Archive for the ‘My (Disenchanted) Love Life’ Category

I’m Single – That’s How I Wanna Be

I have had a weekend of feeling super adjusted and satisfied with my life. Mostly I just coast through weekends and don’t pay much attention. Then this weekend I hit a trifecta with a bonus moment.

First, hung out with some single friends Friday. One engaged couple, but the rest single. Had a fantastic time. Sometimes I feel like if I had a boyfriend or husband I’d miss those moments or at least occasionally have to pass. But, instead, we ate, drank and had a great time. Win.

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Des and Brooks – Typical Doomed Relationship

I swore I’d never speak of The Bachelor(ette) again in writing, but I can’t resist. Someone drag my soapbox over here because I need to put all this poop in one generalized group and tell you what’s wrong with people in the dating pool.

  • People like Des want what they can’t have. The person they like doesn’t like them back, so to make up for it, they love harder. This makes them feel like they’re in love. What’s really happening is over-compensating. In Des’s case, this is compounded by feeling like she’s in a position of power. Don’t get me wrong, falling in love in like seven or nine weeks (or whatever the other sucker whose unrequited love for Des will send him on a spiral next week, and probably in real life as he watched how little she really cared said) is totally unrealistic. But I do think it’s possible in seven or nine weeks to know if you’re not the right fit. Hell, I think it’s possible to know in tow or three dates, honestly. If you don’t feel it you don’t feel it. Anyway, Brooks has always been unsure and distant, less emotionally attached than the others. And Des has always been drawn to this. Why? Who the hell knows, but I see it all the time.
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    Lao Tzu – Philosopher For The Day

    I saw this quote this weekend and it made me look up more Lao Tzu quotes. Dude was a smart, huh? Take a second to step back and look at your life differently. This only stuck with me because I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately. Prior to that, I’d also been having a really hard time sleeping. Of course, the two were related. But here’s the weird part: I have nothing to be anxious about! My life, for the most part, is easy. I don’t say that in a trust fund-having, laying by the pool drinking fruity drinks sort of way. But I say it because my parents are still alive and happy together, my family has no drama and we all love each other, my friends’ only drama is self-inflicted (as opposed to things like illness or crappy luck), I’m not loaded by any means, but can live fairly easily on what I do make, I don’t have a boyfriend or children. And any sickness I have is also self-inflicted by not-great diet or a sedentary job. So, bottom line, I am living the dream.

    But I’m anxious.

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    Expectations Versus Reality: Why Marriage Is Hard

    I replied to this post this morning, but didn’t get nearly enough characters. That never happens, right? So here’s my expanded response. And beyond that, how I feel about marriage, and that it often comes down to an expected image versus the reality of what it is.

    I think the issue with marriage is multi-dimensional.

    First, women feel like they’re a failure if they don’t get married. Or like marriage is a goal. It’s not a goal. But many of my friends have been searching for someone, anyone to marry them. For some, they wanted to be married as soon as their early 20s (or even in high school, I guess). For others, they figured they’d be married by their late 20s, so as the mid to late-twenties creep in, they start to panic. Then, my favorite group of girls are those in their 30s. Clocks are ticking. Emotions are running high. “Why doesn’t anyone want me?!” The whole thing is absurd.

    Ladies, you are not a failure if you don’t get married. It just means you haven’t found the right one, yet. You don’t settle for anyone who comes along. Or you’re running off the good guys with the crazy you’re carrying around, only thinking of marriage and children. Relax a little. I promise life’s not that much of an uptick when you’re married. Don’t you have any friends to witness? You do? Why do you think it’s going to be so much better for you?

    Beyond that, “rewarding” marriage with this huge wedding that’s “the best day of your life” only exacerbates this issue. Why doesn’t a girl get “her day” unless she gets married? I think this is one of the stupidest popular things in the world. Don’t reward something you don’t want abused. Reward exercisers with an open to post all the time on Facebook? They’ll abuse it. Reward heroin addicts with “the best high you’ll ever feel?” They’ll abuse it. Many girls have dreamed about their wedding day since they were children (I can’t relate, honestly). But when you dream about something that hard and that long, you want to realize it. Stop making it about the wedding. And for Christ’s sake, parents, tell your daughters you’ll throw them a party for just them if they want it (this is assuming you’d finance a wedding anyway). Go all out, wedding style. Give them the same budget, etc. But tell them, “You get one wedding. Whether you get married twice, get married after your single party, etc. this is all we’re paying for.” Takes the pressure off. And maybe will make the wait worth it. Just like finding the right guy.

