cougars and kittens

In ALL, DATING & MATING by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

New York County

"No, it's cool.  You can totally call, but don’t freak if someone else picks up" said Justin Silverman, the young boy I was dating who still lived with a roommate.  Worse yet, it was a female roommate, which always made me question what their deal was. If she were pretty, they must have shared something, something inebriated and “well we were drunk, so it’s negligible” between them. I wondered if she casually walked around in his boxer shorts, if he averted his eyes from her breasts, as she sat eating cereal on their futon in her “pajamas,” some gossamer flesh-toned fabric. I wondered why I’d never met her, why he hadn’t brought me around. I stopped questioning their deal once I learned his roommate was his mother.

He still lived at home.  And here was the deal breaker: I couldn't, for longer than I managed to, date a guy whom I couldn't drunk dial.  "No, really, you can!"  If I phoned in the middle of the night, soused, back in my apartment with a half-devoured bag of McDangerous, the phone wouldn't just ring in his room.  It would ring throughout their house.  The mother would stir, jolting up; certain someone was calling with news of death.  She’d turn on her bedside lamp, squinting, and in a tangled throaty voice she’d say, “hello,” but it would sound like, “Aren’t you too old for this, for him, my boy?” The boy didn’t even have his own private line, which meant he shared everything with his mother.  “No, it’s cool. I’ve told her to shut off her ringer before she goes to sleep.” Not quite an urban cougar yet, I hung up on that relationship. It took a month.  Yes that long. You had to see him to understand.

I learned in the process of dating, not what I wanted, but what I didn't want.  I didn’t want roommates, futons, or unruly shower facilities. I didn’t want someone in his early twenties. And then I added to the list: location, location, location.


No Brooklyn.  No Queens.  No Hoboken. 


It was disgustingly insufferable of me, and seeing it there in writing makes me wince. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think “get the fuck over yourself,” but I realized that was exactly my problem. I couldn’t get over myself because “getting” anywhere involved moving. I was lazy. Brooklyn is a very cool place, cooler I'd argue than Manhattan, but it wasn't about cool.  I was simply too slothful to ever date someone out of my borough.  Even the East Village was a stretch from the Upper West Side, and given my prejudice, I assumed anyone who lived in the East Village was grunge. Okay, not grunge, wanna be grunge. Most definitely someone who’d take issue with the Upper West Side, unless it was bordering Harlem. Because, there, they’d argue, there’s jazz and flavor. Ugh. Constructing conversations with imaginary men wearing all too real canvas sneakers turned my stomach. A “long distance” relationship would mean lengthy and pricey taxicabs (I wouldn't take the subway at night, especially not drunk), and the "back and forth" you do in a relationship would take even longer.  Also, I'll admit, I didn't believe a successful, well-to-do man would choose to live in Hoboken if he could afford to live in Manhattan.  If he needed to save up money that badly… like I said, obnoxious. Never mind that he could have been a home owner, investing wisely, opposed to someone living in a box and giving away his cash to a management company for his walk-up roach-infested rental. I was a silly girl. 

But I wasn't looking for a financial upgrade.  Just someone who could support himself and had the potential to one day also support me.  Having supported The Wasband through our lives together when he was in medical school, I was determined not to put myself in that situation again.  Besides, I also realized that once I was in a relationship with a guy, I’d want to spend equal amounts of time at each other’s places. Too many people forget this and allow their boyfriends to either A) be lazy, so she always treks down to his place, or B) to camp out at her place all the time. It’s fun playing house, sleeping together all the time, slipping into the roles of this might be something real one day, something joint, something that’s truly ours. The problem in allowing him to always stay over, of course, is that when you have a horrible fight or split, even, all your memories are right there in your space. Your space has become “our space,” and his space remains “his space.” He has a place to run and escape, to turn off the world of the two of you. And you don’t. And the guy who’s too lazy to come to your place, who complains that your television is smaller or your mattress hurts his back, is full of shit because he’d make the ride down if it were someone new. If he were courting. If he hadn’t become so complacent. I realized I didn’t want someone as lazy as I was, or we’d never see each other. 

