Why can't we commit to commitment?
What man came up with the term “talking?” It must be a man because men are the only ones incapable of committing, right? Except that’s completely untrue. Women might be less inclined to brag about numbers in the locker room, but we’re just as likely to have issues with the concept of commitment. For the first time ever, most Americans aren’t married. The number of women living alone has increased by more than 33 percent in the past 15 years to 30 million. We have a steady diet of reality TV, Disney princesses and an influx of influential people practicing infidelity like it’s their middle name to thank. The repercussions of this cultural crisis trickle all the way down to young adults still braving the dating world. With Tinder dominating the hit-it-and-quit-it dating scene, it’s no wonder that "talking" is the newest catch phrase.
United States: The number of women living alone has increased more than 33 percent in the past fifteen years to 30 million. (State of Our Union, National Marriage Project).
In the beginning of life as we know it, the Adam and Eve of Talking sat down once and for all to decide what they were going to call themselves. People were asking questions. Assumptions were being made. Someone dared insinuate they might be together. It was getting out of hand. God forbid anyone think they were dating.
This conversation itself points to a certain level of commitment between two people, but I digress.
One was annoyed that no boundaries or barriers had been set. The other probably had no idea that these boundaries were wanted, because they were millennials and refused to pick up the phone to address their problems. Perhaps they had both planned on dodging those barriers as long as possible, or perhaps they had set them up for themselves and forgot to tell the other person. They thought about what they spent the most time doing. And somehow, they landed on talking.
Aussies: Australia's marriage rate is the lowest it has been in a hundred years. Nearly a third of all Australian women from 30 to 34 are single.
There are worse things that such a state of indecision could be called. One need only look at songs that pound out verses like, “my main bitch,” with the implication that there are other bitches on the side we should automatically know about because that is the norm. If this is the norm, I would like to move back to the chivalrous days of the 1800s, please.
Since they decided on "just talking," they found that there wasn’t much else to do. There was no level of expectation, and so each person felt bad asking the other to do anything because it was totally unclear if actual time together was part of the equation. "Just talking" is more accurately called "only texting." Date night? The horror. Introductions to the family? As if. Meet the disapproving friends? A disaster waiting to happen.
The underlying assumption of talking is that you’re getting to know each other. That’s a perfectly healthy start. You should absolutely spend time getting to know the person you think you like so much before you jump into a committed relationship. And if the period of time reveals that you actually cannot stand said person, better you know now than later.
Japan: The number of unmarried Japanese women ages 25 to 34 is rising, prompting boyfriend shaped pillows to sell off the shelves and new national policies meant to curb the singles trend.
It’s when talking is used as a substitution for the mutual respect and fidelity that commitment implies that it becomes a real issue. Maybe I’m old-fashioned or just a hopeless, very helpless, romantic, but how is bouncing from one bed to the next better than eventually being with someone who only wants to be with you? I’m not saying you should get married a week after you meet. That actually sounds horrible. But taking it slow is different than having your cake and eating it too.
Land of Bridget Jones: Average age of women married: 32
Why do we settle for this subpar substitution for a real relationship? Certainly there are advantages. If you aren’t entirely sure this thing is going to work, then refusing to term it as anything real allows each participant the option of an easy out. You can note all the red flags and wave them in defense when things inevitably end. It’s also a Get out of Jail Free card. In the event that one of you moves on emotionally or physically, no worries. There were never any real hearts involved to break.
But on the flip side, if we’re really, truthfully honest with ourselves, it’s just downright lazy. It’s an excuse to avoid the real work of a relationship. Sure, you sidestep the hard conversations and compromises, but you also avoid the true intimacy that commitment between two people brings. Unlike your friend’s photos of her 35-year relationship with Ryan Gosling’s twin, real relationships are never picture perfect. The good days of spontaneous dates and stolen kisses remind you why you stick through the bad ones where you argue and annoy each other. Because guess what? Love ain’t easy. And committing to it is even harder.
Musical Alternatives to “Talking”
I Don’t (Only) F*** With You?
In Love with a Girl (and Also Several Others)
Are You Gonna Be My Girl? (Because I’m Not Ready For That Kind of Commitment)
All of Me (Loves Some Of You, But Only Some. Definitely Not All)
Outta Your Mind (If You Think I'm Settling Down)
Take Me Home (But Not to Meet Your Parents)
Don’t Tell Em (That I Maybe, Actually Like You For Real)
[Stats courtesy of Today.com]
Feature photo by Charlie Foster/ VIA Unsplash