Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Is being “a little bit married” worse for women?

I’m always struck by the finding that marriage increases the quality of life for men and decrease it for women. Along those same lines, single women in their 50s and 60s are supposedly the happiest members of the population. Yet, it seems like women are always the ones who want to get married more than men. Of course, that is a huge generalization, and there are many other factors going on here (biological clock, social pressure, etc.) but it is interesting to think that we so desperately want something that isn’t always good for us. This is not to say that women shouldn’t want to get married (I certainly do), however maybe young women should think more critically about it while we are “a little bit married.”

When I look at couples that are “a little bit married” it seems like the young women is the one, nine times out of ten, making the majority of the sacrifices in the relationship. She is the one thinking about where she is going to move, how she is going to accommodate the guy, and the guy, like most men in their early to mid-twenties, is focused on himself and his career. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t go along with the whole let’s play house bit, it just means that where he thinks the relationship is going to go (nowhere) is often very different that where the girl thinks it is going to go (marriage).

Some have raised the point that this blog seems like it is indictment of men and relationships and that, as women, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our feelings. I agree one-hundred percent. I agree in the sense that as young twentysomething women we need to think of ourselves before we make sacrifices for relationships that while on the surface might appear like they are heading toward marriage are really not. It seems like young women end up wasting (yes, I’m saying wasting because you never get that time back) so much time because we have a fantasy about our relationships ending up the altar.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

When do you stop trying?

Isn’t it ever ok to just give up on a relationship? I was talking to a friend of mine who had recently ended a relationship with her boyfriend because he wouldn’t commit to her after a year and change. Still, though, she felt the need to call him and give it “one last chance.” Shockingly, her last and final effort proved to be unfruitful. I always my female friends that they just wanted to give it “one last chance” or that if they just “try harder” things will work out. I personally think this is bullshit.

We need to stop trying so hard to salvage things that have clearly gone down the tube. This pervasive mentality of “I’m just going to try harder” is going to be demise of us, and we kiss happy, satisfying, functional, relationships good-bye if we continue down this path.. .

While this tenacity does serve us well in other aspects of our life, it needs to be modulated in our personal relationships. I suppose this brings up the larger question of “When do you stop trying when a relationship has ended or gone sour?” It is when the guy says “I’m just not sure if you are the one?” or “I need some space” or “I’m not ready to move for you, even though we’ve been together for five years.”

Any thoughts on when to stop trying?

Monday, August 15, 2005

We want to hear from you!

Sophie and I have been getting some feedback from our friends, who say that they know people who are reading the blog, but don't necessarily want to post, for privacy reasons. We completely understand...

However, we still definitely want to hear what you have to say. If you don't feel comfortable using the blog, then feel free to email us at alittlebitmarried@yahoo.com. We promise to respect your privacy.

Also, email us with any criticism, praise, or random thoughts... we have nothing to do all day at work, and any diversion is appreciated.

Finally, let everyone you know about the blog!

The Notebook

Last night, I watched the Notebook for the second time, alone in my bed, clutching my one remaining teddy bear for support. I don't know if any of you have ever seen it, but despite everything (the complete cheesiness, the detachment from reality), I sobbed throughout the entire thing. Granted, I did not have high expectations for the movie when I saw it for the first time (the book is really absolute crap, especially the parts that take place in the nursing home), I am always shocked by how deeply it touched most girls. I mean, I was crying so hard last night that I literally could not breathe out of my noise, and I kept on letting out little moans of utter sorrow.

I think that the Notebook touched me, and many other girls, for two very specific reasons: 1. The main character, Noah, not only waits around for the love of his life to return, he also builds her an entire MANSION. With his bare hands. He gives her the ultimate symbol of security, a place where she can live for the rest of her life, completely sheltered and secure.

In the New York world, where 600 square foot apartments with cordoned bedrooms are signs of luxury, a mansion on a river with a wraparound porch would be a dream come true.

2. There are two omissions, in the course of the movie, that Allie and Noah constantly fight. At one point, Noah even says to Allie: "You are a pain in the ass 99% of the time. And when you're not a pain in the ass, you only take a break for 5 minutes, and then you're back to being a pain in the ass again."

I don't know about you, but if any guy ever, ever said that to me, I would start hysterically crying. Then, I would call five of my friends and get validation from them that he was being an asshole. They would tell me that I had to leave him immediately, that he was a loser, and that I deserved so much better. I would spend the day ignoring him, and later on, I would bring it up and cause a fight. I might even punch him in the arm.

