I have started the job search and I have to complete a major project before my May graduation. Additionally, I am undecided if I want to remain in this city, state, or country to pursue my career after I graduate. I have always wanted to live, work, and raise a family abroad, and grad school is a means to that end. But, living abroad is a huge move for me and my son and would be easier with a partner. I also feel the ol’ biological clock ticking. I would prefer to have 1-2 more children before I’m 35, but maybe 36-37 is more realistic at this point! I live in a small town with few dating prospects. Between that and considering a move, an LDR seems almost inevitable.
Should I keep actively and intentionally dating, and hope that this man or another will give me the confidence and support to work abroad? Or should I drop the whole thing to focus on my child, school, and career and just hope that my eggs don’t disappear before fate brings a man to my door? — Trying to Have it All
By all means, continue dating this man whose company you seem to enjoy, but don’t do so with the hope that he’ll give you the confidence and support you need to work abroad; do so because you want to see if your visions for the future align and if you complement each other and make one another happy enough to consider merging your lives. Whether that merge happens where you currently live or where he lives or some place altogether is something you should decide AFTER you build a foundation for a relationship.
It’s really unfair — to a potential partner AND to yourself — to hinge your dreams on finding a mate who will push you to achieve them. That’s not what partner is for. Yes, you hope for support from your significant other, but your success — and certainly your pursuit of success and happiness — should not be contingent on that support. If you need a man to help you get where you want to go, you’re not doing it right. Or you aren’t ready. Or it isn’t the right move for you. Instead of focusing your energy on finding or pursuing the man who will push you to reach for your dreams, focus on cultivating the inner strength and confidence you need to reach for them on your own. Believe in yourself. And if you don’t, for whatever reason — maybe because the dream of living abroad as a single parent seems too arduous, especially if it means separating your child from one of his parents by half a world — own that and change directions. You can be fulfilled elsewhere, surely.
Finally, the deal with your eggs: at 32, you still have about 7-10 solid years of fertility left. You can take a little time to thoughtfully date while balancing school, career, and motherhood, without worrying that your eggs are going to disappear any moment. And, yes, maybe an adjustment of your timetable or number of desired kids is in order (having two more children in the next three years when your current relationship is only two months along might be pushing things a bit), but you HAVE wiggle room. Beyond that, while I appreciate that you are looking at the big picture — family! relationship! finishing school and starting a career! moving abroad! — and how all those pieces fit together, it’s easy to get really overwhelmed by how many things have to fall into place just so for a certain vision you might have to be achieved. Having dreams is a good thing. But so is being open to where life might take you if you open yourself to different possibilities and focus on micro movements toward different, individual goals. Here are a few to tackle in the next couple of months to get you going in the right direction:
1. Work on major project for May graduation
2. Continue applying for jobs in your desired career field in locations you could see yourself (and your son) living
3. Continue getting to know the man you’ve been dating for a couple of months
4. Start discussing with your son’s father potential custody arrangements if you were to move out of city/state/country
5. USE BIRTH CONTROL
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.