Men were our classmates and colleagues, our bosses and professors, as well as, in time, our students and employees and subordinates—an entire universe of prospective friends, boyfriends, friends with benefits, and even ex-boyfriends-turned-friends.In this brave new world, boundaries were fluid, and roles constantly changing.Allan and I had met when we worked together at a magazine in Boston (full disclosure: this one), where I was an assistant and he an editor; two years later, he quit his job to follow me to New York so that I could go to graduate school and he could focus on his writing.
Coontz still didn’t think that marriage was falling apart, but she came to see that it was undergoing a transformation far more radical than anyone could have predicted, and that our current attitudes and arrangements are without precedent.
“Today we are experiencing a historical revolution every bit as wrenching, far-reaching, and irreversible as the Industrial Revolution,” she wrote.
Learning to be alone would make me a better person, and eventually a better partner. At this point, certainly, falling in love and getting married may be less a matter of choice than a stroke of wild great luck. And the elevation of independence over coupling (“I wasn’t ready to settle down”) is a second-wave feminist idea I’d acquired from my mother, who had embraced it, in part, I suspect, to correct for her own choices.
I was her first and only recruit, marching off to third grade in tiny green or blue T-shirts declaring: , and bellowing along to Gloria Steinem & Co.’s feminist-minded children’s album, Free to Be …
But my future was to be one of limitless possibilities, where getting married was something I’d do when I was ready, to a man who was in every way my equal, and she didn’t want me to get tied down just yet.