Earlier this summer, one of my high school friends got engaged, effectively launching the class of 2015’s simultaneous quarter-life crisis. Along with avocado toast and something about napkins, millennials have a reputation for delaying or even foregoing marriage altogether in favor of pursuing thriving careers or an extra decade of Tinder swiping. However, like many millennial stereotypes, even this more credible one isn’t a universal truth, and there are still plenty of college students and recent grads tying the knot.
Of course, any undergrad engagement announcement is bound to raise a few eyebrows, leaving every avocado-feasting, napkinless millennial and their mother (especially their mother) desperate to extend their unsolicited opinion to the soon-to-be newlyweds.
With the help of my recently engaged former classmate, I’ve compiled a list of comments, questions and opinions any newly minted fiancées in your own friend group are tired of hearing. Trust me, they know how young they are.
1. “But You’re So Young!”
Again, for those in the back, she knows how young she is. Or, rather, how old she is, which is the typical way one refers to age in the English language. Unless, of course, they are deliberately insinuating that the person in question is too young, which would be an odd thing to do when talking about a legal adult who has decided to marry another legal adult.
Anyway, your friend has been counting the birthday candles on her cake every year of her life so far, so she’s probably caught up on her age. If she were really in doubt, she could just check her ID or, worst case scenario, track down her birth certificate.
To summarize, your friend knows how old she is, but thanks for the reminder.
2. “Are You Pregnant?”
Besides reinforcing some pretty archaic notions about marriage and parenthood, this one is particularly troubling because it presumes the bride and groom-to-be didn’t freely choose to get engaged. Not only are you implying that they’ve made a bad decision, but that they have in fact made one so bad that it couldn’t possibly have been made freely.
Of course, your friend may actually be pregnant, and that pregnancy may have even contributed to their decision to get married, but that still doesn’t make it an okay thing to ask them. In fact, as a general rule of thumb, it’s important to remember that if someone wants you to know that they are pregnant, they will tell you that they are pregnant. Pretty much the only time it is appropriate to ask someone this question is if you are about to perform a medical procedure on them that could potentially harm a fetus. So until you come back with an MD, keep your antiquated speculations to yourself.
3. “Why Rush into Marriage? You Have Your Whole Lives!”
Even aside from the fact that “your whole life” is a completely arbitrary and usually unknowable length of time that varies significantly from individual to individual, this comment still wouldn’t make any sense. Yes, in theory, these two people could make this decision at any point throughout their lives, however long they may be. This is also technically true of most people in most situations.
Interestingly enough, you never hear people make this comment about other life choices. No one ever says, “Why rush into college now? You have your whole life to get a degree!” or “You have your whole life to buy a house, why not just enjoy being homeless for a while?” In fact, postponing marriage may be the only time procrastination is rewarded.
So, yes, your friend does have her whole life to get married. She happens to be doing it now, during this part of her life, the same way you happen to be doing whatever it is you’re doing with your life at this particular stage. You have your whole life to pass inappropriate judgment on other people’s choices! What’s the rush?
4. “You Two Will Be Completely Different People in Ten Years…”
Yes, it is possible that at some point within the next ten years, your friend and/or her fiancé/e will suffer a traumatic head injury resulting in classic soap opera amnesia that leaves them unable to remember anything about their previous life or identity and effectively making them a “different person.” It is not, however, particularly likely.
What is likely is that your engaged friends will continue to grow and change over time, as all people are wont to do, regardless of their marital status. Sure, these changes could strain a marriage. They could also strengthen it. Alternately, they could have no effect on it whatsoever. Ultimately, the vague possibility that changes of an unknowable nature could someday strain a marriage just isn’t a convincing enough reason to take the rings back.
Besides, even if they wait ten years and then marry whatever new person will allegedly materialize out of the old one, then what happens ten years after that? Does this purported ten-year cycle of rebirth damn us all to a lifetime of perpetual singlehood?
5. “What Do Your Parents Think?”
It’s an engagement ring, not a lower back tattoo she’s showing off in the locker room after school.
Her parents very well may have opinions about their adult daughter’s engagement, and they may be good or bad. At the end of the day, however, your friend is an adult making an adult decision, not a teenager making a risky choice that could leave her grounded for prom.
Of course, if you’re spending your summer crashing at your parents’ place and counting down the days till you can go back to school, it’s only natural to revert to your inner high schooler and frame everything in terms of your parents. Your friend, however, is escaping that fate. Maybe marriage isn’t such a crazy idea after all.
6. “LOL OMG Forever Alone, I Can’t Even Get a Text Back”
Right after my friend dropped the Insta heard round the world (or, rather, some parts of southern New England), few girls from my graduating class could resist taking to Twitter with some self-deprecating comment comparing their own relationship status to their former classmate’s engagement. Each and every tweet was as unique and hilarious as it sounds.
It’s simple: Your friend’s engagement isn’t about you, so don’t make it about you.