"Why have you not remarried?" A friend recently asked me. "It's been what, 17 years since Deron passed? I mean, you have a lot going on for you, so why are you still single?
Candace Owens recently asked a similar question about Taylor Swift's dating life, posing the question: "Why hasn't any man stepped up to the plate and married her?" These remarks come on the heels of previous comments from Owens' where she boldly characterized Swift as having the "maturity level of a 15-year-old girl" and offered a critical view of her extended history of dating without marriage, deeming it "quirky" and "cringy." Owens' viewpoint implies there's something inherently wrong with an attractive, wealthy, and famous woman like Taylor Swift remaining single. She seems to equate marriage with mental stability, a perspective that seems outdated in today's world of women's rights progress.
Similarly, many single women like me often face related questions and assumptions about our relationship status. Society sometimes suggests that being single is a deficiency as if our worth or mental well-being hinges on being married. This perspective fails to recognize the diverse and fulfilling lives that single women lead, often by choice, and perpetuates outdated stereotypes about women's roles and happiness.
I'm 52 years old, providing some context as Taylor Swift is 33. In 2006, life took an unexpected turn when I tragically lost the love of my life, who was 33 years old. It took me three years to even consider reentering the dating world. During those challenging times, Taylor Swift was a blooming 17-year-old just beginning her journey into romance, perhaps a year or two into it. Fast forward, and here we are – over a decade and a half of dating adventures between this middle-aged bachelorette and the leader of the Swifty Nation.
One can't help but wonder what Owens would say about a 52-year-old who's been navigating the dating world since her mid-thirties. I may not have fame or youth on my side like Taylor. Still, I've had my fair share of relationships without ever deeming my behavior "cringy." I may not be a billionaire, but I've achieved financial security, owning a beautiful home and enjoying a successful career, with no man ever taking care of me or paying my bills. Yes, I've dated (and continue to), much like Taylor has, with relationships spanning the spectrum. There have been tech gurus who dazzled me with their intellect, lawyers who argued their way into my heart, a surf coach whose free spirit stole my breath (for a minute), a surgeon who mended more than just physical wounds, and a real estate maverick who ambitiously tried to construct a path to my heart. Each of these men had brought something unique to my life (and I hope I did the same for them), but none had truly spoken to my heart. So, does my choice to remain unmarried make me "cringy," as Owens might suggest? And despite raising two girls to be outstanding young women, is my worth measured by my marital status?
Fortunately, the institution of marriage has undergone quite a makeover over the ages. Thanks to powerful forces such as the rise of female education, workforce engagement, increasing economic independence, and the pursuit of gender equality, it has shifted from primarily serving as a pragmatic alliance for economic and social security to becoming a more personal decision rooted in love and companionship.
Each of us is on a unique journey with our own story to explore, and it's not anyone's place to judge. While I can't speak to Taylor's character personally, having never shared tea or stage lights with her, I know that even if she did have the "maturity level of a 15-year-old," as Candace claims, why should that matter to anyone else? Taylor's life is hers, and she's living it as she sees fit.
Candace Owens might consider that more Americans are choosing to delay marriage or not marry. It's not that people like me are anti-marriage, broken, or condemned to a loveless existence. As wonderful as the men I have previously dated, chemistry was missing, and sometimes, it boiled down to timing. Explaining the nuances would require another discussion, but suffice to say, dating and marriage are far from the black-and-white scenario Owens presents. I can settle for making the occasional wrong choice at the grocery store, but when it comes to matters of the heart, I'm with Taylor Swift's sentiment - "I'm never ever ever" going to settle. We only have one shot at this life, and I won't rush into marriage to wear a ring on my finger or to meet Candace Owens' expectations of what women like me should do to avoid being labeled as "cringy."
In a world of diverse love and relationship journeys, let's respect each person's choices. We've made remarkable progress, so why not celebrate and uplift each other's decisions? As Taylor Swift and I continue to navigate the labyrinth of love and relationships, we'll do it our way, thank you very much.