Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: In Monday's column, a man "wasn't sure if he ever wanted to get married." Are there people who actually think this, or does everyone use it as a way to continue enjoying the status quo without further commitment?
I've seen it SO often in your column and in my own life that now when I hear it, I think, "Ugh, another excuse for selfish behavior from someone who won't 'poop' or get off the pot." And if people do legitimately think this, then how on earth do you explain why they marry OTHER PEOPLE later on?
A more charitable way of seeing it is that these pot-dwellers actually believe what they're saying - maybe because it's less upsetting for them to think they're unsure of an institution than to admit they're unsure of a person they care about (albeit not enough).
It's still a bad choice, but not all bad choices are made out of selfishness or malice. Denial is a big player. So is, perversely, kindness. Remember, there are also countless examples here of people who think it's mean or selfish to break up with someone who has been good to them.
Re: Not Sure: Yes! There are people who think this. My beloved boyfriend and I have been together for eight years and are 100 percent committed to being together for the rest of our lives. We also aren't sure about getting married - the hassle if we do, what our families and friends expect, the criticism if we don't, all the weird misogynistic moments at most weddings, the very idea of inviting the government into our private lives. It's completely possible to be utterly committed and still not sure the institution of marriage is something in which you want to participate.
An outlier perspective I suspect, but, OK.
Fundamentally, it's uncertainty about a life commitment versus an uncertainty about marriage-the-institution. Fair?
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