Sunday, September 15, 2013

Double Bind

Ben and I recently had a falling out, which has given me pause for reflection.

I would like, very much, to get married and start a family.  This is something I've wanted and been open to doing since I was 24.  I've been in a handful of serious relationships that have gone on for at least two years, but none of these men have asked me to marry them.

The reasons these relationships have not worked out have been varied.  However, one feeling that all of these guys seem to have shared is that they couldn't tolerate the idea of settling down with someone who wouldn't be able to be highly deferential.  They weren't open to relocation.  They weren't open to the idea of a girlfriend or wife who would work long hours.  They couldn't see why I wouldn't want to take a 50% paycut to relocate to their choice of town as soon as possible.  Even when I told them I didn't want to have the sort of job I currently have in the long-term, they couldn't (or didn't want to?) think creatively about a future family life.  [ETA: Maybe they just didn't believe me based on my behavior.]

I'm responsible for my decision to stay in long-term relationships with guys who were not open to being true partners.  I think this happened because I am open to and interested in the idea of being a full-time mom.  I wasn't prioritizing selection of guys who were going to be supportive of a wife with a demanding job, even though I was clearly headed down that path, because (if I'm being completely honest) I didn't want to have a demanding job outside the home in the long-term.

There are consequences.  I spent my most precious years dating these guys.  Now, I can see fine lines on my face and bags under my eyes, and feel like I don't have strong cards to play with.  I do believe that I have a nice personality and am interesting to talk to.  I know that I'm financially responsible and well-educated.  But it doesn't feel like those qualities matter (especially in Southern California).  I'm 32, but I already feel invisible to men my age.

One of the core problems is that I don't have the time: the time to spend on doing what it takes (and I don't really know what it takes or where to go) to cross paths with single guys who are about my age; or the time to look my best.  I cannot remember the last time I was asked on or went on a date.  I often seriously think that I need to quit my job in order to have any hope of finding a partner.

I recognize that I am failing in my personal life, but I'm not sure what to do and I'm running out of time to figure it out.

As you can probably tell, I am having an especially low moment.  I go back and forth between the thoughts I express in this post and focusing entirely on my job (because I have at least some control over that aspect of my life).


Metal said...

You're crazy! In all honesty you're one of the most amazing girls I have ever known. I also feel marriage and especially kids change a lot of priorities...recently when I met my sister and her kids, I was quite surprised to see her (who by the way is way more career oriented than me) take on the mantle of motherhood full time and thoroughly enjoy it. She has been on an indefinite sabbatical for the last year or so and will continue on it. 5 yrs back I could've never imagined seeing her in this role.

CP said...

It must be so hard to want a family so badly and feel like you are moving backward rather than forward. Are there no young men at your firm who might become spouse-material?

But, I don't think you are behind the curve here. The new trend is to put marriage and a family off for later. I'm sure there are plenty of men your age who are perhaps just now starting to think about settling down. I think you are right on track in that regard. So many of my friends are in their early thirties and nowhere near marrying yet (and they want kids).

Try not to feel too much pressure. I'm sure the right guy will waltz into your life when you least expect it! If you stay in Japan another year, make an effort to do more social things where you can meet more ex-pats. There's got to be a social network of Americans in Japan.

One of my best girl friends lives near Tokyo. I can try to get some ideas from her if you want? She desperately wants to marry an American man and move to the US so I'm sure she knows where they all hang out :)

Cecilia said...

P2P, I say this is a long time reader, and I hope in a gentle way, but have you talked with someone about possible depression? Not to say that the life circumstances or wanting to have a family are not real issues, but from your tone, I wonder if you might benefit from talking to someone about your feelings generally. My firm had a very helpful employee assistance program, and i bet yours does too. adjusting to life abroad is hard and you have a lot on your plate.

Whatever happens, good luck and you are doing great. Dont be so hard on yourself.

TP said...

@Cecilia: As someone who has managed clinical depression most of my adult life, and with siblings who have as well, I have wondered the same thing off and on over the last year or two.