    Second, I think there’s a huge image versus reality issue with marriage (and children). Mind you, this is also exists with things like careers, buying a house, etc. Throughout our childhood we’re overwhelmed with “true love” and “soul mates.” Almost as if it’s easy if you find “the one.” Is any relationship easier/better/more enjoyable if you find the right one? Yes. Obviously. But there’s no magic person that if you find him, marriage is easy. Some things make it easier like finding a good match who agrees on high-level things like beliefs (both what’s right and wrong and religion), how you want to live, money, traveling, etc. Do you have to match up perfectly? No. But if you agree on right and wrong, and approach life the same way, it’s a heck of a lot easier. I’ve met guys who get me, but they like do smoke pot on the side. I don’t have a social problem with pot, but since it’s illegal, it’s not something I’d want in my house (until it’s legalized). Does that make me a prude? Sure, but it’s something I’m not comfortable with. I don’t want to have a record or not be able to keep my job because of some casual habit. Again, I’m NOT judging the use. I simply don’t want it in my house. Therefore, it’s not really a compromise I want to make. The same thing can be said for religion, for those who are very religious. Do you need to have the same core beliefs? Probably if you’re going to raise a family together. It’s not impossible to raise a child Jewish and Catholic, but if you’re both very religious, it will be hard. I mean, look at Andrea and Jesse on 90210. That’s all they fought about until they both cheated. OK, they were also young. And annoying. Anyway, my point is, you need to have a baseline. Now that I’m older and have a financial process that works for me, I know I couldn’t marry someone who believes in credit card debt or financing almost anything except a house and maybe a car. I have absolutely no moral objection to debt, but in general, it stresses me out. I need someone who looks at money, saving, spending and retirement similarly to me. Or we’ll fight. Probably a lot.

    But when you’re 18 years old, or even 22 or 26, you look for romance over compatibility, and yes there’s a difference. I had a boyfriend who did everything right on paper. He was so romantic. Grand gestures, small things, sweet things. The best thing that ever happened to me was him dumping me when he realized we weren’t a match. He will be the same “perfect on paper” guy for every girl he dates. And the girl he ends up with will be lucky for that. But he’s smart to have realized he could find someone better than me. And the good thing for me is I also realize how good a boyfriend CAN be. And that it’s not too much to expect of a 30 year old what I got from an 18 year old. So you learn and grow. And I honestly believe someone who really loves and is right for you won’t ever walk away. If he does, he doesn’t love you THAT much.

    Beyond that, someone saying, “Marriage is work” doesn’t resonate with a 20 year old, who generally hasn’t “worked” at anything (I know I hadn’t). You don’t realize how hard it is until you live or witness it. I’ve learned a lot from simply getting older and seeing friends who had fun dating grow apart when they share responsibilities. It IS hard. It’s hard to raise kids inside or out of marriage. It’s hard to maintain a house or keep track of money or have a job. So sharing these things with someone else can sometimes magnify issues. When you’re alone, it’s all on you. When you share stuff, sometimes a messy person makes it harder. Or a less present parent. Or someone spending money you don’t want spent. But at the same time, you also have someone to work through issues with, hold the ladder as you climb onto the roof, or help clean up puke at 2AM. So it’s give and take. And having the right match in a person who truly loves and is committed to you is what makes marriage better than being single. But simply being married doesn’t guarantee that. It has to be the right person. And even then, there will be days it’s harder than others.  But try telling that to 20-year old me.

    Finally, I don’t think saying, “You don’t understand how REAL commitment or covenant” works. That’s like the argument we keep having about abstinence. We’ve all found it’s hard to make that work. I mean, sure if you meet the right person when you’re young and both are on the same page, and both are mature enough to get married, it can work. Or if you have willpower of steel and can deny yourself basic human pleasures. Is it possible? Yes, everything’s possible. People give up gluten and sugar every day. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And honestly, when you love someone, it’s hard to say no. Especially when you’re a teenager or in your early twenties when you have so much going on hormonally. Much like I think we should be teaching kids to at least respect themselves, and be safe, and to wait until they’re actually ready (not pressured) and really love someone (don’t just want to get him to stay), I think marriage and relationships should be approached the same way. Can you white knuckle out abstinence? Yes. Can you white knuckle out a marriage? Absolutely. But who wants to? I think waiting for someone you trust and love is the more important thing. I have friends who have gotten married just so they can have sex, which is such a bad decision. And I don’t mean so they could have sex with anyone, but because they wanted to do “the right thing,” but waiting IS hard when you love someone.

