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Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

Dear Dr. Christina,

I am 40 years of age and I am beginning to wonder if there is something wrong with me. All my friends whom I went to school with and relatives have gotten married, and I have not even received a proposal yet and feel left out in the cold. I have gone to so many weddings as a bridesmaid that my entire closet is full of gowns that I have worn to “other people’s weddings.” I am beginning to lose count! Am I doing something wrong? Am I ever going to know what it’s like to commit to and love that one special person?

Can you please help me with some ideas as to what may be going on and help me understand why I have not landed my soulmate yet?

Thanks, J

Dear J,

I really appreciate you writing to me. Please believe me, you are not alone in this particular situation.  Many people are sometimes embarrassed about not being able to make that commitment of marriage or endure the pressures from family, which can become almost unbearable. Each time one of your friends or coworkers announces her engagement, it may upset you and hurt your feelings.

The decision to marry is one of the biggest decisions that most people will have to make in their lifetime and, believe it or not, marriage is not always the solution.

According to some statistics from, just about 50% of all marriages end up in a divorce.

The 5 main reasons why people get a divorce are:

  1. Poor communication
  2. Finances
  3. Abuse
  4. No longer being attracted to one another
  5. Infidelity

Just knowing those statistics would make anybody cringe and hesitate!  Some people delay marriage for many reasons such as:

  • You are focusing on your own career.
  • You cannot afford the wedding costs or do not want to have a large public ceremony.
  • Your standards for that right person may be too high.
  • You or your partner may have issues (i.e.; drug, alcohol, others) that have to be worked on before getting serious.
  • Being monogamous just doesn’t have any meaning for you.
  • Because you like the idea of breaking up.
  • You just do not want a commitment to get married and enjoy the single life.
  • You do not want to have “in-law dramas”
  • Not all debt collectors honor divorce decrees and can leave you owing money.
  • Afraid of unequal sharing of responsibilities of home chores and responsibilities.
  • Will lose benefits (i.e.; medical, pension, etc.)
  • It may put you into a higher tax bracket.
  • The financial and legal entanglements that marriage entails.
  • Your partner cannot commit so don’t waste time trying to convince someone.
  • You put everyone else first and do not look at your own needs.
  • You enjoy having two places to spend the night: 1-2 nights with a partner but there is always that option to go home.

Once a couple lives together, it is much harder to break up due to entangled lives and financials (like bank accounts and leases).

Sometimes people decide to get married for the wrong reasons:

  1. They want to have kids and raise a family now.
  2. They want to escape from an unhappy home situation and end up trading one problem for other problems.
  3. They feel that their biological clock is ticking and/or feel no one better will come around. (Think of Marisa Tomei’s character in the movie, “My Cousin Vinny”)
  4. Codependency on one another or dependency on alcohol/drugs.
  5. Emotional blackmail and feeling guilty that they cannot find anyone better to be in a relationship with.
  6. Great sex but no real feelings.
  7. Marriage just seems like the next step to living together.
  8. Love at first sight.
  9. Getting into a relationship after a rebounding from a breakup.
  10. Loneliness.
  11. Out of obligation or parental arrangement to your mate.
  12. Getting pregnant on purpose (or not on purpose).
  13. Reacting to pressure from your friends and family.
  14. Looking for financial security, especially if you are a single parent.

So, J, as you can see, you are totally normal and there is nothing wrong with you. It’s a scary world out there, and you have to learn to live your life for yourself. It is all about your own well being. You do not have to let others influence or pressure you to do things that you are not ready for. You need to decide on the life that makes you happy and smile. It’s your time to date and to get to know your date’s likes and dislikes. Just be authentic and be comfortable enough to ask questions and express concerns for your potential significant others.

Companionship and trusted friendship is what is important. To love and to be loved by another human being unconditionally is the most satisfying experience one can have, with or without marriage. It really comes down to if you choose to get married someday, not only is it important that it be to the right person but let it be for all the right reasons.

I hope this response to your letter helps. I wish you the very best in whatever decisions you make and, whatever happens, that your choice will indeed help you feel complete and happy.

My thoughts are with you,

Dr. Christina

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.


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