Thursday, January 8, 2015

it's not you, it's your biological clock

I was recently talking to a guy friend of mine (single; 33) about setting him up with one of my single girlfriends (32). He said he thought she was attractive, smart, etc but that he wasn't particularly interested, because she was too old. I thought maybe he was confused. I reminded him that she was in fact a year younger than him. But that was precisely his problem.  He explained that his sweet spot when it comes to dating is 27-28 year olds. Why?  He doesn't see himself being ready to have kids till he's 40 and felt like any female in her thirties would be in a hurry to meet a guy, get engaged, get married, and pop out a kid.

My ovaries immediately burst into tears when I heard this. I find it so frustrating (and unfair) that a guy's future isn't impacted at all by a biological clock when a woman has it looming over her head. Even if women are married or in a relationship, they have to consider stalling their career for kids. I don't care how far you "lean in"-- having a kid is like competing in a race with weights attached to your legs. You can still run, you can still participate, but you're probably going to have to move a lot slower than everyone else. And you'll be way more exhausted at the finish line.

That said, I didn't totally hold these sentiments against my guy friend. He's most likely correct in thinking that a thirty-two year old woman isn't on the same marriage/baby timeline as a twenty-seven year old. Men have the luxury of waiting. They can be bachelors till they're fifties and then marry someone who's still young enough to have kids (ahem, George Clooney). If women had the same luxury, I'm sure we'd hold off on getting married and having children too.

Here's where I think my friend's wrong though. I don't think any of us-- men/women-- should find ourselves beholden to an imaginary timeline of when we think we'll be ready for marriage or children.  Timing is a big part of relationships, but an even bigger part is finding the right person. Would you rather meet someone AMAZING a little earlier than planned or risk settling for someone else when you're finally ready? Not to mention, women can have children in their forties. I know, shocker. Halle Berry had her last kid at 46. My cousin had her son at forty and says she has no regrets about waiting, because she wouldn't have been ready any younger. So: dudes. Do yourselves a favor and don't write off women in their thirties. Trust me. They're a lot more interesting and fascinating and sexually confident than those twenty-somethings. But maybe that's exactly what scares you.

11 comments:

  1. This contains your greatest, most accurate analogy ever, "having a kid is like competing in a race with weights attached to your legs." I completely agree with this statement and I think it's the universal struggle for women.

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  2. eff why eye, the later you start, the heavier those weights are going to feel, says the 40-year-old dad of a 21-month-old.

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    1. yes, so true. My weights are gonna be extra heavy when the time comes!

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  3. To be fair, at 46, Halle Berry PROBABLY had a bit of expensive medical intervention in order to conceive. If not, her story is quite unusual. We "normal" women don't do ourselves any favors by looking to well-moneyed celebrities when considering our own reproductive journeys. Biological realities are just that -- realities. And naturally conceiving after the age of 45 is not nearly as easy as these celebs make it seem (because they refuse to be honest about the methods they use to get pregnant).

    That said, 32 is still quite young, and I know MANY women who waited until after 35 to pop out their first kids. So there's a middle ground everyone should consider here.

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    1. Totally true-- and what I didn't reference though is that there have been a lot of advancements in fertility-- a lot of companies are even paying for female employees to freeze their eggs. I wish there was some fertility fairy that could tell us all exactly how long it would take to get pregnant so we could know how early to start trying!

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    2. Yep. And nothing is a sure thing, either, including freezing your eggs.

      I consider myself lucky that I've never wanted kids. Saves a lot of time and worry (oh, and money).

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  4. I love the line "But maybe that's exactly what scares you." I agree completely!

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  5. pace my advice above, I feel duty-bound to re-post this Atlantic article every time the biological clock comes up.

    The widely cited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying, for instance, is based on an article published in 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to 1830. The chance of remaining childless—30 percent—was also calculated based on historical populations.

    In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment.

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  6. I’m glad reading your blog style .

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