My girlfriend and I (27 and 29) have been living together for four years. We’ve been in love since the day we met and know that this is it for both of us, for sure. Neither of us cares much about weddings and marriage, but our families seem to, and they’re subtly suggesting that they’d like to see us hitched, so we’re considering it. Should we take the plunge?—John
Nope! Or, not yet.
I mean, do whatever you want, but if what you wanted was to be married—which isn’t to say you don’t want to be in an all-consuming, totally committed, go-team, we’re-in-this-together-forever relationship right now—you would be doing it regardless of the input of your parents, and of what I might think about it. So, don’t do it.
A friend of mine, weirded out by how few marrieds he knows who share money and bank accounts, asked me in a kind of sad way what marriage even is or means now. (I think he asked me since I am such an unimpeachable authority on stable, long-term commitment, which would be a medium-funny joke if you knew me.) And what marriage is and means to thirtyishes is obviously changing: We get married later, after establishing our own careers—and bank accounts—and we do it more cautiously.
The number of common-law couples in Canada rose almost 14 per cent between 2006 and 2011, and divorce rates are falling. Way, way fewer young people are married now than used to be: In 2008, only 26 per cent of twentysomethings were married (which still seems high to me—like, don’t you want to have fun for a while?), compared to 68 per cent in the 1960s (which seems about right).
Parents have an adorable/horrifying way of using their own values and desires to measure their kids’ success, and people like you and your girlfriend have an adorable/horrifying way of allowing your private (and it should be private!) couple-culture to bend uncomfortably on family-related stuff like weddings, marriage, where you live, and what you do on Sunday afternoon. I don’t know if that’s ultimately good or bad. I do know that millennial-marriage is in flux, that you’re both still life-babies, and that a falling divorce rate doesn’t change the fact that the divorce rate is still really high, around 40 per cent. Anyway, wait for at least a couple of years (bonus: you’ll attend 20 weddings in the meantime and find out how you want to do yours, and how you really don’t) and tell your families that they should be thrilled you’re in a great, pinkie-swear relationship, married or not.
Why are girls in Toronto so hard to approach? Since I moved here, every time I’ve approached a young lady she has given me a “Don’t talk to me” face, and when I say something, she walks away. I’m also on online dating sites, where it should be easy to approach women, but they shoot me down too, even when I ask them what to do in Toronto.—Jordan
My first thought—informed by more than 12 years of encountering street-level sleaze in Toronto—is that you are creeping on girls, and creeping them out. Stop. There is a respectful middle ground between hassling someone and never trying to talk to women.
Always let her lead the conversation: If you’re in public with other people around, it’s fine to keep a few feet of distance and say hi, ask how she is, whatever, but if she looks alarmed, gives you a tight, short response, turns around or walks away, she’s not into it. You tried, it’s fine, but stop immediately. (That you would keep talking to someone with a “Don’t talk to me” face in the first place suggests that you need to rethink how you approach humanity, not just cute girls.) If a woman smiles and asks you a question, and leans in your direction, you’re fine, at least for a second. Maybe your intentions are good, but know that young women in big cities are approached or just screamed at by men all the time, and it can be scary and gross. Also, game-wise, definitely don’t ask what there is to do in Toronto—it makes the convo about you when it should be, considerately and uncreepily, about her.
Just start really small, with “hi” and “hello,” until you get better at knowing when the moment and mood are right. Toronto’s dating culture is icy cold, but an aggressive, me-first approach is going to make that worse, not better.
Have a question for Kate? Email email@example.com.