"I still need to ask somehow if he wants kids or not. I feel like in your early twenties, it's not something you bring up right away while dating, but in your thirties, it's different. At my age, I no longer have the luxury of waiting to ask a new prospect if he is on the same page as I am for the future."
The text above was from one of my best friends earlier this week.
In the past, I would have responded by saying that she has plenty of time and that she should enjoy the early stages of dating. Yet, I understand her urgency entirely because I felt it creeping up on me when I was dating in my late twenties/early thirties.
Dating is hard enough already, but if you want children, it may start to require conversations that could have previously waited.
Men can have children for basically as long as they desire. On the other hand, women have a relatively short window and don't have the luxury of waiting until their forties/fifties to start trying.
Women have to consider exploring more "Non-conventional" options
My friend is thirty-two and is not in a serious relationship. Although it would be great to have a partner alongside her when she decides to move children, she knows she can only wait for so long.
"I don't want to start having children when I'm forty. I'm thinking about freezing my eggs or doing artificial insemination… I'm currently trying to figure out what other non-conventional roads I can take if I don't end up married or in a serious relationship in the next couple of years."
Women have a slim window of time to decide before it's too late
The reality is that by age thirty-five, there are more risks involved with having children and women become less fertile every year. This is not to say you cannot have children. 17% of children in the United States are given birth to mothers over thirty-five.
People are marrying later in life more and more (if they choose to get married), and between careers and college, many women do not want to have children in their twenties.
It means that if you want to have a child in your "womanly prime," there is a 3–5 year window in your early thirties when you have to decide whether or not children are the next step.
Women have to bridge "the conversation" earlier to ensure that they aren't wasting time.
My friend in her early thirties has been seeing someone new for a couple of months.
In the past, she wouldn't have worried about timelines and commitment but, things have changed. She feels the need to bridge the conversation about what they are sooner rather than later and hates that she feels a pressure that never existed before her thirties.
"I don't have time to sit around and wonder what we are and if it's going somewhere. I need to know if he's on the same page and has the same wants for our future. Otherwise, I'm wasting time that I don't have anymore."
We have to acknowledge that dating is very different for a woman in her thirties vs. a man.
As a woman, it would be great to be "chill" and navigate the dating waters as if we have all the time in the world to find the right partner.
However, if you want a co-pilot in the parenting experience, time is a luxury that women find more and more scarce as they grow older.
Next time, before you tell your friend that is dating to "relax" or that she "has plenty of time," stop and think. The reality is that she may not have plenty of time and that she needs an empathetic friend to validate that racing against our biological clock is far from easy.