Any girl will tell you that she spent a good chunk of her childhood planning her wedding day.
Make no mistake: Her 10-year-old self probably had down every detail, from her bridesmaids' dress color to her lipstick shade.
Like anything, the institution of marriage has had its "in" and "out" phases -- and, for many Americans, it seems to be on the way out. I see inconsistencies in my friends' love lives.
There’s the girl who got hitched straight out of high school. There’s the perpetually single girl who shudders at the word “wife.”
There’s the couple who’s been in a relationship forever, and the only vow they’re making right now is “I don’t.”
I used to envision a future life of white picket fences and golden retrievers. Now that I’m approaching my mid-20s in the least marriage-minded city in the country, I’m not sure when -- or if -- that life will materialize.
I surveyed friends in their 20s and 30s, and here’s what three had to say about tying the knot:
'Of course I want to get married. It’s just one of those inevitable life stages, like death.' 'I’m kind of cynical because my parents divorced each other. That being said, I’m very much in love with my boyfriend -- but I’m not sure if he’ll ever put a ring on it, and I’m okay with that.' 'I hope to get married, but I’ll only do it for true love. If that doesn’t happen for me, I don’t want to lock myself into something. I’m more focused on building my empire.'
These drastically different opinions left me wondering if there was such a thing as a "marrying kind."
We all say that we'd like to get married someday -- come hell or high water. But the maps we make in our heads don’t always align with the futures we pursue.
With this in mind, I looked at the factors that could influence a person’s chances of getting married.
A college degree can help you get a husband (or wife).
Marriage rates are highest among Americans who graduate from college. They're lowest among those who have only a high school diploma or do not complete college.
The Pew Research Center's study pointed to economic mobility as a predictor of marriage. That's good news for our post-recession economy.
At the same time, the Center warned its readers to take this correlation with a grain of salt.
No matter the reason, it's clear that education impels us to seek more stability in our romantic lives.
You’re most likely to marry between the ages of 25 and 34.
It’s all about timing, so it’s best to strike while the iron’s hot. After 34, your chances of finding a spouse only decrease.
Get good at juggling, ladies and gentlemen! You may have to perform a tricks in your twenties to push forward your careers AND your love lives.
City dwellers are less likely to marry.
In a study published by The New York Times, those who live in urban places (like New York, San Francisco and New Orleans) are less likely to marry than those who live in less-populated areas.
Though it's old news that marriage breeds in small towns, the Times's findings might seem paradoxical to some. After all, cities are more densely populated.
Residents in rural areas have fewer of the interactions inherent in city life. But they seem to be making more lasting connections.
Let’s talk about sex, baby: Women get married more often than men.
Maybe men really aren’t wired to commit. Maybe they don’t feel any pressure simply because they don’t have biological clocks to worry about.
Whatever the reason, there are more women getting married today than men. This study shows that the pool of young, available bachelors is shrinking. Sorry, ladies.
Race is a factor: White people marry most frequently.
One in three African-Americans over the age of 25 have never been married.
Among white people of the same age, that statistic becomes one in five. The rates for young Asian-Americans and Latinos lie somewhere in the middle.
What does it all mean?
So what exactly can we infer about marriage and society from these findings?
According to Pew researcher Wendy Wang, the answer lies in being unimpressed with our options. "There's a mismatch between what people want and what there is in the marriage market," Wang says.
And she isn’t kidding. Thirty percent of the participants in her survey say they “haven’t found what they’re looking for.” Oh, and most of them are over 35.
What the hell are we looking for?
If you're married and happy, it's hard to imagine life without your soulmate.
It’s even harder to imagine that you could age without becoming wiser; if maturation doesn't separate the wheat from the chaff, what will?
Our standards have grown, and our chances of committing have decreased. This is a formula for failure.
Despite a slight recent growth in marriage rates, a quarter of the currently never-been-married Americans will remain single by the time they're 40 or 50 years old.
In other words, there’s a good chance you’ll be a great-grandma still waiting for someone to make your stomach flip.