I promise I'm not one of those people who always thinks about relationships. That disclaimer is necessary because 5 days ago I went to a seminar organized by my church on the subjects of being single and dating. I know what you're thinking. But I'm definitely not one of those people, I promise. The seminar was fine and all, but it seemed the whole purpose of being there--at least for the people sitting around me--was to learn the shortcuts and tricks to getting a spouse. At one point, when a witty and fast-talking lady co-moderating the evening spoke about meeting her husband, I wanted to stand up and shout: "What if THIS is our final destination? What if being single is what we're meant to do?"
Marriage seems to be a great thing for many people, and I'd like to get married. But if I don't, life will not crumble around me like the ash of a cigarette. There is too much to do, too many things to see, too many people to know for me to think one path is all there is for me. Plus, mathematically speaking the odds aren't so hot. 20% of the people in that room were men. And apparently all of those men are considered deadbeats or playboys. The Atlantic Monthly published an interesting article recently that basically said:
"Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the “romantic market” in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options: increasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing). But this strange state of affairs also presents an opportunity: as the economy evolves, it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family—and to acknowledge the end of “traditional” marriage as society’s highest ideal."
So, you see, the odds really are not looking good for all the single ladies to have a man put a ring on it. And that's OK.
In large part, I signed up for The Big E so I could tell people I'd given Internet dating the ol' college try and they stop pestering me about doing more to get hitched. I love life. I make it a point to believe wherever I am is the best place to be, and that has made all the difference in the world.
There are so many areas of our lives that could use this bit of love--taking whatever piece of real estate life has passed down and saying, THIS is mine, and I am going to make it fabulous. Instead of letting absence serve as a reminder of what hasn't happened yet, I'm focusing on what has been accomplished and daydreaming about the wide open spaces left for me to conquer.
The other night I went to see a horrendously bastardized interpretation of Wuthering Heights with two friends: J and N. After the film we got to talking about dating. J is in a serious almost-marriage relationship. N is single and has a bit more experience at the dating game than I do. Because N has tried online dating before, I asked if she had any advice. She said to trust my gut. Did she have any odd stories, I asked, because I sure was starting to collect them.
A few days into my membership with The Big E, I got an introductory set of questions from a guy in Pennsylvania. At first glance, Pennsylvania didn't seem a bit like someone I would go for, but I am taking an extremely open-minded approach to this whole online thing. So I played ball and answered his questions. (p.s. a lot of guys have asked about how often I lose my temper...interesting) We went back and forth answering generic questions about ourselves, as you do with The Big E, for a couple of days. And then, I asked him about a boat.
Specifically, I asked him what he would name a yacht if he were given one tomorrow. I also asked where he would take said yacht. I thought this would be a sort of interesting question for him to answer given all of the incredibly boring questions we'd been throwing back and forth. And I thought it might show if he had a sense of humor.
His reply went something like this: If I were given a yacht tomorrow, I would name it Sunrise because I believe in new beginnings and that would be such a great new beginning. I love this question, Elisabeth, it is so clever. Actually, now that I think about it, if you were my wife, I would name the boat after you. Elisabeth would make a nice name for a boat. Have you heard the song by The Counting Crows called, 'Goodnight, Elisabeth'? It's really good. I'm going to listen to it now."
His wife? Um, Pennsylvania, we're in the ICEBREAKER stage of the game. Really? Wife? Oh brother.
So, I told N and J, that happened. Being the kind guy that he is, J asked if I would like for him to accompany me on any dates. "That's nice of you," I replied, "but Pennsylvania lives on the other side of the country, so there won't be any dates with him anytime soon. Plus having a chaperone might be a bit overkill. Maybe."
N's advice? Be open, that's good and all, but more than anything trust your gut. And, maybe put Pennsylvania in the no-way-on-earth column.