Monday, November 22, 2010

Denying that loud ticking sound

Dating is a spectator sport for me these days, which is fortunate because I'm usually in my pajamas by the time my single friends' tables are ready.

But I get to hear news from the trenches now and then, because the vast majority of my single, thirty-something girlfriends date. Avidly. Many have profiles on Match. Many go on several dates a month. Why? Not just for fun.

If you ask, they'll tell you, with a high degree of certainty, that they'd like to get married and have children.

They'll also confide that men in our age group don't seem to grasp their urgency.

I find this hard to believe, but I've heard it from so many women that I'm going to accept it as true: A stunning number of men in my age demographic (let's call it 30 to 45 to be inclusive) refuse to accept the existence of a biological clock.

Let alone its relevance to their dating lives.

A significant portion of these same men tell their dates that of course they'd like to have kids.


In the distant future.

Check, please.

Here's the unpleasant reality: If you are a thirty-five-year-old woman who knows she wants children, and your date, a thirty-five year-old-guy, thinks he wants "a few years" to date and then another year to commit, and maybe a couple of years on top of that to consider a baby, then you need to thank him for a lovely cocktail and move on.


Like before the entrees arrive.

You must to cut your losses, and no, I don't think that's too harsh.

If he's still in the having fun and playing the field stage, he'll be having a family with someone ten or fifteen years your junior, years after the biological baby ship has sailed for you.

So many women say they feel uncomfortable pressuring men about the biological clock question. They don't want to issue ultimatums. But because they're worried about seeming pushy and needy, they don't share the big thing that keeps them up at night. That can't be healthy for any relationship.

And let's turn the tables for a minute.

Who doesn't know a couple who dated forever, because the guy took his sweet time (also known as the woman's best child bearing years) about deciding he was ready for a long term commitment? When pressed, many of these guys claim they wanted a few more years of "freedom." Freedom to do what, precisely?

Next time some guy says that, please, please ask him to elaborate. And report back.

How many of these together-forever-but-not-officially couples now struggle with infertility? Answer: Many. And it's not because his sperm can't swim or her womb constitutes an inherently hostile environment. It's because she's north of thirty-five, the age the average healthy woman's fertility falls off a cliff.

Note to the guys: Grow up, already. If the woman you love is in her thirties, it's selfish to ponder whether you're ready for years and years. Biology isn't fair. You may have a decade to mull it over, but she doesn't.

I know one gem of a man who presented his wife with an article about women over forty-five conceiving through IVF. They were both pushing forty, had been together almost a decade, and he resented her desire to have a baby.

He always had an excuse to delay: After I finish grad school, after this promotion, after we move to a bigger house. When all these things happened and he still balked, he admitted he didn't want to be a dad anytime soon. Fine. At least he was finally honest with her.

But then he directed her attention to the miracle of reproductive science.

After her failed attempts to explain that just because something was medically possible, didn't make it desirable - or even likely to work, for that matter - she divorced him. But not until after a year of soul searching, during which she finally realized that she wasn't a selfish, demanding bitch just because she wanted to have a child with her husband during the medically desirable age window.

Note the ladies: Grow up, already. If biological children are important to you, then you need to have the backbone to state that clearly, early on in the relationship. I don't mean on the first date, but certainly by the third or fourth. You're not issuing an ultimatum. You're simply advising your prospective boyfriend that your casual dating days are behind you. If he's not on the same page, you're both better off moving on.

Just my humble opinion.

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