In some not so recent years the pop culture discussion on the battle of the sexes and relationships was obsessed with the general unwillingness of the average male to commit. Phrases like “the peter pan syndrome” were all part of this Urban Legend that in the world of dating and romance women were far more interested in finding a mate for life whereas men, it seemed, were primarily concerned with the excitement of the chase and proving their sexual prowess by bedding as many women as possible.
As old fashioned as these notions sound, it would seem they have persisted into the 21st century. Or at least it would seem so to anyone who relies on popular magazines, romantic comedies and pop psychology as a source of reliable information.
I’m not one of those people and frankly I don’t even know many of those people well enough to discern whether or not they believe this rubbish. I am a bit curious though. Having grown up in the 60’s I watched my Mother and her peers challenge the notion that a Woman attending college was not simply trying to gain the fabled “Mrs. degree”, but was instead actually endeavoring to cultivate a career.
As a side note for those of you not familiar with the term “Mrs Degree”, it implied that a woman could better herself by attending college, generally gaining a degree in Liberal Arts, with the end result of becoming cultured and well read enough to be considered proper marrying material for a man of intelligence and power. Being armed with a fair amount of interesting but generally useless knowledge would enable a woman to maintain reasonably intelligent conversation the the cocktail parties she would throw for her husband and his colleagues. She and other housewives of similar class and background could commiserate about 18th century literature as they prepared hors d’ourves and desserts and dutifully attended to their spouses whims and desires. Hell, maybe they could even form a book club and talk about their vaginas if they were really liberated. Ultimately however, the supreme goal was to land a husband who was able to provide a steady income, healthy children and a few nice material goods to enhance the suburban ranch house.
But anyway, back to the future or the present. I recently had one of those moments of self realization in which I discovered that I, myself, am commitment phobic. As this thunderbolt of insight struck I was prompted to mentally review my past relationships (the fact that there have been many should indicate that this so called epiphany was nothing more than neglected territory) This was not so much an”ah-ha” moment, as it was a “well duh” moment. I realized that with a few exceptions (mostly in my younger more idealistic years) I generally tended to go with the flow in my relationships as opposed to actually planning some sort of future. I did actually get married, once, and that was because I was pregnant and despite my initial instinct to hop a Greyhound and raise my child alone I felt the father had a right to know that his supposedly non-fertile sperm had indeed swum it’s way home and into the heart of one of my more willing ova. I told him because I felt it was the Right Thing to Do. I also figured he’d be the one to bail on the situation and therefore save me the bus fare and trouble of relocating. My ability to predict my mates reaction, as usual, proved ineffective. He asked me to marry him and against my better judgement and after considerable internal debate and rationalization I agreed. The idea actually kind of grew on me and I sincerely did want a nice stable normal life for my child. Problem was daddy seed belonged to one of the most unstable and less than normal people I’ve ever met (which was, of course what attracted him to me in the first place)
My second most valiant attempt at a relationship with the possibility of some sort of future, possibly an entire lifetime together, was with the father of my younger two children. We actually planned our pregnancy and he had picked up the role of father to my first born where biological dad had pretty seriously fumbled the ball. In fact he fouled out of the entire game.
My relationship with Dad number two was for the most part the closest I ever came to a sustainable, healthy and long term relationship. We discussed the idea of marriage, again he was more into the idea than I was, and quickly dismissed it as unnecessary, too costly and too complicated as it would involve awkward meetings of blended alcoholic families on both sides.
It lasted about 7 years until I admittedly, sabotaged the whole thing.
To this day I can’t explain, even to myself, why I was hell bent on destructing the life we had. Most of the time I was pretty happy. To this day I often recount those years as the best years of my life. The Earth Mother Years.
I don’t know why I walked away. There are some things about my choice that I do regret in a way. My children certainly would have suffered less. I would most likely be far more economically stable. A lot of things would have turned out differently. But they didn’t.
So here I am now, 53 years old, single and pretty happy with that status for the most part. I can’t help but wonder if I will be this way forever. Is this it? If I do find that ‘right person’ will I finally decide to make a commitment, to stay?
I’m more mature, a little more wise and much less restless. Would that make a difference?
I’m not actively looking to have these questions answered. I don’t believe that people find their perfect partner by actively looking for them. It happens or it doesn’t.
Either way I think I’ll be okay, and I do have that MS degree to fall back on.
Image courtesy of the fabulous Graphics Fairy http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/