My stats counter collects such information as the "key words" that people type into a search engine before landing on this site. A very popular set of keywords is "twenty five and no boyfriend." There are varations, too, like, "i twenty five no boyfriend," and "i am 25 and i have no boyfriend."
When I was 25 I had a husband I couldn't stand, and I thought my life was basically over. I took up boxing, and when I read about fatal accidents in the boxing ring, I didn't worry. I didn't care if I got killed in the ring. I didn't care if my nose was broken in some horrible way. I didn't care if my face was pulverized. I had completely messed up my future happiness, so bring on scarring and fatal accidents. Bring 'em on.
"Honey," said my parish priest, once I finally got up the courage to tell him about all this and worse, "get out while you're young."
He wasn't talking about boxing. So, yay, liberalized divorce laws and, yay, canon law plus ecclesiastical marriage tribunals! The idea of getting married again was not why I began to write out my annulment petition within weeks of running away. It was because I wanted to be free, free, FREE!
Twenty-five is such a terribly dangerous number because for some stupid reason we have arbitrarily decided that this is the age when we women start getting old. In 19th century Canada reaching your 25th birthday was called "turning the first corner." And that's ridiculous: our lives are not squares. They are straight lines beginning at conception and shooting off, out of time, into eternity. There are no corners.
I wrongly married Mr. Wrong at 25, and I sacramentally married Mr. McRight at 38. I dated various men in between, some of whom I had chased down. How nice it would have been if I had just lived in faith that God would send me the Perfect Man for Me if and when He thought it best.
The most sensible thing anyone can say is "Father, Thy will be done." We should say it every day, every hour, with perfect trust that our Father loves us, wants the best for us and will send us what or who we need. Men, well, men do have to get out there and seek a wife, even if that wife is the Church. That is usually what being a man is. Women have to get out there, find a way to make a living, and see who turns up, praying always "Thy will be done." That is usually what being a woman is. I almost break into beads of sweat writing such a politically incorrect thing, but I really don't think women should pursue a spouse the way men should pursue a spouse.
When you are 20, 21 and even 24, 25 may seem as old as the hills. But it is not. It is young. In Christian tradition, the perfect age, the age St. Thomas believed your body will look like at the General Resurrection, is 33. And, frankly, that sounds like a wonderful age for a woman to marry, if she can stay celibate that long. By 33 your formal education is usually done, you've got some money in the bank, you know who you are, and you've got two clear years to have babies and some murkier ones, fertility-wise, beyond. Thirty-eight is not, fertility-speaking, ideal, but I'm not complaining. I turned 38 four months after I met my husband in person, not to mention four months after he became a Catholic and thereby finished the long process of becoming the Perfect Man for Me.
Ah, twenty-five! What beautiful skin I had! Sigh! (Put on sunblock before you go out today.) I bet I glowed like a pearl; most twenty-something girls seem to now. I didn't have a fabulous figure, though--that came when I was twenty-six and had lost 20 pounds. Sigh! I still had great skin at 26, too. Also at 27. And 28. And 29. Really, the decay did not begin until about 35 when, quel horreur, I could no longer afford the gym and began to drown my sorrows in Ben & Jerry's. Let that be a lesson to you. I still wear sunblock though, so the skin is nae sae bad.
Twenty-five in the West today--and, indeed forty-five in the West today--does not mean what it does in rural Afghanistan or what it meant in the West in 1810. We are healthier and younger-looking than either modern hill women or our own ancestors at our age. If we keep off the smokes, keep on the veg, exercise and beauty sleep, and avoid the damage sexual promiscuity inevitably brings, we are physically young for decades. Today the ravages of late middle age are, to a certain extent, self-inflicted.
Therefore, although I understand why thousands of 24 year old women shiver in horror at the number 25, I must insist that 25 is not the beginning of the end. It may not even be the end of the beginning. Twenty-five is young. It doesn't matter that you don't have a boyfriend. Get out there, work, save money, make lots of friends. Trust in God, and for God's sake, don't settle!
P.S. Girls, don't ever give up your dream of a husband who shares your faith. If you fall sincerely and maturely in love with a friend of another sect who is sincerely and maturely in love with you, then that is another thing. But, please, never think you have to give up and flirt with secular humanists just because there are more of them around. You are a precious jewel to be won and cherished, not to be squandered on the roulette table of "relationship."
Update: Hmmm...I wrote about this in July, too.