I did not want a guy who needed to be the center of attention.  No musicians, guys who live and die on compliments, who thrive off attention, flirting, and the spotlight.  No actors. No comedians. No one who needed approval. I needed someone who couldn’t give a shit what people thought of him. Someone behind the scenes.   A chef would be too dangerous for me.  Ideally, he wouldn’t be a doctor or anyone whose profession required him to wear a pager and abscond in the middle of the night. He most certainly would not be a bartender.

So I had that much settled. But when it came to age constraints, it wasn’t as clear. I've dated older men who were just as immature as their younger counterparts, except they were more set in their ways.  The problem, I've found, with the younger man (particularly a man in his twenties), who's serious about you and your relationship is this: accomplishment.  No, it's not the after-school special cliché where he's intimidated by your female prowess.  When he's in his early twenties, you run up against his visions for the future, in a way you wouldn't with an older man.  Older men give different reasons for not moving the relationship forward: fear of marriage, what will change anyway?, but we're great the way we are now, so why change?  And my favorite, "Why do we need a piece of paper to define who we are?"  Younger men give a different reason. 

You've dated this younger man exclusively for three years.  He's finally 25, 26 maybe.  And after all this time, you're ready to get married.  But he can't see himself married because when he was younger and thought abstractly about his married life one day, he always saw himself as a bread winner, as an accomplished man with a high-paying career, not a job, a career.  He saw himself as a man.  When do you begin to see yourself as a man and not as a boy?  When you're married!  When you're married you're responsible for another person, and worse, you have to really be accountable for yourself.  And that's why it's so hard for younger men to be marriage-minded… at least in New York. At least with an older woman.  And that's the point.  I don't think he'd feel or express the same fears if he were with someone younger or his own age who was ready for marriage.  A certain part of him does feel insecure, does feel like he should have more to offer by way of financial and emotional security. He wants to know he’s hearty and that he can trust his heart. 

My New York girlfriends are up against all of the above, the 39-year-old who's frightened of marriage in general, the 34-year-old who is against marriage because all the married men he knows cheat on their wives, the 24-year-old who screwed up by breaking up with her and now wants her back, offering up "semi-permanent insanity" as some sort of Sharpee rationale, and the 26-year-old who hasn't sowed his oats and definitely doesn't want children in the next five years.  I don't know how people know things like that about themselves.  That they'll never change their mind.  I would know because when I got remarried, my list was pretty much scrapped, as lists most often are. You throw out the list and live open to opportunity, thinking positively, and hoping for a partner who doesn’t live with his mother or who at least has a cell phone.

This post came about after watching really bad, atrocious TV, the premiere of Ages of Love, a wretched reality show where a 30-year-old man tries to find television love between women in their twenties and women in their forties.

Comments

  1. That show is annoying. Poo, or whatever his nickname is, is kinda shallow. However, I can't wait to see the maturity of the 40 y/o's vs. the 20 y/o's.

    I just baked some chocolate molten lava cakes with raspberries… what makes a pregnant woman eat so much? Ugh. I shared the recipe on my blog though. If my hips are going to expand, so should everyone elses. Free love, baby.

  2. Even my 24-year-old BROTHER was offended by how this show portrayed women.

    …that says A LOT!

  3. I dated a younger guy last year, from one of the professions on Stephanie's black list from years past. My three+ strikes and out with this guy were when he tried to get me to pay for his lunch; rented out his place for the summer to live in his friends' attic; bullied his mother for money (and wondered grudgingly if he should even repay her – a great red flag) and "playfully" suggested that I sell my apartment so we could travel to Africa. Um, no. Eventually, when I had a weak moment and shared with him the story of a broken-up relationship with a two-timing doctor, he made a drunken accusation: "Women only care about money and security." He said "security" as if it were a crime. As if it were about money and engagement rings and nothing else. This hot streetwise man would mountain climb and bungee jump, but couldn't hold a decent conversation or stay still enough to read two pages in a book, any book. Extreme, contrary to my naive expectations, turned out quite soon to be extremely boring. I must have bored the heck out of him in return. Oh, well.