But every girl has experienced this that has been in a bad relationship. That's why movies like the Notebook are so dangerous, because they perpetuate this idea that love is encapsulated in romantic moments- kisses in the rain, making love on the floor, living in a nursing home together. Yeah, the characters in the Notebook might have been happy at the end, when Allie couldn't even remember who Noah was, but it tells nothing about the daily ins and outs of a relationship. Maybe he made her cry 5 times a week, but it doesn't matter as long as he built her a house and was too much of a recluse to find anyone else in the nine years that they were apart.

My relationship with my ex-boyfriend was very similar to that- we wouldnt' see each other or talk for a while, and then when we would see each other, we would fall in love all over again. But that magic would only last for about a month, if even that, and then things would start to get bad again.

I'm not sure if I am being cynical about love, but I think that it is so dangerous to constantly be expecting your soul mate. If every girl waited around for her first love, or the first guy that she had sex with, 99.9% would end their lives completely disappointed. If I married my first love, I would have a few nice moments to hold on to, but a great number of miserable ones that I also had to live with, every day.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Settling

I have all these great female friends who seem to be settling for guys who, frankly, don’t deserve them. This isn’t just a personal bias because these ladies are some of my nearest and dearest, they are, honestly, with guys who make them feel bad about themselves, won’t commit to them after long periods of time, and, in some cases, will only eat from two of the four food groups. But regardless of their eating limitations or commitment phobias, it brings up a larger issue about why young women seem so much more ready to settle than young men.

Talk to any guy and it seems, while they might sleep with anything that has two legs and some combination of toes and fingers that add up to 20, they are much pickier about the girls they date. Women it seems like will settle for men with way too many foibles and imperfections because of their fear of being single.

I wish I was an exception, but I find myself in the pattern of wanting to settle for people I know, and everyone else knows, I am too good for. While the lessons of career advancement might have resonated with women of our generation, the notion of “don’t settle if he makes you cry twice a week, says he isn’t ready to commit or isn’t “sure," or has difficulty responding to your basic emotional needs” has get to fully saturate with our generation of young women.

It’s like we’ve realized that we deserve more than 75 cents to the dollar, but we haven’t quite realized how much we deserve out of our relationships. This isn’t to say that women should go around feeling overly entitled and breaking-up with their boyfriends because of the slightest imperfection; it just means that we should have higher standards for our relationships. Maybe then will women will make more than 75 cents to the dollar.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Being Alone

It struck me this morning that I have suddenly grown accustomed to being alone. After five years of sleeping with someone in my bed as often as possible, I can't even imagine having to share my clean sheets with some dirty, sweaty man. All that I need at night is my computer to watch Last Tango in Paris, and Marlon Brando speaking French roughly in my headphones to feel completely and totally satisfied.

For most of my years in college, I was focused on marriage. My parents got married when they were 22 years old, and have stayed together since then. I always had very romantic notions about love, as my mother talks constantly about how my father and her feel in love at first sight, and have made so many sacrifices for each other. Undoubtedly, my mother is glossing over the very difficult parts of their relationship, and they fight as often as any other couple. However, to this day, they still sleep wrapped in each others arms at night.

Whenever I meet some girl with a boyfriend, I always ask her if they will get married. My sister shares the same fascination. Most of my more normal friends laugh at me, but I think that the question is always valid. You can tell a lot about a person (not necessarily their relationship, but definitely the person themselves) from the way that they answer the question. Almost no one ever says yes, absolutely, but it's very rare to find someone that says no, absolutely not.

While I used to want to be like my parents, married and devoted to each other at 22, living together and having illegitimate children (I was most definitely conceived before marriage, which I used to love to tell priests in CCD class), I can't imagine myself settling down any time soon. In some ways, it's such a relief to tell myself that it is not going to happen any time soon, that I won't be like my parents. If I end up alone, who cares? I mean, I can make myself happy, I have a lot of interesting friends, and if I ever need sex, I can just conjure up images of Marlon Brando.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Female Currency: A Rich Boyfriend

I was struck last week by a conversation with a friend of mine (a single gal) who went out to dinner with two friends who are both in serious relationships. She explained how at dinner her two friends made her feel really bad, in a sort of subtle way (as we girls do) that she didn’t have a boyfriend. Never mind a boyfriend with a big, fancy finance job. Which led me to think: “When did having a boyfriend of a certain “type” become such an important currency among girlfriends?”

As I thought more about it, I realized that when I asked if I’m seeing someone, it’s a reflex for me to say “I’m dating some people, but no one serious because I just got out of a long-term relationship.” Why the hell can’t I just say “No, I’m not dating someone.” Emma hit the nail on the head. There is this real confusion among women as we are told to be strong, ambitious, independent career-oriented go-getters, but then seem to snub our noses (privately, of course) at our friends who don’t have a boyfriend with his own hedge fund.

