Friday, September 24, 2010

Engagement Fever

I may be a little young for this frenzy to be sweeping my friends and acquaintances, but, well... tell them that. 

It seems that in recent months a rather impressive number of friends, acquaintances, and old high school classmates have been making plans to tie the knot - much to my occasionally bitter dismay. While a few are the result of the age old pregnancy-turned-shotgun-wedding, others are simply engagements at the ripe old ages of 20 and 21. 

It got me thinking. I don't think I've ever dated someone that I saw myself marrying. I mean, there was That Man, of course, who I would have happily followed to the ends of the earth, and obviously married if he'd asked me, but I knew he never would. He had been divorced twice, and let's face it, I'm not sure marriage follows the "Third time's the charm!" train of thought. In fact, with all the cards on the table now, I'm not sure he'll ever truly commit to anyone ever again, let alone marry them. My most recent ex and I had discussed it, and while we'd both admitted that it just wasn't in the cards for us - the age difference, though unimportant in the short term, was ultimately insurmountable in the long term - we joked about it from time to time, and appreciated what our relationship was while it lasted. The guy I'm seeing now insists that he never wants to be married again. (I really have a thing for divorced guys, huh?) 

Some people say there's no point in dating someone if you don't think you'd marry them. I guess I disagree, because first off, how can you possibly know that from the get go? Furthermore, I believe there are things to be gained from relationships that won't necessarily end in marriage. You know what they say... you've got to kiss a lot of toads... or something like that. But I have to say, throughout my experience with relationships, even the ones that ended horribly have taught me a lot. There are a lot of things you think won't matter in relationships that do, and a lot of things you think will that don't. I think you get a better idea of what you're looking for by experiencing a lot of different things that don't work.

But this entry isn't really about my stance on dating, or relationships, and how you should go about them. It's about the little twinge of bitterness that flares up in the pit of my stomach every time my newsfeed boasts a new engagement. It's about the slight shade of green that clouds my eyes as the jealousy swells a bit. Girls my own age sporting huge rocks on their fingers. Girls I went to school with. Girls who haven't even finished college yet. It's about the fact that no matter how happy I am for my friends when I find out they're getting married, I can't help but feel that annoying feeling, a toxic mix of jealousy, bitterness, and fear. 

I'm jealous that they've found that picture perfect fairytale relationship. I'm bitter that I haven't found it yet myself. And I'm afraid that I never will. 

And yet... a few comments made in passing by the guy I'm seeing made me realize something.

I am nowhere NEAR ready to be married! 

First off, I don't have a stable relationship, but that's a given. The day I'm one half of a completely normal, functional relationship is the day the world implodes on itself. I'm not the bitter single chick, because I'm not single, but I'm also not in a super normal lovey-dovey relationship. Beyond that, I don't have a job that would be able to sustain that relationship, or the kind of financial independence I think a married couple should have. I'm not able to support myself, let alone support a husband. (Clearly I am not one of those girls who expects to be taken care of - though I wouldn't say no!) I don't have a stable and secure lifestyle - stacking a marriage on top of the shaky foundation that is my life right now just seems like a recipe for disaster. The frustrating thing is, though not as much as in years past, it still seems like something I'm SUPPOSED to be doing, which makes me feel like some sort of failure for NOT doing it. I feel as though, in spite of all my success in other areas of my life, I've failed in the "being a woman" department. I know that's not true, and that I'm clearly not ready, and that when I am in a position where I'm stable and secure in my life then I can worry about attempting a marriage-bound relationship. 

I try to remind myself of that every time a new engagement pops up and I start sipping my toxic cocktail of self-loathing, though it doesn't always work. 

Have you gotten to the age where all your friends have started to get married? Has it bothered you at all? Do you ever feel a sense of bitterness when you hear of friends getting engaged? Or are you the friend who is getting engaged? What do you think is a requirement for being ready to get married?