The Wedding Band Game

The Wedding Band Game
I catch myself doing it constantly, more so since I’ve moved to New York City. But why? My girlfriends do it, we talk about it, and we even have mini-contests to see who can spot them first.

Ever catch yourself checking out a hot guy and then quickly revert your eyes to his left-hand ring finger?

I’m not sure where this habit of mine came from, but it’s sort of an illustrious code among girlfriends to make sure the guy you’re checking out isn’t wearing a wedding band. Or…that he is.

Of course, these days, traditional marriages are no longer “the norm.” The nuclear family is no longer the predominant family structure with a man and a woman married and cohabiting with their 2.5 kids and a dog in their “American Dream” home with the big yard and the white picket fence in suburbia America. So just because a guy is wearing a wedding band, it doesn’t mean he’s not available, and if he isn’t wearing one, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he isn’t married.

What does a wedding ring even mean? I wasn’t sure until about fifteen minutes ago. I had to look up the symbolic meaning of why we exchange rings on that “special day” (call me a cynic, but I think is starting to lose its specialness).  While the exact origin of exchanging wedding bands is unknown, the circle of a ring is supposed to represent eternity and wholeness, meaning that your own circle is being completed by committing yourself to your, “other half”. It seems kind of silly to me, actually, considering more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. If you’re putting a ring on your finger that is supposed to symbolize spending an eternity with someone, you would think it would have a little more of an impact and that marriages would less frequently end in divorce.

But with the games that my girlfriends and I play, it makes a lot of sense why they do. There’s tons of temptation in the world and as much as you love someone, cheating is prevalent. I believe that if you surveyed a lot of people, a statistically significant percentage of them would say that they either have cheated or have considered cheating on their partner. And I know this game goes both ways, tons of my guys friends look to score chicks with a ring on their finger.

It’s almost kind of sickening. Not that cheating is anything new, it’s been going on since the medieval times, but the fact that it’s become so ubiquitous in our society bothers me a little. It used to be this adulterous, scandalous thing that people used to try to hide, but now, in one day, I can see a guy treating his girlfriend to lunch and then meeting his wife for dinner after his girlfriend leaves…at the same restaurant.

While I believe that cheating is your own prerogative, it’s not something that I’ve ever personally considered doing. As someone whose been cheated on, it’s something I consider to be one of the most disrespectful things that anyone can ever experience. In fact, I’ve been in love with a guy for about five to six years, who’s been married for two of them and have never once considered trying to flirt or hook up with him since he’s been married.

Okay. That sounds so awfully pathetic, I know. I even think it’s pathetic. But believe me, I’ve tried for quite some time to get over it, but when you know who you’d prefer to be with, it’s hard to move on. I’ve dated other people and tried to forget about it, but I can’t. In my mind, he is who I belong with. As much as I’d love my fairytale ending, if it were to come true, someone else’s fairytale would be ruined. I’ve accepted that even though I’ll always have feelings for him, it’s not going to happen for us. I almost wonder that if I could actually have him, would I even want him anymore?

Sometimes I wonder if the whole wedding band game is about the chase. Some of my girlfriends will go after guys who are wearing them and guys I know go after girls wearing them. Is it thrilling to know that you might be able to get something you’re not supposed to have? My main goal when checking for a wedding band is to get an idea of whether a guy might be single before talking to him. If I see a wedding band, I’m not going to begin a cycle of disrespecting myself, him, or the person that he’s married to by even smiling or saying hello.

Is traditional marriage dead?

To me, marriage seems like an outdated tradition that needs some major modernization for today’s society. I developed this perspective when I was talking to one of my professors last year who told me that she had gotten married to a great guy, had a kid (she’s now pregnant with a second one) and that she was happy, but that she was more 100% sure that she wouldn’t be married to him forever. It bewildered me. She told me he was just her Mr. Right Now.

Why even bother getting married in the first place?

And so I’ve since developed my own idea that I will probably never be with one person forever. I’d love to, but I don’t think I can stand one person until I die. I will probably never have a fairytale romance where I will ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to not get married. I think it’s reasonable to cohabit and reproduce with Mr. Right Now, if you want to. And when Mr. Right Now is no longer “in the now,” you can move on to the next Mr. Right Now, or Mr. Good Enough. I think that should be socially acceptable. But in this society, that just makes you a slut who doesn’t know how to properly use birth control.

I’d love to think that whomever I would marry would be trustworthy and loving, but the prevalence of adultery has come full-circle in society. The Tiger Woods scandal had every guy I knew calling Tiger, “The Man” because he was able to “bag” so many girls. It all sounds so cynical, but why should I waste my time hoping and praying for something that I don’t in believe is going to happen? And even if it does, there’s a pretty good chance that my fairytale marriage will end in divorce because some other girl was playing the wedding band game with her girlfriends and chose my husband to try to get with.

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