Category Archives: relationships

THE AGE CONUNDRUM

Back in secondary school, my friend Sally used to say how she did not plan be to be married until she was around 27 years old. I always thought she was just trying to be outlandish on purpose. Who knows, maybe she was. But, I still used to think she was a bit weird for thinking that way – 27 is so dangerously close to 30…and we all knew what 30 meant! …Or at least, we knew what we had been taught it meant.

We learned that 30 meant going from “a maiden” to “an old maid.” 30 meant going from being referred to as “young woman” to “unmarried woman”. 30 meant, away with university-age and in with married-with-a-kid age (so, if you’re not there by that age, you’re malfunctioning somehow).

This is an idea that I think should be deprogrammed from our minds. I mean, if you’re a woman or man married with kid(s) by 30, good for you! Congrats! But no one should be put down, or made to feel like a failure, sitting on a time bomb just because they’re not there by that age.

I have been the unfortunate witness of this notion being expressed by one of my old Secondary School classmates who happened to be male. We were just having one of those casual, “where are you now?” and “what are your plans?” type of conversations. I told him I was going to pursue an MA/PhD, and his first reaction was, “so when will you get married?” At first, I wanted to tell him off, but I decided to be polite, and just make a joke so we can both laugh and move on from that kind of questioning.

But he was so bent on his intent, that even after I had laughed it off, he decided to end the conversation with this gem; “Well, just make sure you get married by 25, okay?” I wasn’t sure how to react to this, because I wasn’t entirely sure what I was feeling. The way he even phrased it as a helpful hint/advice was both rage-inducing and utterly amusing. I felt a weird combination of rage, shock, amusement, and disappointment in that instant, and I had to take a moment to breathe so that I wouldn’t say anything I would come to regret.

After taking a breather, I asked him if he was planning on getting married by 25 as well, to which he, without hesitation, replied that he would not be ready by then, and he still had to revel in not being tethered to a woman until he was about 30. I hoped he would see the hypocrisy of his outlook, but I don’t remember if I pointed it out to him or not. Honestly, the rest of that conversation is now a blur to me. I lost interest in anything else he had to say or ask, and did not invest in the conversation anymore.

Funny enough this notion does not apply to men in quite the same way – why should it, right?

We are indoctrinated into this idea that if men are like fine wine that gets better with age, then women are like egg salad (you really don’t want that aged).

I’m not saying we should also impose these same expectations on men, neither am I endorsing that George Clooney lifestyle for anyone – I’m simply saying, don’t put people down for not meeting your marriage-age expectation (especially if they’re not your children). And if you’re at that close-to-30 age and the pressure is piling on, just remember that desperation makes for some horrible decisions – stay calm, and stay happy!

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Self-aware Awkwardness: Cute or Nah?

In a previous post I talked about small talk, and the problems that arise when you’re forced to engage. I fancy myself a kind of expert when it comes to these, partly because I feel like I have participated in so many such exchanges. I like to think that I can now navigate these conversations in such a way that the other person either doesn’t feel the full awkwardness of the exchange, or we get a good laugh out of it somehow.

I think the key to my “success” (I don’t think you can really call it that, but I choose to anyway) is being aware of the conversation’s inelegance, and finding my way around it. When I do have to make small talk – because it is inescapable sometimes – I go into it with this understanding; If you have this kind of conversation in a social environment where you can admit it for what it is (an awkward exchange), and you’re able to laugh at yourself, then it takes a bit of the simulated edge off the conversation. Acknowledging awkwardness sometimes introduces an element of authenticity that is often lacking in most obligatory and/or unrewarding small talk.

If you’re a bumbling idiot, and you know it, and can laugh at yourself, then hurray! Because that could actually be adorable to an extent – it’s endearing, and also connotes a sense of sincerity. However, if you’re a bumbling idiot and are completely oblivious to the fact, or continually/consistently deny or ignore it, then that’s just tragic. Because, trust me, if you can’t laugh at yourself, others will do it for you.

I must say that in my experience, self-aware awkwardness can be overdone! Too many times, I’ve heard people START conversations with “OMG, I’m so awkward, sorry!” and it often leads to me wondering if their private thoughts were responsible for this otherwise incongruent outburst.

It’s definitely not a good idea to let yourself be known as that one person who always claims to be weird and awkward, because you might just speak that reputation into existence. I have a friend who apologizes for her “awkwardness” after almost every sentence, and sometimes even before she starts a statement. A typical conversation started by her would begin with something like, “I’m sorry, this is gonna be so awkward, but what do you think about so and so?”

As someone who is introverted, or shy, or just handicapped when it comes to impromptu social exchanges with non-friends, it really just comes down to being aware of your environment. If there is no indication that other people sense the awkwardness, or that pointing it out will help the air, then you’re most likely better off not doing so.

This is probably a good time for me to say that I still stand by my belief that silence can be better sometimes. How ‘bout you save yourself from the stress on occasion?

The Perfect Myth

Not too long ago, I was talking to a very good longtime friend, who I’ll call Sally for the purposes of this blog. Now Sally was very concerned that I hadn’t been going out with a lot of guys, because how else was I supposed to find that perfect man? Although there was an intended hint of comedy in her concern, Sally’s eager push for me to “get out there” and find the perfect guy did make me wonder about how often I hear things like that, and come across sentiments that ascribe to this belief in the existence of such men.

It’s in the memes and the pop culture jokes – this concept of finding or waiting for the perfect man. Just google “waiting for the perfect man” and see the images that come up. As much as we make fun of the idea of waiting on someone who will be practically flawless in our eyes, some people are yet to abandon this concept – maybe only subconsciously.

You see, people MAKE LISTS! I’ve seen a lot more people than I’d like to admit do this: they imagine what they would want their future spouse to be – his likes and dislikes, his personality type, his beliefs, his socio-economic status, his temperament, his body build, blah, blah, blah. I mean it’s so serious a lot of dating sites are based on these lists of expectations, which supposedly helps make a perfect spouse. They may not always be physical written-down lists – not everyone gets that meticulous – but the effects are very similar because once it’s done, expectations start running high, and the likelihood of meeting someone that would feel right drops even lower. I’ve met people that have unwittingly revealed their plans of being married to some guy whose personality, opinions, income, and body type they have already designed and approved in their hearts.

Now, I’m not saying people should not have standards – by all means, please do! For instance, if you’re a true Christian, then you better make sure you don’t end up with someone who isn’t: if only to save yourself all the fundamental disagreements, the fights, and the years of unsuccessfully trying to convert someone…and so on.

In my understanding, the ideal is not to expect to find someone who meets all the superfluous criteria and is perfect as in completely flawless, instead it is to find and be willing to stick with someone who is right, as in perfectly flawed for you – highly compatible.

Or maybe we need to use a different definition of the word “perfect” which would be “complete or absolute.” So next time you think about the perfect person, don’t think of it as someone who is either flawless, or a person whose flaws you will never notice (because such a person DOES NOT EXIST), but think of it as a someone whose flaws you would absolutely be willing to live with because you care for that person more than you abhor their shortcomings. Believe me, everyone is flawed, and there is no perfect person out there – of that much I’m certain – and as much as a lot of people claim to know this, not as many people as you would expect actually truly believe it.

So next time your own Sally confronts you about finding the perfect spouse, consider introducing the idea of a perfectly flawed spouse instead.