mansions, I’m not at all put off by the idea of going about my existence “alone.” And like Jill, in the face of supposedly knowing, patronizing remarks about how it’s only because I’m young and doubtless one day I’ll be driven to get married and settle down, just give it about ten years and my biological clock will run rampant and all-consuming, I find myself questioning my lifelong lack of such an interest. Is there something wrong with me that it has never once been an intensely motivating factor and I quite positively don’t ever see it becoming an issue? Is there something terrifyingly strange and powerful that will suddenly turn on out of the blue in about five or so years that will completely change the mindset I’ve had for the past 26?
That last thought frightens me considerably more than the idea of never marrying. I’m quite proud of where my life experiences have led me and the person they have created. I like who I am the way I am now, and I find it absolutely mortifying to think that overnight I’ll turn into one of all the other irrational, unreasonable, and quite certifiably insane women out there intent upon having ridiculously convoluted relationships, marriages, and families. I may not have always been able to articulate exactly what I am after in a potential relationship, but I can assert that the common, expected course of a relationship has always felt artificial and unnecessarily complicated to navigate.
It really disturbs me to think that some Unknown will completely change me. Hell, beyond the whole dreaming of single life in a mansion, even when I played with dolls it wasn’t the traditional Barbie-marries-Ken-and-here-is-their-happily-ever-after. No, I had one Ken doll and about a dozen Barbies. Naturally he never got married, had affairs with all of the Barbies, and–SHOCKER!–sometimes there were threesomes, and some of the Barbies were lesbian! Having children was always a categorically negative thing, and none of my Barbies (or Ken) ever wanted to upset their exciting lives by having to buckle down and raise a child.
And of course, every Barbie had their own expansive, lavish mansion they lived in on their own, but occasionally with whoever was their current fling (or flings!).
These sort of childhood behaviors are what convince me that my lack of a drive to get married and settle down is an inherent, consistent part of me. That the fact that I’m not after any sort of “traditional” relationship is never going to change–it’s not just a phase I’m going through if I’ve been declaring my distinct dearth of interest in it all since I was four! It’s frustrating when people don’t understand how much thought I’ve put into it all, and how if I bring up having a relationship or getting married it is most definitely not because I’ve been bitten by the Insanity Bug and now suddenly want a fairy-tale ending.
I suppose that would be the one thing I am displeased about–the way most women operate has unfortunately set a stage that makes it impossible for me to have an intelligent, reasonable conversation about what I would actually want in a relationship and for what reasons I would actually consider the idea of getting married without the expectation being imposed on me that I’m going to be just as fanatical as every other woman, saying one thing when I really mean the complete opposite. This is probably the main reason I’m not terrified of being alone: I’ve learned it’s much more simple, pleasant, and enjoyable to just never bring any of it up. Why would I bother with the difficulties of trying to convince someone I’m not like all the other chicks when I can enjoy what I have with them without saying anything at all?
Again, I’m sure I’d be thrilled if I met someone who was equally uninterested in all the complicated nonsense people introduce to relationships when they want them to fit a certain timeline and array of specific qualities. Who was so thoroughly, unbelievably Fantastic that my independent, adventurous life would feel somehow less independent and adventurous if they weren’t included. I have the funny feeling, though, that I will wind up quite thoroughly happy with a string of all manner of entertaining, inspiring interactions while I work my way towards that mansion I’ve always wanted…