With the rise of the millennial generation, marriage itself — along with formal dating, exclusive dating (“going steady”), and engagement — has come to seem for many like an unwanted obstacle to personal autonomy. And it’s easy to understand why.
You are never freer than before you make a decision: Do I opt for X and live with the consequences of having done so, including the consequences of having foreclosed the very different consequences that would have followed if I’d gone for Y instead? Or do I decide for Y and live with not having chosen X? To choose is to exclude a whole range of possible futures, to rule out countless opportunities.
The moment you choose, the world seems smaller, because now you’re in a relationship, now you’re engaged, now you’ve agreed to marry and spend your life (or at least a good long while) with this person and not some other person who might turn the corner 10 seconds from now and be more beautiful, more interesting, or just different than the person I just defined as “my boyfriend.” How foolish it can seem — to choose, when the consequence of choosing is to limit oneself, to rule out (or make much more complicated) the possibility of having ever more and ever different experiences, ever more and ever different pleasures, with ever more and ever different people…
Life in suspended animation. That’s what a life of perfect freedom, perfect autonomy, amounts to.