I just celebrated my 27th birthday in April. I’m finally at a point in my life where I have a great job and can help support my mom and our family. (We’re Guyanese and staying close to family is very important). I’m really happy except for one thing – I want to get married. I want to start raising a family of my own, but I have the worst luck with men. My last serious relationship was years ago when I was still in college. I’ve dated a few guys since then but nothing has panned out. I’ve even had my mother try to arrange a marriage for me, but there was no spark and I couldn’t do it. When I do find a man I’m interested in long-term he doesn’t seem serious about dating. Sometimes I worry that I am too picky so I’ll give guys a shot who I don’t think I have chemistry with, but it’ll turn out my gut instinct is right and they aren’t the guy for me. I’m worried that if I don’t find a good guy to settle down with soon that I am never going to have the chance to start the family I want. What’s your advice?
Dear Single Gal,
Oh, honey. The first thing we need to address is that 27 is way too young to start practicing your spinster routine! In my eyes you are a baby adult, only just beginning to get serious about long-term plans and taking complete responsibility for yourself. It sounds to me you are quite the capable young woman (key word: YOUNG) with a kind and compassionate heart. Guyanese or not – supporting your mother and family is a noble task and I tip my trunk to you, lady.
As for the husband, I think your trouble finding one comes from the fact you’re looking for one in the first place. We often feel compelled to find a life partner by a certain time in our lives so when women hit 25 and are still single they go into rabid husband-hunting mode. The problem with that is when you are only looking for a husband you stop being present. You look at every man that comes into your life through a lens of “Can I marry this person? Would he be a good dad? Would he remember to take out the trash? How serious is he about settling down?” and you forget to look at them as a whole person. If they don’t fit the mold you have prematurely set for the rest of your life then you move on without really taking stock of who you’re dealing with as a person and you don’t ask the much more important questions – Is he kind? Does he respect me? Does he make me laugh? Is this someone I can be best friends with and love for the rest of my days?
You won’t find that person with a checklist of “husband” attributes. You find that person by paying attention, being present, and allowing yourself the chance to get to know someone without the pressure of your entire future bearing down on the situation. Even if you don’t say it on a first date, most people can feel the wedding hungry vibes radiating off of you and it’s a clear signal to them to run. It’s the same thing with “the spark” you’re looking for. Is that a real thing? While the movie “He’s Just Not Into You” is pretty problematic with its message to women – one of my favorite parts is when Alex (Justin Long) explains to Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) that “the spark” is made up.
(Warning: Some language, NSFW)
I don’t really think it’s a man-made conspiracy as an excuse not to call a girl, but it speaks to our obsession with fairy tale scenarios. If you’re expecting the perfect guy to walk in and say the perfect things then whisk you away to your dream life – you’re going to be waiting for a really long time. Life isn’t that clean and simple, relationships definitely aren’t. They are complicated and messy and never perfect, which is what makes them enriching and powerful.
So my advice, Single Gal, is to stop looking. Relieve the pressure. Open your eyes and be present. I have a feeling when you let up on yourself – and the guys you meet – it’ll be much easier to see the guy who probably isn’t perfect, but who is perfect for you.
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