06/24/2014 11:51 am ET Updated Aug 24, 2014

The Female Double Bind Part III: The Dependent vs. The Diseased

As promised, Part III of the Female Double Bind series is comin' in hot. And when I say hot, I mean like, the kind of hot that burns a hole in your spirit because you're so freaking annoyed with all of this crap women have to deal with.

Sorry, getting a bit frustrated myself. Moving on.


In my own life coaching practice, I have noticed a common thread weaving its way through so many relationships. Girls come to me and talk about their boyfriends, and the decisions that are tied to the partnership's success. Should they go out of state in order to be closer to their boyfriend's new occupation? Should they plan their life around someone who isn't their husband? Should they demand a ring before they make any big choices? And if they do so... are they now..."that girl"?

Wait, wait... who is "that girl"?

You know.

The girl who absolutely 100 percent MUST have a man. She got married young, she's regressive, and she's needy. Her Facebook is plastered with engagement albums and sonograms. She is everything the successful, ambitious 20-something fears. And apparently, prioritizing a relationship is a hop, skip, and a jump away from this diminishing, dependent label.

Dang. Ouch, again -- and to BOTH parties.

A 2006 Gallup poll announced that Americans believe the ideal age for women to be married is 25 (and for men, 27). Almost 10 years later, the average age for females to marry is 27, and 29 for men. So, it's probably safe to say that America believes women should be married in their mid-20s.

But what about the women getting married before their mid-20s? Should women be punished for finding the love of their life early and beginning adulthood hitched? Does this mean they are horribly tragic, and unable to function without a partner? I doubt it.

Ok, well let's focus on the other end of the spectrum -- the women out there who don't find their partner until after their mid-20s -- or even, dare I say it, in their 30s! The horror! They're pegged as too crazy or too desperate to even function in the dating sphere. Super harsh.

And let us please not forget about the Queens of Exile: the divorced and the abstainers! Society slams them as TOTAL nut heads violently ripping apart the fabric of American society before our very eyes. SHAME.

{Insert long exasperated sigh.}

Aside from the fact that we can't win no matter what we do, the "ideal age for marriage" research is rather conflicting to say the least. Many sociologists claim getting married in your early 20s is the key to a satisfying marriage (live your journey together!), while others firmly believe it's the perfect recipe for divorce (get to know yourself first!). And, if our marriage does inevitably fail, it was obviously because we had poor timing or didn't do our self-discovery due diligence. (Yep -- it was your entire fault.)

What we do know is that there is no right answer. However, the real question is, SHOULD there be a right answer? Women should be able to marry whom and when they wish, statistics-free. We shouldn't have to fear the label of the dependent divorced-bound leach for marrying young, or the stigma of the crazy diseased workaholic if we haven't found Mr. Right yet.

So, how can we get to that place?

For one, we can ditch the judgment of others who do not follow our same path. Easier said than done, I know, but we must try. And this goes for both parties!

If you're single, embrace the wedding guest role and "like" the engagement photos that blanket your newsfeed. Never assume a wedding ring automatically equals a boring lifestyle. And when in doubt, plan a wine night -- it's the great equalizer of the relationship statuses.

If you're married, try to openly listen to your single counterparts and support their status by not rushing them down the aisle. Enjoy their funny stories while sharing some of your own. Invite them out just like you would your married friends -- they shouldn't be exiled to solitary just because you may have an uneven number at dinner.

Second, all of us can learn how to cultivate our autonomy whether or not we are in relationships. Interdependence is the new black -- dependence is so retro, independence is too lonely, and both take away from the female's ability to live a balanced life.

Women can easily continue to develop and grow with or without another person by their side. We can learn how to be confident in our direction, our decisions, and our goals. Our marriage choices do not justify the belief that we are any less of a human being. It doesn't matter if we're single, engaged, married, or divorced: this is our life, and we can choose how we live it.

This being so, we must learn how to love our paths fiercely so the fascination with marriage statistics will be taken out with the rest of the garbage. If we aren't obsessed with the marriage race, it kind of loses its allure, doesn't it?

So let's do it.

All right girls, the last installment of the series will drop shortly. Get ready for Part IV. And if you are waiting on the edge of your seat in suspense for the last installment because they are SUCH cliffhangers, I'll let you cheat here. You're welcome.