Today was another day where someone told me I was going to “find a man.” It was my grandma. She said she would only have so much time with me because “one day a man is going to come in here and sweep you off your feet. Then, we won’t see you no more.”. I said I would leave on my own before a man made me do it. She said “oh yeah” in a disbelieving, slightly surprised sort of way, but she’s hard of hearing. She could have replied to anything she thought she heard.
I am twenty-seven years old, and I have heard these types of remarks from family members and strangers on so many occasions, I can’t count them anymore. Sometimes, it feels like my life is teeming with people ready to tell me what my romantic life should be. Even the dating site ads seem more aggressive. Fortunately, it seems friends are immune to this growing disease.
When I encounter one of these people, I remember a conversation I had with a young woman–she was in her early 30s–in an airport about her recent divorce. She was moving to San Francisco for a new job. Like me, she was from a small town–one very close to mine–and, despite her excellent career as a nurse, people constantly hounded her about not being married and turning into an old maid. One day, she met a man who seemed nice enough, so she rushed into marrying him. She had a few misgivings, but she chalked them up to nerves. A month or two into their marriage, he tells her that he is going to date other women, but they’re going to stay married. Naturally, she objects. He starts verbally abusing her. Eventually, the verbal abuse leads to him hitting her. So, she leaves him, takes out a restraining order, and moves in with her mother. Of course, he keeps up his pleasing façade with their acquaintances, and some of them still believe he isn’t the abusive monster he is in private. Anyway, she told me he started following her in spite of the restraining order, which added one more reason to move out of town besides the joy of traveling.
Anyway, the point of the story is she let people pressure her into a bad situation, and it caused her more grief than if she stayed single her entire life and became an “old maid.”. I know some people do find happiness in marriage or with a partner of some sort, and I know others, like the woman from the airport, find additional grief instead of a respite from the rest of the world. Sometimes the grief leads to a situation with a better partner. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Either way, it’s important to block those “well-intentioned” voices and do what you need to do.
There is still a lot of pressure for young women to marry. I humbly request that the matchmakers, the do-gooders, and the family members and perfect strangers who don’t know when to keep their wide and long noses out of other people’s business keep their unwanted opinions to themselves. With all this pressure, we women–and some young men–are ready to burst from abuse.