What The Worst Wedding Weekend Of My Life Taught Me About Dating

This is not how the weekend was supposed to go. In my green and white polka dot bikini, I strain through chest-deep salt water toward the beach where people are gathering, screaming and waving their arms. I am close enough to decipher their frantic cries.

“Shark! Shark! Get out of the water!”

My pulse ricochets in my throat as I force myself forward, simultaneously cursing and praying, expecting any moment to be grabbed from behind. It’s the Fourth of July in West Palm Beach, Florida. My fickle wedding date and I are the only two people in the ocean. And there is a shark somewhere behind us. This disastrous weekend has managed, astonishingly, to get worse.

Beside me, my date, Scott, falls back a few paces. “If it attacks, I’ll handle it.” With his compact wrestler’s build and cocky confidence, he looks like a young Tom Cruise. As the crowd screams and cheers us on, we slog through the water with excruciating slowness. I’m panicked, babbling.

“Of course I’m afraid of sharks,” I gasp, “but in an abstract way, like being afraid of abduction by space aliens. It’s not actually supposed to happen to people!”

I glance behind me. Scott looks grimly focused, ready. I almost hope the shark bites him, at least one testicle, after what he did to me at the wedding.

What Was Supposed to Happen

A fresh start. That’s what this weekend was supposed to be. I’m a newly minted college graduate, still reeling after my fiancé paused our wedding plans as I was picking out my dress. He then spent our entire senior year vacillating about marrying me. In the disorienting aftermath of our breakup, Scott, a long-time college friend, is a constant, comforting presence. We talk books and bucket lists of travel destinations. He helps me pack up my apartment. At 2am, we walk through the botanical gardens, petals from the cherry trees swirling around us like pink snow. He cups my cheek and tells me I am remarkable. I want to believe him.

Five weeks after our graduation Scott picks me up in his beloved black 1978 Chrysler Le Baron, a car that straddles a thin line between tough-guy classic and pimp mobile. He is my plus-one to a friend’s wedding in Florida. The road trip from Ohio is laden with flirtation posing as intellectual conversation. I relish the frisson of attraction between us, the bright electric spark of possibility, but as we pass the Georgia/Florida line, I muster my courage to say, “I really like you, but I’m not ready yet. I still need a little time.”

I want him to nod, to say he’ll wait. To affirm I’m worth waiting for. He rests one arm on the steering wheel, glances at me through his aviators, and just says okay.

What Actually Happens

The wedding reception is an opulent disaster. There’s marble on the walls and duck breast on the salad. Scott has apparently taken my request for more time as a rejection and spends the entire reception flirting with other women. He’s instantly captivated by Laura, my former housemate, a feminist theologian with deep dimples and a misandrist streak. I watch miserably as she strings him along, baiting him. He never once glances at me.

The live band plays Rat Pack hits as Scott dances with one girl after another. As the reception winds down, Laura and I are standing along the edge of the dance floor when he walks up and holds out his hand.

“It’s the last song,” he announces with a self-deprecating smile, “I’ve danced with every girl here except you.”

I start to step forward, relieved and pleased to finally be chosen, then realize he’s not talking to me. Laura dimples, rolls her eyes at me, and lets him lead her onto the dance floor. Like a scene in a bad teen movie, I am left standing alone in my kitten heels.

A Narrow Escape

“He was chasing a school of fish and doubled back, came right for you,” an onlooker tells us as we recover on the beach after our narrow escape. “You’re lucky.”

As we watch the 6-foot bull shark slice through the waves, I feel giddy with relief. The onlookers disperse and Scott goes to get his car. We’re heading north this afternoon.

Standing in the boiling sun in my spurned woman revenge bikini, I realize with crystalline certainty that Scott and I are through. Suddenly, I am so tired of waiting for men.

Raised in a conservative home in the Midwest, I was taught from a young age that a woman’s role when it came to love, sex, and romance was to wait—to be picked, pursued, wooed, won. Women were to respond, not initiate. Passivity was extolled as a virtue.  

But I am starting to resent this passivity, the role I’ve learned to play as a woman. I’ve been waiting for so long to be noticed, chosen, rescued like a damsel in distress. And I’m sick of it. It has gotten me nothing but confusion and heartbreak. I want something better. I am no damsel. I am a strong, fierce woman. I can be my own white knight.

I wrap a towel around myself and go book a plane ticket home.

Lessons Learned

That is the beginning. It takes years, a wise counselor, a good dose of faith. Slowly, I learn to respect myself. Slowly, I take the power back.

When I finally meet an irresistibly warm and adventurous man in graduate school, I don’t wait to see if he pursues me. I make the first move. We fall head over heels in love. In May, we celebrated 11 years together.

So this is what I learned during the worst wedding weekend of my life: Love is not worth waiting for. It is worth pursuing—with self-respect and honesty, with confidence and courage, with my head held high.

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures in over fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her writing. She is the author of the new release The Enlightenment of Bees, as well as Ascension of Larks and Becoming the Talbot Sisters. Visit her online at rachellinden.com; Instagram: rachellinden_writer; Facebook: authorRachellinden.

Images: Nikola Jovanovic / Unsplash

20 Ways To Celebrate Women That Could Actually Help Us

Alright ladies, today is International Women’s Day! Great, so they’ll give us a day, but won’t give us the salary of a man in the exact same position as us. Love that. The gals have 24 hours where we can all post vague memes about equality, so I think it’s safe to say that we solved sexism! Everyone pack up your things, our job here is done. Don’t let the door grab you by the pussy on the way out LOL.