It’s a sobering fact, but 50% of our marriages will end up in divorce, which got me thinking how come young women aren’t encouraging their friends to think about how they can be financially independent and create their own nest eggs so if, and in some cases when, hedge fund dude runs off with the Swedish nanny, you’ll be financially secure. Instead, though, I think young women are perpetuating the attitudes promoted in Bergdorf Blondes, where the best thing in the world would be to marry someone rich enough to fly them around on a private plan. Now, hedge fund guy might not run off with the Swedish nanny, but as women of the 21st century, don’t we have some responsibility to help each other think beyond marriage?

Middle Grounds

Last night, out with friends, I was struck by how difficult it is to have a middle ground in relationships of any kind with the opposite sex. So many of the comments on this blog have revolved around the fact that guys don't seem to want to be married as much as girls do, but I don't necessarily think that is true. In both college and in life after college (New York), people either have no relationships at all (except for the occasional meaningless hook-up, or the dead-end dating routine), or they are in extremely serious, extremely committed relationships, where marriage is at least a consideration for the future.

It is not only girls who seem to consider it, or talk about it openly. I know many a girl that has been dating a guy her own age who talks about how he wants to marry her, or be with her forever. The ultimate test of girls worth, second perhaps only to what her body looks like in a bathing suit, is if she is the marrying type. If a guy can percieve a girl as a future wife, or mate, he treats her like a princess. If he can't, then he treats her with the utmost flippancy. (Unless he is a total bitch, which is a third option).

The other night, I got in an argument with my friend, who has been living with her boyfriend, about whether or not she could honestly say that she had no intention of marrying him (which she constantly kept on asserting). That's all easy to say if it is hypothetical, but I can remember distinct moments when she would get in a fight with him, and behave like her life was ending because he didn't stay with her for a night. I mean, if nothing else, marriage strikes me as being a dependence on another person, for a variety of different reasons (warmth, money, sex, children, validation, a need for a live-in enemy, whatever). This girl, and any other girl can claim that they don't think about marriage, but they do think about the things that marriage is typically associated with, like material and emotional support from a male figure.

In the age of Sex and the City- rife with cosmpopolitans and uniform promiscuity- marriage is something that woman are no longer allowed to desire, especially not in New York. We are supposed to want to be career women, strong and sleeping with investment bankers and law students. In Bergdorf Blondes, the proclaimed "Beach Read of the Summer of 2004," women are only supposed to marry if they meet someone rich enough to fly them around on a private plane. But only then.

If no one our age really considers marriage, why do we talk about it so much? Why has marriage, more than almost any other cultural insitution, lasted for such a long time? Will it eventually become obsolete?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Two girls muse on mock marriages, modern relationships, and living in sin...

Hi,

Welcome to our blog! We’ve noticed something interesting going on with a lot of our friends and their relationships. It’s called being “a little bit married.” Everywhere we look we see members of Generation Y coming in and out of long-term relationships that look, smell, and taste like marriage, but they are a far cry from it. However, in another era these relationships would have most likely resulted in marriage.

You go on trips together, know his extended-family members better than your own, and make tentative plans for the future.

Or maybe you’ve been dating for a while and don’t talk about marriage because it’s just not on your radar, but you do a lot of the things that married people do like live together, make plans around each other, and go to every family function together.

Or maybe you keep breaking up and getting back together because you think one day, with the help of a small miracle, you will get married. This break-up pattern is fueled by your settling for his foibles and imperfections as if you were married.

Whatever the permutation of your relationship is, we are living in the era of “a little bit married.” And who said that hook-ups are defining modern dating?

We want to find out from YOU what being a little bit married is really like. Think of it as a way to rant about your current or past relationship(s) with an audience who knows exactly what you are going through.

Do any of these characterizations ring a bell about your current or past relationship(s)?

Have you settled into a relationship that looks like it's heading toward marriage - in another era it would have - but in fact it isn't?

Have you settled for him even though he hasn't popped the question?

Do you know his mother’s cell phone number, his third cousin, and the street address of the home where he grew up in, but he still hesitates to make a commitment?

Do you accommodate his foibles and imperfections as if you were married, but in fact you aren't?

Have you been in a long-term relationship with a guy who says he doesn’t want to get married until he is 30?

Have you been dating the same guy for over a year, but have no intention of marrying him?

Are you living with a boyfriend to test it out before you get married?

Are you in a long-term relationship where you don’t talk about marriage?

Do you keep getting back together and breaking up with the same guy because you think you’ll get married one day?

Did your long-term relationship end because one of you wasn’t sure if the other was “the one”?