On Quickie Weddings and Frustrating Fantasies

by A Lady

I’m not really sure who to ask. I’ll try to keep this short: I recently met a guy who’s my age (30, if it matters), and even though we only spent about four days together (I was in the process of moving), we really got on well. My soul is always just screaming “I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU,” but I thought I was old enough to be past that (that is, for lack of a better word, “puppy love”). Basically, we barely know each other but it seems that we’re perfect together. I’m thinking of pulling a Britney and getting married in Vegas next month. He feels the same; he brought it up. Is this the worst idea in the world? It worked for Dharma and Greg … right. I’d love your opinion and also love to hear what the Hairpinners have to say.

P.S. Oh gosh, you’re going to point out that “we barely know each other” part, aren’t you? But again. It worked for a sitcom couple so can it work for me?

I don’t think I can answer this one way or another without knowing what marriage means to you / what you’re looking for in a (presumably) longterm partnership. I do have a few points I’d like you to consider, though, and a few questions I’d like you to ask yourself.

I can state with all the authority of my “answer lady” credentials that loneliness is a universal human condition, and that humans universally look for ways to escape that loneliness almost constantly. And I want to point out that women are subtly (and unsubtly) threatened with the “worst case scenario” of “spinsterhood,” and that I think sometimes people equate being single with loneliness, when there’s a wealth of research (not to mention anecdotal evidence) that this is entirely untrue. I sometimes think the reason we’re told to be so afraid of middle-aged singleness is because “the man” is so afraid we’ll figure out how much fun it can be, and then who would buy minivans?

Anyway, let’s say you have found your “soulmate” — or, a partner who sees you clearly and who you likewise see clearly, and who makes you feel smarter, funnier, sexier, and more competent because they think you are all of these things, and who you make feel smarter, funnier, sexier, and more competent than they are, and therefore both of you are stronger and more capable of greatness than you were before your partnership. That’s wonderful. It’s such a heady, fantastic feeling.

So please ask yourself why you feel the need to rush. What are you afraid will happen if you don’t rush into this? And will that thing you’re afraid of (I’m betting it’s “not feeling this way in the future”/”losing this partner”) actually be prevented by rushing into this?

And please ask yourself honestly (and you never have to tell anyone else this answer) if you’re feeling as if this is your “last chance” because you’re in your thirties now. And if you are, please trust a stranger from the internet who tells you there are no such things as “last chances” except in death and taxes.

It’s so frustrating to have a lot of love to give and nobody to give it to, and we’re all so impatient. The smartest women I know are still not immune to the panic of a false sense of urgency. We willfully shut off our inner critic and spend endless amounts of energy attempting to hammer all kinds of square peg partners into the circular opening of “what we actually need.” That metaphor was really dumb, but I think you know what I mean.

Usually when people take flying leaps into huge decisions it’s because they’re hoping they can force their life to change with an epic gesture. The answer is always “time plus effort” and that’s never what we want it to be. It’s the life scale version of when Blanche from The Golden Girls (see, I love sitcoms, too!) dumps cheesecake into the trash and then pours a bunch of water on it because she doesn’t trust herself not to eat it otherwise. And girl, my refrigerator might only be full of baby carrots, but at 3 a.m. I can always manage to find some nachos.

I have been with my amazing boyfriend for a few years, and we’ve been getting serious; he keeps hinting about getting engaged. His family is wonderful and loves me (and I love them too), and when my parents met him for the first time, they were pleased as well. Fast-forward a year from that meeting and suddenly I’m blindsided by a big problem: my dad called me yelling he’s decided he doesn’t approve of my boyfriend anymore and that our relationship is no longer acceptable. Why, may you ask, has my dad done a complete 180? My boyfriend and I happen to be of different races. Apparently my dad felt all along that it “wasn’t right,” and now that he sees how serious my relationship is getting, he has decided to speak out. My mother doesn’t agree with him at all (she says) and tells me she is sad that her husband feels this way but that there’s nothing she can do. Meanwhile, my father has made it clear that he is “embarrassed” by my relationship and that my boyfriend is not to be around or discussed with “his” family. (Note: everyone else in my family who has met my boyfriend agrees with me that he’s wonderful.)

