Don’t Let Engagements Get in Your Face

Marriage is more in our face than ever. Not only due to the frenzy over the upcoming nuptials of Kate Middleton and Prince Williams, but also due to the proliferation of Facebook engagment announcements. Marie Claire recently ran an essay expressing one woman’s sheer frustration with the gushing that goes on online. Her beef is not so much the announcement, sure change your relationship status, but more with the how:

“What causes my blood to curdle has nothing to do with professional stuff — it’s personal. I’m talking about the manner in which certain people communicate the change in their relationship status. For instance, a woman I usually quite like recently posted perhaps the most annoying update of all: “I can’t believe I’m smiling down at the pretty new ring on my finger…”

And I can’t believe I just kicked her in the shins! Which I hope wiped the smile right off her face! As if it weren’t bad enough that she was having success in a relationship, whereas I never do. Add to that the coyness! The 765 nearly identical gurgling congratulatory responses! All the exclamation points!!!

Facebook does have a habit of outing our most inner insecuties with its focus on sharing (for some flaunting) of activity and friends and photos that naturally lead to comparison. A woman who interviewed me the other day talked about her own obsession with Facebook engagement announcements and her blog, Almost Adult:

“Even though marriage rates are hitting a record low, is it me or is everyone getting married? Why the obsession? Maybe because marriage is something a lot of 20somethings don’t think is actually going to happen realistically soon. The last census revealed most men get married at 28 and women get married at 26—the highest average ever. And despite the 50-year low in marriage rates, these young couples are beating the odds and are the new happy minority. Tacky or not, it’s at least a surefire way to get some Facebook attention. It’s guaranteed to elicit more responses than job promotions (or actually getting a job); it finally being a warm day in New York.”

Even in this post-marriage world, engagements still have the power to turn young women’s “fancy lightly to thoughts of love”, as Tennyson said about men ages ago (not so much today). More women are happy being single but even the most the committed singles admit to having moments of self doubt as they see their friends start getting engaged in that 25-30 range. Women in there 40s recall this time with two wishes:  “I wish I had worred about it less” and “Thank god I didn’t marry the person I was with when I was 24.  And yes we pored over the wedding announcement wtil as much vigor as this young woman describes, but just remember, it’s just entertainment! Here is one woman’s 40:20 vision:

“Don’t panic. The first time one of your friends gets married in your 20s, there is a sort of a state of panic. It’s interesting. My friends from school and I would all talk about who would get married and what that looked like. We all figured we would be married by the time we’re 25. Then 22, 23, 24, 25 just happened and all but 3 of us were married. I dated and had boyfriends but nothing ever really felt quite right. I remember going to all these weddings and you have a ton of fun at them but you wanted what you saw your friends having, even though they ended up not really having it because most of them ended up divorced.– 40-something, happily married in late 30s, LA, California

“For women it’s still difficult because there are advantages to getting married later because you know yourself better but there’s also sometimes like a stigma where you know perhaps more difficult to find someone when you’re 35 or older. I wish I hadn’t felt so much pressure to get married when I was in my 20s. I ended up getting married when I was 39. I should’ve spent that time being some cocky 20 something girl but I always had a little bit of this fear in the back of my head, oh no will I ever meet the right person?” — 40-something, NY, NY

“The worst thing to do is get married because your friends are getting married. Don’t date to get married. Date to have fun and if you fall in love fine.  That idea that every real is a potential marriage is a killer. We got married young – the first of our friends. And my friends all started feeling oh gosh…we have to really look for someone. I feel like I sort of led them down that path and I feel bad, and of course they are all getting divorced now. And we’re dying together. Because we were first…not doing it because friends were doing it.  there was no guilt or feeing like I had to find somebody.”  — 40-something, NY

“If my friends and I had stressed less about getting married we might have had more fun. We definitely felt pressured to get married. I got married  at 27. All my friends and I got married at the same time. We all felt old. OMG. And all my Virginia friends were already married. I felt like the left over Christmas cake. 40-something, married, 2 kids, investment banker, Fairfield, CT

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