Choose them because you think you like them, and because you assume that this relationship is the best one you’ll ever be able to have.
Choose them because time is running out, and you’re now 23 or 29 or 35 and people are going to start asking questions.
Choose them because everyone else has found their person, which means now is the time that you need to find yours too.
Ignore the fact that every person’s life is supposed to be different. Forget the idea that love is about more than just following your gut and your heart; forget the idea that it’s also about following your head and your own sense of logic and your own desires and goals for what you want in life.
Choose them because you need something now, fast, and they’re your best bet. Choose them because, at least for the time being, it seems to work.
If these are the kinds of thoughts that have been in your head, even subconsciously, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, or a shallow one, or a naive one.
What it means is that you’re an adult now, and you feel a suffocating pressure to find a partner and settle down with them. That’s okay. That’s normal. That’s what you’ve been taught to do. You’ve been taught that settling down at a “respectable” age is the next step on the path to a successful and happy life.
Marriage is a huge step, and it definitely can lead to happiness and joy and success. But there’s not just one way to go about it. Just because it happened to your friend or your sister a certain way does not mean it has to happen in that exact same way to you.
For many people, it goes like this: College. Graduation. Job. City life. Promotion. Engagement. Wedding. Marriage. Suburbs. Kids.
And that’s absolutely fine. That is a perfectly wonderful and beautiful way to spend your life. If it’s with the right person, it will be totally meaningful and joy-filled.
But that’s not the only way to go about it. If it happens that way for you, great. I do not mean that sarcastically. That’s a blessed way to begin your adult life. But if it doesn’t happen that way, that’s okay. Because, for most people, life is unpredictable. It is not smooth or even.
You will face job losses, illnesses. The death of a close family member. A breakup after a five-year-long relationship that you thought was going to lead to marriage. Financial stress.
Trying to force something to work with someone who is wrong for you is only going to make all of that worse. It’s a natural inclination to have – to want to taste some form of traditional happiness so that you feel like you have a little bit of control over your life. But, deep down, if a relationship does not feel right in your heart, your gut, and your mind, it will only lead to more disappointment.
Even if you don’t believe it right now, tell yourself over and over and over that there is no right way for your life to happen. There is no right way to find someone. There is no right age to get married.
Twenty-two is not too early. Forty-four is not too late. But let’s not bullshit here: You probably don’t want to wait until you’re forty-four to have the wedding and marriage that all your friends are having at twenty-six or twenty-eight. And that’s understandable.
But consider something else: If you hastily choose the wrong person, you’ll have that wedding at twenty-eight. And then you’ll have a divorce at thirty-nine. And then you’ll still find yourself at forty-four, with a divorce under your hands and a crushing thought of how did I get here swimming around at the forefront of your mind.
This doesn’t mean you have to hold out for the perfect person who meets every single thing on your checklist. If you do that, you’ll be alone for the rest of your life.
But what you are supposed to do is hold out for the person who’s going to keep you sane and breathing during those difficult things that will happen over and over again: job losses, death, illnesses, rejections, disappointments. You deserve a partner, a teammate, a living, breathing sanctuary who will sleep by your side every single night and tell you that, somehow, everything will be okay.
There’s no right way to find this person – no right age or place or situation. But there are plenty of ways to find the wrong one. So hold out for happiness. Because you deserve it.