How It Feels To Be In Your 40’s And Want To Have Children

sad and tired matured woman
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It’s something that, for some reason, women aren’t encouraged to talk about.

It’s something that some think connotes weakness.

…like a conservative, 1950’s housewife instead of a 21st century independent woman.

It’s something that certain people take to mean you are like a conservative, 1950’s housewife instead of a 21st century independent woman.

And it’s not even remotely controversial. Ready?

“I’m really sad that I may not get married and have my own biological children.”

You may think I’m exaggerating. But all you have to do is pay attention to the title of this first-person piece by Melanie Notkin called “My Secret Grief: Over 35, Single and Childless” to know that sharing this desire is not always a popular stance.

Not in a society in which admitting one’s desire for something traditional is often twisted into a retrograde, anti-feminist message, rather than what it is: a deep and aching need for many women.

“Grief over not being able to have children is acceptable for couples going through biological infertility. Grief over childlessness for a single woman in her thirties and forties is not as accepted. Instead, it’s assumed we just don’t understand that our fertility has a limited lifespan and we are simply being reckless with chance…Or, it’s assumed we’re not ‘trying hard enough,’ or we’re ‘being too picky.’ The latest trend is to assume we don’t really want children because we haven’t frozen our eggs, adopted or had a biological baby as a single woman.

This type of grief, grief that is not accepted or that is silent, is referred to as disenfranchised grief. It’s the grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn because your loss isn’t clear or understood. You didn’t lose a sibling or a spouse or a parent. But losses that others don’t recognize can be as powerful as the kind that is socially acceptable.”

Women like Ms. Notkin are my readers and clients – women who have everything going for them…except for the life they envisioned for themselves. Which, is why I’m so sympathetic to their desires and take great pride in helping women find love and start families – yes, even in their 40’s. Love U is filled with ’em.

I’ll give the author the last word:

“The grief over never becoming a mother is one I will never get over, like the grief over losing my own mother 23 years ago. But like that kind of grief, with time, it’s no longer constant or active. Yes, there’s still hope I’ll meet a man who has the desire to have a baby with me and will be prepared to be with me through the treatments I may need to make that happen. Or grieve with me should they not work. But mainly, I just keep going, looking for love. Thankfully, there’s no biological time limit on that dream.”

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    jo

    While I sympathise with Ms. Notkin, it seems that her article doesn’t quite tell the whole story; therefore, she might have options depending on her priorities, and what she cares about the most.

    If she wants her own biological baby, she could try to conceive via donor sperm without having a partner – or would she only wish to have a baby with a partner? If the latter, it might be worthwhile to keep in mind that not all partners stay after a baby is born, so there is a risk either way.

    If she simply wishes to hold a baby in her arms, as she describes near the top of the article, and of course everything else involved with caring for a child – has she considered adoption?

    If she wanted to control some of the aspects of traits her baby would have but cannot conceive herself, another possibility is choosing donor sperm and a pregnancy surrogate.

    I think that more options than ever are available to those who want children, particularly in high income countries. But maybe as we get older, it becomes important (just like in the case of choosing partners!) to prioritise – identify what matters the most to each of us, and be willing to let the rest go, whether that is some money, or control over the exacts of the genetics of the baby, etc.

    1. 1.1
      Jess

      Long term wise, I think most average women do not have the financial resources to simply adopt, or get pregnant via donor sperm, then raise a child all on her own. These days, the cost of having a child is outpacing the growth of salary for the average professional. For many, it’s more practical to have a partner to share the responsibilities of child rearing in order to provide a better quality of life. That doesn’t mean it’s not a priority for women like Ms.Notkin, or that their grief is less real.

      1. 1.1.1
        Rustylh

        “These days, the cost of having a child is outpacing the growth of salary for the average professional.”

        This is because, “First World Problems.” A time may come, when reality smacks us in the face, and you will be grateful to just put food in the bellies of your children.

        But today, right now, we allow ourselves to think things are important, that simply aren’t. We view many luxuries as necessities.

        I almost pray for the day that reality does force us to learn what’s actually important, because I just don’t know how much longer the road we are presently on, will last. It seems to be a highway to hell…and nobody’s puttin’ up a fight, to quote AC/DC.

        1. Jess

          @Rustylh, when I mentioned cost of having a child, I wasn’t alluding to materialism in the context of our consumer culture. Many cities are trending on cost of living (rent, child care), and cost of healthcare and education going up. And since the U.S. is a first world country, people are naturally concerned with those so-called “first world problems”. My point was that many women who wish to have kids simply don’t have the option to do it on their own without support from either a partner or family members. Imagine what it would be like if divorced single moms don’t get any financial or emotional support from an ex spouse.

        2. Rustylh

          The point I was getting at was this…I can remember a long time ago, there were financial concerns. Money went a lot further back then than it does now, but as they were interviewing people on the street, this woman made the statement that she didn’t know how they were going to make it on less than $100k. And, I remember thinking, “And yet most people DO make it on way way less than that…like 1/5 of that.” This was back in the 80s, I believe…maybe 90s.

          And the point again is that you specifically mentioned professionals. professionals tend to make more than non-professionals. When the little people are no longer making it…then you might have cause to worry.

          Maybe you have to live in a less expensive apartment, and eat out less, and buy fewer clothes, and drive a less expensive car, etc…but professionals are going to at least, “be making it,” so long as they live within their means.

          So long as government stays out of the way, the economics work just fine. Anyone who has taken economics with a professor remotely as good as mine was, will understand that supply and demand make everything work just fine. If nobody can afford 4ksqft homes, then the suppliers will make 3k, and if people can’t afford that, they make 2k, and on and on until people can afford it. A free market works because everything meets at the intersection of supply and demand. People will make what people are willing to pay for, and competition forces them to make the best product they can, and sell it at the lowest price they can, which is best for the customer.

          There will always be somethings we can’t afford. That’s life. But so long as the government stays out of the way, there will always be somebody who makes what you can. Cars are a perfect example. In the beginning, they were all super expensive…only for the rich…but now they are made in a range of prices that the majority of people can afford…and professionals better cars.

          if circumstances in your life change, you may have to buy a less expensive car. It’s all about priorities. You have to live below your means. So many people refuse to do that, but Clark Howard, said that the best gift you can give your child is to teach them to live on half their income, and safely invest the rest. Doing so literally makes you recession proof. Work for 10 years, and you could survive a 10 year recession where you have no job, and not suffer the slightest dip in your lifestyle. But most people refuse to even save 10%, or 25%. And in the case you mentioned, people think the world is ending if they have to reduce how they live, when the roller coaster of life puts them in a dip.

          Here’s something that might help you…but might also scare you, I suppose. Volunteer with a charity that works with the homeless. It helps you understand just how good you actually have it. It helps you, “Count your blessings.” I’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years.

        3. Bbq

          Jess

          Imagine would it would be like if divorced single dads didn’t get any financial support from an ex spouse.

          I see no reason why in this day an age of equal opportunity and no fault custody and divorce that any one should be entitled to financial support, not if there ex still wants to be a parent and have the kids in their life as well and especially if the one wanting support also wanted the divorce.

        4. sylvana

          Jess,

          a lot of women DON’T get any financial support from their ex spouses. And forget about emotional support. A lot of women can’t even get that out of a spouse, let alone an ex-spouse.

          I realize that an unplanned baby or divorce/break-up after having a baby is different from planning single motherhood to begin with, but still, there are tons of women out there proving it is doable without a partner’s support. And those are usually women who didn’t even have careers and a better financial situation to begin with.

        5. sylvana

          Rusty,,

          Sometime I wonder if nobody’s putting up a fight because it really isn’t all that much of a priority for people to have a child or more children.

          Is it becoming almost impossibly hard these days? Sure. But on the other hand, I think it can oftentimes simply be a good excuse. Especially for women.

          I think if having a child or more children was truly that life-altering important, people would find a way to make it happen. If your life doesn’t revolve around that particular thing, it’s obviously not that much of a priority.

        6. Jess

          @Rustylh, “And in the case you mentioned, people think the world is ending if they have to reduce how they live”. I’m not sure what case you are referring to exactly. I mentioned basic needs: paying for rent, healthcare, childcare, and education for your child. Where I live those costs are pretty much fixed. But somehow, you seem to have this idea that I was talking about things like bigger apt or flashy cars, living beyond your means, which I wasn’t.

          I know ppl with Bachelor’s degree who are working FT but not earning enough to save half of their income. I am fortunate that I have the financial stability to save for a rainy day. While I’m grateful, I also recognize the fact that other professionals are not as fortunate, sometimes due to the economics of their chosen fields. Now days, just having a Bachelor’s degree is not a guarantee of a stable income.

        7. Rustylh

          Sylvana, I agree with your post. I remember my sister once saying that it was too hard to find time to workout. I told her, if it was a priority of her, she would find time. She did so. We can always find the time for what is a priority to us.

          It’s amazing that with the technology we have today, it’s somehow harder to raise kids. My mother did not have a microwave. Didn’t have half the newfangled food prep appliances we have today. Also, the ready to cook meals were more rare, and more expensive than they are today. Just going to McDonalds was a huge thing for a family of 6. I was rarely able to get everything I wanted. A basic meal was usually it. Forget the milkshake, Sundae, extra large fries, or extra cheeseburger…growing boys are hungry. LOL

          We didn’t have cell phones for her to check up on me with a quick text. Washing machines and driers weren’t as advanced as today, and most clothes had to be ironed to be fit to wear in public.

          Cars broke down more.

          Money was always an issue. Mom, like most mothers at the time, did not work full time. She took jobs here and there.

          So how have we allowed it to become harder to raise kids these days? On paper, it should be so much easier. TV, Computers, and cell phones keep the kids busy, and quiet in a way my parents could have only dreamed about.

          A lot is being left out here, because we could literally create a sub-reddit for this topic, and in fact I would be surprised if there isn’t one.

        8. jo

          Rusty, also, there were fewer toilets per house back then and probably bigger families on average!

          From what friends tell me, the reason it’s more difficult to raise children nowadays – at least for relatively wealthy families, single-parent families and poor families have additional issues – is because of expectations from within and without. More homework being assigned. Rules about not leaving children at home alone, or even outside on their own to play to give parents a rest. Possibly more dangerous neighborhoods in some places. The internet as a means of fragmenting everyone’s attention and focus. Expectations for how houses should look and what size, same with cars, same with meals, same with clubs and activities and sports for the kids. So much more pressure, generally.

          Yes, this could be a conversation for a whole separate post.

        9. sylvana

          Jo,

          exactly. The laws have changed, that’s what makes it so much harder to raise kids these days. Can’t leave your kids out of sight for five minutes. On the other hand, true child abusers still get away with way too much.

    2. 1.2
      SparklingEmerald

      Hi Jo You asked “If she wants her own biological baby, she could try to conceive via donor sperm without having a partner – or would she only wish to have a baby with a partner?”

      The answer is at the end of the piece where she said “I not only have to cope with my circumstantial infertility, but I have to defend my desire to be married to someone I’m crazy about before conceiving. I have to defend why I’m not a mother when it’s all I ever wanted to be.”

      Clearly, she wants the whole thing, a loving marriage and her own biological children. And for some odd reason, in this day and age, that is considered shameful.

      1. 1.2.1
        jo

        Hello SE – I liked your story below. I for one do not think that wanting a loving marriage and biological children is shameful, and can honestly say that I’ve never heard anyone else stating that view either. So seeing some comments on here alluding to that is surprising.

        In her scenario, I’m advocating for consideration of reasonable outcomes. I don’t think it’s wrong, even in an emotion-fraught situation, to encourage thinking probabilities through. At one’s age, how likely is it to find all these things? If it’s extremely small, what are the probabilities that one could have one or the other, or something else desirable? And does aiming for THAT, without insisting on everything else, mean that she has to exclude everything else – or can she work sequentially? This is what I meant by saying it helps to prioritise. What matters most to her? That would give her an idea of how to focus. She might well say that she wants it all, or nothing. If that is what she wants, even if the probability is low… that is her right.

      2. 1.2.2
        sylvana

        SE,

        but it’s NOT considered shameful. No one shames a woman for wanting that. They do, however, tell people that at a certain point, they need to accept that it didn’t or cannot happen.

        What they get shamed for is the obsession for making it happen no matter the cost, and being completely unwilling to accept alternatives.

        1. Bbq

          Sylvania and Sparkling Emerald

          As Slyvana already commented in a post above, if having marriage and children were really such a desperately high priority for a woman in her 40’s and long had been, the truth is she would have made it happen already.

          Look around and see all the people coupled up with kids, none of them perfect, many of them with obvious problems. If it’s really something you badly want then barring infertility or serious illness (even then it still happens) you would have it. We’re not talking about becoming the president or a pro athlete here.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Not true at ALL. That lack of understanding puts all your other posts in question. Women who choose the wrong men in their don’t fulfill their dreams; it’s not for a lack of effort.

        3. Bbq

          Evan Marc Katz

          If you say so, but I think there’s at least an element of truth in it. I guess it depends on how broad their definition of “the wrong man” is, and how narrow their perception of “the right man” is, as to whether their dreams are more or less likely to be fulfilled in that regard.

          But respectfully, I don’t see how that puts my other posts on unrelated topics into question.

      3. 1.2.3
        Henry

        It’s not that wanting a loving marriage and her biological children is shameful, no.

        It’s that our society pushes women to get married and to have children, even when the women who take part in this are against it, but soceital pressure and the expectations their parents have on them subtly forces women to get married and have children, when they would be much better off being single and childless.

        First of all she’d need to find a guy with whom she shares a deep emotional connection. Then she would to be physically attracted to him, and after that, it would be necessary for the guy to have a good job, life-savings, no debt, and his own house.

