While at my parents' house for the holidays, I found a book on the dining room table called The Boyfriend Test (Wendy L. Walsh, 2001). "Oh, cool!" I thought. "Because I'm not attracted to anyone, how would I ever know who to date? Wouldn't it be great if I could just decide by giving people a test?" I dug into the book eagerly. I even withstood the author's personification of my egg cells (I mean, how can anyone who's ever had a period argue that egg cells are passive?). But when I got to this point, I had to stop, in the name of love:
"If the man is over twenty-five, he should have had at least one long-term relationship under his belt. I define long term as three years or more...one three-year relationship should have happened by the age of twenty-five."-- 201
"There are two ways to avoid human intimacy: to not stay long enough or to stay away all together. Your boyfriend candidate should employ neither of these behaviors."-- 202
Folks, the world today is scary enough without introducing even more terror tactics. And this idea, outlined in the quotes above, terrifies people. All kinds of people; men, women, and otherwise. I still remember a female friend from college telling me in hushed, fearful tones: "I need to have a boyfriend while I'm still in college, or it'll be a red flag!" And this friend was a perfectly lovely person, not a paranoid commitment-phobe. My point is that this idea-- that we somehow have an expiration date for relationships, or an age of no return-- is more widespread than one silly book. What if, say, someone realizes, at age 20 (apparently, a prime dating time), that they aren't the sexual orientation that they always thought they were? (Raises hand.) Or what if your prospective date, until recently, was a monk? I think I'd like to date a former monk. They make good ale, train German Shepherds, wear robes, and if they were already willing to embark on at least one life-long relationship, they must be very passionate people.
Ex-monks and later-life asexuals want to know: Who's making these guidelines? Who says relationship-virgins over 25 are untrustworthy? Is there a book of the bible that I missed? The Boyfriend Test gives anecdotal evidence, but that isn't enough to doom a whole category of people. In many areas of our lives, we won't believe anything without evidence. So why, in the case of relationships, do these strange urban legends hold such sway?