Ah, Valentine’s Day.
The time of the year when student lovebirds have to decide which of the 20 groups on campus they want to buy roses from. When they scamper to place last-minute reservations at Lacroix, lest they end up celebrating the night at — gasp — City Tap House.
Well, I’m thinking of something a little bigger this year. I’m thinking of getting married.
Before you balk, however, know that the boyfriend and I have been dating for a while now. Over the course of a three-year relationship, one inevitably asks oneself what the commitment for the future looks like.
And while obstacles abound, many of the couples I spoke to don’t seem to find it a problem.
Still, I see how the many things standing in the way of the college couple looking for something more solid can be a scary enough deterrent — for me included.
My hypothetical engagement, for one, would be met with parental disapproval (but that is a column for another day).
Debt, for another — the average Penn student graduates $32,119 in debt, according to a United States Department of Education report released last year.
And a common sentiment among couples in long-term relationships is a fear that their other may not be significant enough for the future. “We’re right for each other now, but I’m not sure if we’re right for life,” a friend of mine said.
And with the median marrying age of 28.2 and 26.1 for men and women, respectively, the ages of most engaged or married undergraduates fall well below the national average, leaving them susceptible to the judgment of their peers.
The engaged undergraduate also has to factor in the future spouse’s needs at every life-changing stage. Wharton junior Ivy P. — who has been engaged to an Engineering senior for the last one-and-a-half years but preferred not to disclose her full name because she has not yet made the engagement public — said that being engaged has constrained her career choices. “My fiance has a job back in China, so I’m definitely limited to jobs there.”
Isabel Collyns, 20, a Wharton junior who agreed to the proposal from her boyfriend of four-and-a-half years over winter break, said being in a serious relationship has affected her college experience. “I spend most of my weekends out of town [to meet my fiance in New York],” she said, “and I have been more of a homebody since I met him.”
And yet, it’s understandable that our peers in long-term relationships are not ready for something more at this age. We worry about our future jobs, whether or not to do graduate school and where to move to after we graduate. A lot of our peers “are still in a different phase of life,” Collyns explained.
That said, the romantic in me envies the undergraduates that choose to make this lifetime commitment before they turn 21. For them, such restrictions are not even considered sacrifices.
“We acknowledge that we’re going through this process — filing taxes together while we’re both young and in school — but it’s kind of like having a sidekick,” said Megan Dickson, 22, a College junior who married her Brazilian beau in Korea last May.
“I don’t need to go to a party or worry about making friends as much because I already have a support system,” Collyns said of her fiance.
Over the week, I asked my boyfriend if he thought we were ready to cement our relationship. The answer was a very unsure “Maybe?”
While we trust each other wholeheartedly, we’re going to wait till we get our lives in order (he’ll only be entering Penn this year) and enjoy the ridiculous fun associated with college life together.
I envy these people who are mature enough to know they can commit to someone for the rest of their lives. But for the rest of us, we shouldn’t feel any pressure — let’s just eat the Valentine’s candy, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Rachel Au-Yong is a College sophomore from Singapore. Her e-mail address is auyong@theDP.com. Combat Ray-tions appears every other Monday.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.