Saturday, January 26, 2013

Endemic Engagements

Before you chew me out about the title of the post, please understand, I don't have anything against the people getting engaged right now. It's just something that I've noticed.

What? You haven't noticed? Everyone seems to get engaged between the ages of 20-25. Okay, not everyone.  In fact, the majority of women (at least) do get married around that age. But that's changing. I think, perhaps, most of my friends and I are just part of the changing demographic.

You see, all of this was brought about by the ever popular, Facebook.  I'm guilty of having purely friendly acquaintances as "friends". Partially, because I forget that we made each other "friends" and partially because I suffer from this condition called curiosity.  Either way, recently I've seen multiple friendly acquaintances get engaged. I am excited for them. I am happy for them.  But I just don't understand.

You see, the average life expectancy continues to get longer. The data continues to show that people who marry later in their lives (late 20's and early 30's) tend to have happier, more stable marriages.  They also tend to think about divorce less.  In my mind, if I knew I was with "the one", I would have no problem putting off marriage indefinitely.  Increasingly so if it meant that the marriage was to be even more stable and happier if we waited longer.  I mean, if they are "the one" then where are they going?

(That being said, you have to believe in the concept of "the one" before any of what I just said is even viable.)

Perhaps it also helps that I'm not baby crazy. But that's for another entry.

In this past year, I have come to appreciate how rapidly and extensively a single person can grow and change.  If I look at the "me" from senior year of high school to the "me" from senior year of college, they were completely different beasts in many ways.  I like to think that most of the changes were for the better.  Here's the catch though: the people that I dated in high school have also changed extensively and I would find it hard to believe that we would be "romantically compatible" as we are now.  If you marry someone so young, especially while you continue to learn about yourself, I think you are risking:

1) Merging identities and forgetting who you (as an individual) are - a terrible situation to me
2) Risking the chance that you will want to change in some ways, but find those ways are unsupported by your partner
3) Never realize the future that was possible for you if you maintained an autonomous persona.

This doesn't mean stay out of relationships, obviously. I'd be a terrible hypocrite if I were to say that.  But, I do believe there is something in marriage that changes the very nature of the relationship in ways.  I also disagree with the mindset of "well, if we change and don't get along, we'll just get a divorce."

My biggest fear is that some sort of engagement endemic starts.  One friend gets engaged and then the others feel as though the need to do so as well, and quickly.  Oftentimes, I think that the vast amount of social media we have at hand causes us to feel pressured when we needn't be.  So, perhaps, before you start thinking about "when will I find my true love and get married and make babies and have a house with a white picket fence", you should think "am I aware enough of myself and what I want out of life to feel comfortable committing myself to another person through all the future changes that will happen, both good and bad".