Why I pressed pause on finding a relationship
Me at 29 following the breakdown of a long term, relationship: ‘If I meet someone in the next year, date for a few years, then try for a baby, I could still have children before I’m 35.’
Me at 34, still single: ‘If I meet someone in the next six months and date them for a year, then try for kids, I could have kids before I’m 36’
Me at 36, once again single: ‘If I meet someone tomorrow and try for kids immediately, I might be coming up to 38 by the time I have kids depending on how long it takes me to get pregnant’
Me at 37, ‘I’ve not got time to meet someone to have a baby with, without the risk that it will be too late for me fertility wise‘
It was at this point that I made the decision to try for a baby on my own. It was a decision I had been toying with since I was 35, but at 37 I realised that if I did not go down this path then I might be forgoing the opportunity to have children at all. That was an idea that deeply saddened me.
I would have started the process sooner, except I kept holding out that maybe ‘the one’ was just around the corner and I could follow a more conventional route! Unfortunately he was not! Believe me I dedicated time and energy looking! I eventually accepted that I was no closer to finding a serious relationship than I had been 10 years ago and for this reason decided to take a different path. Making that decision was not quick or easy, I thought about it long and hard.
The problem when you have a ticking clock in terms of fertility is that you might find that you might not be dating as the best version of yourself. It was a constant source of worry for me that I was getting too old to have children and for this reason it started to drive poor relationship decisions.
I tried to make things work with people that were clearly not right for me as the thought of starting all over again really scared me and I felt like I was just losing more time. I often felt it was unfair as a woman, that there’s this time pressure hanging over you, whereas men have the luxury of having a lot longer to decide to have kids from a biological point of view, so can be much more relaxed about their relationships.
I don’t know why I haven’t met someone yet. Maybe a psychologist could explain it! Maybe it was because my desire to have children was too strong and that was driving behaviour in me that’s not attractive to the men I was meeting, maybe it was because I spent 7 years abroad and moved around a lot, (although most of my friends in the same situation all met someone), maybe I am too full on too quickly, maybe I’m just a nightmare to date or maybe it was just bad luck that I’ve not come across the right person! Whatever the reason, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying! I really put 110% into meeting someone. With every rejection or bad date, I dusted myself down and tried again, with the support of my best girlfriends. But it just wasn’t to be.
I had (and still do) a dream of a lovely close knit family unit. A partner who is my best friend, where it’s me and him against the world and children to complete the family. In the past, I was thinking that I needed the partner first and then children would follow. What I came to realise due to the ticking clock of my fertility is that a partner might need to come after having children. I needed to do things in a different order.
Now I’ve had my daughter, I’m dating again, and this time, I feel like I am back to the more carefree me. I’m not looking for someone to have children with, I am looking for someone to connect and spend time with and see where things go from there. Now the pressure is off, things are a lot less intense and my decisions are a lot wiser!
I’m not sure what family will look like in my daughters generation, but I am sure it will have evolved from where it has been historically. Personally I believe it is still important to have a family unit for my daughter, but what that looks like, is not necessary what it has been in the past. I believe family can be made up in many different ways, the main thing is that is it is loving, caring and supportive.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has successfully dated following the birth of a child and what people think about doing things in a less traditional order and what family might look like in the future.