        How many men around the world – not just the USA – are eligible bachelors?

        So, it’s not that wanting a husband and a child is shameless and goes against ”feminism”.

        It’s that getting a good husband(physically attractive, healthy, young, college-educated, homeowner etc) is becoming increasingly impossible for most women around the world.

        Even for those women who are young and physically attractive and charming.

        Having a biological child isn’t a need. It’s not a necessity. It’s a biological impulse that can be easily controlled.

  2. 2
    L

    I think when women say they want a man, they want a partnership and a family – it’s somehow become needy or wrong to say that – I disagree I think it is a normal desire to want partnership and family (talking about people who want children not those who don’t). And to say, well just because you have a partner doesn’t mean they’ll stick around after the baby, I don’t understand that, it’s like if you know someone who wants to be married, would love to live life in a partnership, and you say – well you know – some people get divorced, okay so what?
    I think women are not free to say they want to be married because people will say – you have to be happy on your own – well if everyone is so happy on their own, why do they look for partnerships OR why are they married? Because life is better when shared, not because you can’t stand on your own two legs and are looking for someone to save you, but simply because it’s a normal desire to want to be with someone. It is sad that women are not allowed to say that out loud.

    1. 2.1
      Emily, to

      L,
      “I think women are not free to say they want to be married because people will say – you have to be happy on your own …”
      I’ve heard that said to women who are maybe 25, a few years out of college, and people think it may be best to spend some time being independent. But I don’t know anyone who would say that to a 40-year-old woman. The only women I know who say they want to be on their own are divorced from one, maybe two, marriages, have grown kids and just want to have fun.

      1. 2.1.1
        Henry

        Back when I was in college, I met many women who were in their mid 20s and older(some took longer to complete their bachelors degree, others were on their masters) who never really talked about wanting to become a mother, or wanting to get married that early in their lives.

        As I got to know them, they never said anything about people telling them that they were too young to vecome mothers.

        I met many women throughout my life who were happy being single, without children, and without anything serious romantically-wise going on in their lives.

        I feel that the reason women in their 30s and 40s are so intent on having children and getting married is not because of an in-born reproductive urge that becomes activated in when a woman reaches her 30s, but her desire for a family life is instilled in her over decades of decades of being told that it’s expected of them to get married and to have kids.

    2. 2.2
      SparklingEmerald

      I have a friend, or should say an acquaintence with whom I am on friendly terms with, and although she has two grown sons, she often makes remarks that in this day and age no one should be having kids. I’ll usually just respond with “Well, that’s their choice”. I heard her tell someone in our group who said she wanted to have kids someday “You don’t need to do that”.

      I have heard other people make similar remarks about how we shouldn’t bring kids into the world, refer to people who want to have children as breeders, etc. so YES, there is a small but rude group of people who shame people for the very natural desire for marriage and children.

      I have been on both sides of the equation and I know full well that there are very vocal people who shame those who don’t, won’t or can’t have children, and that it is way worse on the “mandatory child bearing ” side, but those the “human extinctionists” as I call them, while fewer in numbers, can be pretty obnoxious.

      I know there are big problems in the world, but I am not in favor of human extinction. And yes, if you think nobody should have children (or perhaps only an elite small percentage should), then you are advocating for human extinction even if you don’t realize it.

      If you think the world is a bad place now, think of what a dystopian society we would have 50 to 60 years down the road, if today, the last baby was born. The last generation to be born EVER would be forced to work until they became to infirm to work. They would live in a world with crumbling infrastructure, little to no access to health care or education, little to no access to goods and services, because eventually the work force would die out or become to old to work.

      People who want and can take reasonable care of children should have them, those who don’t want them shouldn’t. And everyone should stop shaming those who make a different choice.

      1. 2.2.1
        Emily, to

        Sparkling Emerald,
        “I have a friend, or should say an acquaintance with whom I am on friendly terms with, and although she has two grown sons, she often makes remarks that in this day and age no one should be having kids ..”
        You’ve written about this before but my experiences have been so different. People have asked me if I ever wanted kids, and when I say no, that pretty much ends the conversation. I have never then turned around and asked them, “Why on earth did you have kids?” As a general rule, people are noisy and may ask a question or 2 about your situation, but they ultimately don’t really care about someone else’s life choices. Most people are too involved in their own lives to really spend all that much time worried about other peoples’. That’s been my experience, anyway.

        1. SparklingEmerald

          Hi Emily to:

          You say your experience you have not seen people ask why on earth did you have kids ? It happens on this board, maybe you don’t read all the posts (I can’t say I read them all either)

          On this board, I made a light hearted remark about a coronavirus baby boom, and here is the humorless remark right here on this board, frequented by many women hopeful to have their own families some day . . .

          “SE,

          I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Why would anyone want to bring children into the current state of the world? Does anyone ever consider their children’s future and wellbeing? Or is it always just “ooohhh babies” and the heck with their quality of life?

          And let’s not forget that a baby boom would mean a lot of actually unwanted pregnancies. Also rarely a blessing for neither the children not the parents. Then there’s the fact that baby-boom or not, divorce rates and couples splitting will likely rise drastically. So we’re looking at a bunch of kids born to split-up parents. ”

          This is clearly a slam to those who WANT children, like they are just mindless idiots who’s only basis for pro-creating was “oooh babies” and that their choice was selfish.

          This is not the only such comment I have seen on this board (I have been here over 5 years) and I have heard similarly “breeder” shaming remarks in real life.

          Granted, having been on BOTH sides, there is much more shaming toward those who wish to remain child-free, but there is judgement and shaming from both sides.

          I think people should figure out if they want children or not, take whatever steps necessary to have or not have children,and then STFU about those who make an opposite choice.

        2. Emily, to

          Sparkling Emerald,
          “You say your experience you have not seen people ask why on earth did you have kids ? It happens on this board, maybe you don’t read all the posts (I can’t say I read them all either)”
          I actually don’t read all the posts and avoid certain topics but I do remember the post about coronavirus babies. I guess (and this isn’t directed specifically at you) I am always baffled at how much time people spend worried about what other people think of their life choices. A great quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” So if a woman at 40 still wants kids and marriage? Go for it. And if some of the people around her aren’t supportive, nix those people are find people who are. I don’t say that flippantly, but that woman doesn’t have to explain herself.
          “I think people should figure out if they want children or not, take whatever steps necessary to have or not have children,and then STFU about those who make an opposite choice.”
          Totally agree.

    3. 2.3
      Henry

      Yes, but it’s also a natural desire for young men to want to sleep with lots and lots of different women and isn’t that considered to be a shameful desire?

      I met men back in college who were gorgeous and who took advantage of their looks to have fun, and they were continuously shamed for their actions.

      There’s nothing wrong about wanting a child and a family, but consider how the world is overpopulated, climate change, social unrest, the financial instability most couples around the world are going through, most people who are younger than 40 don’t have their own house, or the money for a downpayment(around the world.

      Marriage and children can make or break a woman’s happiness, and physical and emotional health, as having children in this day and age in the states is still a dangerous undertaking for the woman, and the mother to be can suffer from lifelong health problems due to giving birth.

      Also, her life can be ruined by choosing the wrong man to marry, and there’s billions of wrong men out there.

      As for some people getting divorced… yeah, it’s about 54% divorce rate in the states, with many more not getting a divorce because they can’t afford living on their own, or because of religions reasons.

      In the European nation-state of Belgium, the divorce rate is at 89%.

      That’s right. The divorce rate is almost at 100%, and that’s after the fact that most romantic relationships don’t evolve into a co-habitation or a marriage situation.

      I dunno, but I get the feeling that most women who are married or in a relationship aren’t with their dream man, and that’s not something I’d like to be a part of.

      I dunno about that, about life being better with a romantic partner. I’ve been single for 10 years, and I’m doing great. Healthy, got my finances in order, have lots of friends, my family loves me, my dog loves me, I got a lot of stuff to entertain myself with, and I don’t really see my life improving vastly by getting married or by having a child of my own.

      Sure, there’s lots of people of who are happier together with someone, but there’s also millions upon millions of women and men who are better off being single and being childless, but our society doesn’t approve of that.

      It’s like, everyone accepts it and understands you if you want to have a child, if you want to get married, but if you are a man in your 30s with a college degree, your own house, and a good job and you aren’t married or in a romantic relationship people wonder what’s wrong and they try to introduce you to their daughters and grandaughters.

      It makes no sense to me.

      1. 2.3.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        If you’re going to throw around statistics to make your case, at least make sure they’re true. Otherwise, you tend to lose credibility:

        Belgium 53.85% (or about 40% off your claim)
        U.S. 42.03% (or about 22% off your claim)

  3. 3
    Rustylh

    That’s really good advice Jo. We can debate why she is in the position she is, and why there are an epidemic of women in this position, and even if we solved that conundrum, it would only help younger women not make the same mistakes. It wouldn’t help her. She simply has to prioritize what’s important to her. Then assess how much control she has over each item on that list. Then make a decision on what direction she will move in. And as Jess pointed out, some options may not be open to her. But this falls into what I said…what does she have control over. If she cannot afford adoption, then that’s not an option.

    The older ladies need to start talking to the younger ladies, however, and letting them know that there are consequences for holding out for perfection that does not exist.

    1. 3.1
      sylvana

      Rusty,

      the problem is that many young women see how well not holding out for perfection worked out for their parents. A lot of them are children of divorced parents. Or parents in miserable marriages.

      And I’ll say it again. If marriage and children were that much of a priority for her in life, she would have made it happen. What she is grieving is her fantasy of a relationship. She probably would have never been happy with the reality of one.

      1. 3.1.1
        Emily, to

        Sylvana,
        “If marriage and children were that much of a priority for her in life, she would have made it happen. ”
        I agree with you. I have two friends in their 40s and they both say they wish they had kids, but both were involved with guys when they were in their 30s who they would never have married and started a family with. So I don’t think they wanted children and marriage that badly. One blames the guy. “I couldn’t have kids with him,” she’ll say, but that seems like a cop-out.

      2. 3.1.2
        Rustylh

        Wrong. What you see, both men and women, is that people prioritized things that are not important. Take for instance, Evan and his wife. Had he insisted on a Jewish girl, or she had insisted on a non-Jewish guy, they wouldn’t be together. Better yet, let me use my parents, because one grew up Catholic, and one grew up Protestant. Had they insisted on somebody of their own religion, they would not have married. They were married until my mother’s death. My father never remarried.

        The truth is, you LOOK for perfection, which does not exist, and then settle for something you believe is as close as you can get, then get divorced when you find out, years down the road that he wasn’t as close to perfection as you originally thought.

        Cutler and Cavallari are a prime example of what is wrong in our society. The reality of the situation is that she was no longer attracted to him when he decided that all he wanted to do was stay at home on their farm, tend the animals, and spend time with his kids. She was upset that he didn’t pursue sports broadcasting opportunities available to him. This was her own words. And as I said in a previous post, the Red Pill is getting tons of mileage out of that.

        I do, however, agree with you that she is grieving the fantasy of a relationship. She likely had many opportunities to marry a great guy, but I also contend that she likely did not, because she felt she could do better. Find somebody more perfect. She bought into the lie that she had plenty of time to find “the one.” The reality is that you DO NOT have time. Every day that goes by is a day you have lost, and a day that “one of the good ones,” gets married, leaving you with an ever shrinking pool of “good ones,” to choose from.

        But, do you recognize them as good ones, or do you judge too harshly, reducing him to “less than perfect?” Nobody is perfect, including you and me.

        Why do people get divorced? Why, when you first fall for a guy, he can do no wrong…all his jokes are funny…the simplest things he does makes your heart fill with joy…and you think it’s cute that his socks seem to miss the hamper by mere inches more often than not (that’s a metaphor for you not allowing petty things to bother you)? But 15 years later, he can do no right…his jokes are no longer funny…he no longer does simple things for you because you take them for granted…and his socks laying by the hamper now anger you. Why?

        IMHO, to remain married, you have to learn from the lessons of people like a man who was my Commanding Officer at a Squadron I was in, while in the Navy. He told me that he and his wife had this agreement. Every year, one would put the Christmas tree up, and then the other would take it down New Years Day..or at least within a day or two.

        Anyway, he described a recent year where he put the tree up, and long story short, 3 weeks after New Years, the tree was still up. He never made an issue over it, and did ask her a few times if she was going to get to it soon. But after 3 weeks, he just took it down. But, then he never said anything to her about it…never made an issue of it. He said, “Obviously, the tree being taken down, was more important to me than it was to her. So I took it down. I could have made a federal case over the fact that she didn’t do her part, but what good would that do either of us? All it would do is cause problems in our marriage…problems over nothing. All it cost me was an hour of my time, and that’s not worth causing problems in our relationship. You have to choose your battles wisely. You can’t make a federal case over every little thing. I could have done that, and had all the high moral ground to stand on, but winning that battle would make it harder to win the war for my marriage.”

        Contrast that with an article I read a while back, where a woman describes biting her husband’s head off because he left the trash cans in the driveway, blocking her access. But then, her best friend called to apologize for standing her up on a lunch date earlier, and like the last 3 times she did so, she did not call to tell her she couldn’t make it. Yet, her answer was, “Oh, that’s OK. Maybe we can get together next week.” She said this is a sweet voice. In the article she notes that her husband is supposed to be the most important person in her life…her partner in crime, yet because he got distracted by a phone call, and forgot to get the cans, she mercilessly bit his head off, yet when her friend callously never thought to call her in advance and let her know she wasn’t coming, yet she was oh so forgiving, and understanding. She had it backwards…or at a minimum, her husband deserved the same treatment that her friend received.

