My life changed for the better once I decentered romance

OPINION: From the time we are born, women are taught that the ultimate prize in life is love and marriage. But what happens when we stop believing that myth?

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Almost every fairytale we’ve ever been told has been centered around some princess or other damsel in distress needing a man to rescue her. Her valiant hero almost always becomes her immediate romantic match, and in addition to saving her life, he gives her her first-ever kiss, marries her, and they lived happily ever after

As women, we know these endings because they have been shoved down our throats from the time we could recognize sounds. Everything in our lives is usually centered (by others sometimes more than ourselves) around us finding the “right man,” getting married and building a family. The narrative has become so ingrained in our culture and society that any woman who doesn’t meet even just one single part of it is automatically deemed flawed in some kind of way—whether she is or not. 

Although my views on marriage and romance had already changed by the time I was an adult, it wasn’t until I began to study the sociology behind these constructs that I realized the bag of goods we had been sold. 

We’ve been had, ladies. 

Let me preface this by saying I am by no means a man-hater. I absolutely love men. I love the (good) scent of a man, the sound of a deep voice in my ear, the feeling of those arms around me, the companionship (when it’s good) and all the things that go along with it. 

I am not even opposed to marriage; I am just not actively seeking it. 

Once my focus was taken off turning myself into “wife material,” I was able to devote that energy to improving and evolving me for me. Regular talks with my therapist, a lot of self-critique-turned-into-active improvements and consistently listening to myself helped me to improve my relationship with myself as well as others around me. 

With less focus on romance, I was able to dive deeper into my friendships with my sister circle—the Black women around me who keep me grounded, boost me up when I need it and replenish me with their presence because this is the way friendships are supposed to work. 

It also made me much more choosy when it comes to romantic and/or sexual partners. I no longer feel this rush to the finish line, and I’m able to take my time deciding what I want and with whom. 

I found myself pouring more energy into the things that interest me, including going back to school and starting an entirely new career in journalism. 

With the focus being solely on myself, I sometimes wonder if I am being too selfish, and then I realize that as long as I am not actively harming another human being, then there is no such thing. 

Pouring into me instead of trying to mold myself into what someone else may want me to be is much more satisfying. Going after what I want instead of what family, society and others tell me I should want continues to be an exciting journey. 

Engaging in romantic relationships, situationships and everything in between has been a lot less stressful without some lofty end goal in mind. 

I don’t know if my choice is the choice for every woman. There are some women who desire marriage and all the trappings that go along with it despite the crazy constructs surrounding it, and I don’t begrudge them their happiness; we are all allowed to want and do different things. 

But for me, living life this way has taken away a huge piece of anxiety I did not need, and in its place, I have peace, a fulfilling life and my best days ahead of me. 

Your mileage may vary. 

Monique Judge

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at

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