This gal I follow on Twitter composed a tweet that I found surprisingly poignant:
It’s not that you did something wrong, it’s that you didn’t do exactly what I wrote in the mental script for my life. – Woman logic
— Penny Lane (@natt_hope) March 20, 2013
She might’ve been kidding, but she’s on to something. I feel like a disproportionate percentage of singles, particularly women, are socialized to envision a particular script. This sometimes involves a Prince Charming figure just swooping into their lives, or envisioning their dream wedding day with no actual particular groom in mind (except someone Tall Dark and Handsome). Rom-coms are often to blame for this, with endless meet-cute scenarios and everything working out delightfully in the end.
In my own relationships, I’ve definitely also seen a male version of this scripting: an ex of mine thought he’d have “a mortgage and like two babies” by the time he was 22 (!), and my dear husband Grant told me that he always planned on quitting smoking when his wife was pregnant with his first child or when he turned 30, whichever came first. (When we met he was 31 and we took our sweet time getting married.)
Lots of people envision a path. I do, too. The problem is, I think many elements of that path are holdovers from the days when marriage was more inevitable, and when it happened younger. In today’s world, I think that we all need to be more open and flexible about how and when we find love in our lives. This includes online dating: I think it still carries a bit of a stigma, largely because people don’t see it as a charming tale of happenstance and connection that fits into the mental script they had for how they’d meet the love of their life, you know? It sounds better to bump into each other in the park than to meet via an algorithm or a cute picture.
But you know what? This stuff WORKS! So feel free to continue going to the park and baiting cute guys with an errant frisbee, but, you know, maybe fill out a profile or two just to up your odds. :)