        THIS, is why so many people get divorced. Not because you settled for Mr. Less Than Perfect. It’s because you don’t realize he’s as perfect as you are going to find, and that the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, is an illusion.

        Have a look at this article.

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1200225/Why-I-I-suspect-separated-women-regret-divorcing.html

        1. sylvana

          Rusty,

          You’re wrong in the assumption that people prioritize what is not important. They prioritize what is important to THEM. They prioritize what makes them happy. Hence the problem with not being happy once they figure out that who they settled for is not as close to perfect as they wanted. Religion and culture are often the biggest deal breakers for good reason. Especially when it comes to children.

          What you’re suggesting is people lowering their standards and keep lowering them, and tolerate things that drive them nuts just to try to be happy. That approach will work for so long, but it will not truly make anyone happy. Hence the divorce to follow. When the negatives start outweighing the benefits, people split up.

          It’s not necessarily a matter of the grass being greener on the other side. It’s a matter of finding out that he truly was as perfect as she can find, and it didn’t make her happy.

          In this woman’s case, I’d suspect that if she would have found a man who made her happy enough, she would have settled and married him. Obviously, she didn’t find one who made her happy enough. And if children and marriage were that much of a priority, she would have been willing to settle for less happiness in some regards in order to achieve the greatest happiness from being married and having children. So I once again say that her greatest happiness does NOT derive from being married and having children. She gains more happiness staying unmarried and childless than settling for a partner who does not give her the happiness she expects him to give her.

          As for the article your read. That woman is nuts. I wouldn’t tolerate that behavior from a friend or anyone. In case of your commanding officer – if it happens once in a while, no big deal. But if your partner is constantly not doing their part, you might as well be single. The relationship becomes more extra work and more of a chore than its worth.

        2. Rustylh

          @sylvana,

          You missed my point, and then even made my point. And, you point out the sense of entitlement that women today have.

          Prioritizing what is important to YOU, is not necessarily the road to happiness. Dr. Phil had an episode many years ago, where he had women on, who had ridiculous standards. Things that were, “important to them,” but did nothing but keep them from realizing they had quality men to choose from, but they were disqualifying them because no man can measure up to those standards.

          This was highlighted with a woman who refused to date men who wore sandals. Evidently she lived someplace where a lot of men were wearing sandals. I am going to assume it was someplace like Southern California. Dr. Phil helped her look past this, and had her go on a date with a man who wore sandals.

          This problem is again highlighted with the Cutler-Cavallari divorce. She had a man that most women here would love to have. He was a starting QB for pro teams. He made enough money to live the rest of their lives in luxury without working. Add in the money from their reality show, and they are set for life. He was loyal to her, gave her 3 beautiful kids. Loves those kids. Has a great sense of humor. Is still in great shape.

          …and this wasn’t good enough for her. Because he preferred to stay at home and work on their farm, and spend time with his kids, instead of pursuing sports broadcasting opportunities, she lost interest in him. He no longer excites her because he’s no longer out there killing himself to get ahead in the rat race.

          IMHO, this is a decision she will later regret…or denial will not allow her to face the truth. But she is going to learn that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. She’s a mom of three. She’s not a 10 to begin with, but her SMV is even more severely diminished as a result of the kids. She will find that the men she’s interested in, and who date her, will only be interested in short term relationships.

          She allowed something, “important to her,” to destroy their marriage. Can you imagine a man telling his wife what she has to do with her life, and when she doesn’t do it, he divorces her? Imagine what would be said about him…being controlling, etc… What’s obvious is that she, like many women, didn’t love her man…she loved the idea of him.

        3. jo

          Rusty, in the case of the divorce you describe, none of us knows the insides of any other couple’s marriage. You speculated a cause of divorce, but it might not be the truth.

          Also, why automatically jump to how she isn’t a 10 and has a low SMV? Who said that she wanted to go back on the dating market in the first place? Maybe she discovered that marriage isn’t for her. For many women, marriage in our current culture isn’t what we desire, given the high probability of a gross imbalance of housework and child raising that usually favors the husband and disadvantages the wife. Evan has even written about that on here.

          You say women are entitled. I say that asking for a more equal marriage doesn’t make women entitled; it makes the situation just, and removes the entitlement that men have enjoyed for centuries. Sure, the woman you described who wouldn’t date a man in sandals is foolish, but that’s an anecdote. I think it’s very reasonable for women to carefully consider, given current marital patterns, whether this is really what she wants, and if she has a partner who will genuinely make things fair and equitable.

        4. Rustylh

          It wasn’t something I just speculated.

          https://pagesix.com/2020/05/06/kristin-cavallari-jay-cutler-split-a-result-of-his-refusal-to-get-a-job/

          If she doesn’t want a marriage, or even a committed relationship, she is likely to get her wish.

          As for “the entitlement that men have always enjoyed?”

          Excuse me? How many women were handed white feathers on the streets, to shame them to submit themselves to the meat grinder that was WWI? How many women were slaughtered on Omaha Beach, or Tarawa? How many were drafted to die in Korea, and later, the jungles of Vietnam?

          How many women died of black lung from being a coal miner, or died in a cave in? How many women fell to their death building bridges, and skyscrapers?

          I could go on, but the reality is that while things were not equal between men and women, there were pros and cons for both genders. And the differences were largely a matter of practicality. It was more of an agreed upon division of labor.

          From men’s perspective, women decided to leave the home, and pursue their own careers. This altered the economy. Where at one time, median household income was based on one person earning the income. Now it is based on two, so most people don’t even have the luxury of having just one income. And what did the man get out of it? Well, after working 50 to 70 hours a week, he gets to come home and do more work. Yaaa! Sign us up for that! Not.

        5. jo

          Rusty, I think what you wrote is an apples-to-oranges comparison. I was talking about what each side contributes in a marriage, and that household chores and child care should be shared equally – which in most marriages around the world, are not. You’re talking about wars and dangerous jobs that women didn’t create, and didn’t ask men to do – and in fact, many wives would probably much prefer that their husbands didn’t do. It doesn’t address the point of household equality.

          Moreover, you gave no evidence that women going to work is the reason that the economy has transitioned to most households needing two workers (which can’t be true if there are so many single parents). Even if it were true, which I don’t believe, many women had previously been kept or forced out of the workforce once they married. Women should be allowed to work if they want to. There is no reason to return to a world where only the men worked and the women had to stay home. It isn’t a privilege to stay home. How many men would genuinely want that – to be the stay-at-home father? If they had wanted it, I’m sure they would have found a way to achieve that long ago.

          In a previous thread, Mrs Happy had written that it’s always the most disadvantaged groups in society that end up looking after children because it is boring, mind-numbing, tedious, low-paying (or no paying) work – and so the way to make women do it is to shame them for being bad mums or women to even think that way. Women today won’t buy that messaging as much as women of previous generations.

        6. Rustylh

          It was not apples to oranges. Men are not a monolithic group. A few men made the decision to go to war, and other men had to take part. They were invariable sold on the idea that this was in the best interest of their families, and in many cases, it was. When an enemy invades, you have to fight back. Leaders are charismatic manipulators, and throughout history, they manipulated people into going to war. Were there times when men did as a group, go to war? Yes. During the time of William Wallace, English Nobles were allowed to take the virginity of women who were just wed. Prima Nocta…First Night.

          Also, there are many men who would be happy to take the children, or at least have the children 50% of the time, in a divorce, but women have fought tooth and nail to win primary custody, so spare me the “it is boring, mind-numbing, tedious, low-paying (or no paying) work.” Or maybe women don’t actually do this for love of their kids. Maybe it’s really about who pays the child support. Maybe it’s about control. I know many many men who say that they would agree to no child support if they could have custody of their kids.

          Hop off the “Woe is me I’m a woman” train. Life will be more enjoyable when you stop seeing yourself as a victim, and men as your oppressor.

          I do not mean to be personal, but that kind of attitude that you have is one of the main reason many men don’t want anything to do with women these days. That kind of attitude makes you toxic in a relationship. Why would a man want to be involved with a woman who sees men as oppressors? No thanks. That’s a pain train I do not want a ticket to ride on.

        7. jo

          Rusty, for all your ad hominem attacks, you did not address the points I raised in my comments: that it is not women’s fault that men go to war, that it is not women’s fault that households frequently have two income sources, and that worldwide women bear disproportionate childrearing responsibility. None of these are attacks on men, yet you chose to get personal with me. Therefore I conclude two things: that these issues have affected you personally, and that you actually agree with my points.

        8. Stacia

          Rusty,

          Jay Cutler is a jerk. I hated every game he played with the Bears, and was so relieved when they released him. He came off as grouchy, whiny, entitled, and incredibly arrogant. If he’s that way on camera, without even talking, who’d hire him as a commentator or analyst? I don’t care for Cavallari, either, but I cannot imagine what being married to him would be like. There are also many, many rumors that he cheated. Perhaps his wife, who makes plenty of her own money, simply didn’t want to be at home all day with a grumpy, unfaithful husband. There’s way more to their story than the fact that he is taking a break from working. Relationships are nuanced and can rarely be broken down to one simply flaw, such as the fact that women only want men who make tons of money.

        9. Rustylh

          Stacia,

          First, the theory was advanced that he had cheated, but that was proven false. It was a desperate attempt by outside forces, to explain why these two would be getting a divorce. I mean, it could be what Cavalarri herself said…that they simply grew apart, or what inside sources close to the couple revealed…that she was tired of him staying home every day, instead of taking job offers in sports broadcasting. No…it has to be the fault of the evil man, amiright?

          Second, your opinion of what he is like matters not. What matters is that SHE decided that this was the man whom she would marry. If he is a jerk, did she not understand this fact? Or maybe she didn’t care, since he checked off so many other boxes. Good looking, professional, wealthy, etc… I mean, the old saying is that, “nice guys finish last.” Right?

          Maybe some women are really horrible at picking the right guy, because they prioritize the wrong things. And maybe some women simply can’t be pleased…ever. No matter where they are, no matter how good they have it…they want more. Like the girl in the Witcher series…asked what she wanted…she said, “Everything.”

          I will say this. Many women are never going to find a good man, because they only care about what they want…not what men want.

          I still remember the day my Ex finally dragged me to a marriage therapist. Ah yes, the old, “I just need a therapist to fix him and we will be just fine.”

          Well, she was in for a rude awakening. The therapist used a method that made her internalize what I was saying. She ended up crying, and apologizing, because she never actually listened to me before that. The communication was all about getting what she wanted. She never actually took into account what I was saying. Never actually looked at things from my side…until that moment. Turns out that I wasn’t the one that needed fixing. Or, maybe a more nuanced statement would be that we can all use a little fixing, but she learned that she needed it more…a lot more.

          You note that you don’t like Cavalarri, but your prejudice still makes you assume that the man must still be the one at fault. Maybe he really is a jerk, and maybe she never really cared about that, because like many women, the man is just a trophy. He simply has to check enough boxes to impress her friends and family. He’s nothing more than a biological Gucci Bag, and when he is no longer making her happy, he gets tossed aside, as things tend to lose their appeal when you have had them for a long time. They were obviously never best friends, because you don’t toss best friends aside like a worn out purse.

  4. 4
    Jess

    @L, well said. Just because some people get divorce, that shouldn’t derail you from pursuing your life goals. No one can promise a relationship or marriage will last forever, but the regret will be on not trying.

    1. 4.1
      SparklingEmerald

      Jess said “No one can promise a relationship or marriage will last forever, but the regret will be on not trying.”

      I have been “let go” or “laid off” more jobs than most people have held in their lives. A few of those jobs have been stop gaps until I could find something suitable for long term, but a few of those jobs I thought would be my “forever” job until I voluntarily retired. Only my last job (which lasted over 10 years) turned out to be my “until voluntary retirement” do us part job,and that’s only because I retired a few years early. There are a few rounds of layoffs periodically, and during my time there, I felt like I was constantly dodging the bullet of un-employement. All that being said, the fact that there is no guarantee that you won’t be “let go” from a job, would be a silly reason to give up on job hunting.

  5. 5
    SparklingEmerald

    General Comment on the article. I am a bit different from the author of this article, in that I came late to the “I want a baby ” party. Being the by product of the marriage from hell, and my mother always saying she would leave the abusive marriage when all of her kids were in school, then we were all in school, she was going to leave this hell hole of a marriage when the kids were OUT of school, then she was too old to leave. I was SCARED TO DEATH of being trapped in an abusive dysfunctional marriage, so at around age 16, I took a hard stance that I would never have children, even though I loved them. In fact, I loved them so much, I thought that I should NOT have children, because I figured I would be a crap excuse for a mom, due to my horrendous childhood. My first husband was even a single father with a vasectemy, whom I married in my mid 20’s.

    After my first divorce, and perhaps having briefly been a step mother during my first marriage, my love of children outwieghed my fear of being trapped in a bad relationship, and I decided to heal my childhood grief and let go of the false belief that I couldn’t possibly have a loving relationship or be a good mom.

    As I edged into my 30’s, I thought that perhaps it was too late, and my grief (which was not really understood, as the essay explains) was compounded with anger at myself for having “wasted” my 20’s, determined to not have children.

    Luckily, I met my 2nd husband and we fell head over heels, and he very much wanted a baby, and today I have a grown son who brings me so much joy and make me so proud, and he still thinks I am the best mother ever !

    As sad as the divorce from my 2nd husband was, I am still glad that I didn’t miss out on motherhood. I think that would have been a greater pain, than the divorce.

    Young women, if you really don’t want children, then don’t, but PLEASE examine your heart and be sure that this is YOUR choice, and not you trying to fit some feminist dictate. If you think there is something that needs to be healed in order to become a mother, than heal it.

