I’m in my 30’s and I Don’t Want to Waste Time With the Wrong Men. How Soon Should I Find Out If He’s Serious About Marriage and Kids?

man embracing his woman from behind

Hi Evan,

My friends and I are all in the range of early to mid- to somewhat late 30’s and this is a very difficult time to find “the one”. When I was in my 20’s, I never worried about having to find out if my date/bf wanted kids or where he wanted to live or if we have the same ideas about money and spending. We would spend 2+ years together (not worrying about future or marriage) and then break up if we got sick of each other or fell out of love.

But now, let’s be realistic, how long do we really have to waste? I am almost 33. If I spent 2 years with someone and it didn’t work out, I would then be 35, and I want kids!

So, at this age, how soon is it okay to have a talk about what we want in life… 1st, 2nd, 3rd date? What if a guy that is amazing says he is unsure he wants kids and I know I want them? I drop him, right? If a guy in his mid 30’s thinks it is ok to date for 2 years and see if it is right, then my instinct is to let him go. By the same token, I feel that it is appropriate to KNOW by 6 months if this person is the one or not. Is this correct? Let me remind you that I’m not talking about people in their 20’s who enter into 5-year relationships. My friends and I want to be smart. I just ended a relationship with a guy after 6 months who told me he had serious doubts that I was the one.

How long until you should know (at this age) and how long until you should be planning to get engaged/married? I know people that get engaged after 6-8 months because they just know. I do NOT want to waste time. I am still considered young, but one long-term relationship that goes nowhere and I am 1-2 years older! If a guy tells me he wants to date for 2 years, then if we are right, he wants to get married, but then travel for a year before thinking about having kids, shouldn’t I run? I hope all of this makes sense. All of my close single girlfriends are in the same boat. We are all in the same age range and try to live by the “rules” of not bringing up marriage and kids and future goals or when we want those things. But shouldn’t we talk about that early on, in order to know we are on the same page? I want to date someone that is also looking for “the one” and knows that he wants it soon, just as I do.

Thanks so much, SK

Dear SK,

I couldn’t be more sympathetic to you. Now that I’m almost 37, most of my friends are in this 35-40 range, and there’s no doubt of the psychological toll that being single takes on them. The window to have kids is a narrow one, and, for that reason, it makes everything feel urgent.

The window to have kids is a narrow one, and, for that reason, it makes everything feel urgent.

I’m confident that just about anyone in your position would feel the exact same as you do. But, like an employee who has to grin and bear it when he’s got to work overtime, you have to figure out a way to smile, breathe deeply, and not get overwhelmed by your feelings. First, let’s try an exercise. Pretend you’re a guy for a second.

Now reread your letter. I’ll wait. Okay. Now that you’ve been privy to this woman’s pain, insecurity, fear and longing, would YOU want to date her? Because while you’re 100% entitled to WANT ANSWERS NOW, most guys don’t HAVE answers now – and they’re certainly not going to feel more inclined to date the woman who demands them. No more than you want to buy the car from the pushy used car salesman who has to make his monthly quota.

While you’re 100% entitled to WANT ANSWERS NOW, most guys don’t HAVE answers now… Playing it cool is still your soundest bet.

I just finished writing about this in my new eBook, “Why He Disappeared”, because it’s fundamental to understanding what makes men choose some women and not others. You’re 33. It’s a great age for dating because you’re young enough to be highly desirable to men in their late 30’s and early 40’s, you’re old enough to be over your twentysomething frivolity, and you’re serious about finding love. But you can’t be TOO serious. The more you approach each man as the potential father of your child, the more each man is going to recoil from your intensity. Playing it cool is still your soundest bet. My best friend married a 40-year-old woman, after two and a half years of dating. She didn’t pressure him once to pull the trigger. They just announced that they were pregnant last week. Another close male friend just married a 40-year-old woman, after two years of co-habitation. She DID put a little pressure on him, but it didn’t help her cause in any way.

