I’m Not Sure If I’ll Ever Get Married—and That’s Okay

I should start off by saying that this isn’t a melodramatic “I’m going to be single forever!” post. In fact, I’m writing this as a declaration of sorts, a confirmation that feeling uncertain about marriage — whether it’s right for you, whether you want it, and whether it will ultimately happen — is completely and utterly OKAY.

But I didn’t always know that, and I didn’t always feel this way. Like a lot of young girls, I grew up assuming that (of course!) I would be married one day — it was just a step in life that I would eventually reach when the time was right. Fast-forward to my late 20s, and I finally started seeing the cracks in the assumption I’d held onto for so long. I’d hit the age where it seems like everyone around you is getting engaged and walking down the aisle, and where you’re lucky to snag a plus one without a ring on your finger.

And I started to resent the pressure of it all — the pressure to find a husband just so I could join the club of holy matrimony and not feel like I was missing out on a mandatory stage of life alongside my peers. It was this line of thinking that led me to finally ask myself — is this something I actually want? Or just something I think I’m supposed to want? And the answer is that I’m still figuring that out — and in case you’ve missed the theme of this post, figuring things out is also OKAY.

Once I’d realized I wasn’t sure whether marriage was something that made sense for me, I started thinking about the things that enrich my life now, without a partner. To be clear, I realize that some of these are certainly possible within a partnership. But they are parts of my life I’ve come to deeply cherish, things that I don’t see myself willing to compromise or give up for the sake of a marriage. Could that change at some point? Absolutely. But for now, this is where I’m at, and here are a few of the reasons I’m not sure that marriage is in the cards for me.

 

I have the luxury of being selfish.

As an only child, I grew up with the “selfish and spoiled” stereotype attached to my name. Because of that, I’ve always felt the need to convince others that I wasn’t that person, that I was someone who cared deeply about the needs and feelings of others. I was putting the happiness of others not just before my own, but instead of my own, and ignoring my needs altogether.

Once I reached my late 20s, I embraced the “Single Girl” mentality and really focused on myself. But even in a relationship, putting yourself first doesn’t mean ignoring your partner’s needs. It means prioritizing your own, and giving yourself permission to say “I need more” when the situation is no longer working.

But when it comes to marriage, it’s not always that black and white. There’s typically an understanding that you are vowing to put your partner before yourself, and have committed to making this union work for a lifetime. I have to wonder — can I even make that kind of transition in mindset? Can I willingly sign up for a partnership that isn’t designed for a clean break if things go south? The answer is that I’m not sure. I’ve never been in a relationship that I could see leading to marriage, which is the basis of my uncertainty. It’s tough to know what you’re willing to sacrifice for a person you’ve never met. Maybe one day I’ll reach the point where I “just know” with someone, and none of these questions will matter. Maybe.

 

I don’t want kids.

I’ve known for the better part of the last decade that children were not on the agenda for my future. It’s not that I don’t like kids or have anything against motherhood — it’s just not for me. For a woman, this decision often triggers a series of frustrating and redundant questions surrounding your lack of interest in childbearing. One of the frequent responses I’ve received after explaining that I don’t want kids is, “Don’t worry; you’ll find someone.” I calmly explain that my decision isn’t an unexpected consequence of not having a partner, but a personal choice that I’ve made after considerable thought.

That said, I understand that my decision to not have children is a dealbreaker for many potential partners. This is something I anticipated from the beginning, bracing myself for the inevitable conversation shortly after meeting someone new. This is often a disappointing but necessary realization that comes with dating in your 30s. If not wanting kids means that I’m narrowing my chances of getting married, I can live with that. Because not getting married is entirely — (say it with me!) OKAY.

 

I’m still learning about myself.

It goes without saying that I’m nowhere close to the same person that I was in my early 20s, or even five years ago. Continuing to grow and evolve throughout adulthood has shown me that I’m still learning about the person I really am. We’re usually told at some point growing up that you figure out who you are and what you’re meant to do with your life in college, or basically any time in early adulthood. But the reality is, figuring out who you are may be a lifelong process — and that’s okay. I’m not required to know exactly who I am and where my life is going to lead me in the next five years.

