I am at that age where it seems like all my friends are getting married and having babies. A few people I went to high school with already have 3 kids and a pet. In the northern community where I work it is traditional to have children young and family is one of the most important things culturally. My also childless friend once told me that if you don’t have a baby by 25 here, people start to question what’s wrong with you. Her grandfather even told her her uterus was stubborn. People here would be ecstatic if they found out I was expecting. They try to set me up with their sons. Living here, more than ever I’ve felt the pressure to try to settle down.
I am not a settle down kind of girl.
I was late bloomer when it came to dating. In college I dated a little but I was shy and kind of dreamy and not really interested. In University I was on my own studying full time, working 2 – 3 jobs to be able to afford my tuition. I just didn’t have any energy left over to date. And that is my excuse for why I’ve really only started to date in the last 2 -3 years of my twenties.
Coming to the north was what really changed things. Suddenly I was in a place that was so big and empty and isolated and I needed to reach out to others to not feel so alone. It’s really hard to explain how the north makes you feel to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. I’m an independent person who knows how to make my own fun and take care of myself, I hadn’t felt lonely living in the city, but in the north I felt the most lonely I’ve ever felt in my whole life.
It forced me out of my shell which was the good thing about it, I went from being an introvert to an extrovert in the north. In the city I couldn’t wait to get some peace and quiet at home. In the north I became a social butterfly trying new activities, dancing with mining men, having deep conversations with strangers I’d just met, going to house parties, even heading to the bar on my own just to see who I’d meet and talk to.
And I met lots of awesome people, the kind of people you meet in a small town, FIFO(fly in, fly out) people from all over just there for a few weeks, friendly locals that took me camping and to secret beautiful spots in the bush, misfits that lived in the north full time because “regular” city life just wasn’t for them, and lots of young people like myself, working in the north because they just weren’t any jobs for young people in the cities where we came from.
And so as I came out of my shell and as I saw everyone else settling down back home, I tried out dating, kind of, for the first time. In hindsight maybe a place where most people are in a transient moment of their life isn’t the best place to try to meet someone but it’s where I finally felt the desire to do so.
I started dating a guy in the north that I’d met months earlier in the summer, I knew he liked me but I hadn’t really been open to dating when we first met. That fall he did everything right, he opened doors for me, he bought me dinner, he spooned me, the sex was good, he called me lovey, he kissed me goodbye every time I dropped him off at work in the morning and when I took him to the airport when he was flying out. He talked about moving in. It was January and it was cold outside and it felt safe and good to have him with me. I thought maybe I can do this, maybe I can settle down. I bought matching towels and rugs. I bought matching lingerie just before Valentine’s Day. And then I never heard from him. Just like that.
I started dating another guy a few months later. I was hesitant at first, I wouldn’t let him kiss me, he kept trying, he told me he needed a good woman to keep him out of trouble, he told me he wanted me to visit his hometown. So I thought he seemed serious but when it came down to it, he didn’t want me to visit, he didn’t want to commit the way he’d made it seem at the beginning, he ran away from the thought that I might want to marry him and have kids with him (which I didn’t).
After those 2 failed relationships attempts I told my friend that I thought I might have commitment issues.
“You don’t have commitment issues, I saw you with them and you were totally ready to pack up and move away with them.”
“Yes” I said, “but it was the packing up and moving away to a new place part that I liked the most and I think I knew deep down that when it came down to it that they wouldn’t ever actually take me home with them.”
It was easy for these guys to act like they wanted to commit to me because we were up north, away from the world and it was easy for me to think I wanted to commit to them because being in the north made me feel like I needed someone.
And honestly both times I felt kind of relieved that it didn’t work out, ‘now I can still travel the world’ ran through my mind, thinking about how I wouldn’t be stuck in the small towns they were from living a life that wasn’t really what I longed for.
Now I’ve been alone for the last 2 months and I’ve been thinking about why I can’t seem to find a guy who will commit, that maybe it’s because I don’t really want to “settle down” myself?
Friends have advised me to try dating sites where people have to be clear with their intentions and you are matched with someone compatible. I tried but the problem is they are location based and I am not location based, I’m unsettled in more ways than one.
I’ve also been really happy the last month, I’m taking graduate courses online, I’m planning a get away from the 8 months of winter to somewhere hot, catching up with reading and writing, thinking about buying a mini mobile home to be my sorta home base when I’m not travelling or working in remote locations, looking forward to finishing my time up north in 6 months and considering travelling around Europe next fall and winter or applying to teach in South Korea.
Maybe people who are in transient states and are in the middle of making travel plans just shouldn’t date? But I also don’t really want to just do it all alone all the time. But what if I don’t have to settle down or settle for a life that is not really me?
I discovered this great quote recently:
“Why should a relationship mean settling down? Wait out for someone who won’t let life escape you, who’ll challenge you and drive you toward your dreams. Someone spontaneous you can get lost in the world with. A relationship, with the right person, is a release not a restriction.”
~ Beau Taplin
And that’s exactly what I need, I don’t have commitment issues, those guys just weren’t the right guys and I wasn’t the right girl for them. I don’t want to settle down with someone because being in the isolated north makes me feel like I need to be with someone. I could commit to someone, someone who was like me and felt that a relationship doesn’t have to mean “settling down” but could mean lifting each other up. Who would understand that for me commitment means being there for each other and feeling both secure but also free to keep pursuing our dreams and motivating each other to do so and not necessarily getting married and having kids and buying a house and staying in one spot. That wasn’t what I was asking for…
I just need to find someone who isn’t willing to settle down either, and not settle in the meantime for something that isn’t really what I want.
And actually on a side note : “Don’t Settle” is my motto for 2016. Don’t settle for relationships with men that treat me badly. Don’t settle for jobs that I feel stuck and unappreciated in. Don’t settle for staying in places and situations that no longer have the opportunities I need to challenge me to grow and learn. Don’t settle just because it feels safer to have a job or a person or a place that isn’t right for me rather than to not have them.