With me and nearly all of my friends now hovering around 30, I’ve noticed the struggle between settling down and living the single life.
Like anything, it’s not black and white. The gray area of those actively looking for “the one” sometimes clashes with the lingering 20-something ideology of temporary hook-ups. As a married male (“wifed up,” my single friends sometimes say) on the cusp of 29, I’ve been paying more attention to my friends’ relationships. I’ve taken a sit-back-and-watch mentality toward their love lives.
What’s the motivation behind each point of view – the wedding versus the James Bond act? A number of factors come to mind as to why some people feel like time is running out. There could be outside pressure from family, the fact that everyone else is settling down, time constraints on having children, or simply being tired of dating or not wanting to be alone.
But for those happy with the bachelor(ette) life, it could be just that – they’re perfectly content with being single, especially in the 21st century, when the ages of those settling down and having children are older than ever.
According to 2010 U.S. Census statistics, the median age for a man’s first marriage was 28.2 years in 2010, up from 26.1 in 1990. The median age for a woman’s first marriage was 26.1 years in 2010, up from 23.9 in 1990.
These figures bring in the classic stereotype that men have commitment issues. It could be true. I certainly have a number of friends who would fit the profile, those both single and in long-term relationships.
One of my good friends, whom I’ve known since high school, is still dating his high school sweetheart, but there’s been no proposal yet. Another friend has flat-out told me he doesn’t ever intend to tie the knot – a noble stance. He doesn’t seem to have a shortage of dating opportunities as a result.
A friend of my wife’s, who moved to New York City after college, was followed shortly by his long-term girlfriend, who assumed she’d be moving in with him. She ended up staying at her aunt’s house outside the city.
I feel that most women wouldn’t wait around for a guy to make that leap – but isn’t that the quintessential struggle?
Looking at my wife’s friends versus mine, it’s a little tilted. Since we’ve been together, we’ve been to four weddings for her friends, to two of mine.
With my wife and me, it didn’t take us long to move in together, or rather, for her to move in with me. I was living at a friend’s house with multiple roommates, and for some reason, she agreed to move in. (That was probably one of the first signs that I had found someone special.)
A few years later, I can admit that it took some coercion to get me to move out of the (mostly) bachelor pad, but looking back, it seems that we made the right relationship moves at the right time. (Women call this “growing,” right?)
As with anything with love and relationships, you can’t plan for it. In the age of older marriages, with careers often taking precedence, the love life doesn’t always fit, or wait, to be added to the calendar.
Going on seven years ago, when I met my (eventual) wife, I wasn’t planning on heading into another long-term relationship. I was 22, and in a band that was traveling a good portion of the year. It didn’t matter. Call it destiny if you believe in that sort of thing.
I suppose the point here is this: You never know. Whether you cherish the single-guy (or girl) mentality or are looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, things could turn on their head. The guys I thought would be the last to settle (see: epic partiers) were the first among my friends to get married and have children. Go figure.
Maybe some people get hung up on hook-ups, or maybe that’s what works for them. But there’s another statistic that isn’t included in the U.S. Census – even James Bond was married once.