When I was 8 years old, I decided to be a writer. Like most people, somewhere around high school I inherited the notion that at some point, I would get married and have kids.
I'm 45 now. I've written for the New Yorker, the New York Times magazine, GQ, and lots of others. I've written extensively about social justice issues and won big journalism and human rights prizes, and have a slowly filling shelf of books—and one movie—with my name on them. But I'm not married.
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Recently, I undertook to edit a book called US: Americans Talk About Love. I had intellectual and emotional reasons for doing the project. I had just written a book about modern slavery in America called Nobodies, and it was depressing and gloomy. I wanted to be reminded of humanity's good side, the things we do when we're trying to be our best. Emotionally, however, I was reacting to the fact that I had fallen in love with someone for the first time in 15 years. The relationship was beset with logistical difficulties, including a 9000 mile distance between me and my partner, but nevertheless, it made me curious: how does this work for most people? Because you see, I had kind of forgotten. Turn Dating Rules Into Career Success
When I got serious about relationships, in my twenties, I realized that dating—for me—wasn't just a pleasant way to pass the time; it was a dress rehearsal for mating and child-rearing. After two to three failed relationships, I was forced to admit that the whole road to mating (with me, anyway) felt like a dead end. I began to feel like it was bad faith or false advertising to have fun with someone, get to know them, sleep with them, and get them addicted to my boundless charms (kidding!) only to reveal the deeper reality that unlike most men in most careers, I had chosen one that might not EVER pay a living wage.
Perhaps I could have found someone wealthy, or someone happy to wait for years while I figured out the writing thing, but that never happened, nor did it occur to me to seek that out. I didn't want a partner who would, over time, pressure me to change my career goals, nor did I trust myself not to eventually pressure myself every day to change course in order to have kids with someone, thereby feeling bad for sticking with a dream I'd worked towards lo so many years. And so I stepped out of the dating queue. New Marriage Trend: Men Marrying Wealthy Women
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At least half the friends I've ever had, male or female, have aspired to be artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians. Of those who have married and had kids, I can't think of any who achieved their goal without family money funding the endeavor. Of the ones who got married and had kids and surrendered their artistic ambitions, most are happy, some are not. The ones who are happy are well-adjusted to the fact that there's life outside of the arts, and maybe they weren't suited to the creative life in the first place.
But I always knew I couldn't do that. If I'd tried, I'd end up being the heavy-drinking bummer, trying to mask his sourness, subtly, or not-so-subtly, blaming the wife and kids because he could've would've should've been the next Hemingway. I've certainly seen that among my acquaintances, and I think it's weak.