Why Aren’t You Married Yet, Dear?
Nuptial Nonentity, or, Why Go to Weddings When What You Really Want is to Have One?
Late spring and early summer in America is wedding season. If you’re already married, good for you, even though you may now dread this time of year because it means you have to attend the weddings of god only knows how many friends with weird relatives and buy them a gift that’s at least as nice as the one they bought you—not to mention the expense of a new dress (or dresses) and possibly a new suit or tuxedo (if your friends insist on formality), plus plane tickets, car rentals and hotel rooms.
Frankly, it can all get a little expensive. But you didn’t want to go to Hawaii this winter anyway, did you?
If you’re not married, then during this seemingly endless “mating season,” which lasts until mid-September at least, your biological clock/time-bomb is probably ticking double-time as you desperately wonder what the heck is wrong with you that you can’t seem to find Mr./Ms. Right.
It doesn’t matter that for the rest of the year you’re a contentedly confirmed bachelor/bachelorette, happy as a pig in slop with your man-hunting, womanizing, cougaring ways, because when everyone around you is busy coupling up for a lifetime of marital bliss, it’s only natural to ask why you aren’t. You find yourself thinking, “If Chloe and Lamar can pull this off, why can’t I?”
And then, before you know it, you’re tuning in to episodes of Bridezillas and Say Yes to the Dress and wishing that you too had a nuptial entourage to kiss your butt while you’re in the room and say nasty things about you when you’re not (because apparently that’s the new American dream).
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I’m happily (most of the time) married, and have been for years. Before that, however, I was very, very busy searching—oh so desperately searching—for someone who could fill the void in my life/complete me/make me feel good about myself/take care of me/cook me breakfast/help organize fabulous dinner parties/tell me how great those jeans still look on me/pick up my dry cleaning/blow my mind in bed (or at least pretend I was amazing)/etc. But nobody, not one single person, fit the bill.
No matter how hard I tried, I came up empty. Eventually I realized that the people I’d been dating were not the problem. I was the problem. Ouch! And, in similar fashion, I would like to suggest you consider the following about you….
If you’re still single but don’t want to be, here are seven things you may need to deal with:
1) You’re angry. You probably don’t see yourself as angry. More likely, you see yourself as “right.” Truth be told, the world and the people in it don’t live up to your expectations; if everyone would just behave the way you think they should, life would be perfect. So you get a little bitchy when people disappoint you, and you’re entitled to do that—just as you’re entitled to be unhappy and single for the rest of your life.
Simply put, nobody wants to spend fifty years married to an angry spouse. You’d rather be with a happy person, and everyone else would, too. And happy people are people who’ve let go of the need to be right all the time. Happy people have learned to accept other people as they are—flawed but worthy of love.
2) You’re kind of a mess. You might think you’re just out there having a good time, but other people see it differently. You drink, or you take drugs, or you pick up strangers and take them back to your apartment for casual sex, or you gamble, or you never change the oil in your car, or you still ask your mom to do your laundry. Whatever it is, it’s not attractive and you know it, which is why you hide it from the people you’re dating.
The fact is, if you’re keeping something a secret, you probably need to make some changes. If there’s something you don’t want to tell your best friend, your boss, or the person you’re dating, it’s likely that this is the very thing that is holding you back in every aspect of your life, including your relationships.
3) You’re high maintenance. You’re a princess (or a snobby little prince). You think your significant other should fulfill your every wish and desire. You also expect the poor guy/girl to be a mind-reader, knowing in advance exactly what you want and when you want it. And heaven forbid they disappoint you! No wonder no one ever sticks around past the third date.
4) You’re a slut. You’re Snooki on Jersey Shore, Barney on How I Met Your Mother. And while Snooki and Barney are a lot of fun on TV (and probably also in a hot tub), they’re not exactly marriage material. If you’re having a lot of casual sex and thinking you’re going to eventually latch on to “the one” this way, you need to re-think.
Recreational sex is labeled “recreational” for a reason. Your partner in this venture is not taking it seriously, and is not likely to call or text you until he or she is ready for another booty call. And marriage, no matter what you might have heard, is not an endless series of same-partner sexual encounters.
5) You need to grow up. Your list of criteria for the perfect mate reads something like: tall, wealthy, good body, nice wardrobe, knows the difference between Monet and Manet. Left off your list are things like: honest, available for a relationship, open-minded, willing to compromise, and spiritual. In other words, your list of wants reads like a teenager’s description of a dream date, which makes you the emotional equivalent of a child—and nobody wants to marry an immature kid.
6) You are just not good enough for the one you want. Or you think you’re not, anyway. Otherwise, why would you continually be searching for a spouse who is “out of your league,” so to speak? You want someone who’s better looking than you are, richer, from a better part of town, more cultured, and smarter. The problem is, that person is not likely to be a good partner for you, and marriage is nothing if not a partnership.
As soon as you accept the fact that you are good enough exactly as you are, you can start looking for a relationship with someone who fits with you.
7) You aren’t dating hard enough. Dating research says that finding a mate can be a matter of sheer numbers. The single man or woman should have somewhere between 15 and 25 NEW DATES a year if they want to find a really good match. Unfortunately, many give up before they even reach five. After all, who needs all that coffee with people you don’t know but know you don’t like within ten minutes? And what about all those dinners, movies, and hikes with (un)likely partners, or, worse, with people that interest you but don’t call back?
The truth is that if you want to find a mate you need to date a lot and not be tied to the outcome of those dates, and you need to keep dating until someone reasonable shows up. And if you have the requisite twenty or so dates with new people annually and nothing seems to be panning out, then it might be time for some therapy to get perspective on what you don’t see that others apparently do.
The good news here is that knowing what your issues are is half the battle. Once you start the process of accepting yourself as you are and looking realistically at what you’d like from a lifetime partner, you can start in earnest the process of finding that individual. Yes, it might take some time both in the dating game challenge and possibly in some individual or group therapy—and you’ll probably kiss a few frogs/frogettes along the way—but eventually you will find that special someone.
And even though your eventual partnership may not end up leading to “happily ever after,” there’s a good chance that if you’ve dealt with your issues and located an individual who fits with you, that marriage can be for you, like mine is for me, sometimes amazing, sometimes crazy, and most times just plain good enough.
Weiss LCSW, R. (2012). Why Aren’t You Married Yet, Dear?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 7, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2012/07/still-single/