  4. I haven't seen the show but can I just say, as an Australian, I'm very sorry about Mark Phillipousis.

  5. oh my god. its not just in new york. i'm in austin. just got to over with a 26. I am 28. I resisted at first, citing the age difference, and this only made him want me more. he pursued me relentlessly, until I gave in…admittedly, somewhat readily. because, I do not shit you when I say he looks like a cross between hugh grant and jude law. And then he was in my space, at my place, all the time. why always my place? because, yes, he has a futon, a roommate and unruly shower facilities. but look out now ladies. he's leaving austin, heading to nyc. to make it as a writer. hopefully there he will, eventually, acquire financial and emotional security. but i really wish he had had it for me.

  6. I really don't know what's the deal with you americans and marriage ^^.

    It sounds like if someone doesn't wanna marry, he/she is afraid or something like that… But it really can be a choice.

    I feel that (and probably I'm wrong!) marriage has a different value (not saying worse or better) in USA and, let's say, Italy (where I live).

    I hope to live the rest of my life with my boyfriend, but I don't wanna marry. Because… I'm not religious. And I feel that marriage as an institution is unfair, for example for gay people, and through a possible divorce (here the law is very strict in favor of the women, I've seen many men literally ruined by divorce, mentally and financially).

    That said, maybe if I were in the USA someone would say I'm afraid of committing ^^. Which, to me, is strange.

    You don't need to marry to prove you're committed. Sometimes marriage is the easy way to prove committment, not supported by the "real" one.

  7. I hated loving Ages of Love. Something about those shows always draw me in. From the previews it seems the 20 somethings are very plain looking… to even out the playing field maybe.

  8. @Cecilia:

    I do absolutely agree with you. I am German, have lived in the US for some time and have posted about the value of marriage on this blog before when Stephanie expressed an opinion like this before.
    Marriage and, probably even more so, the PROPOSAL has a much higher meaning in the US. Apparently, if you have been with him for a year ans he HASN'T asked you, you should dump him because he's not serious with you anyway — no, please, Americans, don't hit on me, I know I am exaggerating! A little bit, at least…
    I also believe that having a long term relationship without marriage takes more courage than one with a marriage certificate. You need to opt for your partner again and again. It takes courage.
    For me and my boyfriend of 7 years, marriage is only an option for legal reasons like it is easier to buy a house together and for things like testaments, inheritances etc. We love each other and are sure of this but do not need a paper to prove it. But then again, we are Europeans, just as you and your boyfriend. REligion also plays a much less important role in Europe where a majority of people consider it more and more outdated and replaced by science than in the US (although I'm not quite sure if this is really the case in Italy…)
    American readers, what do you think of the european attitude? Can you at all relate to this or does it sound "totally weird" to you?
    Cecilia, all the best for you and your boyfriend, with or without marriage :-)

  9. …AND:

    How many people have married young because they were somehow "forced" to prove their "commitment" and have then regretted it? Gotten divorced a couple of years after?

    Stephanie, no offense meant, I know you hate people suggesting you were too young for your first marriage, meaning you didn't know what love was (yes, I read the book ;-) ). Individual cases are different and I do not mean to say that youth is the reason for all young divorces. Of course there are cases which would have been no different if everyone involved had been 10 years older.

    This is just to say: If you feel you really need to do it, it might be better to wait till both parties are ready for it and not to rush it.

  10. Bravo Cecilia! We are on the same page!

    "Older men give different reasons for not moving the relationship forward: fear of marriage, what will change anyway?, but we're great the way we are now, so why change? And my favorite, "Why do we need a piece of paper to define who we are?" Younger men give a different reason."

    I believe those reasons. I have no desire to get married or have children. I don't really see the point. I don't judge those who do, but I'm judged on a DAILY basis by people who think I'm wrong for what I want and don't want in my future.

    As for younger men, I have dated younger and will never do so again. For their journey is just beginning or they're half way through it and I come across as unadventurous because I've done what they are longing to do and have no desire to repeat my past experiences. Even the good ones.