    And sometimes marriage actually makes people think, “Welp, married now.” like it’s a reason to give up or worse, as if you possess something. But I honestly think this is in the minority. People joke about this, but those first years, they’re always sneaking off to be alone because they want to be because it’s new an exciting. The “work” part is when the “new” becomes the “norm” and it seems silly to have a “date night,” but still totally necessary. As children come into the world, they have to be a high priority, but your marriage still needs to be first. Or at least your spouse shouldn’t feel second to the children, and chores, and work and whatever else.

    I’m not expert, I’ve never been married. But I’ve witnessed a lot of marriages run the course. I’ve witnessed people being letdown with reality versus their expectations. I’ve seen people consumed with having children when they can’t, then being overwhelmed or let down when they do. I’ve heard people fight about things they knew existed when they were dating, but either ignored or it didn’t bother them because it wasn’t “forever.” Perspective changes as your reality changes. Expectations change as you live more life with a person. And when your reality doesn’t merge with the image you had of your future, it can be a big letdown. Those who move past this are the ones who realize not realizing your fantasy mate, life and future doesn’t mean you can’t still be happy.

    Or that’s when you finally realize you made a mistake.

    Yourself Or Someone Like You (Used To Be)

    Do you have a song that flashes you back to another, different, perhaps better (or I guess worse, but I avoid those) time in your life? There are many songs that do this for me. For a long time Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire made me flash back to my ten year old self, learning the lyrics with my sister. Wake Up Little Susie makes me want to jump on my bed while my parents are out of town and my aunt is babysitting. Everybody Hurts ironically reminds me of a time one of my friends betrayed me. The song happened to be popular, and as I was having a teen-angsty breakdown about it, that song came on the radio. Oh, the irony of having a good soundtrack as a teenager. But, hey, at that point I hadn’t given up hope on ALL friends! So in hindsight it’s not such a horrible memory. And Clay Walker’s Then What makes me long for being a waitress at Pizza Hut. Not because I miss the smell of the place or working for $2 an hour plus crappy Pizza Hut tips, but because I was young, naive, and I still remember what a “glottal” is. Good memories. Long gone.

    So today I’d like to stop and recognize not one, but many songs that remind me of my youth: Every song (OK, mostly the popular ones) on Matchbox20’s Yourself Or Someone Like You album. When I hear one of those songs, I’m eighteen again. It’s the summer after my senior year of high school and I’m sitting at a friend’s house. Well, her parents’ house, but you know how when you’re eighteen your parents’ house IS your house? Yeah, so in my eighteen year old mind, it’s HER house. And we’re drinking wine coolers. We have that fresh excitement of just finishing high school. Love still exists (and I have my first boyfriend, and sadly, the only person I’ve ever loved – sigh, time’s a bitch). And not only does it exist, it lasts forever! Although boys might be trying to sleep with me, that’s not the only reason they’re trying to be with me. They want that connection. They’re looking for something real, because they haven’t been beaten down by the love machine, yet, either. Cynacism comes with age, my friends.

    In this beautiful summer of 1998, the world is full of possibilities. I’m not in college, yet, and my major is emphatically “undeclared.” In fact, when I found out my high school counselor enrolled me as a business major, I threw a fit saying “HE will not be choosing my major. *I* will be choosing my major. And it WON’T be business.” (Flash forward, it was business. Sigh.) As we sat there, drinking wine coolers, the world our oyster, for one summer my life was bliss. We laughed. A lot. Hanging out with one another was the rule, not the exception, as it is now. We embraced loving one another and our young boyfriends like nothing could hurt us. The warm summer air around us, and the limitless hopes of tomorrow.

