HELP!: My Friends Are Getting Engaged

College is a time for parties, making bad decisions and living in the moment. Commitment is the last thing on many of our minds - we barely have time to plan for next week, let alone for a wedding. Yet, as some of our friends, whom we met when we began college, graduate and start planning for marriage, the doubts set in. Will I ever get married? Am I behind? Is my friend ready for this? College is a time for fun, but also a time to prepare for the future. Our friends’ engagements tend to be a reality check many of us are not ready to confront... So how do we deal?
 
Who is Getting Married?

 

With shows like “Four Weddings” and “Say Yes to the Dress,” we see couples headed toward wedded bliss on a daily basis. Yet, the sentiment does not translate to our lives easily. We believe we will eventually get married, but we cannot imagine it now. Perhaps selfishly, we assume our friends feel the same. If we are not thinking about marriage, then how can they be?
 
According to Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, the average age at which women get engaged is 25, and they are usually married by 26. Based on this, I polled the Her Campus staff to see if these numbers are typical of the women I know, and the results were interesting.
 
Nearly 80% of the women polled have friends who are now getting engaged, with the typical age for these friends (73%) being between 23 and 24. To put this into perspective, some seniors, generally 22 upon graduation, are looking at about a year before getting engaged. These results can be daunting, especially for those women who are not in a relationship. “My pledge grandma, a current senior who I met as a freshman (she was a Junior) during sorority recruitment, is engaged, and she and her fiancé are planning to be married within the next year,” says Rachel, a sophomore student at the University of Missouri. “I’m excited for her, but at the same time, I’m wondering if I should be thinking about marriage, too.”
 
When polled, 42% of respondents expressed their hope to be engaged between the ages of 23 and 25, while 53% are hoping to be engaged between the ages of 26 and 28. Since many of us are not planning for marriage anytime soon, how do we connect with our engaged, and eventually married, friends?
  
How to Connect
 
The differences between being single and being married are tremendous. “I think engaged friends are in a kind of dream state – so it’s somewhat hard to relate to them,” says Wilcox. “But married women often settle into married life quickly, and can reconnect with their friends. Still, I think that single women should realize that their married friends’ primary allegiance is to their spouse and they won’t have as much time for them as they did before they were married. They should be as supportive of the marriage as they can; they would want nothing less for their own marriage when they tie the knot.”
 
Although it may be difficult to watch your friend move from spending the majority of her time with you to with her fiancé, it is imperative that you allow the change. While natural instincts tell you to confront your friend, explaining that you’re hurt, it will only push her further away. The engagement period is exciting and new, something that your friend wants to share with her fiancé. Although she will want you included, it is a time for her and her fiancé as a couple, which you need to allow.
 
“I don’t think it will be difficult at all to maintain my friendships with my single friends,” says Lindsey, a senior at the University of Missouri, planning for a summer wedding after graduation. “I plan on keeping a relationship with my closest friends by phone, mail, Facebook, and visiting each other when I can.” Lindsey’s fiancé is in the military, so she will be moving often. Despite this, she maintains her commitment to nurturing her friendships; after all, they are important!
 
Of the collegiettes polled, 79% have friends who are engaged. Of the 79% who have engaged friends, here is how they feel about it:

  • 85.7% feel Happy
  • 42.9% feel Excited
  • 42.9% feel Anxious
  • 14.3% feel Jealous
  • 14.3% feel Confused
  • 0.0% feels Angry

*Respondents were allowed to select more than one answer
 
There are mixed feelings regarding friends’ engagements, which is understandable. “I think many women in their late 20s who have seen many or most of their friends get married get nervous or dispirited,” says Wilcox. “I would encourage women in this position to be more flexible on spouse’s appearance, job, and employment background, but not on interests and values.” Although Wilcox cites women in their late 20s, we see that young women can have these concerns, too.
 
Approximately 58% of respondents worry if they will ever get married, and half cite their friends’ upcoming nuptials as exacerbating those fears. But there is no reason to worry! Wilcox explains that 90% of women will get married at least once during their lifetime.

The timing of an engagement is different for every couple. It is important that you realize it is still early to begin thinking about marriage—there is no right or wrong time to be engaged. Remember that college is a time to discover who you are as a person, so that you may find the perfect guy for you in the future. If you don’t use this time as an exploration period, you will not know what you are looking for once you are ready to be engaged.
 
“At this stage in their lives, young women should not be worried,” says Wilcox. “They have a number of years ahead of them to make an ideal match. I would encourage them to be attentive to the young men in their circles who have a sterling character.”
 
While I do not condone an abundance of random hookups, I do feel that we, as young women, should play the field while we still can. There is plenty of time to settle down in the future, and if you aren’t having fun now, then you could resent your future husband later.
 
Of those surveyed who have friends who are engaged, 53.3% of the couples met in high school, 86.7% met in college, and 6.7% met after graduation. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer, as they may know more than one engaged couple.
 
Clearly, you can never be sure when you are going to meet The One! 

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