    There is a saying that goes something like, we regret the things we DIDN’T do, not the things we DID.

    I am so glad I opened my heart up to having a child and found a man I was crazy about (even though we ultimately did not work out) and got to experience motherhood. I shudder when I think that I almost didn’t have my son.

    1. 5.1
      sylvana

      SE,

      “we regret the things we DIDN’T do, not the things we DID”

      Sadly, that is not always true. Especially, when it comes to children. Plenty of people regret having children. Plenty of people even hate the children they had, horrible as it is. We cannot ignore reality.

      I agree with you that young women should take a good, hard look at what they truly want out of life. If it is children, fine. But the same also goes the other way around. Especially the other way around. They should NOT have children just because everyone tells them that’s what they should want. And that it will make them happy. And because everyone else is doing it.

      When it comes to children, it’s much better to regret not having them than to regret having them.

      We currently have over 6.6 million neglected and abused children in the US. Those numbers are shocking. And those are just the drastic cases that are on the books. Sad to say, too many people do not make good parents. Too many people have children just because that’s what people do.

      A woman should definitely thoroughly analyze her motives, then thoroughly analyze the costs involved (money, physically, etc.) and weigh the risks, then make her decision without outside influences – whether those be for having children or against it.

      1. 5.1.1
        SparklingEmerald

        “A woman should definitely thoroughly analyze her motives, then thoroughly analyze the costs involved (money, physically, etc.) and weigh the risks, then make her decision without outside influences – whether those be for having children or against it.”

        Completely agree. If a woman really wants children, she should examine all of the above, and if it’s an emotional issue that stands in the way of her goal, then seek to heal it, if it’s lack of a partner, she should work on finding a partner, if it’s finances, look into ways of increasing her income.

        If she is 100% sure she doesn’t want children, I think sterilization is a good route to go. If she can’t bring herself to get permanently fixed, she should ask herself why. Does she simply not want children NOW, or does she really not want children EVER. I think by considering permanent sterilization (for male or female) is a good way to find out what you really want.

        1. Emily, to

          I don’t think that article is reflective of most divorced women. Yes, they regret the effect the divorce had on their children and they certainly went through a period of mourning about the loss of their marriage, but the author of that piece clearly still pines for her ex-husband even though she has a new partner. I don’t think that most divorced women who are happy in a new marriage or with a new partner (or even just happy with their new life) are dwelling that much on their previous life. The key being that they are happy. Those who aren’t happy may share the author’s sentiments.

        2. sylvana

          SE,

          sadly, it’s not so much a problem of her not getting herself to get permanently fixed, but her getting doctors to permanently fix her. But there might be numerous reason why a woman wouldn’t want to do so.

          1) It’s invasive surgery. They have to slice abdominal muscles to get to her tubes. The muscles will scar, and never properly function again. Most people aren’t much affected by this, but you never know. Not to mention there’s always risk with invasive surgery.

          2) cost. You’re talking thousands of dollars.

          3) Those above mentioned doctors. It’s almost impossible for a woman to achieve getting sterilized, unless she’s at least 45 or has had at least 2 children already. I know, because I tried from the time I was 18 to my mid 30s. And this is a very common complaint.

          Overall, though, I also don’t really see why a woman should have to get herself sterilized just so men don’t have to worry about impregnating her. Personally, I agree that it’s a good way for a person to find out if they truly don’t want kids. But apparently, doctors don’t agree. They all think she’ll change her mind later.

        3. sylvana

          Emily,

          I think regret also comes into play the way it does when most relationships end. People tend to remember the good, and forget about the bad. Put them back in the same situation for two weeks, and they’ll remember why they divorced to begin with.

        4. Emily, to

          Sylvana,
          https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1200225/Why-I-I-suspect-separated-women-regret-divorcing.html
          I responded to the wrong thread. My post was to Rusty, who posted the link above. In the article, a woman who has been divorced for seven years and has a new partner says her loyalty is with her kids and the ex-husband. I don’t think that’s common, particularly because women are usually the ones who initiate most divorces. The loyalty is with the kids, yes, but not with the ex. I think he’s trying to imply that women throw away perfectly good men and then regret it later. The women I know who are divorced did so for very serious reasons. One was married to a man who’d been running around on her for years and was an alcoholic. Another left after yearS of the husband having severe depression and refusing to go to therapy, either individually or with her.

        5. AdaGrace

          @sylvana: I am enthusiastically, joyously childfree. I was nine years old when I realized I didn’t want kids, and got a (laparoscopic) tubal ligation in my early 30s, when I could finally afford it – back working at my home desk later that afternoon. At the time of the surgery I was pretty physically robust – not everyone can bounce back that quickly, and infections happen, so it’s understandable that not every childfree woman wants to go the surgery route. However, for some women the procedure is pretty simple and easy.

          (I should point out that a lot of doctors refuse to do a tubal ligation on a woman who hasn’t had children, claiming that “you might change your mind someday.” (and here I thought I was a grown-up prepared to live with the consequences of my own decisions rather than an overgrown child, huh.) I know a few women who have been trying to get a tubal ligation for years, some now in their early 40s, and still haven’t managed to talk their doctor into it….I was lucky to find the doctor I did.)

          It’s been nearly two decades since then and I haven’t had a moment of regret… I find children to be a sensory nightmare/migraine trigger and not even remotely interesting nor something I want to spend my time on, whether mine or a potential partner’s… so I’m glad to have had the choice to drastically lower my chances of reproducing.

          (though, over the years I’ve gotten loads of incredibly negative and intrusive comments combined with scant family or societal support for my desire to neither have nor be around children at home… likely far more negative a situation than aspiring moms encounter now. It’s not wrong to want what you want! However, take it as given that no matter what that is, someone will stick the opinion you didn’t request where it doesn’t belong, welcome to the club)

        6. Emily, to

          AdaGrace,
          “I find children to be a sensory nightmare/migraine trigger and not even remotely interesting nor something I want to spend my time on, whether mine or a potential partner’s”
          Do you find a lot of guys to date who don’t have kids? People often say it’s ok to date a man whose kids are grown and gone, but what if he talks about them every day or talks to them every day, and then wants to discuss it with you? Or what if they move back in if they lose a job? Or the kids have kids, and they visit often, and you’re not a kids person? I mean, children are such a big part of a person’s life. You can’t very well say, “Don’t talk about your kids.” What if it’s extended family? What if they are over every week? Or they call every night? Is that a deal breaker? I just wondered how people juggled these lifestyle differences/values. I have a relative whose marriage broke up in part because her family was a much bigger part of their lives than he wanted.

        7. sylvana

          Emily, AdaGrace,

          I’m in the same boat as AdaGrace. Never wanted children, don’t want to be around them, and most certainly don’t want them in my home. And yes, women like us do get a lot of grief over it, but I’m personally not bothered by it. I just roll my eyes at the breeders.

          Personally, I found it extremely hard to find a man who also doesn’t want children. Men keep claiming it’s women who really want the children, not them, but I found that that’s not true at all. Most men do want to have children, and expect a woman to breed for them.

          It’s even harder to try to find a man who doesn’t have children of his own. Even if they’re already grown, grandchildren will probably start being on the way soon. Which brings you right back to the man wanting to have children around or in the house.

          And the adult children – well, you never know how they turned out, either. Like you said, they might have to move back in, they might be drug addicts, or they might be wonderful people. Still, I don’t really want to live with a bunch of people. One (my partner) would be adjustment enough.

          Yet one more reason to stay single. Or at least keep two separate households.

          Not sure how AdaGrace feels about it, though.

  6. 6
    jo

    Thank you, Rusty.

    On older women advising younger women to start thinking of childbearing earlier – oh, older women have advised me, but it doesn’t have as much effect as one might hope. You see, we (many humans anyway) can hear advice, but often we have to experience something ourselves to understand the advice’s value. For myself, I don’t have that biological child-rearing urge, and have never had it even as it becomes ever less physically likely. I am not like Sparkling Emerald, who knew that she wanted a child. And I completely respect that many women do have that urge, and think it’s great. But that same urge has never come to me, so I believe it would be a mistake to do it just because others – not myself – want it so much. If that urge ever does come, I accept that it was my responsibility for thinking this way until that time.

    1. 6.1
      sylvana

      Jo,

      I never wanted kids. I knew that for a fact before I even hit puberty. It never changed. And I think you made the right decision of not having kids, since you haven’t felt the urge.

      Unless a woman is absolutely certain she wants to have kids, she’s better off not having kids at that time, even if she does regret her choice later. Kids are not something you can undo or walk away from if you do end up regretting having them.

      Older women advising younger women to start thinking of childbearing earlier is fine for younger women who know for sure that they want to have children. But even then, the way things are nowadays, that young woman still needs to ensure her ability to support herself first.

      I think young women do understand the adivce’s value. But if they’re not ready, they’re not ready. They also understand the consequences if they have kids before they are ready. And those are what’s preventing them from having children earlier. Sadly, that’s the reason why we see higher birth rates in women who have less to lose to begin with – in the poor, and less educated who don’t see or don’t have as many other options. Those who actually have a good chance at a better life, or are already living it, are less likely to take the risks or be willing to make the sacrifices. They tend to wait longer or until they have better security. Which also shows that their main priority was tied to said security or quality of life, rather than to having children. That security and quality of life was more important to them than having children.

  7. 7
    Lynx

    To be completely candid — and acknowledging to each her own — my shitty marriage was worth my kids, no question. Yeah, it would have been awesomesauce if I had my act together well enough to pick the right guy in my 20s, but I am in my 50s and still struggling to figure that out. Recalling Lori Gottlieb’s “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough”, for some women, there can come a point where you lower the bar.

  8. 8
    sylvana

    I don’t think that the grief over it isn’t accepted. Grieving something you wanted but never accomplished is perfectly acceptable. It’s those how cannot accept that it did not happen and still insist they will have children, no matter what, and no matter how old, that are getting a hard time from others. Do you really want your kid to have a 60something or even 70 year old mother or father? At what point do you start worrying about the kid instead of just your own desires?

    At some point, you have to face reality. There will be some things in life you really wanted but will never get.

  9. 9
    Kitty

    Ok regarding the sperm donor/single mother by choice option. My sister is a single mom, her child’s biological father exited both of their lives at the 3rd month of pregnancy and has been AWOL ever since. She’s been a single mom since before her baby was born. Sister is a hardworking successful professional with a career many would envy but here in the Acela Corridor housing, child care and other basic living expenses make money tight.

    Also my nephew has ADHD, learning disabilities, speech delays, fine motor coordination difficulties etc. She frequently has to take time off work to take him to various pychiatrists, speech therapists, physical therapists etc. He also has developed clinical separation anxiety at age 8 because his mother has to constantly leave him with our parents and other baby sitters so she can work late and get the billables she misses taking him to the doctor so she can continue to make the mortgage.

    She is so stressed out, burned out and lonely from this life that she has essentially given up on disciplining him. At our last family birthday party he literally ran around a restaurant and knocked glasses over at another table. Now they are quarantined together and she can’t see our parents or any teacher or day care provider. She’s trying to work from home and help him with lessons he can’t really understand.

    I’m sincerely worried about her mental health. She’s become verbally abusive to our parents and tried to start with me until I hung up on her.

    Now, raising a child with issues like this wouldn’t be easy even if she had a supportive husband. But it is much much harder on her own. She’s also terrified of being alone forever and that stress eats away at her as well. While choosing to become a single mother does solve the desire for a child it doesn’t satisfy the desire for a loving partner. Yes it is possible to have a baby and then find a husband later but, while possible, that is very difficult to pull off in real life. If it’s your best shot of getting both then go for it. But don’t be surprised if it is much harder than you think.

    I have nothing but respect for mothers who raise children without loving fathers (whether those mothers are married or not). But I would not wish my sister’s life on anyone.

  10. 10
    Elizabeth

    Is anyone here debating the costs of not having a mother and a father raise a child? I know Melanie’s story and have even bought her book. She’s nearing 50 now and is loving dating. Why? Because she has no baggage. Divorced men with kids love her. Sadly, she wanted her own kid and the best lifestyle for her kid, a two-parent household that was never realized. Is it wrong to want to look out for the best interests of the kid? I find choosing single-motherhood on purpose to be quite selfish. It’s one thing if you accidentally end up there, it’s another thing entirely if you spend tens of thousands of dollars to choose that lifestyle.

    From just a tad bit of research, “… in Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, a book written by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur. According to McLanahan and Sandefur, children of single-parent households are at increased risk of dropping out of high school. In the book’s findings, boys tended to be idle and teenage girls had a greater risk of pregnancy. Overall, the chances of these children going to college were greatly diminished…. These children have a higher likelihood of being poor, committing crimes or using drugs. Many sociologists agree that childhood’s adverse effects outlive youth.”

    https://www.everydayhealth.com/kids-health/what-are-effects-on-children-single-parents/

    Should women ignore these stats because they have the biological urge, and should it be more important than the well-being of the kid?

    I salute Melanie for holding out for the right partner, even if it cost her the chance to have her own child. Her heart is in the right place. (Which is a hell of a lot more I can say for women who are willing to sideline men to that of sperm donors only, depriving their kid of a real father growing up.) I wonder if the shoe were on the other foot, would they feel as strongly in their beliefs? If men were, in big numbers, outsourcing child birth to pre-paid surrogate mothers, would women be just as pro-science for single parenthood as they are now? It happens enough with gay men, but I wonder how women would react if it were single, straight men in large quantities wanting children of their own?

    1. 10.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Great post, Elizabeth!

