I tutor 2nd and 3rd graders at a semi-local elementary school every Wednesday. Seeing them is often the highlight of my week. These kids crack. me. up. One of my little boys asked me how old I am and the conversation proceeded as such:
Me: I'm 23 years-old.
Him: Do you have kids?
Him: Are you married?
Him:...well what have you been doing?!
Me: (Blank Stare) Uh...what's our next math problem?
That definitely took me off guard. Don't get me wrong, I KNOW what I've been doing. I've been living my life, I've been getting an education, I've been learning to love myself and others. But I HAVE been dating.
I've been dating for 10 years of my life.
At 23 years-old, that is almost half my life. For a decade, I've been in and out of relationships (mostly in) and date-like situations.
My first relationship lasted 6 years. I dated the same guy all through high school until the end of my Sophomore year of college. You can read more about that here.
Then I "dated" someone 1100 miles away for 4 months. He and I had known one another since I was 12 and he was 13. We'd been great friends due to our mutual love for artsy-fartsy stuff, Tim Burton, and poetry. Some described us as two people of different sexes who shared a brain. We often felt that we shared more than a brain. We fell in love because, I suppose, we needed to fall in love with one another at that time in our lives. We stopped seeing one another due to distance, but we still talk 3 or 4 times a week. We've both dated since our involvement, but sometimes, we both struggle with the feeling that we still "belong" to each other.
I visited SingleVille for 8 months after that. During this time I focused on my health. Mental, physical, and emotional. I dared myself to be better, to be the person I wanted to be. I wanted to take more chances and most importantly, keep myself from becoming bitter about men and relationships.
Then came along my biggest dating mistake, it lasted for one month, and no, he did not cheat or hit me or anything way out of line. He was just wrong. However, he taught me one of the most valuable relationship lessons I've learned: You can't be with someone because of how much THEY like YOU. So I broke it off.
Next came my last real relationship and it lasted for 11 months. It was amazing and I was happy. Then it ended like this. He and I are friends again.
I'm still open to dating though I'm more wary of committed relationships. I'm not bitter, but I'm trying not to be naive. I'm not married and I may never get married. I'm not sure that marriage is a goal for me. Partnership is a priority for me. I would LOVE to find a life partner and maybe there would be reasons for us to get married, but it just isn't something that's very important to me.
I suppose the next time one of my kids asked me "what I've been doing" to keep from getting married, I should just smile and say:
"If I was married, maybe I wouldn't have enough time to come and hang out with you!"