Is Marriage Prom for Grown-ups? by Anonymous

Punk_WeddingI swear to god all my friends are getting married this year.

Well, not all of them. A bunch of them got married last year. But there’s something nerve-wracking about the girls I used to bitch about being single with getting hitched while I’m….still single. I think it’s awesome that they met people they considered worthy of longterm commitment with, and I wish them all the best. But I’m a woman in my thirties, single and…admittedly confused about what I want. I feel like all the episodes of Sex and the City I watched in my twenties have become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I am lucky in one regard, which is that having a satisfying career is more important to me than having kids. Not having a timeline for making babies makes things considerably easier (though it does rule out a good chunk of commitment-minded men.)

For some reason, marriage brings up the same feelings prom did in high school. It was an excuse to dress up in a pretty dress that you’d probably never wear again, party with your friends, and hopefully have sex afterwards. Finding the perfect date was a big deal. In my case, my best guy friend “Randy” and I made a bet about who could find the most inappropriate prom date. Like a cheesy romantic comedy, I secretly wanted to go to prom with Randy, but he wasn’t into me (he was an early adopter of the “asexuality” movement). We did wind up drunkenly making out a few years later, which caused him to freak out and stop talking to me. In your face, Jennifer Aniston.

I guess Randy and I were trying to “punk” the whole heteronormative facism of the prom industrial complex (I also was bitter that my girlfriend dumped me right before prom and took someone else), but in hindsight I feel weirdly sad that I didn’t get to have a “normal” prom experience, whatever that means. That there was no nice boy (or girl) who asked me to prom. There was only my secret crush on Randy, who wouldn’t even go to prom with me as “friends.” I wound up going to prom with my close female friend “Anya” who is about a decade older than me, I figured that having an older same gender date counted as “scandalous” enough. Ironically, Anya and I have talked about getting legally but platonically married (with lovers on the side) in the future to form the kind of financial and familial stability a marriage traditionally provides. Anya’s already been married and divorced once, but I still find myself longing for the traditional marriage experience, while having an abundance of mixed feelings and fears towards it.

So, almost 15 years later I find myself without a “prom date.” I guess I kind of do want to get married to nice boy (I gave up on girls a while ago) sooner or later. I envy that my friends have found awesome people that they want to spend the rest of their lives with, and get to have so much social validation around that. But I don’t really care about babies, buying a suburban house, or spending thousands of dollars on a white dress. I just want to form a committed relationship with an awesome person who thinks I’m cool enough to want to be life partners with me for as long as it seems like a mutually fulfilling arrangement. (“til we die” still seems like an awful lot to promise, but I like the idea of choosing whether or not we wish to renew our vows every three years or so.) I also know that I don’t want to marry someone just for the sake of getting married, I could have done that already if that was all I really wanted.

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m really craving is that feeling, both from society and another person, that I’m pretty and valuable and lovable, and so awesome that I’m worth spending a lifetime with. It’s ultimately an illusion wrapped up in diamonds and white tulle that is sold to us by our culture the same way prom is, and it can be meaningful for the folks who really do have a good thing going, but it can also be a trap that people fall into with the wrong person because they want that sense of validation. My friends who have been divorced seem to be fairly cynical about the institution, and yet, many of them seem to get re-married anyway. I think that marriage is good for creating a certain kind of financial and family stability, but I have qualms about the fact that it’s not legally available to everyone. I also think there should be similar options available to people who want to form that sort of legal bond with a non-sexual life partner, and that people should be able to have multiple spouses if they so desire. At the end of the day, it’s important to untangle the legal, financial, family, romantic, social, and personal elements of marriage, and decide what it really means to you. I guess I’m still figuring that out.



  1. Malkavian says:

    It seems to me like you’re equating a marriage with a wedding. The marriage is the legalized partnership, and the wedding is the big party that celebrates it. The former is the important part, though the latter can be fun.

    Also, I’d like for you to examine your pre-concieved notions of what marriage is. It has nothing to do with tulle or babies or suburban homes. It’s a legally protected partnership between two people. Everything else is what you make of it.

    P.S. I went to both my junior and senior proms by myself despite my father telling me that I ‘wouldn’t have fun’, danced my ass off, and had a blast.

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