“Will you marry me?” is not only a proposition, it is also a job offer.
On the one hand, you want to pick a lover who will seem desirable for more than one night. On the other hand, it is not necessary to pick each lover as if you were picking a husband. Selecting a husband is a serious business with real and long-lasting consequences. To marry is to select, for the foreseeable future, a particular lifestyle, not to mention a standard of living, place of residence, social status, and perhaps, even religion and citizenship. The decision of who to marry may be a reversible decision; but the divorce process is often difficult, traumatic, and costly.
There are as many books about how to pick a husband as there are books about how to meet men. What do you want in a husband? How do you recognize in advance a man who will be a good husband for you versus the not-so-good kind?
The traditional view of love and marriage involved a double standard for men and women. A man might sow his wild oats before marriage or even after marriage, but he still wanted his wife and the mother of his children to be a “good” girl. A “good” girl was one who was a virgin until she married. Thus, if a woman wanted to make a respectable marriage, it was important that she not take a lover. At the very least, it was important that she not surrender her virginity to anyone other than the man she expected or hoped would marry her.
In contrast, men have always known that there were two kinds of girls: the kind of girl you marry and the other kind. Fathers gave their sons good advice: “Never confuse ‘I love you’ with ‘I want to marry you.’” The fact that a man did not intend to marry every woman he was involved with did not prevent him from having significant or rewarding relationships with his mistresses. Some affairs were strictly sexual relationships, some were romantic liaisons, and some were full-blown love affairs. Let’s, for a moment, consider traditional marriage from the woman’s perspective. If she wanted to find someone suitable whom she would eventually marry, then she had to screen even her casual dates with that in mind. She instantly recognized many men as not the kind of men she would want to marry; and she eliminated them so as to concentrate on the bachelors who were, in her books, eligible. She was likely to want the men she dated to
have the right religion, the right social class, and the right prospects.
Nowadays, however, it is no longer axiomatic that women remain virgins until they marry or, at least, until they meet their future husband. If you are marriageable, whether or not you are a virgin, then you too can enjoy worthwhile lovers who appeal to you but who are not potential mates. You may decide that you do not want to marry, or you may decide only that you do not want to marry yet. You are, in fact, free to pick a lover.
The relationship we will be discussing here, the relationship of a woman and her lover, is not at all like marriage. It is not for the alliance of extended families or for the raising of children or for the buying of houses and social security. The sole purpose of the love affair is to give pleasure. Since it is a less serious decision, with fewer implications, you do not need to be guided by the same restrictions that would apply to the selection of a husband. If what you want is a good love affair, you are free to enjoy many different kinds of men for many different kinds of reasons. In order to select the right one,
all you need to find is someone who pleases you now and for the foreseeable future.
Sparkling eyes, a dazzling smile, and the ability to party up a storm may not be an adequate basis for a marriage, but they can be more than an adequate basis for a frivolous weekend of impassioned sex.