But as a woman in my thirties, I’m a heck of a lot closer to figuring it all out than I was at 25. I like this person, the woman I am now, and am grateful for the way she sees the world — something I couldn’t always say for myself. This is also something I appreciate in a partner — someone who embraces their own personal growth and recognizes the benefits of waiting to settle down. So I think in a lot of ways, it makes sense that I’m not in the position to get married right now. And that’s something I’m entirely okay with.

 

For my fellow single gals, what are your thoughts on marriage? Do you feel pressure to tie the knot? Tell us your thoughts below!

  • emily ogden

    I’m in the exact same boat. In my thirties, single, and I don’t want kids. Its hard because its a non-traditional life choice, and you seem to miss out on a lot of things because you choose (or just are following) a different path. People also tend to assume that you are selfish, or just, like you said, haven’t met the right “one”. Its hard to explain that my life doesn’t revolve around a relationship, or cultural norms for females of a certain age.

    I’m happy with my life, and while I very much would love a partner to share it with, I’m better off doing things the way that makes me happy, rather than getting married just because I feel societal pressure!

    • jess

      100% agree with your thoughts here, and always love hearing from someone that’s in a similar position. I can also really relate to your comment about this being a “non-traditional life choice.” I’m from the midwest, and around here, people often want to assume there’s an underlying reason that I’m not married with three kids—not the case!

  • Jacky

    I come from a very traditional Hispanic family where it is expected you leave the family home because you are married (not even engaged but actually married). I’ve always been the different one that has left, once for school and then I recently moved in with my boyfriend of six years.

    We are in no rush to get married, we are still in the later half of our 20s and feel too young but the pressure from my family is there, constant and determined to have us married as soon as possible. When I express that I am in no rush, my family doesn’t seem to understand, it can be frustrating but I am loving my life and they at least accept it and haven’t kidnapped me back to my family home…yet.

    • jess

      Glad that you’re able to stay true to what you and your boyfriend want, even though I know pressure from family can be tough. Thanks for taking the time to read 🙂

  • Ellie

    Even as a (somewhat) recently married person, I found this essay interesting! One thing I’d like to throw out there…I believe that marriage isn’t about putting the other person first, it’s about putting the team/unit/family/marriage first. So you’re not constantly sacrificing what you want in favor of what the other person wants. Rather, you are considering what you want in the context of how it effects the team. Just food for thought 🙂

    • jess

      Thanks for reading, Ellie! I agree that it’s about putting the marriage/union first, which for me (at this stage!) would still require sacrificing some of the things I’ve come to love about my single life. I think that’s a really great mindset though, and I would envision this type of partnership for myself in the future if I do decide marriage is in the cards.

  • I’ll preface by saying that I’m not currently single, but also that I have no intention of ever marrying or having children. And that’s worked out pretty well for me, since none of my partners have ever had any interest in that sort of convention either.

    And the older I get, the less pressure I feel to meet certain milestones. Once you watch a few of ’em pass you by, you kind of breathe this sigh of relief, like “Now I can do whatever I want with my life since these weird expectations aren’t imminently looming anymore.” I certainly found it freeing.

    I don’t want to get married because I *am* kind of selfish – I want to be able to pick up and move across the country on a whim if opportunity strikes. I want to be able to spend the entirety of my weekends or evenings completely wrapped up in a novel I’m writing. I want to make my own vacation plans, spend my money however I like, etc.

    And I just feel that I can’t do that when the “unit” comes before the self. I’ve always had an independent streak and a flair for the unconventional. I don’t see that changing.

    https://on-th3-cusp.blogspot.com/

    • jess

      I hear you on all of this! Embracing my “selfishness” (as society often sees it) has been incredibly freeing and allowed me to accept that certain “milestones” just aren’t for me, and I’m good with that. Thanks for reading!

  • Jess!!!!!! This is such a refreshing read — I’m a single woman in my early 30s and all of what you wrote resonates with me. I live in Costa Rica and have such a great life – – I get to photograph and work with sun fun clients for a living, get to surf pretty much every day, and live a much simpler life. Maybe one day I’ll find a man (that knows how to be a man!), but in the mean time I’m just happy doing me and living my life to the fullest!!!!

    • jess

      I’m so happy that you enjoyed the post!! Your life sounds pretty awesome as is, but you already seem to know that—good for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts <3

    • jess

      I’m so happy that you enjoyed the post!! Your life sounds pretty awesome as is, but you already seem to know that—good for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts <3

  • jess

    Thanks so much Ellie!