    Stephanie, you once posted that you didn't want someone who had not experienced tragedy in their life. I agree with that 100%. I want a man who has lived, loved, lost, and knows himself well enough to be confident, chivalrous, and capable of real emotion.

    "I don't know how people know things like that about themselves. That they'll never change their mind."

    I don't know how to tell you that I know. That I've always known that marriage and children aren't in my future. And believe me, I had 'THE GUY', 'THE ONE' that I wanted forever, all of him, all the time. But never once did I consider that being with him would [need to] include marriage or children.

    ***Footnote – are we ever going to hear about the wreck?

  11. "The List" is something everyone has but the hard part is when it becomes the be all, end all of dating — all black and white. It's a shame to know that I may have missed out on some wonderful women because of something I have now found that I could really compromise upon.

  12. What does the Suitor do? I can't remember. Please don't share if you don't want to, it just occurred to me that I don't know.

  13. I'd also like to add that sometimes these issues aren't necessarily related to chronological age but may have more to do with the education and career track, depending on the guy. My last was my age – 30 – but because he was still in school (a *second* Bachelor's… in an art related field… yes, I was probably going to be the bacon bringer…), when faced with our impending marriage, decided that it was all too soon for him. And now he's singing a tune along the lines of he definitely doesn't want to settle down before 40. Like he's shifted the whole usual timeline back 10 years so he can focus on his new career. (para. 7 was very good.) I just wish I had been listening – really listening, instead of latently ignoring and passively trying to change his mind – when he told me that he didn't think 30 was really "time". I mean THIRTY. Jesus. You just can't change people.

  14. After watching "Age of Love", I was embarrassed to be categorized as a 20 something! The girls in their 20's were playing with a hula hoop while the 40's were reading. I think it is the job of the producers to make each population VERY different from the other, but I sometimes feel that the immaturity of reality show 20 somethings is hard to relate to being 20 something myself. I always feel like I would go in and win those shows because I would repel off of a building, but I can also hold a conversation, laugh at life and read!

    I did vote before the show started that he would pick a 40-something (Lynn, actually). Anyone up for some friendly competition? :)

  15. Sorry to post again so quickly, but I wanted to give some great advice given to me by my dad.
    He once told me that his marriage advice to me is to decide "Where am I going and Who am I taking with me?"

    He went on to explain that it is extremely difficult to find someone in your 20's who will be at the same place with you at 30, 40, 50 and so on. His point, in order for a marriage to last, you must find someone who will love and support you at all stages of life and I think this is VERY difficult to find when you aren't sure what your goals and dreams are. I am forever changing and must marry someone who will be okay with that, but I also know that I have certain expectations about life that I do want to remain constant and I will need to be sure that the person I marry also has those same life expectations on the top of their "list".

    I think that this is the reason for divorce. I also do not blame age. I am 25 and I have friends that are married and have friends that have been married and divorced (even a few times). I think is comes from not knowing what it is they can expect from their partner 1, 5, 10 years down the line. For me, it comes from not knowing myself. I know who I am in my current relationship, but I am still a little shaky about who I want to be and the relationship and life I want at 30, 40, 50. Until I do know more, I will sit tight and let others walk down the isle!

    Just a thought!

  16. Excellent post. Right now I am 25. He is 26 and insane.

    He is too scared of the commitment that he was begging for before New York. He thinks I want babies and marriage now! And he is not ready to provide it. So he runs off.

    Once…twice…maybe forever. Every time it's he was nuts, crazy, didn't know how he felt until of course, I was gone. Then back, he feels what? Confusion again, internal pressure (not from me!), balks at grand and fun plans because he can't control them and is not financially or emotionally stable enough.

    Sigh. I don't need a boy who jerks me around. I just need a man who is excited about our future–whenever it happens and at whatever timeline.

    Why is that so hard to find?

    xo,
    K

  17. "Not married" does not necessarily mean "no exclusive partnership" or "screwing around only", does it?

    Nor does "being married" equal "I'll stay with you till death do us part and never look at another woman".

    Open your eyes, girls.