Men don’t like to be pushed. My wife was 38 when I met her. If anything, I was the one who felt the need to rush and make decisions quickly, because I want to have kids and didn’t want to waste her time. As you may know, nobody’s cooler than my wife. So as much as you think you’re saving time by putting all your cards out on the table right away, you’re actually sabotaging yourself. There are things that my wife told me after 9 months together that I wouldn’t have accepted after 1 month, and vice versa. Once your guy’s in love, once he’s invested, you have much more power and leverage.

And by the way, your leverage is not in telling him to pop for a ring or else. Your leverage is in deciding whether you have a future, and, if not, walking away with your head held high. Walk away too soon because of YOUR timetable, and you may be shorting HIS timetable.

Learn how to embrace the concept of being cool and letting a man choose you without pressure.

Your concerns are perfectly valid, SK, but your methods for dealing with them come from a place of anxiety. We’re not that attracted to anxiety. So stop trying to figure out how to merge your bank accounts on date 2, stop hinting that you’d like a family on date 4, stop trying to KNOW things about your future when you’ve only been together for six months. YOU might think you know after six months, but if my wife – or my friends’ wives – pressured me or my friends for a decision after only six months together, none of us would be married right now.

You might not like to hear me telling you to just chill out, but it gets far better results than what you’ve outlined above.

Click here to learn how to embrace the concept of being cool and letting a man choose you without pressure. It may not be easy, but for my wife, I’d like to think there are some great rewards…

Your friend,


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  1. 141

    I’m 38 years old and I started seriously looking at age 35. I would be worried and not take it lightly. I did the whole online dating thing and while I did go on a plethora of dates and with really great guys I just wasn’t interested.. a lot didn’t fall into what I wanted with values, morals, commonalities etc. But they were very successful and great men. I decided to try a different website and met someone about 2 months ago from another state. He’s 43 yo. He’s actually been putting the pressure on me and wants a family and kids. He brought up marriage after month of talking. We have similar ideals, values, morals, and family upbringing We are now making future engagement/wedding plans. Our personalities were meant to be together! But my point here is that you have to find the types of men that are seriously looking and want kids/family in the future. In fact, these types are bringing it up and asking you if you want kids. Also don’t do the whole dating younger thing bc they seem to think they have all the time in the world.

    1. 141.1

      I totally agree with you.   I find men over 40 bring it up first.    I also found men on EH were a lot more relationship oriented and wanted families.

  2. 142

    I’m sorry but this is ridiculous.


    Why do men get to chose when to settle down? Why do women have to be on a mans timeline.


    The truth is, women have only so much time to reproduce.


    Men are wasting a woman’s chances at having kids when they string her along. And then after wasting her time, men go and knock up someone 10 years younger.



    1. 142.1

      You should be looking for a husband when you are at the height of your beauty and fertility if  family is so important to you; if you get strung along in your 30’s and 40’s you have only yourself to blame.   What man of means would wife up a banged out baggage ridden woman, 50 + guys had for no commitment.   Why shouldn’t he go for the younger woman, and at best use the older used up woman for a pump and dump?   Sounds mean, but that is the reality of the situation, maybe some young women will take heed.

  3. 143

    I once went out with a guy who informed me very rudely that he didn’t want a relationship and he’d never have another kid, on the third date. I obviously brought this stuff up. I agree that it’s important to find out comminalities and similar goals early on, but you don’t have to be forceful or act like dating someone is a corporate merger. If they don’t bring it up, I will, usually with the intention of ruling out the ones who “don’t want a relationship.” It happened last week, and this very attractive guy fell off the face of the earth. Good! I didn’t have to fend off his advances and player BS. I’m going on a date with a guy who is looking for a serious relationship, and I can’t remember who brought it up. I think that you can also bring up kids early, but wait until it’s looking like you’re moving forward and   have a bond. I know of two couples who split because one partner didn’t want kids. You don’t have to make it sound like an interview,   but these things are important. Unwanted kids suffer…why even risk pregnancy with a man who might not step up.