    2. 10.2
      sylvana

      Elizabeth,

      to me, that’s debatable. I don’t think we have enough studies on women who have purposely had children as a single mother (via IVF or sperm donors) to draw a conclusion. I think the reason so many kids of single parent households suffer is straight up abandonment.

      The non-custodial parent is perceived as (or might even be) having abandoned them, especially if they don’t properly support their children. Kids are caught in custody battles, are stuck between parents who don’t like each other. They’re shuffled back and forth, watching their parents move on to having other families. All that creates feelings of abandonment. You wouldn’t have any of that with a woman who used IVF/sperm donor to have a child.

      If they’re more likely to be poor, it’s because they either have one dead-beat parent, or they would have been poor even if the parents would still be together, because their parents are poor.

      There is a huge difference between a woman who did not want to be a single mother and a woman who planned it. Keep in mind too that children of divorce are counted in the statistics of single parent children.

      The best interest of the kid is also not an unhappy marriage, or a divorce, or parents who don’t love or even like each other, together or not. Or being raised by mostly nannies or one parent only because one or both of the (still married) parents are career driven and don’t have much time to spend with their kids. The mental impact is the same.

      I don’t think the impact would be quite the same in case of a financially secure single woman who chooses to have a child via IVF/sperm donor with a good family support in place. That is a secure, stable home environment – one parent or not.

      Certainly, the ideal is two people who love each other, treat each other kindly, are happy together, and stay together for life. But that would lower birth rates to about what? 10% of women? We’d die out in a generation or two.

      Now, should some woman with no means and no stability/security get knocked up by some random dude just because she wants a child? Of course not. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    3. 10.3
      Bbq

      “If men were, in big numbers, outsourcing child birth to pre-paid surrogate mothers” (probably just in it for the money), how would “women react if it were single, straight men in large quantities wanting children of their own?”

      There will be answers here that they wouldn’t care, but we both know the main reaction in society would be to go bat-shit crazy and immediately try to shut it down lol.

      1. 10.3.1
        sylvana

        Bbq,

        I doubt that. Men are already doing so, and you don’t hear outrage about it. If he pays the woman a fair price to be a surrogate, I don’t think women will care. There are single men out there who’ve done it. I didn’t see any outrage around those stories. It made sense.

        1. Bbq

          It’s not commonplace, virtually no one has heard of it, unlike sperm donation. Also, they would care more about the price she was payed and campaign for that? Lol, I can believe that. Anyways, like I said, I knew “someone” would say otherwise.

  11. 11
    Shaukat

    Interesting article, but the authors themselves state that many of the problems associated with single parent households are due to confounding factors that have not been controlled for. It’s clearly not as simple as single parent household = bad outcome.

    1. 11.1
      sylvana

      Shaukat,

      exactly. Except for welfare queens, maybe, we’re not talking about single parents by choice. The kids in these studies don’t have parents who chose to be single parents. ………….

  12. 12
    SparklingEmerald

    Sylvania said “Overall, though, I also don’t really see why a woman should have to get herself sterilized just so men don’t have to worry about impregnating her.”

    I had more in mind the woman getting sterilized so SHE wouldn’t have to worry about getting pregnant.

    Yes, there are doctors who won’t do the procedure, but there are doctors who will, you just have to shop for them. As for the wear and tear on the body and the wallet, yes, there’s that. But if you think sterilization is expensive, try having a baby ! Totally worth every penny when that baby is wanted, much more expensive than a one time sterilization fee. Also, pregnancy CAN be hard on a woman’s body, but if a baby is wanted, women will take that risk. If NO children or no MORE children is desired, I don’t see the unwillingness to take the risk to avoid an unwanted child.

    I am very skeptical about these so called “accidental pregnancies”. Sure, some of them are really and truly the result of properly used birth control failure, but I think most of them are the result of woman not being honest with themselves that they really DO want children, but don’t want to admit it.

    We have talked on this board about the “cool girl” who says she OK when a guy says “I’m not looking for anything serious” but then expects and or hopes that eventually she can get a particular guy to fall in love with her. She’ll tell a tall tale of how SHE wasn’t looking for anything serious either, go along with the friends with benefits arrangement, or the NSA sex or whatever, then later on start crying about the “non-relationship” or whatever. I see the same thing when a woman says she didn’t want children but “accidently” got pregnant when she “forgot” to take her pills for 10 days, but now she is glad she is a mom, etc. etc.

    If more women would really examine their hearts and minds and figure out FOR SURE where they stand with motherhood, we just might have fewer “whoopsee babies”, fewer men feeling trapped or tricked into fatherhood , and fewer unwanted children, etc.

    I wish I figured out and got healing for my traumatic childhood sooner, so I could have started dating intentionally sooner, but I am glad that I sufficiently resolved my issues in time to become a mother, even thought the marriage that produced a child ultimately did not work out. I am also glad that I didn’t have a “whoopsie baby” as a single mom when I was in my 20’s without the necessary healing. THAT would have been a hot mess for both of us.

  13. 13
    Jenn

    I always wanted kids of my own. I expected that it would just happen – I would meet my Mr. Right in my 20s, get married and have 3 kids. Older women told me to “just have fun, date around, don’t get so serious with anyone!”. Then, as I edged toward my late 20s and into my early 30s, it was “It will happen when you least expect it.” Well, technically I haven’t been “expecting” it for quite some time, so I think maybe that old trope is a BIT flawed. I just celebrated my 39th birthday last month and my window of opportunity is only just a slit open.

    It’s not as if I haven’t tried to meet men, I have. I guess I could’ve made a more consistent effort over the years, but for a lot of reasons I didn’t. I don’t think it’s entirely my fault though – it’s a different age than my parents’ generation. People were more serious about marriage back then and at that time, there was no push for people to have everything figured out before they got married.

    It sucks that women like me who do want the whole traditional family life aren’t really validated in this current culture. We live in a time where those things just aren’t seen as a worthy goal.

    I carry this cross now because I made the decisions I did, based on the information I had at the time. My vision of family has now become a huge question mark. What will it look like? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get my wish and be able to have my own kids. Maybe I won’t and my family will look a lot different than I thought it would.

    This is a pain that won’t ever fully go away and I’ll have to learn to live with it. Still, I’m an eternal optimist and I know I’ll be okay. I know that there are still things that I can control and things that I can’t. It’s not fruitful to look over your shoulder constantly and wonder what could’ve happened. The only thing I can do now is use the time that I still have, take action and pray. What else is there to worry about?

    1. 13.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Prayer’s fine. But please, take action. This is no time to be passive about the most important thing there is.

      1. 13.1.1
        Jenn

        Thanks, Evan. I think that on some level, I maybe never believed that it could happen for me. I still struggle with that a lot. I mean it just feels so impossible a lot of the time. Every contact or date that goes nowhere, every promising guy who turns out to be a douche or who just fizzles out, or my not getting any messages on my profiles for days or weeks at a time, it all takes a toll. I think I quit dating because I ultimately took all that to mean that I just wasn’t good enough, no matter how much work I had done on myself.

        I didn’t fully visualize the win, as Tony Robbins might say. I knew what I ultimately wanted but the pain of slogging away every day, not having any real success, just got to be too much for me.

        Now I realize that if I don’t keep trying, the many small crosses that I have to bear as part of this process will pale in comparison to the far greater pain of growing old alone.

        I don’t know why it has been such a struggle for me. I know that I’ve largely gotten in my own way. It just seems that other people have had it so much easier. They met in college or while out with friends, or it “just happened” through chance. Why can’t that happen to me? That’s a question I struggle with all the time. I know that things happen for a reason and I may never know what that reason is. It is what it is.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          No it’s not. And that’s where your faith is getting in the way of your results. Believe in what you want but marriage didn’t happen to me because of God’s plan; it happened because I went on 300 dates in 10 years and learned from my mistakes. Please contact me so we can get you on the right track to achieve your dream before it’s too late.

        2. Rustylh

          I would take Evan up on that offer, Jenn.

          I know a very pretty woman in my church. Around your age. She was several years younger when she got married. She was 35, when I met her, and married to a guy who was 49. He was also bald, but also in amazing shape, muscular, and had a good face.

          She told me that in the beginning, he was worried that she wouldn’t like the fact that he was bald. She said she told him that she had had the guy’s with the nice hair, and the guys with the expensive cars, the flashy bad boy attitude, etc…etc…etc…, but they all turned out to be jerks. So, she sat down one day, and started crossing those things off her list. Things she used to think were important to her.

          When she got done crossing things off, she had two things left. She wanted him to be the same religion, and she wanted him to treat her well. I asked her what that entailed. Being loyal, kind, considerate…just the things that you would associate with a “nice” guy.

          We live in a time where young people no longer take the advice of older people, or we take the advice of the wrong older people. Like some feminists telling you that they way to happiness is by adopting the worst traits of the worst men.

          The point here is, maybe you are overlooking the guys who would actually make a good husband, and instead chasing after the guys who only make good short term boyfriends.

          I don’t know what your past experiences were, so I can’t really offer much advice, but if you are honest with yourself, and Evan, I am sure he can help you identify any mistakes you have made, that may have held you back.

        3. Jenn

          Rusty,

          It’s complicated. I don’t think it’s as simple as pegging it on just one or two things. That would be an overly simplistic way of looking at it.

          Indeed, the possibility exists that I was entirely too focused on getting a guy I find appealing. I don’t think so though. I want to find someone closer to my age (not eligible for the senior discount at IHOP and not still in his 20s), physically fit (not necessarily a muscular jock, but not Newman from Seinfeld either), makes a good living (not Jeff Bezos-type earnings, just enough to be comfortable in a modest home), practicing Christian or ideally Catholic, who’s free to marry in the Church (not divorced with no annulment, in other words) and is open to having kids. And of course, treats me well and has a compatible personality. I think that’s generous enough and not too specific; it’s not like I’m stuck on 6′ tall, handsome blue-eyed, dark-haired Christian men with hundreds of thousands a year who are exactly my age. I find a fairly broad range of men appealing.

          I’ve also struggled with overeating and kept myself hidden away from dating for the last 5 years because the idea of trying to find someone at 260 pounds is, well, not that appealing to me. I know most men don’t want someone who weighs the same as an adult seal. And those who do are more likely to be fetishists who would keep me fat rather than help me get and stay healthy.

          I’ve also got other issues with my appearance that are beyond my immediate control – face scarred by years of cystic acne, dealing with the effects of aging and keeping in mind that too many guys my age prefer much-younger women. Though there are some things that with time, money, and healthier decisions can change, I can’t change my age.

          I guess I’m the type who doesn’t like to enter competitions when the deck is stacked against me that high. I saw what happened years ago when I entered the online dating game in my early 30s and I was much thinner and younger, and had a lot more appeal to men I would’ve wanted to date.

          I had a lot more going for me then and things still didn’t work out. I met dozens of guys, did everything to get out there that I could and it still didn’t work out. I guess my expectations were too high but after facing so many disappointments, after diligently staying the course for two years, I slowly gave up.

          I do think that I wrote off a lot of guys who could’ve been good matches. I think everyone tends to do that though, especially in online dating. That’s one mistake that’s common because it’s just easier to delete and keep scrolling rather than handle someone who, for whatever reason, we think is not likely to be a good fit. It’s also the illusion of having so many potential matches. Dating sites are primed to give their members somewhat of a false hope that there are endless potential matches. I think it’s also true that it’s not ALL my fault. I believe that things happen (or don’t happen) for reasons that, unknown to us, are just not within our control. I did absolutely everything I could’ve reasonably done and still wasn’t successful, so maybe it just wasn’t my time.

          Now I’m working on myself, slowly trying to get up the nerve to post profiles online again, and trying to plan out how I’m going to navigate the dating scene during a worldwide pandemic. I remain optimistic that it will happen if I just stick it out and use the tools God has given me to go out and get found by the right man. No more quitting. That was probably the biggest mistake I made.

        4. Bbq

          Jenn

          No offence but I just wanted to ask something. No the type of man you want isn’t impossible to find, but why do you think he should be interested in you when you wouldn’t be interested in your own male equivalent? Your not physically fit, yet want someone who is? Why should he want you? I’m not saying it’s impossible but how do you rationalise that?

          Then you say you don’t want someone who is either in his 20’s or a senior – fine that’s easy done, then that he can’t be divorced – slightly harder but still relatively easy, but then he has to be involved in the church? Well that kinda narrows it a lot as men who are very church orientated tend to marry and not be as avaliable by whatever middle age range your talking, especially if your disqualifying the divorced.

          But aside from wanting what you can’t offer in those regards, what else do you have to offer? You say he should have his own home? Do you for instance?

          Actually, thinking about it, you are too focused on what you find appealing and not what is realistic, I mean, no offence but read your post back and pretend it’s not written by you. You expect the man to offer things you don’t and don’t say exactly what it is you think you offer that man (who is already fairly specific because of the church/no divorce age range qualifyier).

  14. 14
    Sonja

    Hi 40s and childless,

    I’m part of the other-hood and as such I grieve the fact I didn’t have kids on my own and quietly.

    When I speak to my mother, friends, other mothers or other women – I get growls, snide looks and aggressive comments like, “well you should have thought about that in your 20s”. I also get the feeling that guys and women think I’m done. That’s there’s nothing left for me now.

    All of which is a reflection on them.

    There is something nice about knowing that you can have kids or at least have that option.

    Things have changed a lot now-a-days. Society & our culture expects a lot of you. The right career, guy, house, side hustle and kids on top of that. I also found for me, that I wasn’t surrounded by happy mums, family oriented guys & didn’t even have other family members who had babies until I was well in my 40s.

