From Junior Editor Catherine Collentine.
I’ve never felt or even understood the pressure to get married, have kids, be in a long relationship, or even live with a man. It’s not that I don’t want these things eventually, I do (I think). They just aren’t part of my five or even ten year plan. If they happen, they happen. If not, well, I think I’d be pretty satisfied on my own. I don’t feel the pressure to get married, but I definitely get criticism for that. Should I care more about commitment? Should I make finding and keeping a stable relationship my priority?
Amongst my friends, there’s a pretty clear divide between the women who value commitment and the idea of traditional marriage over everything else and those (like me) who just….don’t. I have friends who were so focused on getting engaged by graduation that they pressured their boyfriends for months, dropping hints and leaving ring catalogues around their apartments. They started planning their weddings before they searched for jobs. The wedding was their number one concern, and they assumed everything else would just magically fall in line. I’m not afraid of commitment, but the idea of doing that, of putting my career on hold for a marriage? That sends chills down my spine.
I know I’m not alone in thinking that way. As much as it disappoints our mothers, the other half of my friend group could not care less about marrying someone. We date men casually, going out once or twice a week, or sometimes for months before admitting we have feelings. Even then, there’s no guarantee of a defined relationship. Most of the millennials I know don’t feel a push to get married, which is kind of shocking given that our parents have pushed so hard to get us to commit to someone.
My most recent relationships have been long distance – and that’s worked for me. Texts throughout the day, FaceTime dates, and weekends spent together are things I can and do make time for. Maybe those relationships worked so well simply because I had space, both literally and figuratively. Maybe any more would feel like a pull from the other areas of my life that I value just as much; time alone, my job and time with friends.
I talk about the work/life balance a lot, both here at TNP and with my friends. Struggling to find time for ourselves as well as our boyfriends is pretty common-place nowadays, even for women and men who aren’t hyper career-oriented. That elusive balance keeps people up at night, and the pressure on women to “have it all” is more intense than ever. But what does “having it all” even mean anymore? As a career-obsessed woman who doesn’t necessarily prioritize the cookie cutter relationship, my “having it all” is a bit harder to define.
I’m the kind of woman who devotes herself 120% to her career. I can’t figure out how to integrate a relationship into my life any more than I already have; work gets almost all of my focus. Especially because the nature of my industry is work blending into life and visa versa; this reality about the digital space makes going to work a treat. I don’t know how to make room in my life for a bigger commitment and truth be told, I don’t know that I want to. But I find myself always asking: Should I? And then wondering why I feel like I should.
I’m not saying that married people can’t have a successful career; I actually think it’s the opposite. Having someone to come home to every day, to encourage you and support you, is – as corny as it sounds – the dream. If someone could tell me how to move in with my boyfriend without feeling like I’m giving up something, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
I surprises me that commitment and marriage have become a bit of an afterthought for me. It’s almost like I expected to grow into it at some point; the way a person gets acclimated to the taste of wine or coffee. Maybe I will at some point, or maybe that’s just me. All I know is I don’t enjoy “should-ing” all over myself, and family functions never help on that front. What do you think, Potatoheads: should I care more about commitment? Do you?
*Feature image illustrated by Carolyn Hakansson.