  4. 144
    We know we are the one or each othee

    My. Oyfriend and I have only been together for 1 month. I’m 32 yr old female and he 38. I laid it all out on the table before we went on or first official date. I don’t want to waste his time or money on pointless dates.   Before our 3rd date he said he no longer waned to look. He found what he was liking for. By our 4th date the big L word was said. It’s now been 7 dates and he took me to Zales over the weekend to see what I liked. We have talked abkut, marriage, lifestyle and kid (we both only want one), tonight he said he was going to mAke me his wife one day. Sometimes you just click and time frames do not mater. Think about your grand parents,   they most likely didn’t date for years, but months before there was an engagement. When you know he’s he one, everything falls in place. I personally think ita okay to ask they want children on date one. Why make them waste money on date 2 when it’s never going to work if one of you meant want children. As far as engagement, the man will tell you. If he truly wants o make you his wife he will let you know.



  5. 145

    Here’s the thing a lot of people don’t seem to realise in society today…love is not something to be rushed. Everyone’s swiping through, lining up dates, seeking love through their minds. Love has become about what ‘we’ want and imposing our desires on another. Love is actually a balance between self and other. The best state of play seems to be if we know what we want, but we also choose in each moment whether we also want to surrender and open up to another person. We are the person choosing. But love is not an imposition. My greatest frustration has been men who impose a timeframe onto me and dictate that they need to see me x number of times, or invade my personal space too early. In developing my own boundaries and learning through love, I now see that balance between self love and love for others is key. It’s a negotiation and compromise. Growing in love is also showing up and putting your heart on the line, surrendering it. I’m in my 30s now too and have already decided that I can let go of needing to have marriage and children because I want to develop true love with someone, even if it takes time and patience. I’ve seen too many marriages fall by the wayside because people hurried love and had an agenda. They didn’t truly want to be there for the other person, they just approached their ‘scary age’ and found someone. Even though I haven’t experienced it, I believe in a more authentic love and it develops over time and between two people who are authentic and showing up in a relationship together. No agendas. And another thing is…why do some people believe that they have full control over life? Life is a constant process of surrender. I’ve experienced tragedies that I could not have planned and they have brought me closer to my heart. There are no guarantees in love, love is something that you are, that you give, that stays with you even after you lose someone. I believe that people would be more content and choose the right person for them if they recognised that love is not their timeline.

  6. 146

    And wow to some of the comments on here… people are not cars and should not be compared to them, nor viewed as a body alone. This kind of objectification of women, or men, is a harmful mentality but will attract the same. They see you for the money; you see them as a possession, a car. Until we look past people as objects that we can manipulate to our own ends, and look into their soul and, as Evan has eluded to, compromise between self and other out of love…there actually is no love. Only appearance and illusion.

  7. 147

    So I agree that you should not seem desperate or insecure but you also should be clear about your life goals early on say by date 2.    Don’t set a timeline but say you want kids and to marry and want to be on the same page.    One benefit of dating men that are older say 40 and above is that most of them will beat you to the punch and bring it up before you do.   I think if both people share the same desire to have kids and marry there will be no pushing.   If you have to push he’s probably not the right guy for you.    One tip I have is let the fact that you may not have biological kids go.   Even if you have a man you could be infertile you could have other issues he could be.   Tell yourself that if you never have kids that’s okay.    While you want that you can adopt etc or that you   would rather find a life partner that’s right for you and be childless than with a man who’s all wrong with kids and miserable.   Rushing is no good for anyone!   You will date much smarter when you take the focus off kids I promise you that.    And I know Evan is a huge proponent of dating with a purpose I caution him and the readers with tales of women over 40 having kids with no issues. Sure we all know women that’s happened to but the majority of women don’t have those success stories.    Many face a very hard long road.   You don’t have to be a parent naturally to be happy.

  8. 148

    The original post is a reminder of how little humans have evolved in terms of urges. I do not say this as an insult at all just as a merely evolutionary perspective (I am a scientist working in the medical field). The urge to pass her DNA on is as much as any other species in heat. My advice would be to use rationality to realize that we have   evolved more than other species, brain-wise, and do not have to always obey the animal instincts any more. Also the human species is NOT on the verge of extinction. You can live without kids and you’ll be alright. Better that than divorced and with custody battles.