  18. Sonja,
    I hear what you are saying, but for some people, marriage is extremely important (perhaps as equally unimportant as it is to some) and I refuse to give up hope that marriage can mean exclusive. People screw around in all forms of relationships and I refuse to let that become a reason to not consider marriage. If you have a good man, it doesn't matter what country you are in or how you define your love, it only matters that you have found someone to trust and love.
    It is a gift and it isn't always easy to find. I agree, marriage or not, if you find someone that makes you happy, you are extremely lucky. I am not blind to that fact that married men cheat and I do not agree that marriage itself is enough, but I do think that with the right partner, it can be.
    Thanks for sharing your perspective and I only wish happiness for everyone in their relationships.

  19. I saw previews for that show. It's crazy. If that guy doesn't choose one of the 20 year olds, I'll be amazed. Unless he chooses one of the older ladies and dumps her after a month or whatever.

  20. Seriously Sonja, marriage DOES freaking mean "'til death do us part". That's the whole point of a vow. Just because people get divorced at a high rate doesn't mean that you, personally, should relax your standards or expectations or expect anything _less_ than complete commitment. It doesn't mean that you should go into a marriage somehow expecting a divorce. It's just that sort of moral relativism and permissiveness that corrodes the institution of marriage. "Open your eyes"… I love it.

  21. The fact that these shows thrive is just another example of how STUPID the american tv viewing public really is… sad sad sad. JM2Cents…

  22. blimey smalltastic, sounds like a nerve was definately hit.
    I don't think Sonja meant that you should not take your marriage vows seriously because there is a lot of divorce, I think she meant that you are fooling yourself if you think that marriage is some kind of guaranteee against a partners infidelity.

  23. I had the tv on when Ages of Love was on, but wasn't actively watching the show. Has Poo stated what he wants? Does he want children? Because, if so, I see him picking a 20yo vs one of the women in their 40's. I'm not saying that women can't have children in their 40's- but their clocks are definitely ticking at that point if they want to have children.

  24. Absolutely age doesn't matter. I am 29 and have been with a man 20 years my senior for 3 years. As all relationships do, we have our differences. Some do pertain to age; like his daughter's utter disapproval of us and therefore I am not invited to family events because she hosts them all. But for the most part, our issues are the same as couples of the same age. Our goals are relatively the same and both of us want no more children. We get along great, have a blast together and most of all love together. Age doesn't matter in the long run, but life goals and stability do.

  25. In response to Stephanie's debate over dating younger men, I recently came across an article on that questions if "age is just a number." Many comments later, readers urge that we, as older women, should "just go with it." Stating that taking the risk is all the fun, age doesn't matter when it comes to love OR lust, and why the hell not?? Many women find themselves dating younger men after a divorce or breakup with an older man…this is understandable because women should be able to get their life back, be single and HAVE FUN. Life is too short to hold back. The rest of the article is great.. read it on While not all stories have a happy ending, I applaud Stephanie for trying.

  26. I don't think anyone who chooses to get married does so with the notion that they will eventually get divorced…

    But I do think that the concept of marriage in our culture has been idealized to the point of absurdity. Chick flicks, chick fiction, Cosmo…whatever – there is a huge industry devoted to selling women a happy ending but for the most part it's bullshit. And we all know it.

    Jesus, if I got married thinking it was going to be just like the movies I'd want to run for the hills when reality set in.

    Also, men are not the only ones who cheat in a marriage (or any relationship) – I know more women who've cheated on their husbands than vice versa.

  27. "It doesn't mean that you should go into a marriage somehow expecting a divorce. It's just that sort of moral relativism and permissiveness that corrodes the institution of marriage."
    Please, smallstatic, why should two people marry if they`re expecting a divorce? But the fact is, it can happen. I think it`s wonderful to find the one you love and want to share your life with. But for me it`s not the "`til death do part us"; it`s far more the " in good and in bad times". Because a relationship is something you have to work on every single day, married or not. And a marriage certificate is no guarantee.
    By the way, for the critics: I`m married, and I`m happy with that. And it`s work, sometimes more, sometimes less (the good and the bad times); but it`s worth it.