  • Tuere

    Feeling grateful for this article. It speaks so much of how I feel about the topic. Most people I know (those who want to be or are married with children) either seem not to understand this or they don’t believe it is true – my truth, or anyone else’s. There are as many ways to live a life as there are people. Observing their lives from an outside perspective, it doesn’t appear or feel to me like I’m missing out on what they have. It looks like it works for them. I want something different.

    • jess

      so well said, and I agree with you on all fronts. wanting something different doesn’t mean we’re missing out, or choosing the wrong option. as you said, there are so many ways to live a life. thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Alexandra Smith

    When I saw this article, I immediately thought, “I’m NOT alone!!” I agree with all of the comments here, there are many ways to look at it. But, none of us should feel the pressure that society has placed unfairly on us, that we feel the need ti have certain life milestones complete by a certain time. I love my independence and I love my alone time and the ability to do what I want and when I want to. However, that’s not to say you can’t still have that when inside a relationship. The key is just to find a partner who understands that and supports you in still feeling like a separate entity while still nourishing the union you have. Balance!

    • jess

      I agree! This is very much a key part to the type of relationship I’m looking for as well. I appreciate you taking the time to read, Alexandra!

  • Sandy Jenkins

    I tried to be married and have two kids. After my divorce some seven or eight years ago I have realized something. I love to be single. Even though I have kids having a partner often just makes life more difficult. My focus used to be on having a family, getting married and being in that role. I grew up dreaming of having the perfect family. After some time I’ve come to realize the perfect family is a happy family. It doesn’t mean you have to have a partner. I have the freedom to choose what to do every day of my life. It’s been so rewarding to get back to what makes me happy as an individual. Now I teach skiing on the weekends in the winter and have my summer activities as well. I’ve never been happier and don’t care about societal pressures.

    • jess

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Sandy. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been able to embrace what makes you (and your family!) happy, despite what society may tell us is needed to get there. Thank you for reading!

  • Amritha Harikumar

    I feel like you’re my spirit animal!! I would literally have written every single word of this article in the way you did ; I’m also an only child, don’t want kids, waiting to figure myself out. I’m 25, but the older I get and the more time that passes, the more I’ve realized there should be no pressure to settle for someone that doesn’t suit you in the way you want. Everyone I know is getting married, which is fine, but that pressure we see around us is all background noise to me. It used to bother me when everyone I knew was getting married, but like what you stated in the article – I would rather take the time for self care, self healing, and figure out my direction in life confidently rather than settle. Thank you for this article!

    • jess

      Thank you so much for your comment, Amritha—I love everything you said! Since you’re a fellow only child, I’d also be interested in hearing your thoughts on my last piece about how your understanding of being without siblings changes when you’re an adult: http://theeverygirl.com/what-you-learn-about-being-an-only-child-once-youre-an-adult/

  • Kelsee Elizabeth Viano

    I love this. I have been in a relationship for 4 years and the mounting pressure from everyone around us to get married is so frustrating sometimes. I feel constant judgement from many people (especially those close to us) for our decision to wait and enjoy the time that we are in right now. We are happy and that is all that should matter. Thank you for reaffirming that the way I feel is okay!

    • jess

      I agree your happiness is what should be focused on and I’m glad you guys are doing what’s right for you. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Kelsee!

  • Kelsey

    I’m not even single and this resonates. Everyone expects my partner and I to get married and have kids… and the pressure to join the club is seriously real. Love this article – thanks for the read! xx

  • Inajara Nunes

    I love this post. It’s really helpful.

    • jess

      Thank you for reading Inajara!

  • Nicole Davies

    At the age of 35 I felt like I could release a breath as I felt society’s pressure/expectation on me (whether real or not) about getting married finally lifted. I’m turning 45 next week. I love my life. The people in it, my interests, goals I’ve reached and ones I’m still trying to attain. I have not truly been myself in romantic relationships… and am much happier not being in one. And I will always choose to be happy. It took me a long time to learn this. But learn I did and I’m grateful. I’m grateful to my younger self saying “no” when the opportunity came about, as I knew (possibly not on a whole conscious level) it was not the right time or person. Maybe I’ll rock the white dress(ha who am I kidding, it would be pink!) for the first time at 70 or maybe never. And I’m perfectly OKAY with that. And if you are grappling with this inner pressure, do know, that there are many of us out there who are thriving in life without a partner. And you can too, if that is what you choose!