There is a dating app for just about everything these days. Gay? There’s an app. Straight? There’s an app. Hook-ups? There’s an app. All different genders,races and religions are covered in the dating app world but one social phenomenon lack coverage; boston marriages. Where does a girl turn when she is looking for a life partner to live with that is of simply platonic nature?
A Brief (Her)story
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term “Boston Marriage” let be the first to tell you that there are much more intricacies to this phrase than simply ‘two women living together in a shared space.’
The phrase Boston Marriage dates back to Henry James’ novel Bostonians in 1886. James writes a tale of two women that meet during a feminist gathering and one persuades the other to move from her parent’s home to be her roommate and gain more independence. They are just friends that moved in together, simple as that. However, the 19th century was not as forward thinking as we are today. Therefore, it was assumed that these “roommates” were more than just two women that shared a flat.
Jane Addams and Mary Rozet Smith were two infamous women that had a Boston Marriage in the early 1900s. Jane Addams founded the Hull House in Chicago in 1889. A settlement house for the public citizens of Chicago. This all begs the question were Jane and Mary female lovers or just female friends? No writings in their diaries spoke of a romantic friendship so we can only conclude that they were two single women sharing a living space and of that time the phrase to categorize them in was a “Boston Marriage.”
Another phrase for Boston Marriage I have seen around the web lately is the term, “Vintage Lesbians.” This verbiage of the term denotes a sexual nature to the female roommates. There is no proof whether these “marriages” were platonic or romantic. Either way, it was a way for women in the 19th century to move out from under their parent’s roof without getting married to a man and having the financial support from a man. This was in part to the wave of feminism in the 1900s that followed with the women’s right to vote. Empowered women living the lives that they want.
Modern “Boston Marriages”
Are your lady neighbors down the hall “just friends” or are they lovers. No matter which of the two is truthful they are considered to be in a Boston Marriage. Spinster is a somewhat derogatory slang word for a woman of a certain age that lives alone and has never married. Instead of appearing as the crazy cat lady (cat lady pic), women pair up and share a life together. They dine out as a couple and live together under one roof. This relationship may be romantic but it can also be platonic.
Love between women can be not only of lesbian nature. You can love someone and share a life with them without adding a sexual component.
The main difference between just sharing an apartment and a Boston Marriage is that roommates just live side by side and do not have intersecting lives. They JUST live together. In a Boston Marriage however the women cohabitate. They eat meals together, share time outside the home together such as movie going or holidays and they are friends…sometimes the friendships are romantic but not always.
Enter the 21st century and you rarely see people calling two women living together a “Boston Marriage.” There is no scandal needed to hide. Lesbians are accepted more now than they were in the 19th century. Historically, two women living together was rather odd and sometimes a cover for what it really was, a romantic relationship. Two women can live together as a family unit either romantically or otherwise without causing a stir now.
Finding a service to match you with a roommate may not be as readily available and functional as we would hope. There needs to be something similar to Tinder, but for platonic relationships.
That is why some women are turning to dating apps. Not unexpectedly, more women than men have had same-sex desires. 1 in 5 straight women has hooked up with another woman and of those who haven’t, over 1 in 8 would like to.
Nowadays there are many forums that allow women to find female mates to live with as a FAMILY, not just roommates or lovers. A dating app is a way to search for a companion. Dating apps are welcomed for females to look for lovers and friends. Where else would you be able to search for a friend that shared all of your likes and dislikes. A friend that understood you on a different level than just the girls you get coffee with or work at the office next to. In using a dating app as a forum to meet friends that you would one day like to live with you can get a detailed understanding of what the person is truly like as opposed to posting a random ad on Craig’s list.
Why not just live alone or get married?
Because it would be lonely. Studies show that people that live alone spend more time outside of their home to fill time and entertain their social needs. If you were to have a roommate that shared your common interests you would not only save money on rent and groceries, you would have a live-in friend. Just like in college when you needed someone to talk to the second you got in from class. An always available person to have a cup of tea with. Instead of talking about what you should wear with your dog you can bounce it off your roommate, someone that can give you actual feedback.
“Marriage still remains a highly valued state,” Cherlin says. “It just doesn’t play as large a role in people’s lives as it used to.
The rate of single people has continued to rise in that last few decades. Most women are career driven and do not want to marry someone that is lesser than them because they would create a financial burden rather than help the household.
Another reason women are staying single is because weddings are so expensive. It is cultural to get married, it is religious to get married, but it will also break your bank. Students chose to pay off college debt rather than invest in a $50,000 party for their friends and family. Staying single is cheaper and smarter for most women. That is why the look for companions.
A “Kept” Woman No Longer
With another surge of feminism in the 21st century, lifestyles that were labeled “alternative” or “taboo” in the past are seen as commonplace now. Gay marriage is legal, women have goals and aspirations bigger than having children and getting married, a more educated society does not marry as soon as they used to.
Being single isn’t weird anymore unless you are from a deeply southern family that gets married at the ripe age of sixteen amidst your prime birthing years.
Women get jobs, rise the corporate ladder and live independently from men. Just as women do not need men for their money to function in society, women still need support in other aspects of a marital relationship. Emotional care is necessary for any red-blooded human. Women chose to live with someone that can provide emotional care for her. You do not have to get married to have a loving relationship with someone.
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