  9. 149

    A woman has her fun in her 20’s then all of a sudden a high grade man is supposed to put a ring on a woman that has had close to triple digits relative to sexual partners?   Why?   A top tier man in this age cohort will go for the younger woman with less baggage.   If marriage is so important to these women, they should have pursued it when they were at the height of their beauty and fertility.   They waist their youth having fun riding from cock to cock and then wonder where all the good men are.

  10. 150

    I agree but this article lacks positive action. The woman could be wasting her time. A lot of nice, patient women get stringed along for years, getting “breadcrumbed”. My advice is to keep dating several men at the same time. This way, you are certain you are not wasting your time on just one, because that is the main regret when a man wasted your time, that you could have dated better men in the meantime. Don’t go to bed with any of them until one of them makes you your official girlfriend. Not putting out will speed things up. It’ll get them to invest. And as long as you don’t put out you can date as many men as you want. Just don’t tell them you are dating others cause they will misunderstand and think you are sleeping with other man. Just say you have a full agenda, that makes you more attractive anyway. Double win! Thank me later.

  11. 151

    Wow… this entire thread was dedicated to belittling, dehumanizing, and mocking 30 something women for wanting to marry and raise families…. my goodness.

    To all you ladies out there who want a husband and a family, good luck. I hope you find a good man, that you have at least two kids, and that your lives are filled with as much joy as possible.

  12. 152

    Anne, most of the comments didn’t belittle 30s women who wanted to marry / have families. In fact, we don’t even need to do as Evan suggested: pretend to be a man reading her letter. As a WOMAN imagining a man wrote this letter, I can easily understand a MAN’s reluctance to date someone with this mindset. There is nothing in her letter that suggests that she wants a healthy relationship, or is prepared to love and be loved by a partner. All she seems to care about is kids. Who would sign up for a partnership like that? If a man only wanted to date me because he thought I’d make a good breeder, I’d be repelled.

    We can’t assume that someone would make a good partner because they’d be an eager parent. I’m not sure there’s any correlation. If anything, I might be a little jealous if they devoted all their time and energy and love to the kids and had none for me.

  13. 153

    This is horrible advice. Goal driven women have ambition and if one of those goals is to have children, much of which is out of her control, put yourself IN HER SHOES.

    When she reaches say, the golden age of fertility decline – 35, given that nearly all of society and everyone around her is telling her it’s going to be hard to have children, more risky to have children, she would have to be a psychopath to not have anxiety let alone at emotion surrounding it.

    Her response is extremely valid given the circumstance and no one should ever put someone down for experience those feelings. In fact, isn’t respecting someone’s feelings a fundamental aspect in a relationship?

    So when I read this from a man’s perspective and the response is “unattractive” and “off-putting”, that tells me that those men don’t know what that want and are little boys struggling to accept the realities women face in the world.

    Again, put yourself in her shoes. You’re a man who has a big dream, one huge goal in their life, and it requires a partner and external factors outside of his control to achieve it. What would you do?

    My guess is most men would cower and run away and chalk to up to something else, bottle their emotions and never deal with it… and never fully live.

    This is a joke. Have grace and empathy for someone in this position, not disgust and rejection. No wonder so many women feel this way.

    Here’s the reality, it’s not her anxiety that’s the issue. It’s men in general. Men who don’t know what they want, are too scared to go after what they want, who make excuses, who aren’t vulnerable or willing to put themselves out there. Think they have time and keep putting it off. Men who are taught that women’s feeling and vulnerabilities should be shunned if they do not please and excite him. I’m over it.

    Focus on finding a quality man and have a plan B. Watch in the next 10 years as women continuing surpassing men, a whole genre of “single moms by choice” will be the norm. I hope by then that will be enough of a shift for men to wake up and level up with ambitious women.

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