Are we romantically challenged?

| Scene Romance Columnist

All of my friends are getting married.

At least, that’s how it feels. In the past six months, two of my closest friends at Washington University have gotten engaged, and so have three high school friends and innumerable family friends. And it may make me sound heartless, but my initial response was, “No.”

It’s not that I’m not happy for my friends—on the contrary, I can’t wait to go to their weddings, wear silly dresses and watch everyone dance after too much champagne. And I know, at least in the case of my Wash. U. friends, that they are going to be very happy. But as much as I love my boyfriend, I cannot imagine getting married right now.

Many others I’ve spoken with have expressed the same sentiments. The reasons vary: “I want to have a career first,” “I’m not sure I want to settle down with just one person yet” or “I don’t even know if I want to get married.” We are part of a generation with serious commitment issues, likely due to the high divorce rates of our parents’ generation or a cultural breakaway from traditional gender roles. More and more, we’re told to put love on the back burner.

So what about our friends who are about to settle down at 22 while we’re still trying to lock down a job and figure out how to cook anything other than pasta and omelets? Are they crazy to consider getting married now? Or are they just braver than the rest of us?

After seeing parents split and friends get their hearts trampled on (not to mention our own experiences with heartbreak), our guards eventually go up when it comes to love. Getting your heart broken sucks. And that’s why we avoid saying “I love you” for as long as possible and tend to prefer a casual hook-up to anything that could actually injure us. It’s just more logical to keep things at a distance (and at Wash. U., we sure do love logic). But there are tradeoffs with that kind of sensibleness.

If you never let anyone in, you never get hurt. But if you never let anyone in…you never let anyone in. You won’t get to have someone who will be there when you are sick, who will know exactly what it takes to make you laugh after a terrible day, who will hug you even after you spent 48 un-showered hours in the library and all that other cliché stuff that actually makes love awesome.

I’m not saying you need to propose to your boyfriend or girlfriend. I told my boyfriend I’d run if he were to bring a ring anywhere near me right now. But I do think that we all need to challenge ourselves not to be love wimps.

It’s important to do all that crazy stuff—creating birthday scavenger hunts, showing up with roses and/or beer for no reason or even doing something as crazy as agreeing to be exclusive or try long-distance. It will suck if it doesn’t work out. But it’s better to attempt something great than to maintain something subpar. And if the person you’re with doesn’t appreciate it, someone else will.

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