  28. Sarah, I agree with you… women now look for the happy ending… or, what I refer to as the "Cinderella Complex". We are always looking for our happily ever after with prince charming. Instead, we need to focus on finding happiness within ourselves. I get tired of my friends dumping guys, because they aren't "perfect". I just want to shake them and say, well, neither are you!

  29. Thanks, Sarah, this was exactly what I meant…!
    I absolutely did not mean that you should go into a marriage already expecting a divorce, I just meant to draw your attention to reality – which is, quite simply, yes, call me unromantic, in a lot of cases NOT "till death do us part". It is simply no guarantee for anything. This is what I meant to say. And I wanted to question if it's really so much worth striving for. Thanks for sharing your opinions!

  30. I don't think that wanting to get married necessarily means that you're more religious than those who don't, and I'm sure a lot of agnostic/atheist/generally indifferent couples here in the U.S. would agree with me. A lot of my friends lived together for a while before walking down the aisle. There's no denying though, that marriage has more of an appeal in America than it does in Europe. That's part of the reason why I think it's so unfair for gays not to have that right, because in this society, for better or for worse, marriage counts for a lot.

    I think it relates somewhat to Cecilia's comment that "a lot of people are ruined by marriage." Yes, there is that. But it takes guts to take that step, doesn't it? To stand before your family and friends and say "Yes, this could end up ruining my life and you could leave with all my money, but I'm taking a chance on you anyway?" =) In some ways, I feel like that's part of what makes marriage worth it- the risk of disaster. The end of a marriage SHOULD be hard, because otherwise, it wouldn't be worthhile to get married in the first place.

    That said, I do believe that the degree of commitment dictates the marriage- that it has nothing to do with the "piece of paper." An unwedded couple that stayed together "till death do us part" is just as much married as the ones who stood in a church to say their vows.

  31. I hate to say it but it sounds like all your NY gfs are dating men who never plan on marrying them.

  32. The problems with Americans is not their understanding of marriage, but how dating works. In Europe you don't date, you have a commited relationship from the beginning. You are with one person, you would NEVER "date" two people at the same time. therefore there is no pressure to get married, because you know 100% that you are in a commited relationship, no rings necessary. if you get married you don't do it because you want to be more commited, but because you think it would be a beautiful thing to do, for tax reasons, because you want to be married when you have kids, etc. but not because otherwise you would doubt his/her commitment or seriousness about the relationship. relationship before marriage here in Europe is not a trial phase like "dating" in the US, it's serious, but so much more relaxed.

  33. Vida, you are so right. I never really considered this, but yes, sure, it just went "bling" in my head, that's a major point.

    I never quite understood the dating thing, quite honestly :-) even in the time I lived in the states, I never quite caught it… For me it always has been and always will be either just going out with a friend, well, yes, maybe being interested in someone, "approaching someone", or having a relationship. Either or. As soon as there is anything more than friendship, a kiss, any kind of sexual or other intimate thing going on, that means that it is exclusive for me – if not, that means cheating.

    This is the European way, step 1: friends and step 2: boyfriend. The American way has a step 1 1/2: dating.

    That helps understanding the American marriage obsession a bit better.

    Thanks. Also to all the others of you for sharing your perspectives.

  34. Is anyone else enjoying the general "Americans vs. Europe" dating generalizations? As someone who has lived both places, and dated in both, I have to kind of laugh. Vida, I hate to break your bubble here, but not all Europeans share your rosy view of marriage. I realize this sounds condescending and for that I'm sorry, but you must be very young.

  35. I'll pitch in my two cents. I wanted to comment on something sort of related, namely the "hanging out" stage in dating.

    A friend who's European burned herself pretty badly when she misinterpreted the concept of "hanging out" and tried to build a relationship with an American guy a few years ago. He wasn't seeing anyone, he said, just spending time with a number of different people, except those people included a former girlfriend whom he was sleeping with. He was "hanging out" with no strings attached. It's the oldest story in the world, but when my friend found out, she was in complete pain. All that hand holding could've fooled me too. He didn't think he was doing anything wrong since he hadn't had The Talk with either of the two women. I can see how that was okay to him, since that was how he saw things, but based on how SHE was brought up it really wasn't okay. It wasn't naivete; just a different interpretation of words and gestures, not unlike what Sonja said in her last post. To my friend the nature of their relationship was so "obvious" that you didn't NEED to talk about it! There was definitely a Euro/American clash going on there – or at least a cultural collision of some sort; an American woman would've been much more savvy regarding his ways.

