With so many of my friends now in long term relationships, they were recently telling me of the pressure of commitment, not from each other, but from older relatives and even co-workers.
It appears that if you are over 25 and in a monogamous relationship for longer than a 12 month period, you can’t even make dinner reservations without a flurry of excitement the following day and text messages asking "any news?"
And no, they are not enquiring for your opinion on new governmental policies, or enquiring about your career or general wellbeing. They are asking if you've managed to lassoo that noose and secure it tightly around his neck so that he's had no option but to drop to one knee and beg for your hand in marriage – or beg for the rope to be loosened!
So that’s if you make dinner reservations, but god forbid if you take a romantic city break. Recently, a friend of mine went for a three night break with her boyfriend of two years to Paris and they arrived back, weary on a Sunday evening to the sound of popping Moet bottles in her parent’s living room... Someone popped their cork too soon, and it wasn’t the couple.
Another friend of mine suffering the pressure of commitment is unfortunately dealing with the anguish from another angle.
They are a 34 year old professional couple who on the outside have it all. They are dating for the past six years and have been living together for the past five. They have a great social life, bi-annual holidays and most of all they have fun together.
While sitting in the little snug of Arthur Mayne's recently after copious glasses of Riesling, she poured her little discontented heart out. I suppose once you go over a certain age, not a year goes by without a stream of weddings, hen and stag parties and for a singleton that can mean one of two things: Great fun and excitement if it’s a close friend or family member; or a great big inconvenience in your busy social calendar, not to mention expense. But, if like her, you are in a long term relationship, the spotlight will fall on you during every matrimonial occasion. During a wedding last month, the straw finally broke the camel’s back.
They had just arrived at the pre-reception cocktail drinks. The girls nestled together on a couch in the lobby sipping champagne while the boys headed for the bar to catch the end of the rugby game and a few pints.
Within minutes, all eyes descended on her with a babble of questions: “So *Heather, how long are you together? Any sign of a proposal? What kind of a wedding would you like?” As Heather smiled and laughed off all questions, one of the girls from the group who is a super bitch landed the clanger – “Heather well knows that John is just one of the boys and will never commit.”
There, just like that, she'd said what Heather has known deep down for the past six years. The day passed in a blur of trips to the bathroom where Heather spent time, alone, locked in a cubicle in tears.
A few days later, Heather confronted this with John and asked him if he had thought about marriage or children in their future and just like she had feared and avoided for so long, John didn’t believe in marriage and didn’t want the complication of children in a relationship. So after six years in a wonderful relationship with a man she loves very deeply, she is facing the decision of staying and sacrificing some of her long term dreams or leaving and losing the man of her dreams.
It is time like this that I thank my lucky stars that the only serious commitments I have are my career and my weekly manicure and hair appointments!