When you’re a lady human of a certain age, you start getting interrogated about when you’ll get hitched. If you’re in a committed, long-term relationship with a special someone, your family and friends give themselves ample permission to quiz you on your nuptial plans, whether you have any or not. "When are you going to put a ring on it?" they’ll ask your partner. "You’re next," they’ll whisper, with a wink, when someone else walks down the aisle. You can and will get ambushed at any social event, if you’ve had the audacity to reach the age of 25 or above without being legally bound to another person in matrimony. You don’t even need to be in a relationship to qualify for these interrogations; plenty of single women get it, too. If you’re exhausted, having to defend yourself and your decision to be as yet unmarried, you are not alone.
"A few years ago they started asking in earnest when he was going to propose," says 26-year-old Lily, who has been with her boyfriend for almost five years. "Last year, I told them I wasn't sure I wanted to get married and they reacted as if I'd told them I was going to live in the woods." Lily’s dad’s favourite film is Father of the Bride and her mother went through a phase of insisting she have a full-size Ferris wheel at her hypothetical wedding. Lily and her boyfriend have discussed marriage but they’re pretty relaxed about it because to them, commitment is half a decade together, living across two continents, and adopting a very greedy cat. The questions still sting, though. "It makes me feel like there's something wrong with me for not wanting the big wedding and the white dress and the Instagram hashtag. I feel somehow broken, because isn't this what I've always been taught to want?"