Growing up, I was interested in romance in a platonic way (in books) but not in real life. I had no desire to be a mother, or a wife, or even a girlfriend. I berated such heroines as Marianne Dashwood for being insensible “fools,” but despaired of ever finding a heroine “sensible” enough to walk away from love, if it was of the wrong kind.
Most stories are, after all, about women falling in love and chasing the wrong boy. “Wrong” in my mind usually amounts to: callous, immoral, selfish. Willing to throw their lives away in pursuit of passion or attraction. I’ve always been a little judgmental about fictional romantic relationships based on passion, because I cannot understand it.
Not much has changed. I am still single, at 35. A fact which causes a lot of people to look at me in confusion. Am I gay? Repressed? Locked in the basement? Crying into my pillow every night because I have no prospects? Emotionally defective? No to all of the above.
In an effort to be “normal,” I tried out online dating last year. I also broke out in hives, because each time the relationship advanced, my brain screamed, “THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU WANT.” I decided to give my skin a break, and those poor men a break, and call it quits. And I have not reconsidered. I hate dating. Fun for other people, hell for me.
I’m going to stay single. Maybe forever. Maybe not. I won’t slam the door in Colonel Brandon’s face if he shows up, but I like my life. I do not ever feel like by not having a sexual relationship, I’m missing anything. I have never cried on Valentine’s Day because I’m single. I buy myself chocolates and watch Pride & Prejudice.
I have never hidden from people that I’m happy to be “alone” in a romantic sense (as long as I have intelligent conversation with friends, I’m good). But I have also not gone out of my way to flaunt it. When you reach a certain age as a woman, society expects you to start dating or get married or have children or in general, give a damn about sex. In Christian circles, there’s even more pressure. It is, after all, a Good Thing to raise Godly Children.
And I completely agree with that. That is a wonderful calling. It’s just not mine. Not yet, and maybe never. A few more years, and I’ll be past my “baby-making” years. That does not send a shudder up my spine. I could care less.
So, why am I telling you this? It’s not to be obnoxious, I promise. I do not hate romantic relationships. I am happy to watch, read, and write them. It’s because I suspect I’m not the only woman who feels this way. Who is not asexual (I am very attracted to certain men) but has zero interest in romantic relationships or being half of a whole. I do not feel defective, or like a freak, or that there is anything wrong with it or me. I am moral. I do not mess with men’s feelings, at least not intentionally (especially not now I know that’s not what I want). So I imagine in a moral sense, God’s all right with me being me.
And the other day, I found a fictional character who actually did what I would have done in her shoes (except for the falling in love part in the first place; she fell for him, I didn’t; I am not okay with his immoral lifestyle). Jane Austen in Becoming Jane. Many other viewers see it as a tragedy, because she could not have the man she wanted. I just saw a virtuous woman. In the film, though she falls in love with Tom, she walks away from him, because it’s the right thing to do. The responsible thing to do. He has family to provide for, and can’t do that if his uncle disinherits him for marrying her. She chooses not a life of impoverished passion, but to stay single. Does it hurt her? Yes. But she could not allow herself happiness at the expense of others. It wasn’t who she is.
I applaud her for that. She honored herself and others in her decision. I’m sorry for her sake (because she did love him) that they could not be together… but she did not disobey her ethics to be with him. Nor did she marry anyone else she did not love for security. She honored the core of who she was in walking away. I admire that.