Who was the stereotypically picture-perfect wife? The super wife? The woman who seemed to never age and would be ready with dinner and a clean home, no matter how her day had been. Women through the decades have bent and weaved through holes to display this perfection. And for many decades this was an expectation. But now? Now times are changing. Today, more women are self-sufficient and men prove lacking compared to those characterized in novels. Such a thought leads us to consider the idea of being “realistic” and what that truly means.
Recently, my “For You” page on TikTok has become quite the interesting experience as it blatantly appears the app seems to know what I am thinking about. As a self-proclaimed romantic, my thoughts often wander towards romance and dating — or more specifically, romance and dating in college. Even more specifically, I wonder how dating and meeting people in college is so far removed from the scenes of courting and meeting in the ballrooms of Jane Austen novels, a disparity that always made me question: Do I, and other women like me, set standards too high?
In my opinion, no.
Relationships take work and it is impossible to say that compromises will not be made; compromises that lead to growth in the relationship and not something where any individual has to concede their ideals. But these compromises should no longer be one-sided. Indeed, being single is no longer the taboo it used to be. Studies have found that, in comparison, women are happier being single than men. Furthermore, many of these single women are not actively looking for relationships, according to a recent study determining that 61% of single men were actively looking for partners while only 38% of women were. Indeed, the number of single people has been rising steadily along with marriages occurring much later than they did in past decades. The lie that a woman needs a partner to be happy has now been staunchly rejected by research and reasoning alike.
Single women are happier now than they were in prior eras, relishing in their independence and following passions unrelated to having a family. That is not to say that many women don’t want a family; it simply shows that having high standards, in the context of a generation of independent and self-reliant young women, is sometimes the best way to find an individual — a partner — who will add more to one’s life. Indeed, it may be best to no longer refer to them as high standards, but just as standards: The properties a partner must demonstrate to be considered as an individual worth compromising for. And yes, they may include a longer list, but that is more than fair considering the compromises women have made in generations past along with the fact that everyone deserves a partner who puts equal amounts of effort into their continued relations.
This article is not directed towards any specific group of people; it is not a call to action, unless one would like to take it that way. Instead, for me at least, this perspective provides a comfort that I am right to expect as much as I give. It represents a shift towards individuals only making sacrifices for those who add to their lives and don’t force unequal concessions. It provides reassurance that being single is as fulfilling as I allow it to be. And it is not too much to believe that the romance illustrated in novels can be ours in reality. Perhaps we romantics cannot expect some magic happenings but we should expect the best for ourselves. Because it is deserved. Because it should be the given and not the ideal.