While my best friend has been happily dating her boyfriend for a couple years, I’ve been single longer than I’d like to admit. Her boyfriend bought her a huge, gorgeous diamond ring and proposed during their vacation, like something out of a movie. Her dress is long and gorgeous and the wedding will be large and elaborate. She’s getting married first and I’ll be the cliche single maid of honor, wearing an unflattering pastel dress, drinking champagne and wondering which groomsmen are single. And yet, this doesn’t really bother me. In fact, it feels like I’m exactly where I need to be.
We’re still young. Like, really young. Yes, our mothers and grandmothers got married at our age, but things have changed since then. I can’t imagine deciding to spend the rest of my life with the same hair color, let alone the same person. I feel like I’m constantly changing and as a result, so are my relationships. There’s no way I’m mature enough to make a legally binding commitment to someone, even if I’m totally in love with him.
I like being independent. If I decide to make a huge life decision, the only person I have to consult is me. Of course I go to my friends and family for advice, but ultimately I’m in charge of my own life. If I were to get engaged, that other person would obviously have a say in things. I’m not ready to accommodate another person in major life decisions. I’m still at a stage where I need to make my own choices because I’m putting myself first. Being selfish isn’t always a bad thing, especially when you’re still figuring things out.
I’m still getting to know myself. I still don’t know what I want in life. Maybe I want to get married or maybe I’ll change my mind, depending on who I’m with. Maybe I’ll want kids someday even though I don’t right now. Everything feels so up in the air. If I were to commit to someone right now, changing my mind about what I want wouldn’t just affect me, but it would also affect them. I have the freedom to figure myself out and make mistakes without another person feeling the consequences. At this point in my life, it’s only fair to myself and those around me.
I’m not tied down. I have the option to move around if I want to. If I were engaged to someone, their career, family and friends would affect me, too. Someday I’ll want to settle down, but I’m still at a point where the freedom to switch things up is really important to me. It’s much harder to do that when you’re committed to another person.
I can focus on my job. Since I’m on my own, I have more time and energy to devote towards building a career. My job doesn’t have to take a backseat to anything, and I’m able to set long-term goals for myself. Between working full time and planning a wedding, my friend is always exhausted. She’s not as enthusiastic about work as she was before because she’s usually preoccupied with wedding details. At this early point in my career, I don’t really want the distraction of planning to get married. I’d rather save that for when I’m more established and secure.
I’m saving a lot of money. Even a modest wedding costs a ton of money. I’m still trying to build my savings — I really can’t spare tens of thousands to spend on a single day. Sure, some people’s parents foot the bill, but I know that won’t be the case for me. I’m also avoiding the stress of merging finances with another person, which can put stress on even the strongest relationship. Maybe when I’m older and a little more financially secure, this won’t seem so daunting.
Divorce is scary. Two people in love don’t think it’ll happen to them, but roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. Things change, people change and often the only way out is through a courtroom. It’s ugly, painful and expensive, and it’s something I want to avoid at all costs. That’s why I won’t make that commitment until I’m as sure as I’ll ever be. At this age, I don’t think that’s possible.
I don’t need another half to feel complete. My friend tells me she’d be lost without her fiancé. While I understand that strong need for his presence, I also don’t want to get so attached to someone that I can’t function without them. I don’t want to find myself getting married because I’m afraid to end up alone. I want to get married because it seems like the most natural, wonderful next step in our relationship. But if I never find the right person, I’d rather be happy by myself than miserable in a marriage.
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