By Alexandra Caulway*
I had a college boyfriend. The kind you kiss behind the dorm room door while your roommate pretends not to be annoyed in the common room. The kind you Snapchat more than you talk to and fight with more than you love. The boy that you never knew you weren’t going to marry.
I’m not in college anymore. I don’t have that boyfriend anymore either. I’m with someone I didn’t meet in bio lab or in the dining hall. He never went to a campus party with me. We talk way more than we text, and if he doesn’t answer me for six or seven hours, I know it’s because he is busy. We don’t fight about iPhone drama the way my college boyfriend and I did. There are a lot of reasons for that, including my increased level of maturity, but the number one reason is this: I’m not in college anymore. I have a different life now, one that includes dress pants every day and business cards in my wallet. My new boyfriend has business cards too, not for the same company (thank goodness), but his life is like my life. We match in many ways.
College graduation is a conclusion, but also a real beginning of an era that is impossible to prepare for (sorry, current grads. I promise, it does get better). One of the biggest changes that comes with this new era is how people perceive you. With my college boyfriend, I was not once mistaken for his fiancée. This has happened numerous times in my new relationship. What is it about business casual and being in your twenties that makes people assume you are ready to be married?
The first time, it was an old co-worker of his. She asked how his fiancée was doing. He told her I was doing well and was sitting in the car, which I was, because I was in sweats and not real people clothes that day.
The second and third times were both in New York City. We were there for the weekend and were passing by a street seller who suggested my boyfriend purchase a hat for his wife. His wife? I nearly ran away right then.
The third time was in Central Park. We were walking by one of those horse and carriage drivers selling overpriced romance and a bumpy ride. He asked if we would like one; we declined.
“Save it for Tiffany’s!” the driver shouted after us. I don’t think my boyfriend heard. But I did, loud and clear. You are not in college anymore. You are old enough to reasonably be engaged/almost engaged to another human being. You are not engaged, because goodness knows you aren’t ready for that. But the rest of the world seems to think you are.
So what is it about being in your twenties and a relationship that makes people assume marriage is right around the corner? Is it because you do things that adults do, like having your own health insurance and going to bed at 10:00pm? Or is it because we are all in a race to complete a goal, marriage being one of them?
Society is making another assumption about the order life should happen in.
Of course, many people do take that path. This is the age of meeting people, in bars or grocery stores or wherever your adult things take you. And I’m not saying a wedding isn’t around the corner for me -- but I’m not saying it is either. I’m just in a relationship, with a man I don’t Snapchat, and that is apparently a big deal. But right now, I don’t really care if he is saving for Tiffany’s or not. I’m just a girlfriend who feels awkward when someone mistakes her for a fiancée.
*Alexandra Caulway is 23, dog-obsessed, in love with cheesecake, and addicted to running. She is one year out of school with a Bachelor's degree in English and Mass Communications. Half of her heart is on a plane going somewhere else, and the rest of it goes on the page. Follow her @alexcaulway on Instagram or Twitter. For more post-graduation rambles, go to alexandrawritenow.com.