    I empathized with her when she said she couldn't understand how the same deed (being intimate with more than one person) could be considered okay when you were just "hanging out" or in the "early stages of dating" and NOT okay when you were actually "dating" or in a "relationship." I'm pretty sure she'd agree with Sonja: "As soon as there is anything more than friendship, a kiss, any kind of sexual or other intimate thing going on, that means that it is exclusive for me – if not, that means cheating."

  36. Come on, let's just admit it…dating, marriage, life….its ALL a crap-shoot really. Nothing is for certain, and no matter how much we overthink overplan overeverything, we are never really in control. That is part of the great (and annoying) thing about the lives we lead: you never know what you're gonna get.
    I'm a total fucking drama queen, but right now i'm in remisssion (i think because i'm pregnant). I mean, this morning is a PERFECT example: my car shit the bed, and i had JUST bought all new tires a few days ago. The old me would have FLIPPED OUT!!. Today, well, I was just like, "man, this sucks"…as i pulled my spewing mv into the Starbuck's lot, and sat there with my latte waiting for the tow truck, while trying to get someone down to pick me up because i HAD to be in court at 10 a.m. I mean, seriously, I am STILL suprised at myself…
    Okay, okay, the POINT: if someone (man) met me and fell for me right now, i don't think they would be getting the "real" me, and therefore, after the baby, would the relationship work after "me" returns? i.e, the "crapshoot" aspect of it all….

  37. the reason why american women are so obsessed with marriage is rooted more in a fear of what their peers (other women) will think of them if they remain unmarried.

    it is commonly known that women DRESS for other women (as most men have no real idea what is fashionable, edgy, or stylish given a certain time or season), well, likewise, subconsciously, they marry for other women as well.

    of course it is peculiar to need a piece of paper or a legal or religious institution (lest you do happen to be highly religious, but then you are in the minority, at least in urban areas) to validate your relationship. but the point is that mainstream women tend to view being unmarried as being undeserving and unworthy. "getting him" to want to marry you is the ultimate prize. "aha! you are worthy of getting married to!"

    women who are unnmarried are viewed with pity, or even slight ridicule, in some instances because they must be worthless losers if no man wants to marry them.

    it's sad, no? i realize it's a generalization.

    i am actually married, although i never thought that i would be, i never thought i would want to be, but philosophically and spiritually, i'm with sonja on this one.

    it takes courage to not get married and to just be committed. the kind of courage that people have when they say "F.U." to societal expectations, particularly to the oppressive expectations of their own gender.

    again, my comments are only generalizations.

  38. Julie, just to clarify: I don't have a rosy view of marriage at all. What I was trying to say is that with a different concept of non-marital relationships there is less insecurity and people are less focused on getting married. That people cheat, break up and break each others hearts happens all the time, married or not. I have lived and dated in the U.S. and in Europe, like you, and find it quite anoying that American guys always seem to be either looking for their future wife or for a no strings attached type of thing.

  39. Yaba, you have GOT to elaborate on what it means when your "car shits the bed." If that's not a typo, I'm incorporating it into my slang asap.

  40. I don't like to generalize, I think it is unfair. I don't want to judge someone by what they watch on tv just as I don't want to judge someone on their opinions about marriage. I think that everyone deserves to watch whatever they want to watch and not be classified as "stupid" just as I think that everyone deserves to be loved in whatever way works for them and not be classified as "worthless".

    I am not going to generalize and say that my opinion is the right one. I will say that I would like to have children and raise them with a loving man, as a happily married couple. In my opinion, that would be an amazing gift to give a child.

