My mother's generation had it easy. There was no question--if you met a boy and thought he was decent enough and would provide for you, you married him. If at seventeen or eighteen, you met someone who caused groin-flutters and rapid heartbeats, you were in love with him and then married him.
Our generation on the other hand has so many choices of affection, that we might as well curl up into a ball and twitch. See, there's the initial, "Oh I'm attracted to you" or "Oh I have the biggest crush on you" and then, sometimes, very rarely, "Oh I love you." Why is so scary to say the words "I love you"? I mean, it seems like the simplest choice, surely? It doesn't convey the raw lustiness in "I'm attracted to you" and it effectively steers away from the wimpy commitment-phobeness of "I have the biggest crush on you." And really at one point in our lives, no matter how much we deny it later, we're in love with the person we're kissing, with the person we're dating, with the person we're calling despite mouthing terms like, "I'm really not ready for a relationship." Ready for a relationship indeed! Step up to the plate, young man! If your father had said "I'm not ready for a relationship" he probably wouldn't have lived for very long.
Of course, the whole idea of premarital sex complicates matters further. Our grandparents (and some of our parents) met under the benevolant eye of various family members. Family members hwo knew that if this worked out, the two young people in the room would wind up having sex pretty soon. How typically like India, shelter and guard someone all their lives and then *bam* encourage them to procreate with a practical stranger. Nowadays, it's more like girl meets boy, girl flirts with boy, girl and boy go out, it gets dark, he has his father's car and a packet of Kamasutra and well, yeah, I'm not going into the gory details. And with all this sex and no intention of settling down with this person you've seen naked, is it any wonder that the women of my generation are essentially screwed up? We have too many choices people.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're going to say. That I'm lucky to have a liberal family that lets me make my own choices. That if I really had to deal with the nightmare that is arranged marriages I would probably wish myself back in my situation in a heartbeat. Okay, well, yeah, I'm aware of all this. But still, I have some friends who come from strict families, who know that in a year or two they will have to settle down. And their casual ease, their certainity about the future is something I envy slightly. Oh, I know pretty much where my life is going. But I can't say, "So by the time I'm thirty, I'll be married with two kids". The alone-ness of my life as an independant, confident, professional career woman stretches in front of me and there are times when i want to sit down and have gold rings and go for kitty parties and be taken care of, y'know?
My generation has choices that no other generation has. It is possible to do a college degree in Creative Writing for fucks sake. And people accept that, applaud that as a sensible choice. No more lines of doctors and engineers, it is possible for everyone to follow their dreams if they have adequate resources. What else do we have? The highest ever divorce rates, rampant AIDS, lots of money going into therapy and the inability to sustain a functional relationship. Would I go back a generation? No. But am I a little sad with what mine has? Hell, yeah.