    Man, how I’ve let myself get beat down. And although I’ve tried to figure out how, I don’t think there’s a way to recapture that young, wild, free, hopeful feeling. Because now my friends are married and have children, which means hanging out has to be an exception. We all have debt and jobs and responsibilities weighing us down, giving us worries, and making us “grown ups.” There’s never a night of sitting up as long as we can stay awake (because we’re graduated and finally have no curfew!), drinking calorie-laden drinks but never thinking about the number of calories, and loving and living life with reckless abandon.

    But, for a fleeting moment, while I listen to these songs, I can embrace that girl again. I miss her.

    Women Are NOT Sluts!

    Women are not sluts, so stop saying so. Even if a woman sleeps around, she’s not a slut. I’d like to ban this word to the “racial slur” list and wish no one would ever say it again. Through the years, I’ve been guilty of calling my fellow woman such things, and now I regret it. If women are sleeping around, most are doing it for one reason: to find love, companionship and acceptance. And generally, the reason women are so hard seeking this acceptance is due to a man that’s done them wrong in the past. And in my experience, more often than not, it’s the lack of a good father figure role model growing up. As a child who had a very involved father (father of five girls, thank you very much), I didn’t give my dad the respect he deserved for being so patient, understanding, and empowering. Yes, empowering. In a house of six women (don’t forget my mom!), Dad had no choice but to help my mom raise us to be intelligent, independent, compassionate, stubborn ladies. In fact, not too many years ago my mom said as we grew up, she and Dad specifically had a conversation saying their goal with us was to raise us to be independent. They felt this was the one thing, as parents, they needed to instill in us. And the way to make a child feel independent? Help her understand she’s capable, intelligent, and worthy of everything in the world. And nothing can get in her way of achieving, if she’s simply willing to work for it.

    Now, all of that’s an aside. MY back story. Regardless of whether anyone’s ever called me a slut (it’s never happened, to my face anyway, but I have been called a tease), I don’t think any woman should be called a slut. Or a tease. Or anything else derogatory based on decisions she’s making. Especially sexual. Whose business is it, anyway? And instead of throwing around slurs, why not try to understand WHY people are making decisions they’re making, sexual or otherwise. But that would be too easy, right? Especially for these inside-the-box, pretend-conservative, fake-happy/perfect politicians and political spokespeople. Mostly men. Yes, men are the ones who throw these words around. When we give them what they want, we’re sluts. When we don’t, we’re teases. There’s no perfect medium until they marry us. And let me tell you, most of the time you have to be the “slut” to be in contention for marriage. If you’re a “tease,” guys generally move on. Then they pretend we’re perfect. Hey, we never are. And by the way, it doesn’t insult me anymore when guys attempt to manipulate me by calling me a tease. It’s a tell. I know they’re manipulators, and I’m not interested. Women should see the same in men who call a woman a slut. But, sadly, we don’t. Much like overweight people think they deserve ridicule for being overweight, women think they deserve these labels.

    That being said, nothing irritates me more than men trying to tell women how to make their reproductive decisions when it comes to being a slut or tease or somewhere in between. Let me give you a brief history. Some of these judgmental guys are old enough to have lived the sexual revolution, when birth control became popular. I believe it was in a similar time that abortion was legalized. The reason women take birth control is because we are taking responsibility for our bodies. Let’s be straight, very few people wait until they’re married to have sex. If you care about someone, you’re going to want to get close to them in every way. Sex is part of that. I’m not promoting promiscuity, especially for teenagers, when, in my opinion and from my personal experience we are way too young to know the emotional implications we’re about to face. But when you become an adult, especially in college and beyond, you’re going to be in situations where you’re having sex. Sometimes it’s with a committed guy. Or in many cases, a guy you believe is committed. Other times it may openly be non-exclusive. Often times we ladies will have sex in that interim stage because it’s expected. And let me tell you from personal, repeated, almost un-exceptioned experience, very, very, very few men will commit in that interim stage. That’s when I’ve learned to let them go. And I also spend 99% of my time unattached, without a sexual partner. Why? Because why would a guy commit to me before he really knows me? And a guy won’t know me until he’s been with me for a while. And no guy sticks around for that length of time without getting some play because he can find a hundred other women willing to have sex. Do I judge them? No. I honestly, and without ego, believe many women need a guy more than I do. For me, the cost of sleeping with a guy in the hopes he’ll commit to me is too high. STDs are rampant. Sex is emotional. And I have a hard time being that intimate with someone until I truly care about him.

