SEPT 28 — If there’s one term that indicates how little marriage is valued these days it’s “starter wife.” Or “starter husband” for that matter. The expectation that the first person you marry won’t be your last is, to me, rather sad. “Next!”
“If it doesn’t work out, there’s always divorce.” People make mistakes or marry for the wrong reasons. That’s why divorce should exist and I’m all for freedom of choice. I just have issue with people who go into marriage, all blase, as though they’re just entering a renewable contract. If you know you’re always going to have one foot out the door, ready to flee, why bother really?
Are we living in a world of the commitment-phobe, I wonder, as the radio blares a local telco’s ad that promises consumers “no commitment!”
Hard enough trying to navigate the complexity of modern dating without always having to suss out whether the person you’re seeing has “no commitment” somewhere in your relationship’s terms and conditions.
It’s no less painful being a “starter girlfriend”. Singer Adele sings about that harrowingly enough in her hit Someone Like You, written about a man she thought she would marry. Instead, he got engaged just a few months after they broke up.
Some women get upset, wallowing in self-pity and feelings of rejection. The same sad refrains go through their minds:
“I wasn’t good enough.”
“Will I ever be good enough?”
“I’ll never be good enough.”
It’s not really the case, dear ones. The thing about relationships is that they have a lot to teach you if you know how to look. The man who thought he would never want to get married when he was with you, might find he actually does.
But sometimes the only way for him to find out is for someone like you to leave him.
I’ve had girls tell me that they feel their exes’ new girlfriends owe them for teaching their boyfriends to be better men.
Then there are the men who, after they’ve had their eyes opened by a break-up, try running after their ex-partners.
In romance novels or films, it seems as though heaven has granted the lovers a second chance.
In reality, it’s not that simple.
Sometimes a person walks away from a relationship because the limit has finally been reached. When you’ve tried and given everything you had but it still wasn’t enough.
Then there are the men who idealise these starter girlfriends. She’s always “the one who got away.” Believe me, guys, when I say women don’t appreciate you pining for relationships lost. Having a man tell me he still has feelings for me after a decade, that he married his current wife because her voice reminds him of mine wasn’t flattering. Cue Facebook unfriending, number blocking and serious cringing.
Worse are the ex-boyfriends who try being the men they should have been... after the break-up. They may have become better men but they leave behind sadder, wiser women.
Many starter girlfriends didn’t plan on being starter girlfriends. They hoped to be the last.
To the men who have had starter girlfriends teach them hard, painful lessons, please do them a favour. After the break-up leave them the heck alone. Or maybe, maybe stop making women starter girlfriends in the first place. Give it your best the first time so you won’t be drunk texting them in the middle of the night wishing you hadn’t been such an idiot.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.