Settle Down, Get Married, Have Kids: Societal Pressures and How to Forge Your Own Path

20 Feb

There comes a point in life where you see everyone getting married, babies and promotions galore, and suddenly you feel like you're seriously lagging behind. Just who invented these ‘deadlines’? And what if — God forbid — you feel like there’s more to you as a person?

Couple is standing next to each other with their arms crosses

Scroll through your social media feed on any given day and chances are you’ll see everyone getting married, babies, promotions galore. Maybe these photos fill you with joy — but, whether you’d care to admit it or not, they may just as likely fill you with dread.

This seemingly inescapable immersion in the celebrations and milestones of others can make you feel you’re seriously lagging behind. But to what extent does this pressure come from within — and how much of it comes from society as a whole? And furthermore, why do you feel so bothered by what people think in the first place?

Just who invented these ‘deadlines’?

Everyone loves a wedding, but your spirits might be dampened if a well-meaning older relative approaches you midway through the Electric Slide to inquire as to when it will be ‘your turn’. Why the rush, Auntie Ethel?

When friends and family seem to be putting subversive pressure on you to settle down, it can feel like they’re really saying, “Getting married and having kids is vital. Don’t delay. Nothing else even comes close in importance.” (Unless you have the kind of relatives who will actually just say that verbatim to your face.) Disagreeing with this kind of sentiment may get you labelled as vain, selfish, naïve even.

But what if — God forbid — you feel like there’s more to you as a person? What if you want to see the world, enjoy unique experiences, nurture your career, build a magnificent home, spend time with your partner as solely a couple, without the pressures of putting a ring on it and buying a crib?

If this is you, you’re not alone. Premarital cohabitation is becoming the default like never before in US history.

Capstone marriages

Breaking with tradition, the past few decades have seen people moving away from assuming marriage to be an incentive unto itself. Increasingly, people truly want to make sure they’re settling down with the right person. This mindset inevitably entails an extended period of cohabitation in order that each partner becomes fully conversant with the other’s habits, behaviors and mannerisms, before asserting concretely that they are, indeed, The One.

Does this pragmatic approach negate the romantic side of living together and, indeed, the nuptials? Not necessarily. In fact, as University of California social psychologist Benjamin Karney so appositely put it to the New York Times,

People are not postponing getting married because they care about marriage less, but because they care about marriage more.

It’s hard to disagree with this viewpoint. After all, in a turbulent world of economic crises and transient city-goers, people want to make absolutely certain that they’re committing not only emotionally but also financially to someone who is stable, reliable, and highly compatible. If things don’t work out, no one’s legally tied to anybody else and everyone can continue on their merry way. Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin has ascribed these relationships the wonderful moniker capstone marriages, a capstone being the final brick laid atop an arch. As Dr. Cherlin summarizes,

Marriage used to be the first step into adulthood. Now it is often the last.

You’ve got to be sure it’s right for you

The American dream is ever-changing — and that’s great. Even when I was growing up, women were almost invariably expected to follow a cookie-cutter path of get married, have kids, homemake. How things have changed in so little time. Now we live in a society that generally celebrates going your own way, following your own road and living life according to your own timeline.

Certainly, when it comes to our ethos here at Maclynn International, we believe in waiting: waiting for the right person, waiting to get to know them intimately, and waiting to be 100% sure that everything is fine and dandy before giving it the green light. And if you’re looking to settle down but haven’t quite found that special someone just yet, we can help.

Maclynn International is an elite global matchmaking agency based in New York. Our network of exceptional singletons understand the importance of living life on your own terms, which is why we focus exclusively on cultivating long-term and meaningful relationships between some of the world’s most amazing people. Get in touch today and let us set you on the path that you want to be on.

by Gina Yannotta

Chief Operating Officer, New York City.

Gina Yannotta is Head Matchmaker & Chief Operating Officer at Maclynn International's New York office. Gina’s unyielding passion for the field, in combination with her extensive experience in matchmaking, has allowed her to orchestrate successful and everlasting relationships amongst her clients. Tasked with running the Manhattan office, Gina utilizes her interpersonal skills and relationship expertise to make a splash in the matchmaking pool, personally connecting her clients with their ultimate match while simultaneously taking advantage of the endless possibilities that NYC offers to its client-base.More by this author