A note from Lauren: Please excuse my absence this week, but trust in the fact that I’ve left the “Sex on TV” duties to a guest blogger who will not let you down. Plus, like I learned from television, the younger and cuter girl is always more desirable. So I present to you the musings of our intern, Roxanne, who still has the positive and ambitious attitude of a college student. The cynicism will come soon and fast, my dear.
Although I graduated from college this past December, I won’t feel like it’s official until I walk the stage and receive my “diploma” (we all know they just hand you a blank piece of paper). As graduation day approaches, I notice myself getting anxious about my future and I think rightfully so. I have absolutely no idea where I am going to be or what I will be doing in June. Every time I think about my future I feel my stomach churning.
Recently during an episode of Glee, Finn struggled with decisions about his future. He is lost, just as most high school seniors are, but the difference between him and most other students is that he decides love is his number one priority. So he proposes to his girlfriend, Rachel. And for Rachel, growing increasingly nervous about her own future as she watches her friends get accepted to college and make plans while she’s still in limbo, she decides to accept Finn’s proposal. Is this really the way to get control over your life?
It seems like we’ve moved away from the cliché “after prom sex episode” (since now most programs are showing characters having sex throughout high school, not waiting for prom night) and instead towards the life-changing marriage proposal. My first memory of this prolific moment comes from Boy Meets World. Does anyone else remember watching Topanga propose to Corey while the rest of their classmates throw their caps in the air to celebrate their high school graduation? We all know how it ends… they decide not to get married right away and end up getting married during college (I know… so much more realistic).
We then move onto one of my favorite shows, Gilmore Girls. As Rory is about to graduate from Yale, Logan (her boyfriend of a couple of years) decides to pop the question. After some deliberation, Rory says no to Logan because, let’s be honest, there is a lot she wants to do before tying the knot. And really, who can blame her?
Even in comedies like That ’70s Show, the teenagers turn to proposals. When Eric is worried about his future with Donna at the end of high school he jumps to proposing. Even though his friends tell him it’s a bad idea, he does it anyway. And guess what… the wedding doesn’t happen. Obviously TV has to make things over the top and dramatic, but does it always have to be this all or nothing nonsense?
Now, before you say I don’t know what I am talking about because I have never been in a serious relationship and when you are in love age doesn’t make a difference, you should all know I have been with same person for almost 5 years. I can also tell you that as I try to figure out my life after graduation, I am not considering marriage. I am 22-years-old and not ready to get married, but that doesn’t mean I want to break-up with my boyfriend or that he isn’t a factor in my decisions. Obviously I can’t speak for him entirely (hope things don’t get awkward when he reads this), but I’m pretty sure we are on the same page.
So what’s wrong with me? According to TV, I should be picking out china patterns and planning my first kid by now. Apparently once a couple has had sex, the next step is marriage. Look at Finn and Rachel—they had sex earlier this season and now we have a proposal. But before they walk down the aisle, they should probably keep in mind that teen marriages are twice as likely to fail as marriages in which the woman is at least 25-years-old.
I’m not saying that teenagers and young adults should give up on love, but it’s important to remember that a relationship, or sex for that matter, doesn’t define you. Who knows if the Finn/Rachel wedding will actually happen, but it’s wrong that just because the two feel lost they made such a drastic decision. An engagement at 18 doesn’t make life less scary or complicated. You need to know who you are before making that type of commitment.
“Engagement ring” image by Tela Chhe.
Lauren Mann works in The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Entertainment Media department. She’s been blogging about sex, love and relationships among twenty-somethings since she first joined the Campaign as an intern in 2009. Check out her personal blog at whatjewtalkingbout.tumblr.com.