An accomplished author chose work over love, delaying romance in order to pursue his dream career.
But for years, I paid a price for my decision. Close friends nagged me. "What's your problem? You're afraid of intimacy!" What could I say? Yeah, I guess I am! Because intimacy is what you do in a relationship, and relationships are what you have when you want to have a family, and families cost money. It certainly wasn't fun to spend an extra decade or more watching couples I know bundling up their kids and cars and heading off for long weekends together, while generally, I'd be alone, or hanging out with other single people, worriedly growing older.
But now? I'm fine. The wait is over. I'm solvent, ready, and as mate-able as I'll ever be—provided my partner lives a little closer than 9000 miles away. My life is really fun now. I get to do work I love and I work with people I adore, who continually spark my creativity. How much more fun will it be to come home to who I am now than the person I would have been had I heeded society's advice, and given up my dream to join the herd? How To Be A Workaholic And Have A Relationship
The main thing I learned about love while editing US: Americans Talk About Love is that love is devoutly, rabidly, radically personal. Each couple's love is unique and almost inexplicable. There is no form to it, no bespoke template for society to simply hand you. You have to find it, nurture it and maintain it on your own terms. If I'd listened to the people who told me I need to live their way, I'd be making someone awfully unhappy right about now. As it is, I can't wait to entertain the future Ms. Bowe—while helping to support our family.
There's no doubt in my mind that my life would have been vastly more comfortable if I'd been able to do it all. But isn't that what maturity is all about—accepting the fact that very few of us get it all?
Women don't have as much flexibility about waiting as men do. It's a fact, and I won't deny it. I have several female friends who held off having children until 40, but I don't know of many who successfully waited longer. It's not fair, but until science offers some other way, it's the way we are. Science also seems to indicate lately that men (okay, their sperm) can also suffer if they wait too long. But emotionally, at least, people who settle down later bring several palpable benefits to their relationships. Yes, they'll be playing with their kids in their late 40s, for example, instead of their late 20s. But at the same time, they won't be out every night with their friends, or networking, building their career or feeling like they're missing a party—or that they needed to rack up a few more conquests. Unless they're pathologically immature, they're cooked, they're ready, they're done: they're able to focus, stay home, and be present to enjoy what they've spent a lifetime preparing for.
Perhaps, some day, with the global population approaching seven billion people, we'll realize that creating more bodies for this planet isn't necessarily the highest priority. There are a lot of ways to be happy in this world. Wouldn't it be great if we all had the self-confidence and support of our friends and families to find our own?