How to Handle Pressure to Settle Down
“Your turn next”
“I know this great guy, he hasn’t been on a date in 10 years but I think he’d be perfect for you”
“Look at your sister – wouldn’t you like to have a family like hers?”
“Don’t worry dear; it will happen for you one day”
“Better get a move on, that clock is ticking!”
From your recently loved up friends playing cupid to the magazine articles that inform you your chances of conceiving are dwindling at the speed of light, to the uncle/brother/ inebriated grandma who regularly points out the obvious as if it’s something you weren’t aware of – that you’re single. As a single woman, there is a lot of pressure to settle down. To get married. To have babies. To buy a house. To have a perfect little life. And a dog, the picture isn’t complete without a dog.
Basically, if you haven’t got a blown up black and white cheesy portrait photo of your happy family posing awkwardly in a studio adorning your wall – you’ve not made it.
It’s usually said in jest and not meant maliciously, not that that stops you from having an urge to test out your right hook on them! Well-meaning family and friends who are coupled up and in love want you to have the same. Family, particularly parents, want to see that you’re ‘taken care of’ and protected. They want to see you happy (yes of course, you can be completely happy and content single but you know where I’m coming from).
Sometimes it’s easy to brush off the comments and pressure to have someone to take home at Christmas. Other times the comments wriggle their way into your mind and heart. It can really hurt. You put on a brave face and a smile and laugh it off. You don’t want to tell them to stop as it’s making a big deal out of it, yet you begin to dread having to defend the fact you’re single. Even when you tell people you are HAPPY they give you that look. The one that says “sure you are, sure, we believe you”.
Even worse it doesn’t get better when you’re in a relationship. It’s merely replaced with “when are you getting married?” Followed by “when are you having kids?” which is then topped by “you better get a move on having baby #2 if you want them to play together.”
3 Tips for Handling Pressure to Settle Down
1. Communicate with those close to you
Before it gets to the point where a) it really upsets you b) you get snappy with them or c) you start to avoid being around them – talk to the family and friends making the comments. They probably think their old clichés are funny and don’t realise their jibes hurt or frustrate you. If they did and they love you, they wouldn’t dream of doing it. Don’t get grumpy but equally don’t laugh it off. Pull them aside and let them know you love that they care and want the best for you, but that their comments aren’t appropriate and that you shouldn’t have to justify your happiness. Give them a cuddle, they will feel suitably embarrassed (or laugh in off in awkwardness) and move on.
2. Remember it’s better to wait than settle
When you feel pressured into something, you’re more likely to rush into a decision you might not be ready to take. If you settle with someone because it’s convenient, because you feel you have to do what those around you are doing the chances of long terms happiness are slim. It’s better to hold off and know that you’re committing to someone for all the right reasons. Life is too short to settle.
3. Stay true to yourself
You might not believe in marriage. Perhaps babies aren’t on your radar. You would rather focus on your career right now. However you feel is what is right for you. Always stay true to what you believe in and how you want to live your life, it’s nobody else’s – it’s yours and yours alone. It’s easy to get swept along with the herd but if that’s not what will make you happy break away from the pack. Live YOUR dream, not someone else’s. Love is DEFINITELY (can I say that loud enough?) worth holding out for.
Handling pressure to settle down is something not just women face, but men to. Can we decide right here, right now, that we won’t ever say any of the comments at the beginning of this post to others? Aside from anything, you never truly know what’s going on in someone’s life. Be a friend, be a caring family member and strive to make people feel awesome about themselves.
Failing the above you can always start your very own mannequin family which is exactly what Suzanne Heintz did!
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