Had this conversation with my mother when I got home last night.
me: I got an email from this lady asking you to send her some pictures?
mom: I’m trying to help her single friend find a girlfriend.
me: You know single guys??
mom: I’m a matchmaker!
me: Why don’t you help me find someone?
mom: Are you interested?
Even though she’ll attempt to play matchmaker when she has nothing better to do, my mom knows she would never make me a match. We laugh about how backwards the culture is. How a girl just can’t catch a break. Especially back in her day, if you were under 20 and dating, you were loose and dumb for wasting time on boys instead of focusing on studies. Those who went to college had to wait even longer because dating on campus was grounds for expulsion. As soon as you entered the workforce, the pressure began. If you hadn’t started dating, people would take it upon themselves to push their single acquaintances on you. After all, you only had 8 years before you hit 30 and were considered an old maid. At that point the speculations began. You were too ugly, too short, too tall, too fat, too picky, too butch etc…Escaping the gossip was enough reason to get married. Of course, you rarely heard about a girl being too stupid, too meek or too poor to get married. Those were never turn-offs. But those too smart, too strong or too bourgeois who struggled to find a husband.
After 30, your reputation plummeted fast. And if you happened to get married at a proper time but missed the boat on marital bliss, the gossip was worse. Even if you didn’t get a divorce since they were so uncommon, people still knew when you couldn’t keep a husband because you were either too brash, unattractive, uncompromising, bad in the kitchen or in bed.
We laugh about it now, but it’s still a reality. Many of my friends are pressured to spend more time on dating so they can marry before 30. My mom still gives me advice on who to look for and how to improve myself, although her advice is getting better over the years. (In high school, she told me I should eventually grow my hair out, stop wearing glasses and lose weight. What used to be taboo seemed to turn into an obsession seemingly overnight. Suddenly, everyone wants to know my relationship status and the dates I’ve been on. I went from going on secret dates in high school to disappointing people whenever I showed up alone to a party. Despite several reminders that I’m straight, there will still be questions surrounding my sexuality until I find a permanent +1.
Only one person has tried to set me up. She was my dad’s friend who took the initiative before any of us knew about it and had a chance to object. She emailed him a photo of the guy and after one look, my mom declared that he would not be a kind husband. Something based on the ratios of his face. Which is why I will always enjoy discussing the theories of dating and marriage with her, but am keeping any boyfriends a secret until the wedding day.