In all seriousness, International Women’s Day is rad, but there is still so much work to be done. Well guess what, my good betch, you can get started on that work today! ‘Tis the season day, after all. In case you need some guidance when it comes to figuring out how to help women, we’ve gone ahead and put together a comprehensive list for you. We really do have to do like, everything, don’t we? Anyway, try celebrating women by checking off some of the things on this list, or die a sexist monster. Your call!

1.Push For Equal Pay

Seriously, how are we still talking about this? As of 2018, female full-time workers made only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men. It’s important to note that the numbers get even worse when factoring in race, because everything is trash. What are these men getting paid more for? Sexually harassing us? Help put this bullshit to rest, and demand that your female colleagues get paid the same as their male peers. And if you’re a person in charge of deciding women’s salaries, make sure you give them the same amount you give the men. Simply put: pay us, bitch!!!

2. Teach Men (And Everyone) Not To Rape

It’s 2019 and rape culture has got to go! Stop perpetuating the idea that women are responsible for making sure they don’t get raped. Stop telling women to shove their keys between their fingers Wolverine-style, and start teaching men the definition, nuances, and importance of consent from a young age. When someone makes a joke that condones rape/date rape, go off on their ass! That sh*t isn’t funny, dude. 

3. End The War On Pockets In Femme Clothing

All of my dresses need pockets and that’s just all there is to it. Somebody please go talk to management about this, thank you.

4. Make Oprah President

I firmly believe that if Oprah was president everything would be FINE. Make it happen, people.

5. But Seriously, Elect Women

A society run by men is a society made for men. We need women making decisions in our governments, and that means electing women who run for public office. Representation matters, and so does voting. Women have the power to make change, so go out there and put women in positions of power. 

6. Stand Up For Women, And Stand Up To Your Friends Who Don’t

If you see your buddy being a class-A creep, call him on that sh*t! Don’t let misogynistic behavior fly. If you’re a man, doing this bare minimum thing will make everyone around you think you’re a f*cking hero, so if doing the right thing isn’t inspiration enough, there is always that.

7. Compliment Our Minds, Bitch

Women are told from a young age that our looks are what we should value most. I remember family friends telling me how pretty I was at the age of like, ten. It’s weird and gross and it needs to stop. Try telling young girls and grown women how intelligent, creative, original, etc. they are. And then you can feel free to compliment our perfect cheekbones, hair, makeup, clothes, etc. Thanks!

8. Idk, Believe Us?!

Believing us when we recount the specific realities we have experienced as women is an option, just saying.

9. Pass A Law That Laura Dern Must Be In Every Film And TV Show

Representation matters.

10. Say “Bye Bitch” To White Feminism

Pushing a non-inclusive feminism is bad for feminism. Feminism that adopts exclusion is not about equality and that’s hypocritical af. Check your feminism as you check your privilege, and make sure everything is in line with intersectional feminism standards. 

11. Stop Telling Us To Smile

Literally we will kill you.

12. Listen To Our Ideas. No But Like, Really Listen

People have a way of dismissing women, sometimes explicitly and sometimes more subtly. Simply shutting the f*ck up when women talk is a start, but the work doesn’t end there. Make sure you’re actually hearing what they are saying, as opposed to just coming up with a response/refute to what they just said. Take time to process what women are saying. Take the time to reevaluate values and ideals that you have learned from a patriarchal society. Women have insight that you might not have considered, so take the time to understand it. Okay, thanks!

13. Stop Referring To Grown-Ass Women As Girls

Calling a full-grown woman is belittling, and yet so common. If she can’t order off of the children’s menu she is a woman. Also God is a woman, final answer!!!

14. Ban Khakis

Please, for the love of God, put us out of our misery and burn all the khakis. Save our eyes, save men’s humility, save the world.

15. Prioritize Women’s Safety

The world likes to put on a front of believing it’s protocol to “save the women and children first,” but the reality is that women’s safety is often disregarded. Did you know that car crash dummies are usually male, meaning cars can pass safety regulations without really being safe for women? This makes it so they don’t have to go the “extra mile” of making cars that are safer for female body types. Cool! And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Shit is f*cked up, and time’s up (as the kids say). Women’s safety needs to be prioritized like, yesterday.

16. Buy Us All A Fenty Beauty Kit

I cannot stress this enough. Legally every single woman should be gifted a Fenty Beauty Kit.

17. Stop Slut-Shaming

Seriously, slut-shaming is so 2009. And it shouldn’t have even been a thing back then. Sluts are amazing. Sluts make the world go round cum hard. Fuck the double standard. Viva la slüt.

18. Don’t Leave Sex Workers Out Of Your Feminism

If you think you are a feminist, but go around talking shit about women who sell sex for a living, think again bitch!!! Sex workers are people too, and just because they’ve found a way to monetize their own bodies doesn’t mean you get to talk down to them. They receive no protection from the law and government, and their rights are constantly under fire. Stop calling people “hookers” or “prostitutes,” or anything of that nature as an insult. Making money off of what your mama gave you shouldn’t be a crime, and certainly shouldn’t exclude you from human and equal rights. And even if you don’t think sex work should be legalized…just try not to be a bitch about it, k?

19. Men: Consider Getting A Vasectomy As A Form Of Birth Control

Listen, it’s not an invasive surgery, whereas getting your tubes tied very much is. Also, pregnancies only happen when y’all jizz all up in our sh*t, so technically they are your “fault.” Take some responsibility, and snip that shit if you don’t want kids. It can even be reversed! I’m going to receive so much hate mail for this lololol!

20. Vote Donald Trump Out Of Office

I don’t need to explain myself here. See you at the polls in November 2020 or see you in hell.

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