My girlfriends and I met for dinner last Friday night. We sat around the table sipping our drinks and discussing important news from the week just gone. In other words we were talking about who on our Facebook had gotten engaged, married or pregnant (some a combination of all three).
One of my friends, now on her third glass of wine announced she’d decided she wouldn’t break up with her boyfriend. Why, we asked? Her answer. Her “time was running out.”
I choked on my cosmopolitan.
She clarified – her time, her life, her biological clock. The fuse was burning. Didn’t we realise there is an expiry date to finding a lifelong partner?
Her logic was not completely crazy. It went a little something like this:
Teen years and early 20’s
This first age bracket is the time for drinking, partying, random hook-ups and embarrassing drunk 3am make outs (thanks beer goggles).
I’m calling this time period “preparation for the one”. The slutty detox years if you will. Get it allllll out of your system.
If you hadn’t/haven’t spent your formative years fully engaged in this period, then too late. You now won’t have time to experience it. The ship has sailed. Time to get serious because you are entering the next phase..
From the moment you hit 22 the countdown begins. No more dating for fun. You need to have met or at least be actively seeking your possible future husband. Once this is done, and it needs to be done reasonably quickly, you can happily date for approximately two to three years.
Engagement (this status is allowed to be achieved prior if possible, however 25 is the deadline. Please pencil it in your diary).
None of this dating for 7 years, and waiting for him to pop the question. Women of the 21 century there is no time for this. If he isn’t popping the question – push it. You need to be able to have “the talk”. You can’t be shy about it. After all clock. Ticking.
Now we are engaged. Great job! After (the minimum) two year engagement it’s time to tie the knot. The process of ageing is starting to loom over us like a dark, grey and saggy boob-ed cloud.
Married life! Congrats! Hopefully in the last few years you’ve traveled, established a career, become financially stable all the while husband hunting and preparing. Because in the blink of a rapidly wrinkling eye you’ll hit 30. You don’t want to be an “old” mum, heaven forbid, so soon after marriage you have to pop out a baby/babies (in quick succession if it is the latter).
And then you die..
(Okay she didn’t say that but at that stage it felt implied).
This apparently is the blueprint if you’re doing things the “traditional way”. It’s a tight timeframe.
During my friend’s demonstration my other girlfriends hummed along agreement.
I could literally feel my eggs dying by the second – and it wasn’t because of the vodka. Figuring the damage was already done I waved the waiter over, I definitely needed another cocktail…. or three.
Basically I should’ve begun looking for my soulmate yesterday. I began to panic. What if it took me four, five, or even six years to meet the man I wanted to marry? Would I miss out on kids/travelling/life because I hadn’t got my shit together in time?
Maybe I watch too much Sex and the City (okay I know I do) but those women weren’t worried about soulmates and marriage until they were at least in their mid 30’s.
20’s were for dating, disasters, fun and flirting. They were for finding yourself, getting lost and facing the same lesson’s numerous times until you actually learnt them. Not for strict plans, specific blueprints and timelines.
We all know falling in love isn’t something that can be planned but there’s no doubt we can have a hand at creating a similar and sub-par version.
As I caught a taxi home later that night I found myself replaying the conversation over and over in my mind. I hated to admit it but there were some valid points to her argument. As much as I hated the sentiment – time was a-ticking. But time was always ticking. That didn’t mean there was any reason to speed up the process.
To me the discussion had really evolved into the idea of finding an individual we merely liked and could tolerate rather than meeting that elusive soulmate. The romantic in me refuses to believe that’s as good as it gets.
Would I settle for average? Nope.
Being able to wrap your love and life up in a neat little square package isn’t worth settling for.
When your 40 and signing divorce papers you aren’t going to look back and think, ‘well at least I followed the formula to a tee. At least I ticked off the right boxes at the right time. I got that part right and that’s what matters.’
Don’t cave to the facade of the perfect life rather than embracing the real roller coaster ride that is life and love is.
Love can feel like a game of musical chairs – you don’t want to be the last one left scrambling for a seat. But remember it’s not a game. Don’t settle. Throw out the blueprint! In the long run it’s not worth it.