I had a friend in high school who decided to major in Liberal Studies because it was an “unusable” degree (basically, you take a few classes in every subject, which doesn’t make you qualified for any specific vocation), so when she met her husband, she wouldn’t be “tempted” to pursue a career instead of marriage.
It’s an extreme example, but many single women do a similar, albeit more subtle, thing. It’s as if we only have one commitment card, and we’re saving it for marriage.
So for now, until we meet our future spouse, we won’t commit to anything else. Because if we did commit to, let’s say, a career path or a graduate degree or a few months of travel, somehow that would exclude our ability to have a relationship with a guy.
This is a problem. A big, big problem. Here’s why.
1) It makes you put your life on hold.
I thought I was going to get married when I was 27, because a guy I loved and had dated for several years called my dad and asked if he could marry me. And then, during the course of my cancer treatments, the guy bailed and I ended up single.
I’m 36 now. If I had put my life on hold and waited for another guy to come along and propose, I would have missed so many amazing things that have happened over the past 9 years. These are just a few of them — I moved from New England to the west coast. I switched career paths. I wrote a book. I traveled to 10 new countries and dozens of states. I “adopted” a family of Somali refugees, and I travel and speak about them a few times a month. I went camping in the wilderness by myself (which I don’t necessarily recommend, I’m just saying that I did it.)
If you’re still single in five or ten years, I guarantee that you will look back on those years and have regrets for everything you could’ve done but didn’t because you were in a holdling pattern, waiting to meet a guy before your adventure could begin.
2) It makes you miserable.
Putting your life on hold will make you feel like you’re trapped in an unfortunate situation, waiting for marriage to rescue you and take you to a place where you have more opportunities and more freedom.
But it’s probably the opposite. You are free NOW. You have more opportunities NOW than you will have when you add a partner and a few kids to your life.
Singleness is already challenging enough. If you see it as a barrier that’s keeping you from having the life you want, you will really hate being single.
Instead, use this time to explore anything you want. Basically, the only thing you can’t do right now is plan your wedding. Otherwise, every other option is available to you.
Want to travel? Well, who said you have to only travel with a spouse? Grab another single friend, buy plane tickets to Djibouti and have an adventure.
Want to socialize more? Take cooking classes or dance lessons or volunteer at the local rescue mission, soup kitchen or after-school program.
Want to see what it’s like to live in a new state? Pack up and go.
Want to earn a better living? Take classes for the career you want to have.
You get the idea. You are not living in solitary confinement until you meet your partner. You are free right here, right now. So go enjoy it.
3) It puts a lot of pressure on your future mate.
I’ve talked to a lot of my guy friends about this idea, and they are terrified of meeting a woman who’s been living with her life on hold, waiting to get married.
It puts a ton of pressure on a guy if you’ve been waiting for him to make you happy and content.
Also, if you haven’t established your own independence by getting an education or traveling or having other important life experiences, it makes you needy and overly-dependent on him.
Men want you to be their partner, not their project.
So starting today, go life the life you want to have. Go write the exciting narrative you want to live. Make choices that, in five or ten years, will leave you with great memories instead of deep regret.
I want to hear from you! Is there something you’ve been putting on hold that you want to start doing? Or is there a risk you took or an adventure you had that you’re thankful for?