There are few things that confuse me more than when someone is told they need to settle down.
If you tell me that I need to get an education, for example, you might have a point. And if I agree with you, I can take actionable steps towards that goal.
But if you tell me that I need to find a romantic partner- how am I supposed to translate that into meaningful action?
I can’t go grab that perfect person, the one that I’ve been setting aside for this very moment of my life.
There isn’t a catalogue I can flip through and pick out the one I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with.
Some people who feel pressure to settle down will obsessively use dating apps (you know, since a boyfriend catalogue doesn’t exist). I know this because I’ve done it myself.
In order to take the obvious next step in your life, you line up a bunch of dates.
These dates will not be magical, and they will disappoint you. And this painful and downright pointless process will repeat.
During the time I spent searching for the right guy, I was taking a lot of focus off of myself.
Instead of making big moves in my career or finding new interests that brought me joy, I was spending my evenings and weekends meeting strangers.
And guess what?
I came out on the other end without a partner, and with a lot of exhaustion.
My personal and professional life also seemed to be in pretty much the same place as before.
I felt that I had failed at something. I met a million people, so why didn’t any of them want to settle down with me? Why didn’t I want to settle down with them?
What was wrong with me? What could I learn from this experience?
It turns out that settling down is not a snap decision that you can make and then act on.
Which ends up making it pretty terrible advice to give someone.
You can’t be told that you need to settle down and then just do it, unless you’re lucky enough to find someone you want a serious relationship with right away.
I’m very independent, and I typically prefer to do things on my own.
Sometimes I wonder if things would have turned out differently if I wasn’t like that.
Could I have attached myself to an unhealthy or abusive relationship, in order to meet society’s expectation of me?
If I had felt deep loneliness on top of the pressure to settle down, I could have ended up settling for a life of unhappiness with someone.
A couple of years have gone by since my failed experiment with online dating, and I’m now in an incredibly healthy and supportive relationship with my boyfriend.
We don’t make each other happy- instead, we are happy to be together.
This stems from the fact that we truly love each other, and that we enjoy doing all of the boring little things in life together (from doing the dishes to shopping for groceries).
It took awhile for me to clue in, but I learned that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, after all.
Finding a person who you can live with 24/7, who you love, and who makes you a better person, is rare. It should be rare, too, because this is why it’s special.
It also can’t be done on command.
Instead, it happens through an unpredictable combination of luck and timing, just as it should.