Am I Settling If My Soulmate And I Don’t Believe In Marriage?

Evan, I really enjoy your blog, have seen your video clips and have read “Why He Disappeared” several times. Your advice has really helped me in many ways! I think you’re great (in almost all respects) as a dating advice columnist. There is one thing that I want to clear the air about for me, and that is the marriage thing.

I’m in my early thirties, successful, attractive, etc. You know, a “catch.” I’ve been dating a great guy for about two and a half years, and we seem to be coming to the conclusion that we want to spend our lives together. We each have a child from another partner, and we don’t live together. Neither of us feels the need to get married, but we both agree that long-term, committed, monogamous relationships are desirable. And then I read your advice stating that if a man postpones marriage for too long, move on. The general tone I’m getting is that “no marriage” equals “no REAL commitment,” and he is probably “just not that into you.”

I realize that many of your readers (perhaps all but me) are looking for a husband, perhaps ready to have babies, and have the nuclear family we’ve all been told is the “American Dream.” I respect that choice and lifestyle for those that wish to have it. But is it really a “waste of time” or am I “settling for less than I deserve” by choosing a man that is against the act of marriage? For the record, we are in love (he said it first) and he considers me his soulmate. I guess I just want to know that you do believe that love and relationships are more than just the marriage certificate. Thanks, Evan, and I wish you and your new family the very best! –Erica


Dear Erica,

I’m posting your question because it’s not really a question and it gives me an opportunity to rant about something that’s been on my mind for a while.

Two things immediately come to mind.

One, that my opinion actually matters. It doesn’t. As has been crudely put by a wise man “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.”  And it’s true. My opinions are merely my opinions and I don’t think for a second that because I say something that it’s “true,” at least not in the way it’s true that I own a 27” iMac.

Another reason that my opinion doesn’t really matter is because very little that I write is about what I think. You read that properly. If you carried a video camera around with you for a week and shot everything you saw – and then went and wrote what you observed – would you be recounting your opinions? Or would you just be logging your empirical observations?

The way I see it, I was a single guy with a lot of experience for 15 years. I’ve been a dating coach, talking on the phone about relationships for 7 years. I used my own advice to forge a happy marriage over the past 4 years. And I have thousands of emails from people who have gained from what I’ve had to say in my books, newsletters and blogs. None of which makes me “right” about everything, all of which should make me a pretty credible witness to interpret the video of your life.

The next thing I want to clear up is that advice isn’t one-size-fits-all.  Similarly, the exceptions don’t disprove the rule. For example:

Can a woman attract a quality man online with a crappy online dating profile?

Yes, but she’d attract MORE quality men if she had something unique to say.

Can a woman attract a quality man online with a crappy online dating profile?

Yes, but she’d attract MORE quality men if she had something unique to say.

Can a woman have a successful relationship after sleeping with a guy on Date 1?

Sure, but since many men judge women for hopping into bed, she’d usually be well-served to make him wait until he’s shown he’s serious about a relationship.

Can a 55-year-old woman date a 45-year-old man if she’s youthful and vibrant enough?

Well, in the realm that anything’s possible, of course she can. But if you look at the age preferences of most 45-year-old men on Match, you’ll see that it usually runs from 30-45 and cuts off at his age.

Are any of those things my OPINIONS? No. Just observations about how things usually work.

Since 95% of men eventually wed, it would stand to reason that marriage is the end game for most men.

So if I’m asked, without any background information, is it a good sign or a bad sign that a man you’ve been seeing for three years has never once talked about marriage, I’m going to instantly conclude, based on my experience, that it’s a BAD sign. Since 95% of men eventually wed, it would stand to reason that marriage is the end game for most men.

However, if you’re in love with your soulmate AND neither of you desire marriage AND you want the same things in life, never fight and are fully integrated into each others’ lives and families… congratulations! You’re the exception to the rule! And it doesn’t matter what anyone else in the world thinks of you.

Since I am somewhat responsible to the masses, I tend to answer questions with the 95% in mind, not the 5%.

Which is why anyone who insists on no sex before marriage will struggle with my advice. Or anyone who insists that women should pay for the first date will struggle with my advice. Or anyone who insists that she wants to fall in love but refuses to date online, go to singles events, or make single girl friends will struggle with my advice.

If you’re happy, Erica, that’s all I care about.

I’m just perpetually surprised when people who are unhappy with their love lives tell me how wrong I am for giving them advice that would improve their happiness.

