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It's easy to be single...if you're a man
Marriage o'clock tends to be earlier for women and later for men, which doesn't seem fair at all. - photo by Wendy Jessen
There are ever-changing goals and timelines for marriage these days. People are getting married later, having children later in life, and leaving behind some classic wedding traditions. Yet, one thing seems to be pretty constant in all this change: there is a double standard when it comes to being single.

While it is perfectly acceptable for men to stay single or to put off marriage longer, that's not the case when it comes to women.

"From what I've witnessed, men tend to hit 'marriage o'clock' around their early 30s, where they just decide that its time to get married, and marry whoever they're dating," essayist Kate Bolick said. "So [men] have a much more relaxed attitude toward marriage; it's something that they'll do when they're ready and they feel like it, and women don't have as relaxed a relationship to the idea of marriage," she added.

While the pressure exists for women to get married, women don't typically have control over when that happens. Women generally play the waiting game, biding their time until their boyfriend proposes.

Additionally, there are other hurry-up-and-get-married pressures for women, including:

  • Fertilitythe biological clock is ticking right along with the marriage clock!
  • Worries over becoming a "spinster" or "old maid."
  • The older women get, the more we internally fear that men won't be attracted to us much longer (another poor message from society and media).
  • All their friends are getting married.
  • Family members are figuratively tapping their feet impatiently, perhaps wanting to become grandparents soon.
For women who were married, had children and have then gotten divorced, the marriage situation is more complicated. A major factor is now there are children involved in this dating (and waiting) game. Not only are they looking for a husband, they are looking for a father figure for their children. If that weren't stressful enough, post-baby women often feel insecure about the new shape of their bodies and may feel less physically attractive than other womenregardless of whether it's true or not.

Though there are added pressures for women to get married, it's not always easy for men either. They worry too. Concerns about their girlfriend "being the one" or actually saying "yes" to a proposal are major questions to consider. Wondering if they can provide for a wife and family, and how marriage will impact the current social and work life are worries men face.

Yes, both sides have to handle some pressure when it comes to marriage. However, there seems to be some major ageism and sexism going on when it comes to the female sides of things. We should not look down on women who don't get married by the "appropriate" age. Additionally, it should be socially acceptable for a woman to ask a man to marry her. After all, each gender have insecurities and fears. Both partners may want to get married, but one may be a bit more timid while the other partner is more bold.

Life doesn't always go as planned regardless of our biological or marriage o'clock. Date those who you would be comfortable marrying, and when it feels right, don't pass up the opportunity to propose, regardless of your gender. One partner has to ask before the other one can say yes.
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