Now, though, I realize that if I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I’m at the age where I’ll likely need to settle for someone who is settling for me. What I and many women who hold out for true love forget is that we won’t always have the same appeal that we may have had in our 20s and early 30s. Having turned 40, I now have wrinkles, bags under my eyes, and hair in places I didn’t know hair could grow on women. With my nonworking life consumed by thoughts of potty training and playdates, I’ve become a far less interesting person than the one who went on hiking adventures and performed at comedy clubs. But when I chose to have a baby on my own, the plan was that I would continue to search for true connection afterward; it certainly wasn’t that I would have a baby alone only to settle later. After all, wouldn’t it have been wiser to settle for a higher caliber of “not Mr. Right” while my marital value was at its peak?
Those of us who choose not to settle in hopes of finding a soul mate later are almost like teenagers who believe they’re invulnerable to dying in a drunk-driving accident. We lose sight of our mortality. We forget that we, too, will age and become less alluring. And even if some men do find us engaging, and they’re ready to have a family, they’ll likely decide to marry someone younger with whom they can have their own biological children. Which is all the more reason to settle before settling is no longer an option.
I was thinking about all this in the context of some of my own writing along these lines. A few posts ago, I suggested that someone's "sexual history" (for want of a better phrase) might have some bearing on their future fidelity. But this is not a message that gets communicated to young people today, even in Christian education. Why?
1. While there is much in the Bible about being chaste, there is very little about marrying chaste. The requirement seems to only have applied to Levitical priests.
2. Evangelical Christianity puts an emphasis on repentence and forgiveness, so it becomes difficult to simultaneously put out a message that someone's past sins should weigh against their present suitability.
3. Using chasity as a screening factor comes with not inconsiderable cost, especially for women. For one thing, it dramatically shrinks the pool; sadly, this will probably be true in Christian communities as well, though different in degree. For another, and let's be brutally honest here: all things being equal, those of us subject to greater temptation will fail more often than those who are subject to lesser temptation . . . or no temptation. This is not to give ammunition to the ignorant notion that the virtue of chasity was invented by people who weren't gettin' any no how. But it is to admit that being chaste came far easier for me than it must have come to many of my friends better endowed with those qualities attractive to the opposite sex. In the aggregate, this tendency is going to make a difference: the pool of virgin men will on average be less appealing than the pool of players when judged on the conventional qualities.
Given this dynamic, it is understandable that many, indeed most, women might accept the higher risk of infidelity in exchange for other qualities. But they should do it with their eyes open.