I get a kick out of reading advice columns. I basically never relate to the questions, but I take pleasure in the no-nonsense (and sometimes smartass) responses from advice columnists (see, e.g., Carolyn Hax or Dear Prudence).
One of the problems that comes up a lot seems to be women with the “I love my boyfriend, but he won’t marry me” problem. And I find this alarming for a number of reasons: a) that people think they have to get married on a certain timeline or at all, and that they are missing something that will somehow complete them as a person, b) that women feel disenfranchised about getting into an institution that historically disenfranchises them, and c) that marriage isn’t a decision that people come to together as partners, instead allowing the focus to revolve around the spectacle and (often one-sided) event of a proposal and a wedding.
Sometimes I wonder what these women would think about me, because I’m at the age where people start to question why I’m not married or dating or desperate to find a spouse. The thing is, I’m very happy being alone, and the conversation should really just stop there. Nevertheless, sometimes people push, and I feel compelled to explain that finding someone compatible in the typical ways you think about compatibility—attraction, shared values and interests, similar sense of humor—is unlikely.
Even if I could find someone to whom I felt comfortable opening myself to emotionally (I am a rock. I am an island.), I’m too comfortable in my ways, stubborn, and I know myself too well, such that I have a list of deal-breakers that no one will ever stand up against: