I never thought that not wanting to get married would be such a big deal, but as soon as I started telling people that that was my intention, a lot changed. Here’s how it has affected my dating life.
I’m a lot more honest.
In the past, whenever a new date would ask where I saw myself in the future, I’d respond with something mysterious and non-committal like, “Wherever my heart takes me!” or pivot towards the professional like, “I see myself as the boss of my company.” These days, I just tell people straight up that I see myself as staying single for the long haul. If that’s a deal breaker, we both need to know it as soon as possible so we don’t waste each other’s time.
I avoid men with children.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from dating in my thirties, it’s that men with children want to get married. This makes sense. Raising children alone is hard and having a partner to love and become part of your family is a natural desire. Because of this, dating men with children feels selfish. I never want to be a wife or a stepmother, and it’s not fair for me to lead them on if that’s what they are hoping for.
I don’t feel any urgency.
For some of my friends, dating has become an obsessive race to marriage, and even my friends who aren’t as burdened by restrictive expectations have voiced concern about the lack of “husband material” in their dating pool. For me on the other hand, dating is a relaxed process without fear of the future. I can take a new relationship at whatever pace feels right and not have to worry about its longevity.
I have to explain myself… a lot.
Whether it’s to friends, my parents, my colleagues, or on first dates, I’m always having to justify my decision to not get married. The expectations set for women are so rigid that one simple life choice seems to completely change the way people view me. It’s taken a lot of patience and practice for me to explain myself without going off on a rant about the outdated and sexist treatment of women.
The guys who find it attractive are rarely the ones I want to be with.
There are men out there who absolutely love the fact that I don’t plan to marry. For them, it means I won’t try to “tie them down” or “trap them.” On the flip side, a lot of wonderful men my age want to find a lifelong partner. This contrast in options makes dating a little discouraging sometimes when all the guys I like want marriage and all the guys I don’t like think my life choices are perfectly in sync with theirs.
I get to focus on the present.
Looking for a good companion is totally different from looking for a lifelong partner. When I meet a guy for the first time, I’m not sizing him up to see what kind of babies we’d make or whether he’d still be alive at 80. I assess men by how I feel around them as I am now. I get to make my romantic decisions based on my current self, not the person I expect to become. Because of this, my dating life is more surprising and open to possibility.
I’m a huge hit on dating apps.
While dating apps seem a little less hookup-oriented than they used to, it’s undeniable that most men use them for casual sex. At my age, a lot of people are either married or headed that way, so when guys on dating apps see that I’m on a completely different trajectory, they assume I’m there for the same reasons they are. Eventually, I quit apps altogether because no one seemed to truly understand where I was coming from.
It’s difficult to find someone who wants a serious relationship.
When I tell people I don’t plan to marry, most of them assume that I just want to have casual sex my whole life or be a crazy cat lady who never leaves the house. But just because I don’t want to commit myself to one person forever doesn’t mean that I want the polar opposite. I want meaningful relationships, but finding people with the same desire is more difficult when marriage is out of the question.
It frees me up to be myself.
Once you’ve broken the convention of wanting to get married, you’re free to be as unconventional as you want. Being upfront about my intention to never marry has allowed me to show who I really am and not shy away from revealing the more unique sides of myself.
The pressure to date is nonexistent.
My parents used to ask me all the time about whether or not I was dating someone. They wanted grandkids as soon as possible and couldn’t wait for me to start a life with someone. And while it was difficult to tell them that I wasn’t going to follow that path, it freed them up to ask about more important things in my life like my job and my plans for the future, and we’re much closer because of it.
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