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Erika Ettin: Common timing vs. common values

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

I recently held an “Ask Me Anything” session on my Instagram page, soliciting any and all dating questions that were on people’s minds as we enter 2022. One I want to highlight this week is the following:

“I’m a 38-year-old female dating a 41-year-old male. Both of us want kids. We’ve been dating for four months. What should the timeline be for our age for an engagement?”

In another example, a few years ago, I had a client call me the morning after a date, telling me that he had a “great date” the night before. When I asked what he liked about her, he said:

“She’s Jewish, she wants kids, she’s 36, and she only lives 15 minutes away from me.”

I replied, “I don’t think you understood my question. What did you like about her?”

All he had listed were checkbox-type questions and nothing specifically related to who she was as a person. I wanted to know how she made him feel when she was with him — special, seen, attractive, happy? Did he laugh? Did she laugh? Did he feel like his best self? Was he curious to learn more about him? Did she ask him interesting questions? These all provide more insight than the stats he rattled off on our call.

 

Looking back at the first example, four months is a fairly short period of time. And I can’t think of a worse fate than getting engaged to someone or having a child with someone simply because of your age, or simply because that’s what you both want. I would rather you know it’s the right partnership before you make any life-altering decisions like that.

As a woman myself, I get it. I know it can be scary when thinking about one’s biological clock. And I can certainly understand her urgency, given that she wants children and knows she can’t wait too much longer. (Although science is pretty amazing these days… just saying.) She’s more than likely thinking, “I don’t want to waste my time with someone who doesn’t want the same things that I do.” That’s valid. But it takes time to get to know someone, and we can’t always control the outcome.

I recommend seeing someone through all the seasons (as in, at least a year), and if this is a person you now feel you want to spend your life with, then go for it! But don’t do it because you both happen to want kids. There are many people in the world who yearn to have children. Some of them are going to be great for you. And some aren’t. I don’t want you to be with someone just because you happen to find another person whose timing aligns with yours. I’d rather you find another person whose values align with yours.

And while children are often at the center of a person’s life, they aren’t the entirety of it. At the end of the day when the kids are in bed or when they’ve left the house for college or a job, you’ll still be with your partner, so it’s vital that you enjoy spending time together.

Timing is one thing, but if you don’t agree on life — money, sex, communication, how to raise children — then it doesn’t really matter if you’re both ready at the same time. So I would prioritize the relationship before you decide to rush into anything just because you both want kids. That said, I hope it works out how you want it to!

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