    Now as a child-free woman in her 40s who is dating, I get a lot of these comments:

    Why didn’t you have kids? Is there something wrong with you?
    Couldn’t you find someone to marry you?
    Don’t you like children?
    Do you have…. err a problem?
    Don’t you like sex, huh?
    Are you gay?
    Weren’t attractive/thin enough in your 20s huh?
    Oh I don’t see myself getting married to a grandma.
    Nah, let’s just have sex. You’re overcooked.

    Yes, even on dates I’ve had these questions. Again, all a reflection on the guy.

    I’ve met countless women, worldwide, giving up on having kids in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The really hard part of your 40s is that, you are coming to an end of having kids. You can feel it in your body and on top of that everything is changing, and you don’t have much control over it. However I’ve heard of women in their 50s having children.

    My experience – I was in a long term relationship w a guy who parents hated me (through no fault of my own). Not wanting to bring a child into a hateful family was certainly a part of me being childless.

    However now, on the dating scene again. That, Evan is what I want to know. How do you handle these snide questions in the dating pool?

    And for all those otherhoods out there, I hear, I feel you and I am one of you.

    Don’t be afraid, you’re still as much a woman as anyone else and more than some. There’s still an amazing life out there for you.

    1. 14.1
      Jenn

      BBQ,

      I guess I wasn’t clear enough in my response to Rusty, so let me clarify it for you: I’ve kept myself away from men because I’ve felt that I’m not good enough the way I am for the kind of man I want to attract, okay? Does that make it any more clear? Other than the odd speed dating event here and there, I’ve largely eschewed the dating scene for five years, because I fell back into my old eating habits after getting depressed that things weren’t working out the way I’d hoped. I was also dealing with other issues in my life and so I gave up dating because I couldn’t bring myself to deal with that crapshoot while I was trying to figure out other things.

      I know that guys generally do not find chubby women desirable, so that’s why I’m hesitating to get back out there. That was the point I was trying to make. I don’t EXPECT anyone to find me all that appealing right now, I was just describing the kind of guys that I like. I love how people here are like, oh, well there’s your problem – it’s so simple, you’re just being too unrealistic! So just change all your standards and keep your expectations rock-bottom cuz you won’t find a man otherwise.

      SMH I know you might mean well but you don’t know me or have my life experience, so please don’t try to tell me that it’s all my fault that my Mr. Right didn’t come along when I wanted him to. My vision of what I want in a man is still fairly broad even if I don’t want to date a non-practicing Christian or Catholic man. The fact is that I’m not willing to marry outside the Church so I have to pick someone who is free to marry within it. I can’t compromise on that because it would be committing adultery to date and marry a divorced man, who hasn’t had his previous marriage annulled. My view of marriage goes beyond just a state-sanctioned contract and according to Catholicism, marriage doesn’t end in divorce court.

      As far as money, well, it’s a fact: MOST guys don’t care what a woman does for a living, especially if he already makes enough to support a family, so I don’t need to worry so much about that. I also don’t believe in absolute equality, I believe in absolute value between the sexes. For me, there doesn’t have to be a tit-for-tat, quid pro quo kind of relationship dynamic. Relationships are reciprocal, not 50-50. People bring different things to a relationship to make it work and that’s the way it balances, not people being carbon copies of each other. I don’t need a guy who’s the male equivalent of me and the right guy for me will be looking for the things I can offer him.

      I know what I have to offer in other, more important ways than appearance, and that I’ll be a great girlfriend and wife, so I’m not going to bother explaining that here. Of course I wrote that post based on what I want because I only know what I want. I don’t really know what guys want because I’m not a guy, that’s why I read Evan’s posts.

      1. 14.1.1
        Bbq

        Jenn

        There are plenty of guys with chubby wives and girlfriends, actually many who could be described as fat, not all those men are horribly out of shape either although many probably aren’t noticeably physically fit either. The truth is chubby women date and marry all the time, that’s not a real obstacle to someone who doesn’t have either a major complex over it or totally unrealistic standards.

        But you say that you can’t marry a divorced man within your church but also say the man can’t be in his 20’s. If your fairly religious and it sounds like you are (which is fine btw I’m not meaning that as a insult), finding a similarly religious man in the middle aged range who hasn’t been divorced other than annulment is actually a bit of a problem – religious community minded men of that age who aren’t in the closet tend to already be married or divorced in greater numbers than more casually or non religious men and though their are widowers of course, that’s also a narrow pool.

        Then there’s the criteria you have for them which you say you can match in other ways which amount to you being a great girlfriend and wife, yet you can’t say what they are here and apparently them simply having qualities that make them a great boyfriend or husband is not nearly enough for you, or at least you are judging what those qualities are by a far different (and apparently stricter) measure.

        Yes I’m aware you don’t need to mirror someone exactly to be attractive to them or a good match – but if your going to have a criteria which narrows your pool of potential matches down significantly, then limiting it further by insisting they meet a level of fitness and finance that you don’t probably isn’t the best idea – perhaps you could get away with one but both is unlikely. Actually it comes off pretty hypocritical and FYI – showing obvious hypocrisy about what kind of man meets your standards is NOT attractive to men.

        I know Mr Katz will probably be kinder about it, but I’m sorry, you sound like your deluding yourself,

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I sincerely wish Jenn well but she’s been reading for a decade and hasn’t even enrolled in Love U despite my pleas, so I’m going to leave the rest to her and God to sort out.

        2. Jenn

          I’m not saying they have to be an Adonis with millions in the bank, just someone who makes a nice living (and no, I don’t mean over six figures) and whom I find attractive, jeez. Did I not say that I find a broad range of men appealing? That means that yes, I would date a guy who’s overweight, but I draw the line at morbidly obese, like most people do. I’m not insisting on anything, I’m just stating preferences here. I’m open to dating marriage-minded guys in their late 20s and early 30s but the fact is, if they want kids then they’re not going to date me, a 39-year-old. Preferences, that’s what they are, not requirements. Everyone has them.

      2. 14.1.2
        Shaukat

        Jesus, not to sound insensitive, but Jenn’s dating experience sounds like an MRA propaganda story: Attractive woman who spent her prime swiping while being perhaps unreasonably selective, only to eventially become overweight and realize those options have vanished. This is actually what I was alluding to in my previous comment, not the women who find themselves back on the dating market after an ltr or marriage.

        1. Jenn

          Well thanks, Shaukat, that must be exactly what happened. Congratulations, you’ve found out the true story! You’re totally right, you know, I just got swipe-happy with all those hundreds upon hundreds of poor, lovelorn saps who were so enthralled by my average face and decent figure all those years ago. They were all positively slavering for a date with me every time I logged on but no, oh no! I was not going to choose from amongst those dozens upon dozens of quality men who were just dying to meet me and ride off into the sunset.You know, I just had no idea why I’m still single until now. You’re right! It was all so easy when I had so many date invites clogging my inbox on all 9 or 10 dating sites I was active on. Why, I could’ve had a date for every night of the week if I’d wanted to!

          Except of course, that’s…not how it went. At all. The truth is that after getting mostly spammed with form letters and two-word messages (“What’s up?” being the most popular), I got maybe one or two emails per week from quality guys at first, until they slowly petered out once I’d been on the sites for longer than a few weeks. I’d update my profile pics every so often, change a few things around here and there just to keep myself fresh in the search results but nope. I followed Evan’s profile advice to a T and still not much happened. I’m not saying it was bad advice, mind you. It just didn’t work for other reasons, namely that I’m not a hot, gorgeous woman. I did a little experiment with a hot woman’s pic, you see, just to be sure it wasn’t anything I wrote. Sure enough, she got flooded with adoring replies while my own photo…notsomuch. So please quit acting like it’s all women’s fault if they don’t meet their One. Guys are just as unrealistic as women can be, as evidenced by my little test. That’s just the nature of the beast with online dating. It’s a fantasy that everyone falls for at first, that all they need to do is put up a profile, send some emails and they’ll be swimming in eligible matches.

          I met around 20-30 guys during that 2 year period and that was with doing singles events, Meetups almost every week, and speed dating every once in a while. And of course, obsessively checking every website I was on every day.

          But it was all my fault that it never worked out.

  15. 15
    Charly

    I don’t want a traditional family, and I’m not valued in my culture. Maybe women over 30 who want bio kids should consider moving post-COVID. There may be more remote work opportunities available for professionals, and men to have a hallmark movie ending with abound in smaller cities.

  16. 16
    Katie

    I’ve made dating my no. 1 priority since about age 30. I’m now 42. While I’ve had good relationships, there is no one I’ve met yet that I would not have gotten divorced from. None were right for me. Also, having come from two parents with a bad marriage, I did not want to make the same mistakes – I worked on myself. Sometimes that takes time. Do I regret not having married any of those men I dated in my 30s? Not for a second. Being very financially secure, I am in the wonderful position of being able to have a child on my own, and am pregnant. (Yes, it’s very possible to get pregnant in your 40s.)

    I’m still hoping I will find love and partnership in the future. My family doesn’t look like I imagined it. I’ve grieved that, and I’m moving on. Maybe I’ll meet a divorced man with kids in the future. Maybe I won’t meet the right man. But I’m making lemonade where there are lemons, and never for a second do I regret not ending up with any of the men I dated in my 30s.

    BTW Evan, the woman in your picture looks like she is more in her 50s or 60s:)

  17. 17
    shaukat

    No offense to anyone, but I don’t really understand how a woman who’s always wanted marriage and kids can still end up single in her forties. Everyone in my friend circle who wanted that traditional role was married with kids by mid-thirties latest. A woman has the most plentiful options in her twenties and early thirties. Exceptions obviously exist, and I can understand choosing the wrong type of guy a few times, but to keep doing it, or to find problems with every guy you date (as Katie above indicates) raises some red flags–either a personality flaw, unreasonable expectations, or poor judgement. Or, in some cases, I guess really bad luck.

    1. 17.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      No offense taken, but you do understand, Shaukat, that the cohort you’re referring to is probably half of my clientele. If you’re in love with a selfish commitmentphobe and you stay with him, hoping for a ring from 34-37, mourn the end of your relationship and put yourself out there online at 38, you may discover the dating pool is no longer filled with the 35-year-old guys you’re attracted to but, rather, 50-year-old divorced dads who look way too old for you. It’s a combination of bad judgment and bad luck but we should have no scorn for these women.

      1. 17.1.1
        Kitty

        The best advice dating advice I ever got was from a female friend who told me “Sometimes people fall in love but they just aren’t right for each other.” I walked away from a wonderful man for that reason and I have never regretted it. True love is amazing and precious but it’s powers aren’t limitless. It won’t change people’s personalities to make them compatible when they aren’t. The important part is to leave as quickly as possible when you realize a man isn’t right for you because it only gets harder as time goes on. But it’s incredibly painful to leave someone you love and much easier to fool yourself about essential incompatibilities ironing themselves out. They almost never do.

    2. 17.2
      PacNWLove

      You make it sound like all a woman has to do is pick a man and he’ll propose. For every woman wanting children and marriage, there has to be a man WILLING to get married and have children. From the age of 29 till 46 (when I was really serious about dating/marriage), I spent an adequate number of years in relationships (2-3-4 years) with great guys who I was ready to marry. None of them were ready. Guess what? I’m now 49 and NONE of those guys ever got married. That’s right; all of my long-term exes (in their late 30’s/40’s/one is 52) have never gotten married. So they didn’t just not want to marry ME and have children which would indicate the problem was me, they didn’t want to get married PERIOD. But I didn’t know that, and I don’t think they really did at the time, either. I’m still close to most of them, and for a couple it is still “someday.” They say they need their career to be rock solid first. They’ve never had solid enough careers for them to think they were ready. In the meantime, things have worked out great for me even though I faced health problems that prevented me from having children. I’ve accomplished things I would never have done if I had to care for a family, so it all worked out for the best. But how was I to know that I would end up here at 49? You seem to think women have crystal balls and we can all predict which guy will eventually pull out a ring. We don’t. Even if you pick a guy who says that’s what he wants, it may never happen.

      1. 17.2.1
        jo

        PacNWLove, yes. Your 2nd sentence sums it up: ‘For every woman wanting children and marriage, there has to be a man WILLING to get married and have children.’ In most things we try, we can achieve our goals by putting in hard work. But a relationship involves 2 people, and sometimes, if one tries too hard, the other party runs away. Don’t ask me how I know. 😉

        That’s why I suggested, my first comment in this thread, that she could consider her goals separately instead of lumping them all together (marriage to a compatible man and children). What matters MOST to her, given that time is running out? Is it having a child, and if so, does it matter if the child is bio, adopted, or surrogate? Or does having a husband matter more? Focusing on one or the other doesn’t mean that she has to abandon all other goals (those could arrive later), it just means thinking through her priorities and focusing efforts.

        I would offer that we ought to think this way about many parts of our lives, especially if we have a list of things to accomplish every day and can’t seem to get through half of them, or a life bucket list with 100 items. What matters most? Prioritise. Even if it seems impossible at first, there HAS to be something that matters more to you than the other things.

    3. 17.3
      Jess

      @shaukat, to echo other’s comments, relationship is a 2-way street. And women don’t just want marriage and kids, they want it with the *right* partner. My ex-husband was a good example of someone who believed that he wanted to have a family, but turned out he was terrified of that kind of responsibility. By the time our marriage ended (no kids), I was in my mid-30s and the dating pool is very different. Like Jenn, I am someone who has always wanted a family, and now I have to accept the possibility that I may not have biological children of my own, or my future family might be different than what I thought. Sometimes, one mistake can set you back in ways you didn’t anticipate. I learned from that experience, and because i have a better sense of discernment now I might come off as very “picky” to some. I think it’s important to figure out what things are the most important and meaningful, and those are the things to be picky about so you don’t end up wasting too much time.