  41. the other k:
    I had a freakingly similar experience a couple of years back. And yes, I was in total shock. The possibility of him being convinced that his behavior was ok simply did not occur to me.
    Give my best empathic regards and a hug to your friend from me!

    Leyla: Yep, you certainly do have a point there…

    …and now I'll go and shut up and wait for Stephanie's next post to comment on – which is not meant to be a threat, Steph! :-)

  42. wow, that's crazy!!!! The difference between the concept of dating in USA and Europe.

    I don't know, maybe we (europeans) are old-fashioned, but I prefer that way.

    I'd be sick to my stomach if I knew my boyfriend dated someone, kissed someone, while he was seeing me, even at the beginning.

    Here (Italy, Europe) after a kiss, usually, there is a tacit commitment. Obviously this not means the relationship is serious and will lead to marriage and 10 kids ^^, but if you kiss someone else, is cheating. The gravity of it depends on the seriousness of the relationship.

    I agree with those who said this is the base to the different concept of marriage between usa/europe.

    In USA, you have to prove your committment by a vow, you have to say it, in Europe, you prove it every day by staying and be with the person you love. Because we assume that means something.

    I don't know… I shouldn't be judgmental, but I don't like "the american way". Sorry for repeating myself, but if my bf kissed someone while he was "dating" me, that would affect my vision of our relationship.

    It's so much more romantic, and proving, that from the beginning we belonged to each other, and no one else.

  43. It sounds like I need to move to Europe. I'm a European girl stuck in an American's body.

  44. Sarah and Sonja (sorry for snapping, Sonja!), your comments are really interesting. And illustrative of the points that I was trying make. I'm sure they would have been clearer if I wasn't quite as snippy. What I wanted to convey is that it's extremely ingenuous, and perhaps impossible, to simultaneously take marriage vows seriously and also accept that they are NOT guarantees against things like infidelity. You either believe in the sanctity of the vow or you think it's some sort of conditional, 'gee I hope we mean what we're saying but let's face it, it's statistically unlikely', kind of thing. And that latter scenario, to me, is no vow. What bothers me is that all of this talk of relationships and infidelity and divorce are so permissive – so 'don't be surprised if it happens'. I understand that it's meant to be helpful and supportive to the person who's upholding their end of the bargain. But what it also does is corrode the common meaning of the vow in the first place. I've never experienced it, so maybe the more permissive way really is the best way to approach the issue, but to me, what matters more is the trust in the sanctity of the vow. To me it absolutely IS a guarantee. It's all so frustratingly chicken and egg – the permissive attitude about marriage vows contributes to the high divorce rate which necessitates the permissivene attitude to 'protect' the divorcee…?

  45. @A:

    yes, but a jackass is a jackass, in Europe too ^_^.

    There's plenty of men (and women) who play games, look like they're in a relationship but then cheat, either if it'a serious one or not.

    But, at least, here they don't have the common excuse "hey, we were just dating!"… everyone will think they're jackasses.

  46. smallstatic, I've snapped for less ;-) so don't worry about it, really.

    I see your point. And really, a certain idealism (which I do not mean in the sense of naivety, but in the most positive way!) is a good trait in a person's character and it's sounds like you have it. Be happy about it! I wish you the best man on earth and a marriage "till death do us part" (which will hopefully be very late after a very long very good life).

    We simply have different opinions, probably based on different personality traits as well as cultural differnces – but this is exactly what I enjoy in talking to all sorts of different and international people: the exchange of perspectives! It can make us all understand each other better, make us learn and grow.

    So, also, Joanna, don't get us wrong, I don't think any of us are saying that they are "exclusively" right. We are having a discussion! I also think we are all aware of the difference between a generalization /prejudice and "real" intercultural differences.

    And finally: If we didn't like at least some things about the "american way", would we then be accessing the Internet every day to read about Steph's american life?

    Cheers, have a good Friday, all of you!

  47. bina: sorry, yeah "shit the bed" means it died on me. i do use it all the time, but, for the life of me, can't recall where i heard it. maybe AZ? I'm from MS, lived in AZ for college, travelled all over, and now reside in CT…so my "slang" is a total mishmash. :)

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