Basically, I think that if anyone gets to be embarrassed by this situation, it’s me. I’m shocked that my own father would behave this way, and I am so humiliated and terrified of having to explain this to my boyfriend’s lovely parents, who would naturally want to meet mine upon an engagement. Please give me some advice; most of my family members and the two close friends I’ve had the nerve to tell this to have simply told me to wait it out and see if my dad changes his mind. This doesn’t seem fair to my boyfriend. I don’t know if I should just make myself clear to my dad and forgo visits, holidays, etc, or if I should wait and see if he decides to act like a decent human being. My mother says not to choose my boyfriend over my dad (since he is only my boyfriend and not, like, my husband or anything), but this issue is more than that to me. Even if my boyfriend and I broke up tomorrow, for some reason the damage my father has done by acting this way feels irreparable to me. How could I ever pretend that my dad’s behavior has been anything but horrifying and wrong? Any thoughts, maybe especially from a stranger, would be greatly appreciated.

This is the easiest answer (admittedly from a distance): if you do want to get engaged (and from what I read, it sounds like you do), tell your father that until he gets over this you will no longer be in contact with him. Tell him you miss the man you thought he was, and that you’re sorry he’s distressed over this issue, but that you can’t accommodate his racism. Ask him to seek counseling if you think that will help — maybe there are underlying issues here that he’s just pinning on race? After you do this, tell your mother that you hope she’ll help plan/attend your wedding to the partner of your choosing. If you feel like you should, explain to your boyfriend’s parents that you are estranged from your father, but that you love their son and are thrilled to be warmly welcomed into their lovely family.

Then plan the wedding event (or non event) of you and your partner’s dreams and invite whoever the hell you want to, including members of your father’s family. I would say to keep it classy by not gossiping about your father’s “issue” to his family members — that will only give him more anger to cling to, and you want to make it as easy as possible for him to swallow his pride and do the right thing.

He’ll get over it. Or he won’t. Either way, it’s not your problem. To paraphrase every TV show or movie about hostage situations I’ve ever seen: we don’t negotiate with bigots.

So this is intensely embarrassing to write, but I think I’ve gotten too trapped in my head to see through this problem. I have a secret fantasy of having a partner who thinks that I’m the most unbelievably beautiful woman in the world, feels delighted to see me naked, and is maybe even proud at the thought that he gets to be in bed with me. In practice, though, I always wind up dating men who finally see me naked and are like, “eh, B+.” Or rather, some very reasonable version of, “you’re fine, no supermodel, I’ve dated thinner women, and heavier women, but you’re perfectly attractive.”

I always find this unbearably painful to hear and have come to absolutely loathe being naked. The problem, though, is that, intellectually, I don’t think these men are wrong. There are these societal standards of beauty, and while they are bullshit, we basically do know what they are, and according to them I fall on the nicer side of average. And normally I’m fine with that; I like to take care of myself, but I gave up on trying to be the prettiest woman in the room years ago, because it’s self-sabotaging, misogynistic, depressing, and soul-crushingly tedious. So why am I so upset that they entertain an opinion I agree with? Why on earth should I expect my partner to be selectively delusional about this one thing? Is the problem that I’m dating assholes or that I have the desires of a 15-year-old girl?

At the risk of sounding insensitive, you need to get over this. Wasting energy on wishing you looked a way you will never look is … wasting energy. I understand that it’s horrible to feel undesirable or “unworthy.” I’ve spent collective years of my life humming along to that song whose only lyrics are “be prettier” — you know, the official theme song for Womanhood™. So I can state with authority that you need to do whatever it takes to stop this cycle. Being naked with someone else shouldn’t be traumatic. Awkward, maybe, and sometimes unexpectedly humorous, but save the trauma for … everything else crappy in the world. And mutual desire is ALWAYS delusional; that’s why it’s so great. Truth: you are enough just how you are. Start believing it.

Previously: Skinny-Dipping and S.O. Weight Gain.

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Lady?