The Runaway Bride Stigma

‘If you’re so bold, jumping on cliffs without a flinch, why do you hesitate at love?’ 

That statement from a friend sounded more like a mocking dare. Like, ‘I bet you can’t do that!’ There’s nothing quite as painful as suppressing a much-needed eye roll. But I wanted to be more mature and philosophical, so I rebut:

‘Look at the household cat. By the look of his bored, pussycat face, he portrays to his human owner a life of monotony and routine; if not for the occasional betrayal of evidence in the form of mangled bodies of birds and mutilated rodents here and there that tells us of frequent, callous murders they commit in their daily lives. Your cat may lead a more interesting life than a Stepford wife.’

So that’s why you never want to get married.’

I realize that in my home base, I will always be that villain in their eyes. I’ll always have that ‘runaway bride stigma’ carried with me. A month before the wedding day with all the preparations set, I did a 360 and adamantly said I’m not walking down the aisle.

Maybe in my existential life this happened once. Or twice. Not my proudest moment. But my friends bring it up occasionally, just to make fun of me . I’ll always be that ‘girl who’s afraid of commitment’, ‘guarding her freedom like her life depended on it’. And then there’s this urban legend about me bringing ‘bad wedding luck’ to couples.

Hmm. maybe that’s why despite all the wedding photos posted on Facebook, I never get an invite.

I remember being 18, and being that manic pixie dream girl with the bangs and curls, and unavoidable paint splatters in her clothes. The type who sits in cafes and enjoys film photography. The type who would never hurt anyone. Used to poop fireworks and rainbows as well. Once upon a time I was that girl who was always in a relationship. Jumping from one long-term relationship to another; the kind that lasts for years and years that people start thinking we’re going to eventually end up together. And then I jump the gun and surprise everyone. At the last minute, I realize that it wasn’t really something I wanted. For some reason, when my relationships get close to marriage, I bail out. Queue in intense disappointment from family, friends and loved ones.

That’s the major caveat with labels and stigmas. Oh, she’s the straight-A’s stellar girl; that one’s the problem child and this one’s the alpha female. The problem with assigning people (or your own children) labels is that they will tend to live up to that label, until they fall short of your expectations and you assign them a new one.

And probably that’s also my issue with boyfriends and girlfriends: they assign you to their version of a ‘perfect mate’. But in the end, people don’t truly get to know their loved ones’ souls. They dream of ‘perfect’, but perfect is shallow. They have no interest in knowing your complexities, and they pay the price with heartache.

Look at Tom and Summer.

‘You overshadow me and don’t give me a chance at the spotlight‘, an ex said. What a big amount of bull. It’s been a recurring theme in my relationships, men make it out like it’s a sprint marathon; and their expectations are as lofty as their egos.

I remember being in a big argument with a guy because I won in an event and he congratulated me backstage with a big bouquet of flowers and surprises. He later on expressed his disappointment that I didn’t ‘thank him hard enough’. I think he wanted me to swoon and keel and maybe cry a little. Somehow, it still had to be about him. He assigned me his concept of what I should be–and frankly, I’m too selfish to be the supporting cast.

Maybe there will come a time when we meet that person who doesn’t make it like a competition. A being that is ‘strange and familiar all at once; with enough change to quicken my mind, and enough steadiness to give sanctuary to my heart’ (Iyer). A soul who feels like home and adventure all at once. Someone who gets your impulsiveness and fosters your curious spirit; a partner-in-crime with the same brand of crazy.

Until then, the world has enough curiosities to keep me fascinated and I’m perfectly fine responding to ‘When are you getting married?’ tita questions with ‘When are you planning to lose weight?’ questions.

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