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Marriage. Just saying the word makes my heart race—and not in a good way. Hi, I’m 24, and I have what you’d call marriagephobia—a fear of marriage that’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It’s like a shadow that clings to me, even in the brightest daylight.

Growing up, I didn’t see the fairy-tale marriages you read about in storybooks. No Prince Charming or happily-ever-afters here. Instead, I witnessed relationships that felt more like burdens than blessings. Arguments, silent treatments, and unspoken resentments were the norm. It’s no wonder I internalized marriage as something to be feared rather than cherished. Honestly, who wouldn’t after seeing that?

As I entered my twenties, the pressure to “settle down” started creeping in. Friends were posting engagement photos with captions like “I said yes!” while I was over here like, “I said pass.” Relatives started dropping not-so-subtle hints, and even social media seemed to conspire against me with its endless stream of wedding bliss. Instead of feeling excited, I felt like I was being backed into a corner. My Instagram feed was a nightmare of white dresses and cheesy hashtags. #JustEngaged? More like #JustPanicked.

I vividly remember a family gathering where a well-meaning aunt asked me, “So, when are you getting married?” I laughed it off, but inside, I was panicking. How could I explain that the thought of marriage made me want to run for the hills? Seriously, do they have a sprinting event for this in the next Olympics? Because I’d win gold.

To deal with my marriagephobia, I’ve had to get creative. Here are some practical tips that have helped me along the way:

  1. Self-Reflection and Journaling: Spend time understanding why you feel this way. Is it because of past experiences, societal pressures, or something deeper? Journaling can be a huge help in sorting through these thoughts. Write down your fears and try to pinpoint their origins.
  2. Therapy: Talking to a therapist can be incredibly valuable. They help you untangle the knots in your mind and provide professional guidance on how to manage your fears. Plus, therapists don’t judge you for being single at 24.
  3. Open Communication: Honesty has become my best policy. Be upfront with your close friends and any potential partners about your fears. It’s not always easy, and it can be awkward, but it’s better than pretending to be okay with something that terrifies you. Try saying, “Hey, just a heads-up, the idea of marriage makes me break out in hives. Still interested?” Not exactly first-date material, but it works.
  4. Challenge the Norms: Remind yourself that there’s no one right way to live a life. Just because society expects you to get married doesn’t mean you have to follow that path. It’s liberating to realize that you can carve out your own journey. Thank you, Gen Z, for normalizing the idea that we don’t have to follow the traditional life script. 
  5. Seek Positive Examples: Not all marriages are doom and gloom. Some are actually pretty amazing. Seeing those healthy, happy relationships can give you hope and help shift your perspective bit by bit. Who knew that love could actually be… healthy?
  6. Take Your Time: There’s no rush to make decisions about marriage. It’s okay to take your time and make choices that feel right for you. Life is too short to live by someone else’s rules. Whether you choose to get married or not, what matters most is that you’re happy and true to yourself.
  7. Support System: Surround yourself with people who understand and support your feelings. This could be friends, family, or support groups for individuals with similar experiences. Sharing your journey with others who get it can be incredibly comforting.

I’m still on this journey, and I don’t have all the answers. But I’ve reached a point where my fear of marriage doesn’t control me anymore. If marriage is in my future, it will be on my terms, with someone who understands and respects my feelings. Or maybe it won’t be in my future at all, and that’s perfectly okay too.

If you’re dealing with marriagephobia too, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to feel this way, and it’s okay to take your time. Life is too short to live by someone else’s rules. Whether you choose to get married or not, what matters most is that you’re happy and true to yourself.

So, here’s to us—the ones who question, who fear, and who ultimately choose our own paths. Thanks for listening to my story. If you’ve had similar experiences or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. Let’s support each other through this crazy journey of life and love. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, right?

Writer Gayathri RN


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