The other afternoon I was lamenting my youthful dating days with an old friend. I wasn't thinking about my post-divorce, post-annulment dating days, in which I was most definitely the most vulnerable party and a shadow of my former self. I was thinking about my pre-first marriage days, when I had buckets of confidence and, not that I knew this, power that I abused with abandon.
I didn't date much until I was eighteen, and then I was pleased when a handsome refugee from the Middle East decided that I was his girlfriend. Dating someone who did not share my traditional Catholic values became onerous and even scary, and I soon broke up with him.
But it never occured to me to question the whole concept of boyfriend-having, so I was pleased when it dawned on me a year later that a Catholic male friend hoped I'd become his girlfriend. So I did, and within a year or so we were even talking about marriage, and I even had the wedding hymns planned when I realized I was so bored, I'd rather shoot myself than marry my boyfriend. Unfortunately, I put it even worse than that in my break-up speech.
You would think I had learned my lesson, but no. After dating another exciting non-Catholic, I decided (again) to date another Catholic man who had taken a shine to me, and within a year or so we were even talking about marriage, and again I had the wedding hymns planned when I realized I was so bored, I'd rather shoot myself than marry this boyfriend, too. But I do not remember my break-up speech, although I do recall hitting on another Catholic guy before the break-up was final and listening to my new ex-boyfriend's angry diatribe on the subject in his high flutey voice that rose to the crescendo shriek of a tea kettle.
And then I got engaged to yet another exciting non-Catholic, which put an end to my behaving terribly to Catholic young men for a decade and, incidentally, almost ruined my life.
Having spent many many years feeling sorry for myself, I did not have the luxury to feel sorry for my Catholic ex-boyfriends. However, now that I am blissfully happy with B.A., I do feel rather bad about the imprudence of my youth, and I am sorry I was such a jerk to the Nice Catholic Boys I went out with. Of course, they did say some outrageously awful things about me once I toddled off into the sunset, so I won't cry too terribly much.
I think what I feel worst about was talking about marriage before I was 100% sure I wanted to marry either of those young men. In fact, I simply talked too much. I spun castles in the air. I painted word pictures of where we might live, and how we might live, and what we might call our children, and so on and so on, and my poor boyfriends just let me blether. No wonder they were so furious when I broke up with them.
"What will my parents say?" demanded the second. It struck me as very odd that he thought I would care.
So my great unsolicited advice for the day--more for the younger people than for the older--is to keep your daydreaming about your current flame to yourself, not because you're afraid of scaring him/her away (another possibility), but because deep down you don't really know if you want to marry him/her or not.