    But let me tell you something else. If I ever find a guy where my timeline to get to know him is in line with the timeline a great guy is willing to wait for me to get to know him before he bails for sexier pastures, I will very likely be having sex before I get married. And when I do, I will be using birth control. And condoms. I do not believe in rushing into marriage just to have sex. I have seen too many divorces and too many unhappy marriages to know that there’s a long process of getting to know someone. And the older we get and the more we have going on in our lives, the longer it takes to get to know someone. This isn’t college, where there are hours and days of free time, and where there’s little to no baggage. Most people have several failed relationships under their belts, many with children or ex-wives to complicate the relationship. Many people have debt and drug and alcohol abuse problems they’re able to hide. Many, many men are manipulative and abusive – whether verbal, emotional or physical, it’s all abuse. It’s hard to find the right match when it comes to whether you want a family, how you’ll raise that family, how you’ll spend money, where you want to live, whether you’ll go to church, and if so, which religion. And in the process of figuring all of this out, there’s also sexual compatibility. I’m not saying you must have sex to have a successful courtship. But I will say when you really care about someone, that’s a natural extension of the relationship.

    And amidst all of this, whether you’re exclusive or not, there’s contraception. Whether it’s defined or not, it has to be considered. There are many options, and one of the easiest for women to use is birth control. And it’s becoming more accessible and more affordable. And it’s finally one of those things that’s not taboo. At least it hasn’t been. Many women will pull out their birth control among friends when it’s time to take it. Mutual respect is given, realizing it’s important to take it on time. And there’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s more common now to shameful to be having sex and NOT be on the pill. Some say it’s a sin to have sex before marriage and the pill is another sin compounded on top of that. I personally don’t subscribe to sex being a sin. Is it a “sin” to disrespect yourself? In my opinion, yes. So for me, it’s against what I believe in (and that’s how I define a sin) to disrespect who I am. For me, having sex with a guy I don’t care about goes against what I believe in. For me, jumping into sex just to keep a manipulative guy around goes against what I believe in. For me, being responsible and taking birth control when I’m in a committed relationship with a guy I love and am having sex with is not a sin. And I know many will disagree with me. However, what WOULD be a sin for me would be to be in that same relationship and NOT be responsible by taking birth control. It would not be fair to bring a child into a relationship when I’m not ready, and more specifically the relationship isn’t ready for a child. It doesn’t compound a problem. And sure, reproduction is a byproduct of sex, sometimes. But if it’s the only reason to have sex, then are these married couples ONLY having sex when the woman is ovulating? Nope. They, instead, are avoiding sex during ovulation if they’re trying not to conceive. And I also have no problem with that. That is THEIR LIFE, THEIR CHOICE. Just like my choice is birth control. And I don’t need another couple, a politician, or a church (run by men) telling me what I can and can’t do with my body. It’s MY body! And it would be MY baby, if I got pregnant. Nothing infuriates me more than men telling a woman what to do with her body.

    And let me go one further. We women have to take control of our bodies because we’re equipped with hormones that attach us to our baby. Men, apparently, do not have any such attachment. They can easily walk away from their child, assuming if the woman fights for it, they MIGHT pay child support. Because all a child needs is money, right? (Note: See the first paragraph to prove a child needs a father, not just his money. See LOTS of other research on both boys and girls needing a father.) Even in a relationship, and he knows she’s not using birth control, if she gets pregnant, it’s commonly the woman’s fault. Blame is placed on her. And received pretty openly by her. Probably because society expects us to take the blame. And the baby is inside of us. And we allowed the penis inside of us. Somehow we take the blame for that, and for lots of other things we probably shouldn’t. But that’s beyond the scope.

