Life Advice



Shared values vs. shared timing – Which is more important?

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Question: “Any advice about anxiety around turning 40? I want kids and a partner. I don’t have either right now.”

I get questions like this all the time. And trust me—I get it. It can feel overwhelming when you know you have a certain goal in mind but haven’t had the results you’re looking for yet (and might see all your friends doing the things you want to do).

Here’s how I responded:

Absolutely! I know it can feel like a time crunch and your clock ticking. But worrying does not get you closer to your goals. What does is taking a regimented approach to meeting someone:

- Make sure you're on two dating sites (probably Bumble and Hinge) and use them proactively.

- Go to three in-person events every month (ideas: speed dating, comedy shows, art class, anything that interests you).

- Say yes to everything - birthday parties, set ups, etc.

All of this may feel like a lot of work, but anything in life that is worth it takes work... and often time, energy and money.

And when you do go on dates, focus more on whether you're enjoying yourself and if you have shared values, not solely on whether you have a shared timeline. A shared timeline with the wrong person won't satisfy you.


To drive this point home, here are two other sentiments from clients recently:

“I’m a 38-year-old female dating a 41-year-old male. Both of us want kids. We’ve been dating 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, “That’s not what I asked. What did you like about her??” All he had listed were facts and figures… nothing specifically related to who she was as a person. I wanted to know how she made him feel when she was with him. Did they laugh? Did he feel like his best self? Was he curious to learn more? Did she ask him interesting questions?

And in the previous example, four months is a short period of time. 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 that it’s the right partnership before you make any life-altering decisions like that.

I know it can be scary when thinking about one’s biological clock. And I can certainly understand the perceived urgency. (Though science is pretty amazing.) You're 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.

My advice? Get to know 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 that will be an educated decision with enough data points to support it. But don’t do it because you both happen to want kids at a quick pace. Or both want to get married within the next year. There are many people in the world who yearn for those things in that timeline. Some of them are going to be great for you. And some just plain aren’t. I don’t want you to be with someone just because your timing aligns. I’d rather you find another person whose values align with yours.

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