Love Letter: Behind the Velvet Rope of Club Marriage

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For many singles, the pressure from parents, family members and friends to find love and get married can often result in feelings of inadequacy. Some assume that not being in a relationship is synonymous with a sad and lonely life (some also assume that marriage is the cure). In this week’s Modern Love essay, after years of being pressured by her parents to settle down, Katerina Tsasis, a writer who spent most of her 20s and 30s looking for love, got tired of feeling like she was standing in line to get into an exclusive club, and started living life on her own terms. Once married, she realized that marriage did not make her whole.

When Tara Harper told Fritz Rahr, a man that she had been dating for just a few months, that she was going on an eight-hour road trip to rescue a neglected German shepherd, she never expected that he would volunteer to join her. She assumed he was trying to score brownie points, but he stole her heart and secured his spot as “the one,” once they returned from the trip and he gave the dog a bath. “I knew he was kind. I knew in that moment that I was going to spend the rest of my life with this man,” said Ms. Harper, who married Mr. Rahr July 11 at their home in Fort Worth, Texas.

And, while many of us grew up hearing our parents say “don’t talk to strangers,” studies have shown that there are many benefits to casual connections with people we meet while grocery shopping or grabbing a coffee, including enhancing and enriching our lives. So, don’t let your mask keep you from chatting with someone you don’t know.

We want to deliver content that truly matters to you and your feedback is helpful. Email your thoughts to loveletter@nytimes.com.

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