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  1. 31

    Steve, I wasn’t disagreeing with you on the whole. I just know from my friend’s experience that the PAC was used more like a way to keep a girlfriend in your country for awhile longer, and not “as death do us part”. That doesn’t mean other people don’t treat it as a more major commitment.

    Yes America does have a high divorce rate, and a no-fuss civil union would be a nice alternative. But again, look at my stat about Sweden..they don’t need marriage to be committed and on average commit longer than Americans do. So maybe marriage isn’t the problem with American couples, just commitment in general.

  2. 32

    I agree with Selena.   Once the protection of children and financial interests are of the picture a marriage/marriage proposal seems to be about a psychological desire for two people to demonstrate a commitment in a visible way.

  3. 33

    On the subject of soulmate couples who are also divorcees ambivalent towards marriages – see Elizabeth Gilbert’s great book “Committed – A Skeptic makes Peace With Marriage” it is about the research she undertook about marriage after she and her soulmate “had ” to get married if they were to be able to live together in the US.

  4. 34

    @Cecilia #33
    Sorry to hear that.  I always liked her character.   I always though the actress who played Nellie ( also has a book out ) would be the one getting divorced 🙂

  5. 35

    Nothing to feel sorry about! At the end of the book when she describes the day that actually did get married (at home in their kitchen) she writes “I did not have any way of knowing with certainty on that afternoon what peace and contentment were awaiting me in this marriage (reader: I know it now), but I did feel calm and grateful all the same“.
    Methinks that she has no regrets about the US Gvt forcing their hands,

  6. 36

    On a related note,  New Hampshire Republican have introduced a bill to phase out government supported marriages for everyone, straight or gay in order to make marriage a purely religious institution ( which of course doesn’t include gays )

  7. 37

    I’m from the UK and several of my friends and relatives are in long term committed relationships (from 6 to 14 years) but aren’t married. Each couple is living together and some have children together.
    So I found myself being a bit confused by all this talk of marriage as the ultimate. On Rori Raye’s site too where she talks about the ring on the finger and nothing else as true committment.
    I’m 47 and I’m just starting to realise (after 15 years since a long term relationship) just how totally clueless I am about dating : ) So I’m reading and reading and learning as much as I can. I’m trying to seperate good advice from bad. Whose advice is credible and whose isn’t?
    I like Evan’s blog and Rori’s too – they both come across as credible. But it is odd for me being a sort of ‘spiritual but not religious’ person for want of a better phrase, to read about marriage as a kind of default ideal.
    For me, I think my general cluelessness stems from being a child of the 60s. My parents got married very young – my Mum was only 21 and met my Dad when she was 16. She’d hardly had any dating experience and never offered me any guidance. I’m the eldest of 3 so never had much insight into my brother’s dating habits. And then there’s the whole 60s thing. Men and women are proclaimed equal which I agree with but along with that seemed to come this deeply entrenched idea that men and women are the same. So I’ve had to completely change what I’ve been brought up to believe in culturally (the men and women being the same idea). Strongly connected with that is the 60s liberal attitude to sex. So the pill came along and that meant that women could have sex without getting pregnant. There seemed to be an assumption that they would then have the total freedom men have and would benefit from that. But freedom to have sex without committment doesn’t suit most women.
    So anyway, relearning things. But which things? It’s very confusing!

  8. 38

    I am 59 years old. I’m in pretty good shape, and I look about 10-15 years younger, in spite of having various physical problems. My circumstances involve a situation in which I encountered a difficult situation after my significant other passed away, whom I was with for 30 years. I had lived with my significant other.

    Within the last 2 years, I have been dating a much younger man who is 20 years younger than myself. We met through a neighbor. He helped me out with some work that i needed to have done. Initially, I was so physically attracted to this man. And, due to his circumstances of living with his parents, his low income, and as a result of some sexual preferences, he had difficulty with meeting women. Simultaneously, because I have a low income, I have had difficulty in meeting men, who prefer to date women who have good jobs or incomes, or, because many men would rather date young and very beautiful women. But, the man whom I am dating, is not interested in getting married.

    Then, at his point, although I did not want to get married initially, now I really miss having a partner with whom I can spend more time with, and share my life with. I am now ready to seek out a soul mate partner, in a monogamous relationship, who is perhaps 10 years younger than myself. I am not sure about where to begin with this. But, I appreciate having read about some individuals who are interested in dating and even marrying, at older ages.


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