You’re totally psyched for your newly engaged friends, but you struggle to muster up total enthusiasm for ongoing conversations about their upcoming weddings. You’re head over heels in love with your S.O., but every time you’re asked about the popping of that all-important question, you can’t help but feel a little squirmy and uncomfortable. You love a diamond engagement ring as much as the next girl, but you don’t feel an inner longing to have one on your own left hand. Sound familiar?
If having these feelings makes you wonder if there’s something “wrong” with you (yes, those quotation marks are there for a reason), we want you to rest assured that there is not. You are still a fully fabulous (dare we say perfect?) human, who is likely still totally capable of taking on loving, amazing relationships that potentially live outside the structure of marriage. We checked in with love and lifestyle experts to get their take on what it means to not be the “marrying kind.” If any of these six statements apply to you, marriage may not be your thing — at least not right now! — and we hope you can own and embrace that.
1. You consider yourself a free spirit. There are certainly plenty of free-spirited folks who have settled down with their one true love, but if you define yourself primarily by your fierce independence and wanderlust-y tendencies, it’s possible marriage isn’t the right institution for you. Of tried and true free spirits, counselor Jonathan Bennett says, “This personality type doesn’t always lend itself to marriage, which requires compromise and a level of commitment that [they] often can’t embrace.”
2. Your relationship status has always had little bearing on your happiness. Are you content to enjoy a fab relationship without making it Facebook official? While others may crave the DTR talk, are you more than willing to go with the flow and just play it by ear between you and bae? If so, it should come as no surprise that marriage doesn’t feel like something you’ve gotta have. Even marrieds should take a cue from your attitude. “Happiness in a relationship [should] come from within,” encourages psychotherapist and relationship coach Karolina Pasko. “When you’re looking for the external source of [happiness] called ‘marriage’ to fuel your relationship, you might as well end it right now.”
3. You’re prioritizing working on yourself. “If you feel you still have work to do on yourself — such as developing better self esteem, learning independence, or managing anger issues — it is important to get yourself together before settling down,” reminds NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson. “It is nearly impossible to be present for others when you have not taken care of yourself first.” With a little extra self-love, you may even change over time to become more of the marrying kind.
4. You prefer to live in a nontraditional way. Not everyone can picture themselves living the typical dream life (big house, cute kids, you know the drill), and even experts say that’s totallyfine. “Many are not in favor of the traditional lifestyle created by societal norms [like marriage],” says Brittney Smiejek, a matchmaker with Three Day Rule. “They prefer to dance to the beat of their own drum, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.” All the praise-hands emojis for that one, right? If you fall into this category, be self-aware enough to understand that, while you might really thrive in a serious relationship, marriage itself may be a bit hyper-traditional for your liking.
5. The idea of marriage frankly stresses you out. If discussing an engagement with your significant other or chatting about dream weddings with your besties gives you the icky kind of butterflies in your stomach, it’s possible that your body is telling you that marriage just isn’t for you — and marriage and family therapist Shadeen Francis advises that you listen to it! “We are wired to protect ourselves from danger, and if your body is saying ‘no,’ then [getting married] may not be right for you,” she says.
6. You simply have other priorities. There’s no shame in wanting to put all of your time and energy into your career, social life, or other passions, but if you’re not ready to prioritize your marriage over those things, it’s possible that you’re simply more qualified to be a kick-butt S.O. than a so-so spouse. As long as your life is full in a way that is meaningful to you, online dating specialist Alex Reddle explains, “whether or not you’re married is unimportant. Your own sense of fulfillment is what matters.”