Single in the Suburbs
Time Won't Give Me Time:
When is the right time to end your single reign?
By Lauralyn Avallone
I recently read that Candace Bushnell, the wordsmith behind HBO's seductive, smash hit, "Sex and the City," got hitched - to a man a decade her junior. They had met seven weeks earlier.
"What is she nuts? Has success REALLY gone to her head?"
These were the first thoughts that came to mind. Then I realized they weren't really MY thoughts, but the thoughts of many others living in the land of bitter and jaded. Thoughts such as:
"They barely know each other. It will never last."
"What a mistake she made! I give it six weeks."
"He's much too young for her, that's ridiculous. It's not about love; it's about sex and money."
"She should know better than to rush into something like that."
When I re-read the news and let myself react, my true feeling was: good for her. She finally found someone she feels she loves enough to spend the rest of her days with. Who am I to rain on their parade? Judge the intensity of their bond just because it's been brief by society's standards? Who am I to tell them their union will most likely end up in divorce court, pre-determined by overwhelming statistics?
Most importantly, who am I to care? (No offense to Candace and her new hubby).
But, really, it makes me think: why does the concept of time in relationships, when it comes to the big plunge, evoke such a feverish emotion in people? It's like it pushes this big button that deems everyone judge and jury of matrimonial bliss. Two people agree to live a life together, and all of a sudden everyone and their mother is a psychic, predicting the outcome of their future together. And it's usually bleak, which doesn't surprise me when it comes to the zillions of singles out there, pulling at their hair from all the mixed messages: yes, you should be married; people are happier married than all alone. No, you shouldn't get married yet, you're too young, too broke, you don't know each other well enough; you shouldn't rush into anything. (By the way, what is considered an appropriate time to wed: six months? One year? Five years? Is there a time limit on when you truly know someone? And will that time guarantee that the person you take all that time getting to know still won't change, simply though the laws of inertia?)
When I consider the source of the judging, then I understand the cynicism. Obviously, a couple who met while on vacation in Cancun, then exchanged I dos a few weeks later are not going to cast a negative vote to a couple who finds themselves in the same boat.
"You have that connection," they might say. "Why not just go for it? Why wait if you know something's right?"
On the other side of the spectrum, someone who feels trapped in a loveless marriage for ten years, or who has been divorced or cheated on, or experienced any of the myriad ways that human beings can wound one another, of course they're going to question a newfound love. Because, perhaps to them, what now feels new and gorgeous will eventually just feel old and tattered, leaving your heart forever scarred.
A wise editor friend of mine once told me in reference to making big life decisions, "if you wait for the right time to do something, it will never come. You just have to do it when you feel in your gut that it's right." That's what S&TC;'s Candace did. That's what lots of couples do everyday. It's the questioning, the analyzing and especially the DOUBT that will turn a good thing bad. Let's face it, if doubt enters in anywhere in the equation, you're either giving into the scariness of statistics, or your gut is just plain telling you, this person is not the one. In which case, it's time to move on and keep sampling the goods, if you know what I mean.
By the way, a little FYI for the commitment phobic singles out there: remember that actor James Gardner? That guy mostly known from the Rockford Files...well, he knew on the very first date that he had met his match, they married a week later, and have been together ever since. When asked how he felt about his forty-five year old marriage, the aging actor said, "I feel lucky and blessed. Sometimes it surprises me it's been that long, but every day I know it's one of the best decisions I ever made."
When You Know It's Just Not Right
And no amount of time will change that. There is another message glaring its reflection in the world today: it's ok to live with someone and have a baby with them, but marriage...whoa, now you're talking serious business. As if sharing living space and reproducing is LESS serious than announcing to a room of loved ones that, yes, you do take this person as your lifelong partner through good and bad. I guess it's a lot easier for some to sign a lease, or a birth certificate.
Here are a few signs that no matter how long you stick it out with someone, you may eventually find yourself straying, for good.
Your significant other:
1. Already has a negative outlook on marriage and relationships and is unwilling to change his/her beliefs.
2. Views relationships and marriage as just another step one must take in life, an obligation, doing what's "practical."
3. Doesn't involve you in their family events, or if they do and the subject of marriage arises, it's quickly dismissed with a joke or negative comment.
4. Holds expectations that exceed what a person may be capable of doing/giving/being.
5. Reveals in other aspects of his/her life that commitment is problematic: doesn't finish what they start, can't keep deadlines, are often late or forget to do what they say they would, etc.
6. Doubt. Sometimes people only hear what they want to hear, and will disregard even the most obvious attempts at letting them know their future is on shaky ground. As obvious as: "I don't think you're the one for me," "we just don't see eye to eye," "I always thought not marrying my ex was the biggest mistake I ever made," we are very different people," "I will never understand you."
7. In reference to #6: open your ears, save your heart and run.
Until next time, it's a jungle out there, singles - swing wisely!