      1. 17.3.1
        shaukat

        Hi Jess,

        Thanks for the response. I actually wasn’t referring to women who suddenly find themselves back on the dating market after a divorce, but your point is well-taken.

    4. 17.4
      Katie

      Shaukat, no offense taken. I’m astounded I’m still single too! And yes, I think it’s a combination of bad judgment at times, and bad luck with love. Luckily for me, other than romantic love so far, I’ve been blessed in every other area of life, so I’m focusing on those blessings and know that the romantic love will come in the future.

      1. 17.4.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        That’s like being unemployed and saying, “Wealth will come in the future.”

        1. Katie

          I think it’s different for me. I’m taking a break from dating to be pregnant and have a kid. Once that happens, I’ll go out in the dating pool and make an effort again! Not to worry Evan. Completely agree that one needs to be proactive in dating to make it happen.

  18. 18
    MilkyMae

    How many women who want to be married and mothers tell the men they are dating their wishes? How many women who want to married and mothers ask the men they are dating, “Do you want to be married or a father?”

    I hate to say this but I think many women try mightily to avoid these topics while dating. They use a neurotic calculus to infer and decide who is marriage/father material and who is not. Even if the man lies, you can move on when he doesn’t follow through. A lie gives you info than guessing at what is in his heart. These topics will make anyone feel vulnerable but they need to be discussed. Fear of feeling foolish or frantic is fear you need to overcome. If you want to be a mother, you need to speak up and ask. If asking makes you feel uncomfortable, then you are probably not mother material.

    1. 18.1
      Bbq

      You make a good practical point, at least until the last line. There are loads of good mothers who just got knocked up without ever asking about the man whether he wanted to be a father (or even husband) and plenty of stable marriages and families where that’s what’s happened too.

      1. 18.1.1
        Emily, to

        BBQ,
        “There are loads of good mothers who just got knocked up without ever asking about the man whether he wanted to be a father (or even husband) ”
        There’s a really easy way to prevent this this supposed entrapment.

        1. Bbq

          Emily, to

          I wasn’t meaning to imply any nefarious entrapment of men if that’s what your getting at? Just commenting that often couples kind of fall into kids and families and don’t ask each other the tough questions, but there are still many good Mothers amongst the people who have taken the less planned and thought out route to motherhood.

          You got a suspicious mind sister.

        2. Emily, to

          BBQ,
          “I wasn’t meaning to imply any nefarious entrapment of men if that’s what your getting at?”
          Yes, this read as if you were implying women were sirens, luring men to their doom. Like Odysseus in “The Odyssey.” I Great image, but it’s just not true.
          “Just commenting that often couples kind of fall into kids and families …”
          Yes, I agree. A lot of situations are largely circumstantial.
          “You got a suspicious mind sister.”
          It’s people like you who have made me what I am today. 🙂

        3. Mrs Happy

          Emily, to –
          I love the siren paintings. There seems to be something quite attractive about powerlessness, about not having to make any more decisions.
          Luring is always good too.

        4. Emily, to

          Hi Mrs. Happy,
          “I love the siren paintings. There seems to be something quite attractive about powerlessness …”
          I think the fantasy, at least the way it’s depicted in literature, is being driven mad with desire, so much that you’re not even thinking. People don’t really live like that, though. Thus we have to read about it in books. 🙂

        5. Mrs Happy

          ETO – Re the siren call:
          yes I agree.
          There is danger and threat from sirens throughout written literature, but also, in some of the paintings, and maybe related what you stated about being driven mad and not thinking straight, a release of responsibility, of decision making, and the chance of absolute freedom from all cares.
          The naked nymphettes are of course sensual, but I think they’re offering an escape from reality; and life was pretty harsh back then.
          Passion is just a small part of what I see in those paintings. Maybe men more often see passion, and women more often see relaxation?

        6. Bbq

          Emily to

          No no no. Your thinking like a woman – the character your meant to see through the eyes of in that story is Odysseus, the point is that rational Greek men of the time were (in the story) able to overcome being ensnared by the petty sexual tricks of siren-like women and able to overcome them with their awesome brain-power (all while still being able to enjoy said tricks).

          There’s a element of a wank fantasy with the island of hot women but it has nothing to do with wanting to be powerless, if anything that commenter has the complete opposite takeaway from the story that was intended by it. It’s more of a sexual heist fantasy – Odysseus works out a way to try without paying (paying with his life). That’s the fantasy – he gets to hear the siren song and gets away free – tricking the sirens, gettin sum song and keeping his power. It’s like in a Bond movie when James Bond screws the bad guys mistress whose trying to lure him in, except he knows she’s trying to lure him all along, and goes along with it to advance his plan, have some fun and get one over on her as well – then like the sirens she gets all pissy about him not having to pay the appropriate price (as she sets it). That’s the fantasy.

        7. Emily, to

          BBQ,
          ” … the point is that rational Greek men of the time were (in the story) able to overcome being ensnared by the petty sexual tricks of siren-like women and able to overcome them with their awesome brain-power (all while still being able to enjoy said tricks).”
          Ummm … wasn’t his way of avoiding the sirens to tie himself to the ship and have his men fill their ears with beeswax so they couldn’t hear the sirens? Hardly sounds like much brain power to me.
          “That’s the fantasy – he gets to hear the siren song and gets away free – tricking the sirens, gettin sum song and keeping his power. ”
          You’ve missed the point. It’s about letting yourself go and jumping over the cliff. It has nothing to do with “getting over on someone.” Because if you’re spending that much time worried about being manipulated, you don’t have the ability to let yourself go. I’m not saying you should. Just that you can’t. Now, Odysseus’ goal is to get home. Best to avoid the sirens, obviously, who would have lured him to his death. But the whole point is, had he done so, what a way to go. 🙂

        8. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “Passion is just a small part of what I see in those paintings. Maybe men more often see passion, and women more often see relaxation?”
          I see passion but also the surrender to it, which I think is a hard thing to do for women. They are usually thinking: Is the guy going to call me back? Do I look fat? Etc.

        9. Bbq

          Emily to

          The point of the Siren story in the Oddyssey is not to worry about being manipulated and let go? To jump over the metaphorical cliff? Um, right.

          Yes Odysseus put wax in his men’s ears and had them tie him to the mast as a clever way to escape the Sirens lure, an example of his cunning and brain power – at least it was intended that way whether it read like that to you or not. As the story goes he’d heard if you heard the Siren song and lived it could make you wiser – and that was his way to gain the wisdom without falling into the Sirens deathly trap.

          There are many stories like this – from similar classical tales like this to Dark ages legends of Witches and spirits disguised – almost all of which are exclusively written from mens point of view ( no offence but that was the reality), in none of them is the point to let go and give in and go over the cliff – they’re all heroes stories of the hero overcoming entrapment by the ruin of evil women in some clever way (or in some cases being ruined by it), a warning and lesson against that dark feminine lure (as it is in the stories), a heroes hype tale and also tales that offer a little tittilation through their villains.

        10. Bbq

          Mrs Happy

          You couldn’t have read into the point of Odysseus encounter with the Sirens more incorrectly – or those types of stories in general. Next you’ll be saying the Iliad is about learning to love yourself.

        11. Emily, to

          BBQ,
          “…they’re all heroes stories of the hero overcoming entrapment by the ruin of evil women in some clever way (or in some cases being ruined by it), a warning and lesson against that dark feminine lure (as it is in the stories), a heroes hype tale and also tales that offer a little titillation through their villains.”
          That’s kind of a general theme of yours, isn’t it? To be fair, I see that same distrust of women in some of the posts by other men on this blog. Like women have some sort of Machiavellian scheme going on, and it’s the man’s job to prevent the manipulation by the woman, and he gets bro points if he does. I’m my side has some of the same feelings.

        12. Jeremy

          With literature, as with any form of art, the original artist /author’s intent matters far less than the subjective interpretation of the viewer. Keeping in mind the age of the Iliad and the mindset of Homer and his contemporaries, how would a modern person not read his work in ways other than he intended? In fact, is not the beauty of great art it’s ability to transcend time and be reinterpreted? The original intent is a curio, but the value of art of as a reflection of ourselves, not a static snapshot of its time.

        13. jo

          Jeremy, thank you for your reasonable thoughts on literary interpretation. For the most part, I agree with you. After all, none of us can read the late Homer’s mind.

          I do wonder about the extent to which ancient literature should be valued or overvalued in modern times, however; particularly when it comes to what the ladies and Bbq are arguing about the theme of the femme fatale. With a very, VERY few exceptions, I don’t think the femme fatale exists in real life as much as literature makes us out to be. We are just living our lives, without any intent to hurt or deceive men. But if literature keeps persuading generation after generation of men to look at women as dangerous and something to be overcome, then that is harmful to generation after generation of women.

          So I think it’s time for literature to be taught with a critical eye, and that this is how men used to think about us, which unfortunately has had lasting effects on how SOME men still view us. But it’s not reality, which is why we need more women’s voices in literature. And/or the sympathetic voices of men.

        14. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “I don’t think the femme fatale exists in real life as much as literature makes us out to be. We are just living our lives, without any intent to hurt or deceive men. ”
          That’s the point I was making. But it’s not just in literature. Look at film noir or even something as recent as the movie “Fatal Attraction.” The bad, single woman, wielding her dangerous sexual power, to rip apart the very seams of the American family. I don’t know any women like this. Now, do people sometimes act selfishly without thought to others and cause harm? Yes, but most of the time it’s not intentional.

        15. Bbq

          Emily to

          I don’t think women in general have some Macheivellian scheme to entrap men going on at all. I put trust on them fine.

          But that’s not what we’re talking about, we’re talking about the specific story of Oddyseus and the Sirens and similar fables, which are very much about heroic men avoiding women’s entrapments (however even in these stories rarely are all women this way, it’s simply a trap that the hero of the story must avoid).
          I didn’t write these stories, me trusting all women all the time to an idiotic degree wouldn’t change the fact they exist or what they’re about.

          If the femme fatale not existing in real life as much as in stories (which I agree with) was your point as you wrote to Jo then I misunderstood your comments. I thought since all your comments mentioned the sirens and Odysseus and were about the meaning of that specific story that your point may have been somehow related to what you actually wrote.

          Jeremy

          No and not really. Some themes and morals are timeless and universal as there constant re-introduction into stories shows. In this case the theme of the Sirens and similar stories is clearly as I wrote (basically men avoiding or falling prey to evil womens tricks) and is found in stories from all times, from classical to the Dark ages to film noir

          Some stories are too clear to be re-interpreted in the way you suggest to have anything but their original meaning, that’s what makes them timeless. You couldn’t re-interpret the tale of Icarus and his wings to have a whole other meaning could you?

          I don’t believe that people in those ages were so different to us that the thinking behind their stories is nothing but a curio at all. Of course aspects of their culture are lost, but the Siren story and Icarus for example are very easily understood and we invent similar tales today and will into the future.

          Jo

          But that is the original intent of the stories as you seem to understand.

          Another thing – you can’t really be serious that these stories should somehow be gotten rid of or written no more? No more femme fatales? No more witches? No more suspecting the young widow in murder mystery’s?
          Are portrayals of men manipulating or hurting women to be done away with too?

          And when a real life situation like this does happen, let’s say a wife and her lover hire a hit man to take out the husband, or Amber Heard marries Prince Charles, will it not be discussed? Will stories based or inspired by real events (which is surely where some of these stories came from in the first place) be banned?
          These stories of being taken advantage of or used by the other sex exist eternally because the reality of it is eternal, even if the stories are exaggerated for entertainment purposes.

          Any woman or man attempting to teach these stories with a “critical eye” (I’m guessing that means cast their intent as negative to women as a whole) will in the long term only cast themselves to men as a suppressor of art and truth. In fact because stories of manipulation will happen in real life, ironically those who try to suppress them in fiction will become not unlike the villainesses of the stories, trying to lure men into a false way of thinking that will do them no good and men will only question why the stories are being “taught with a critical eye” like this at all and then look at who is teaching them and distrust them far far more.

          Like the Siren song which lured sailors to their doom was to Odysseus sailors, controlling men’s thinking may be deeply attractive to some women, but following it too far will only lead to disaster

        16. jo

          Emily, exactly. Most if not all of these stories and movies about destructive sirens and femme fatales must have been written by men (maybe a fantasy of theirs?), because we women are too busy and not that interested in attracting so many men and wreaking that much havoc. 😉 That reality is a lot less interesting and less flattering… but well, indulging fantasy is one of the points of fiction, no? Like you wrote about earlier too.

          We women indulge in such fantasies in our own writings, and men think our books and movies are pathetic for that reason and call them Chick Lit or Chick Flicks. ‘No man acts like that.’ Well, guess what – all these male authors who are regarded as literary giants didn’t know how to write realistically about women, either. (Bro Lit? Sorry, Homer.)

        17. Mrs Happy

          BBQ – I was largely talking about paintings, and my feelings when I look at those paintings.
          The concept of the Sirens exists outside a few major classic poems.

          I disagree that in any poem, book or painting there is always any one character via whom you are “supposed” to interpret the story. In fact the beauty of good writing and art is the manifold variations of understanding and feeling. It’s narrowing to insist everyone view a story only from one viewpoint.

          I might see escape from responsibility and endless decision making in a painting, someone else might see desire, no-one is wrong.

        18. Bbq

          Mrs Happy

          There is some room for interpretation in stories of course but in this case not as much as you make out, any interpretation at all no matter how absurd cannot be right. If I were to tell you that Treasure Island was a love story would you accept that was my opinion and wasn’t wrong? Cmon now.