    So, here we are. Men are able to walk away. We have a child growing inside of us. And then what? In many places, including where I grew up, girls and women are shunned for getting pregnant outside of marriage. It’s becoming more and more commonplace, just like divorce, but when I was in high school, girls (even those who had sex with exactly one guy) were called sluts if they got pregnant. The perception was she was a “dumb slut” actually. How could she let it happen? Let me tell you: We were raised to be ashamed to have sex. And many families never had open conversations about sex, or they were limited to, “Don’t do it.” I have to give my mom credit. She not only approached sex (also using the common “Your Dad and I believe you should wait” approach), but following it up with, “But if you do have sex, get on birth control. If you dont’ want to go to our doctor, here’s how you do it. And if you end up pregnant, do not have an abortion. I will raise the baby. You will be scarred for life if you have an abortion. It will seem like a quick and easy fix, but it won’t be.” I think my parents’ morals were part of why all of us girls waited so long to have sex (several sisters until marriage – yes, it’s true!). But I also think laying it out there, the consequences, the choices you could have to face, the decisions you could have to make, that was huge. At least for me. I knew I wasn’t ready to ask a doctor for birth control, especially one I didn’t know, and I knew I’d never be able to ask MY doctor out of fear of my parents finding out. But the whole idea of getting pregnant and facing even the concept of abortion or having to raise a baby. Way too much. Babies were a lot of damn work. I know. I babysat a baby over an entire weekend once. Best. Birth control. EVER! Plus, I thought not sleeping with a guy was a good litmus test for how much he liked me. If he waited, he really did love me. You know, until the first guy who was willing to wait broke up with me anyway, for an unrelated reason. Sigh. Boys.

    And I will also speak from personal experience of a few women I know who did choose abortion. These woman do not choose it flippantly. Many choose it out of shame. They’re ashamed they were “dumb sluts” who got pregnant. They wanted the baby to go away so no one would know their stupidity or promiscuity. They wanted the baby to go away so they wouldn’t seem like a bad Catholic (I am/was Catholic, so I’m generalizing here, I know this is true for many religions). They wanted it to go away so their parents wouldn’t seem like bad parents. All selfish reasons. And ironically, many are spawned by the same community who adamantly protests abortions. Maybe if these groups were more accepting of these babies, there would be less need for abortion. The second group of women, those I am less familiar with, will make the decision based on a helpless feeling. They feel helpless because they don’t have any support (please see “deadbeat dads” but also see many other topics such as either parent is an addict, in prison, abandoned in other ways, or death, illness, etc.). They’re too young and aren’t ready to have a child and can’t afford proper medical care throughout the pregnancy, regardless of what will happen after the child is born. Many know if they carry the baby to full term, they won’t want to give it up, or know they won’t be able to, again due to some sort of guilt. Sometimes they are helpless because they are an addict, or the father is abusive and will either unleash on the mom who is un-expectantly pregnant, or the child will be forced, by the abusive, controlling father, to be raised in abusive home. And the sad truth is, many of these women also feel helpless to walk away from these situations, or feel helpless to find proper help for addictions. All also part of “the system” we live in. But, yet, when a woman is pregnant, often times she finds herself facing these dilemmas alone, cloaked in fear and guilt. Feeling irresponsible and alone.

    So then what? So these women do what these religions and politicians (all men, mind you) want her to do. No birth control. Have the child. And then what? Then there’s possibly another child in “the system.” More welfare. She has a harder time finding work because she’s limited by her child’s daycare, or can’t afford daycare, or inadequate healthcare and a sick child. I know children in two-parent homes where both parents miss work so often, I have to wonder how much they’d miss if they were single parents. It’s unreal how often babies get sick. How many appointments they have. And how expensive they are. So these “conservatives” want us to not have access to birth control. How will they help us take care of the inevitable babies? Oh, wait, that’s right. They also don’t like the “liberal” point of view to “help everyone.” So what? What’s the answer?

    Oh, right. These slutty women need to close their legs.

    But guess what, guys. Then that means you have to marry up. Oh, you don’t want that either? Why not? Oh, right, because 50% of marriages end in divorce and you don’t want to go into it lightly. And marriage is a sham with all of these “kids” jumping into it before they know someone.  

    Well, then I’m at a loss. While you work out your utopia world, give us what we need to deal with the world we are living in. Give women access to affordable birth control. Don’t worry, while you worry about how to control us, we’ll take care of the rest of the details you like to bitch about, like unplanned babies and welfare costs and not forcing you into marriage. No biggie.

    As an aside, if there are any women out there willing to go on a sex strike until men figure out what they want, I’m in.

    Thru The Years: Swapping Places And It Feels Good

    Now that I’ve settled into life past the 30 year old mark, I realize it’s not as old as it felt when I was sixteen. In fact, thirty has been a pretty good decade so far. Got rid of some carryover (carry-on?) baggage from my twenties and am happier than ever being single. It’s liberating, actually. I’m not sure exactly what it is. Like most things probably a combination of several factors.

