imageAn acquaintance of mine recently attended a wedding, where a few weeks before the big day the bride discovered her fiancé had a girlfriend and, as a result, was understandably reluctant to move forward. In my mind, the presence of another woman in your relationship is legitimate grounds to press pause on picking your wedding colors. But despite this the bride decided to go ahead because it was “too late” to turn back.

Also she’d already changed her status to “engaged” on Facebook.

She’d incessantly posted updates about her wedding plans and claimed it would be embarrassing to answer all the questions as to why she’d reneged on her promise. Which is stupid because no one really cares about what happens on Facebook — we just pretend to care. Unfortunately, the pressure to maintain a facade overrode her need to walk away from a relationship that made her unhappy.

This is a problem.

Thanks to Facebook (the club that used to be cool, got played out, yet you still visit from time to time and wonder why you bother), I’m in the know about who’s engaged, who’s recently married and who just used their uterus. According to my timeline, a lot of people I know fit into one of these categories.

The optimistic part of me likes to work under the assumption that most of them are deciding to do grown up things for the right reasons. I love seeing people in love. Because if more people are making love, less are doing asinine things like being rude to waiters and walking extraordinarily slowly for no good reason. But stories like the one above have made me second guess some of these status messages.

Whenever people ask me when I’m getting married, I tend to say something deliberately glib and abstract such as “When the time’s right for me” when what I’d like to say is, “Who knows?” It could be next month, next year, or whenever I generate enough income to pay women to grow their hair especially for me in order to contribute to my ethical weave bank.

This is one of the unfortunate parts of womanhood. One day you cross the invisible boundary into the land where it’s acceptable to be asked intrusive questions about your womb and marital status. And the weird thing is it’s usually people loosely connected to me that are doing the asking. People I’m only “Facebook” close to. Which is amusing because asking questions about a wedding you wouldn’t receive an invitation to isn’t the smartest use of your time.

Influenced by the insidious pressure to get married while in their “prime”, recently I’ve noticed an alarming amount of young women adjusting their behavior — on social media and beyond — with the aim of becoming “marriage worthy.” They’re behaving “appropriately.” Losing weight. Pretending to like sports. Deleting unflattering photos on their profile pages. All this is folly, because if you’ve got to pretend to be someone else in order to get a husband, it’s probably a sign you’re not ready to be a wife, or you’ll be a miserable one.

We already live in a world where women are taught to shy away from being viewed as openly complicated, flawed or messy in any way. Spending your days pretending to be an idealized self in order to attract someone doesn’t help things.

The things we do well and the parts of us that are “perfect” are flat and boring. The beauty of self is found in the complicated, flawed and messy areas. If we’re all becoming these sanitized idealized selves ready for marriage, who on earth will be left to do the fun things like drinking Hennessy straight with no ice (while walking your cat) and pretending to be pregnant in order to be fast tracked at sample sales?

What’s not being said enough is that it’s OK to be single. It’s OK to want to get married but be in no rush. It’s OK to never ever want to get married. It’s OK to wait patiently for Common in all his bearded glory to propose to you armed with a canary yellow diamond ring and a pair of Louboutins. It’s OK to conduct your life according to whatever your truth may be.

I’ve shared my beliefs in certain circles and the ad hominem criticism of my views has been that I’m not engaged, so my opinions are rooted in envy or an unnecessary preoccupation with being single. To which I respond that receiving a ring isn’t hard and getting married isn’t an achievement. Staying married for a significant amount of time and creating an environment where people can flourish? Much harder.

It’s always better to live your truth and do things in your time. And until the day I get married, I will proudly sing my song as a woman who loves being single, and isn’t afraid of walking her cat alone while sipping on Hennessy.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice all that because you don’t want to change your relationship status back to “single.”



This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Christiana Mbakwe on XOJane!

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  • Buttons

    I think it’s perfectly ok to be single and it’s also ok to want to be in a relationship and to prepare yourself to be in one. If you want to enhance your social life and meet new people sometimes you have to make personal enhancements to make yourself more marketable. I don’t think it’s wise or realistic to think that people will be willing to (or should) except you in any condition all in the name of “being yourself”. If you realize that your “self” have some areas of improvement then that’s a good thing because you recognize your flaws and you’re working on them. There are many people who are oblivious to the fact that they are not relationship material and they have no intentions on changing. I believe most people realize that there’s no such thing as perfection, but those same people are also not willing to deal with a total fixer-upper either. I know I don’t.

  • AdorkABLE

    I, myself, only put my relationship status when I married my husband. Before then, I didn’t see a point. I don’t put everything on Facebook. I keep to my Facebook games and keep in contact with family, friends, classmates, etc.. It’s no one’s business what happens in your relationship with someone else, but when you broadcast it to the rest of the world, and leave room for people to make comments then you’ve welcomed other people to get involved. It’s fine if you stay together, but the second you split up and you change your status or the other person does, questions and comments start swarming in and someone always looks foolish in the end, unless it was an amicable split, but even then some people don’t believe in amicable break-ups.

    I also agree that it is great to be single. I remember my singledom fondly, however, I don’t miss it. I can still do the same things I did when I was single, except for well, kissing another guy. I think it’s best to get to know yourself before not just embarking on marriage, but for any relationship that could possibly become that later down the road. I didn’t really get the when you’re getting married questions, but that maybe because people confuse me with a high schooler in the looks department, lol, it helps a lot.

  • Alfalfa

    I’ve never put my relationship status on Facebook. I’ve also not put up my political and religious affiliations, nor my sexual orientation. Anyone who wanted to could probably take the time to read the quotes I have in the About section or just get to know me IRL and probably figure all or most of these things out, but it never seemed like these were things I wanted to announce to the world, even though my preferences in all these categories are pretty much the norm in my cohort.

  • It’s great that people are proud of their relationships, but being defined by what other people think about your profile means that people become too distracted by public opinion. And it becomes all too embarrassing when it goes wrong.
    I just think it’s best to avoid this by keeping certain things too myself and only letting important people know what it going on with me.