          In the case of The Oddysey were not talking about some abstract painting of blotches were any meaning no matter what is invited to be given to the art and can be accepted as valid. Its absolutely possible to assign a meaning so far from reality that it can be said to be wrong.

          Yeah people can identify with the Sirens or Calypso and fantasise about that, but the story is absolutely intended to be seen as the hero’s journey, with the Sirens being one of the mythical creatures Odysseus overcomes through his cunning, no different than when he blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops. There simply isn’t unlimited scope for interpretation of the story.

          This kind of over questioning analysis of relatively straight forward stories by “intellectuals” is absurd. Their minds are stuck in a neurotic quicksand, forever bogged down by their own “intellectual struggles” and the more they over analyse and struggle with ever new interpretations, the smarter they feel and the deeper they sink.

        19. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “Most if not all of these stories and movies about destructive sirens and femme fatales must have been written by men (maybe a fantasy of theirs?), because we women are too busy and not that interested in attracting so many men and wreaking that much havoc.”
          I agree, but the femme fatale is an interesting idea. I was just watching the silent movie “Flesh and the Devil.” Greta Garbo’s first big starring role. She’s a femme fatale who comes between two lifelong friends who are both obsessed with her. OMG, the way she looks at John Gilbert. Like she’s about to have him for breakfast! The reality of the story would be a lot less interesting. She’d wind up with one of the guys and the other would marry one of the other 5 women he was dating. 🙂
          “We women indulge in such fantasies in our own writings, and men think our books and movies are pathetic for that reason and call them Chick Lit or Chick Flicks … write realistically about women, either. (Bro Lit? Sorry, Homer.)”
          I will admit that I don’t like chick lit. The movies are silly and formulaic. But it would be nice to see a woman in a Martin Scorsese movie who was something other than a wife or a sexual accessory. A lot of the streaming services have recently been running new series in which women are at the center of the story with fully realized lives.

        20. Buck25

          Wow! The whole femme fatale discussion sure brought a lot of ideas out of the woodwork. The archetype has been around as long as civilization; after all, Eve is arguably the earliest example, and then there’s Ishtar from the Epic of Gilgamesh. The archetype is common in Greek mythology(see Clytemnestra or Circe, for example), so it’s no wonder Homer employed the character type In The Odyssey. The cautionary tale, warning men not to let themselves be undone by the sexual power of women, who are seen by men as devious, inscrutable and duplicitous, and therefore dangerous, has been a literary staple over the centuries (written by men, naturally). Of course, there have been some notable real-life examples, such as Lucrezia Borgia and Mata Hari.

          The ubiquity of the archetype of the femme fatale suggests that it comes from a near universal male fear of the dark side, or shadow, of the power of women’s sexuality. It might be compared to women’s fear of the dark side of men’s sexuality, represented by its own archetypes: the predatory player, the “Lady Killer”, the incubus, or the vampire; mysterious, sexually almost irresistible, yet almost certain to break her heart, if not literally drain the life out of her. In other words, as men find the dark side of the extreme feminine both impossibly beautiful and alluring, yet toxic, so do women find the dark side of the extreme masculine both impossibly seductive, yet very dangerous. The character of Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey is an excellent literary example, as are various male vampire characters. Examples in both genders usually have Dark Triad personalities: Machiavellian, Narcissistic, and Sociopathic, sometimes including Sadistic to complete the entire Dark Tetrad, the dark shadow of both male and female sexuality.

          Interesting how both men and women seem drawn to the sexual shadow of the other gender like a moth to a flame. I suppose we all want to believe we can play with fire…and be the one to tame it somehow, where others have failed.

        21. Emily, to

          Buck25,
          “Interesting how both men and women seem drawn to the sexual shadow of the other gender like a moth to a flame. I suppose we all want to believe we can play with fire…and be the one to tame it somehow, where others have failed.”
          I enjoyed reading your post but I’ll have to disagree with this last statement. I think most men run from the femme fatale. It’s been verified by posts on this site. Now, as far as women being drawn to the ladykiller, maybe some of the other female posters can comment on that. I don’t know any Christian Grays, with or without all the money.

        22. jo

          Emily and Buck, that’s so funny, because I completely agree with Buck’s last statement. For both men and women, a subset is drawn like moths to a flame, thinking that we will be the one to tame it. I used to be this way with certain men (not horrible men, just challenging), but have given it up, because I have come to value kindness much more as I grow older. And men likewise chase challenging women – maybe even women with an edge of danger.

          An aside: even if you have tamed the flame (as I have before), you still won’t be satisfied if that was all you were after, and then the person in question wasn’t kind or compatible. It’s better not to chase dangerous flames IRL, rather, to channel them into literature or movies! (but ftr, I am not a fan of Christian Grey or the sexy vampires)

        23. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “And men likewise chase challenging women – maybe even women with an edge of danger.”
          Really? Do you live in an exciting place like Las Vegas? 🙂

        24. Jeremy

          I guess one difference in the way literature portrays the irresistible femme fatale (siren, succubus) and the irresistible man (vampire, Christian Grey, seducer) is that in female fantasy that sort of man is tamable by the right woman. Whereas male fantasy posits that such women can not be tamed, will necessarily lead the man to ruination. An interesting difference. Are such men tamable in real life? Maybe for a while. But would the woman lose interest in that man once she has tames him, once he is no longer the challenge that he was? And are such women tamable by men, or do men want women more than vice versa?

          I don’t think the notion of the femme fatale stems from malice on the part of the woman, but rather from the perceptions of the man, the power that women hold over the male psyche. Were the sirens malicious, or was their irresistability to sailors just part of who they were? Would they have told the sailors to just cover their ears if they found their singing was so distracting?

        25. jo

          Jeremy, as a man, you might be able to provide insight on whether a flame-like man can be tamed. 😉 Have you noticed: if it’s a female author, like Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, the bad boy can be tamed, but if it’s a male author, like Shakespeare, Hardy, Tolstoy, or Flaubert, the bad boy ends up ruining the woman, and she dies. It’s almost as if authors were sending the opposite sex warnings in both directions.

          I like your reinterpretation of the sirens and other so-called ‘bad girls’ of literature. Maybe if they knew how men were drawn to them like moths to flames, they would say, ‘we don’t want you to do that to yourselves, plug your ears, don’t come this way.’ In fact, Estella tried to do that for Pip in Great Expectations (and Jenny in Forrest Gump). She told him she was bad for him, but he kept pursuing her anyway. So even if the sirens had warned the men, maybe the men would have preferred to give in to desirous ruin anyway. An analogy for humans? I hope not.

        26. Bbq

          Emily to

          In reality running away from the dark energy of the femme fatale would be the usual reaction, however in stories the reactions are either to destroy it (action of the hero) or be corrupted by it (action of the doomed man).

          Buck25

          In older stories (probably written by men) the dark seductive man is also a destroyer of women if they are seduced by him, in the more modern stories (written by women) that man is often merely emotionally damaged and often the liberator of women’s hearts and if they follow their feelings and go with him (despite everyone warning them against it), good things follow.

          It’s interesting that Austen’s most popular fiction (and one of the most if not the most popular story with women of all time) Pride and Prejudice sees the the womens fantasy character of Mr Darcy, who is dark (ish kinda), brooding, mysterious, wealthy and originally thought to be a bad guy is revealed to actually be noble and a good match for the main (everywoman) character, while Wickham – seemingly good natured, friendly and poor is unmasked as a liar and user and a bad match for any woman.

          Jo

          In your critical eye what is the wiser message – that men should stay away from the destructively natured woman (The Sirens) or that women should go with that seemingly bad man theyre attracted by in spite of others warnings not to – as it will surely turn out for the best?

        27. Bbq

          Jeremy

          Yes others have noticed this too. The whole point of the men’s stories is that giving in to sexual fantasy and attraction unthinkingly can be disastarous (in fact the rational act of overcoming this is often elevated into a heroic fantasy in of itself). However in contrast indulging in the fantasy completely is often the entire plot of the women’s stories, it’s as if they seem to be unintentionally saying “disregard that wisdom and go with your gut – if your attracted to something follow it and good will surely come” – eschewing all rational wisdom to the contrary.

      2. 18.1.2
        Emily, to

        Jeremy,
        “Are such men tamable in real life?”
        There are no such men in real life. Thus, it’s a fantasy.
        ” Were the sirens malicious, or was their irresistability to sailors just part of who they were? Would they have told the sailors to just cover their ears if they found their singing was so distracting?”
        I’d like to think they intentionally created a distraction. I’ve never known anyone I would call a femme fatale, but I did have one friend years ago who was very attractive and naturally very sexy. She knew exactly what she was doing and she used it to her advantage. And why not? If she’s going to get such a big reaction for qualities that are relatively shallow, why not work the system? It’s one she certainly didn’t create but has some power in nonetheless.

        1. Jeremy

          Oh, I agree that sometimes the use of sexual power is done intentionally. But other times it isn’t. There’s this whole argument nowadays about dress codes in school, for example. Used to be that girls were not allowed to wear shorts/skirts that were cut too high, tops too low. But legions of parents and students campaigned to eliminate the dress codes. Claimed that the female body is not a sexual object, and therefore should not be a distraction for boys. If it proves a distraction, the problem lies with the boys, and the onus on them to control their inclinations. Not on the girls to alter their dress.

          Hmm. I see both perspectives on that. Because theoretically this “should” be true. But practically it just isn’t. Men have evolved to view the female body as a sexual object. They don’t have any entitlement to it, but a distraction it will be. And truth is, women don’t want men to see it otherwise. If a woman wants to seduce her partner, she shows off her body. Buys lacy underwear, or better yet none at all. She would think something was very wrong with a man who fails to get turned on by her body. It’s not that women don’t want men to view them sexually, it’s just that they want men to do so only when women want them to. Not realistic. Can’t have it both ways.

          Do the girls in schools wearing short skirts know the effect those outfits have on boys? Are they trying to turn on the boys? Are they leveraging their sexuality for power/status among other girls? Or are they clueless? Like sirens who believe their songs “shouldn’t” affect sailors?

        2. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Do the girls in schools wearing short skirts know the effect those outfits have on boys? Are they trying to turn on the boys? Are they leveraging their sexuality for power/status among other girls?”
          Yes to all your questions. They are aware of what they are doing but really young women don’t understand what to do with the attention once they get it. But from about 13 or 14 on, a young woman will get attention from men her age to about 85. Simply for being in the world. And she doesn’t even have to be especially beautiful. So why shouldn’t she use that power? Your side has given it to her. Your side reacts to it. And one day, although she doesn’t know it yet, the attention will all stop. And she will be invisible to men. So why shouldn’t she use it while she can?

    2. 18.2
      Jenn

      Milky,

      If it were only that easy! Unfortunately, human beings are more nuanced and complex than that. Laying all your cards on the table and cutting to the chase may seem like a good strategy to avoid wasting time, but it rarely works. Are you talking about people avoiding the topic at all costs and never bringing it up, or just steering clear in the beginning?

      It’s definitely important to talk about marriage and family at some point because those are huge dealbreakers. The reason women tend to avoid the topic early on in the dating process is because we know 2 things: that men already know that most women of childbearing age want those things, and that it will scare men away to confront them with that topic too soon, even if they might also want those things.

      It’s kind of like a guy who says up front that he’s only interested in having sex – it most likely kills the interest on the other side. It would be great if life were more like “The Invention of Lying” and we could all be brutally honest about everything we think and want but that’s just not how we’re wired.

      Also it’s more rare, but it can happen that the guy is actually desperate to marry and have kids. Guys can have a biological clock too, it just winds down more slowly than women’s clocks. I met a guy in his 40s, when I was in my early 30s, who asked me on our first date about the marriage and kids thing because HE didn’t want to waste time.

      I probably should’ve been a little more vague about that at first because I think he essentially wound up pursuing me because I checked all his boxes, not because he liked me for me. I think that’s what it boils down to: we don’t talk about it right away because people don’t want to feel used. Guys don’t want to be seen as sperm donors and walking wallets, and women don’t want to be thought of as walking wombs.

      I would rather spend several dates just enjoying each other’s company, getting to know each other and seeing if there’s a good connection rather than just gathering mental checkmarks.

  19. 19
    sylvana

    BBQ

    “there are loads of good mothers who just got knocked up without ever asking about the man whether he wanted to be a father”

    Please explain to me HOW these women got knocked up if the man didn’t want to be a father. You do realize that is is the man who DOES the knocking up, right? What is he doing, knocking a woman up if he doesn’t want to be a father? Does he not know that him spraying sperm into her you-know-what is him taking the all the necessary actions to fertilize her egg? Or is he one of those guys who prays that whatever she does on her end will undo his reproductive role after he’s already taken all the necessary steps to complete it?

    1. 19.1
      Bbq

      Sylvana

      Look this is pretty simple, plenty of couples either serious or casual are simply lax with birth control and it happens, some of them make good parents and stay together. Might seem strange to you, but believe it, not every family you see had a detailed discussion about becoming a family, or even any discussion at all.

      Pregnancy happens to couples everyday without a signed letter of intent from either of them, impossible as that may seem.

      1. 19.1.1
        Lynx

        Maybe it would seem more balanced, then, to also propose this: there are loads of good fathers who just knocked up a woman without ever asking her whether she wanted to be a mother.

        1. Bbq

          Lynx

          Same difference. Both totally interchangeable phrases in this situation.

          It’s not my problem if women on here saw some conspiracy theory in the phrase “got knocked up” that isn’t there and wouldn’t be commonly read into it.

  20. 20
    Bbq

    Lynx

    And the comment I was replying to was reffering to mothers so saying that wouldn’t have even made sense as a reply.

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