    First, the general self-esteem you get as you grow up. As your self-worth grows through compound interest and the time value of confidence, you realize not only do you not NEED anyone, but you also don’t want just anyone. This, my friends, is my favorite part of being over thirty.

    Second, social pressures seem to ease a little. There are a few different kinds of pressure. Familial pressure (coming from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and all of THEIR frends) eases if you’ve been alone for awhile. The human brain is incapable of NOT adapting. If you’re alone for awhile, those who used to notice and comment simply stop noticing. Those who have parents whose happiness seems to hinge on their child getting married and having babies? I can’t relate, but empathize. Not sure if that ever goes away unless you pay for them to get therapy, or get remarried to someone else, or find something that will occupy them and make them happy.

    The same general eventual adaptation to being alone happens with your friends, of course. But, the friends who were so pushy also start to see how great being single can be as opposed to marrying just anyone. Men complain about nagging, how much work parenting is, and joking (or not) about being single again/choosing better next time. Women are annoyed by filth, lack of intimacy/magic and being only a mom/wife, rather than her own person. While it’s always easy to think the grass is greener, there is often times a gap between the fantasy and reality of marriage and parenting, for both sexes. And on those days, they see how their ingle friends are genuinely happy and not crying themselves to sleep in a puddle of lonely misery.

    And, finally, the more of us singles there are out there, and the more divorce numbers climb like STD rates, the more everyone appreciates holding onto your S card. Forever or until it’s right. Ignoring the social norms pushing us all toward marriage is a big relief on many people feeling like failures until they do get married.

    Women feel this pressure in their twenties. Our self-worth is large defined by how desired we are by the opposite sex. If we are attached, we are valued, beautiful, respected and complete. If we aren’t courted, we are somehow appraised at a lower value. And through this time, the men are in a position of power. They have the ability to legitimize us as worthy or otherwise. This results in a lot of highs and lows based on a questionable resource.

    However, as we move into our late 20s and see the marriages of our friends reach their five and seven year marks (and some fizzle out), we realize how important choosing the right mate is. We are also reaching a stride in our careers and generally are financially able to take are of ourselves, afford luxuries we used to think we needed a man to buy (or split the cost of – like vacations, rent, houses, cars jewelry). And it hits us – we can provide everything we NEED. And furthermore, why would we want to get in a relationship with a guy who could take it all away? Spending our nest egg, making our house smell like feet while hosting his friends very weekend because our place is nicer than his, then cleaning up their mess because he doesn’t gleam, picking up the tab because we earn more, being dragged down by a no-motivation, slacker, likely alcoholic momma’s boy. Yeah, suddenly our standards skyrocket to where they always should have been.

    Meanwhile, these guys we used to put up with don’t know how to treat a woman respectfully, don’t know how to put in more work than a post-bar text, and suddenly find themselves alone when this no longer cuts it. They know there are smart, beautiful, interesting women out there, but they can’t seem to get their attention. They dip into the pool of younger girls for awhile. Then become desperate.

    This happens generally around their 30th-35th birthday. They realize they’re getting “old” and are alone and the women they’re dating now aren’t as interesting at they used to be. Many of their buddies are married and that’s really how they always saw themselves anyway. They think, “OK, I’m ready.” But the girls of their dreams don’t crawl out of the woodwork like they always imagined. They start to panic. Try to settle with any girl who comes along. But their baggage they picked up in their twenties still follows them: drinking until they’re sloppy and belligerent is ok for a 22 year old, not a 32 year old, their dinky, dirty, grimy bachelor pad apartment near the bar district doesn’t scream sexy, and their inability to look forward in a career or be able to manage finances isn’t exactly quirky and sweet anymore.

    Suddenly the tables have turned. Women don’t need men, and men are desperate.

    It’s called poetic justice, people. And apparently it’s what your 30s are made of!

    Author’s note: While I am cynical, I want to be fair. I know a plenty of women with the same issues I’ve listed freely as men’s issues. And also know just as many men who are great catches. The point is, I’ve noticed the trend of women getting into their thirties and approaching men the way men did in their twenties, and vice versa in men (who act now like we did in our 20s). This is a generalization for illustrative purposes.