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Opinion: Engagement Looks Different for Everyone

I still remember the moment that it hit me: I was 18 years old, about to move nearly two hours away from everything and everyone I knew to take on the adventure of college. I had recently (and unexpectedly) fallen in love with the sweetest guy I had ever met. This was my thought: even if our relationship can withstand the miles that separate us and the days we will spend apart, it is going to look very different from what society defines as the correct “progression” for relationships. I was terrified that my heart would get broken, but I knew that I had to follow my dreams and trust that if this was the person I was meant to spend forever with, it would all work out.

Three and a half years later, I can say that my wildest dreams have come true. We have jumped through many of the hoops and obstacles that come with semi-and-long distance dating. Although I was right about the uniqueness of our relationship, little did I know then that this relationship would change my life for the better. His name is Sam, and if you follow me on social media, you know that my profile is basically a Sam fanpage. As we enter our final year of college, I am already getting questions that sound like this: “When is Sam proposing?” or “When are y’all going to get married?” I know that curiosity will only increase as the holidays roll around and graduation in May approaches.

Although I know these questions come from a place of love and support, they contribute to a major stereotype associated with long-term relationships: as soon as the couple’s chapter at college is over, marriage has to come next, followed by children. This is partially due to the pattern that generations before us followed. However, the year is 2021, and it is time that the level of acceptance changes around this topic. Nowadays, more and more couples are waiting longer to get married. In fact, Insider published a study of 4,000 couples, and results found that the average couple was together for approximately five years before tying the knot. In many cases, couples chose to get married because they wanted to, not because they felt pressured to. Due to this thoughtfulness, divorce rates are lower than they ever have been. This is encouraging to read, and reminds me that it is perfectly acceptable to wait as long as necessary for marriage, no matter what others may think.

I want to take a moment to address the Meredith students who have been in serious relationships for a while, and who may be beginning to get engaged and start the next step of their lives. If this is you, congratulations! I love seeing the beautiful engagement and wedding pictures. I am thrilled for you and wish you the best. This article is not meant to judge you or condemn your decisions; rather, I want to emphasize that this decision is yours to make — just like it is mine to wait to be married until I feel the time is right.

Sam and I often talk about how important it is for us to have the time and space to pursue our individual interests and relationships. We prioritize this because we know that if we are diligent about this, we will become the best version of ourselves for each other. I know that at the end of the day, this will lead to a stronger marital foundation whenever we find ourselves at that point. It is my hope that all couples achieve this same level of intentionality before beginning marriage.

Finally, if you are the reader who has never had a serious relationship and/or has no desire to get married, know that you are seen, loved and valued in your decision. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, and keep following the path that you want for your life.

By Hannah Porter, Opinion Editor

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