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How serious would you tell your 30 year old self to be about finding 'the one'?

(101 Posts)
Lastgasp Sat 31-Aug-13 12:05:36

I should say I don't actually believe in 'the one', but there are people we would want to marry/have kids with and people we would not.

I am approaching 30 and have been dating a lovely man for about six months. We have fun, I'm happy, but I know I don't want a future with him. There are reasons but I don't feel the need to unpick them here, as to me they are valid, and when you know, you know IYSWIM.

My question is, how long should I allow a relationship that makes me happy to continue, if I'm potentially missing out on locking down something long term? I frequently read posts on here by women who say that dating/meeting someone just gets harder and harder the older you get. I sometimes worry that I'm fundamentally immature and turning a blind eye to the fact that everyone around me is getting married etc. Should I continue with something that makes me happy until it naturally tails off, or do I need to be a bit more ruthless about finding someone I do feel a future with? This isn't really a biological clock issue as I absolutely don't want kids now, but I think I do one day.

I should add that he's never seemed fussed about marriage/babies etc so I don't feel I'm wasting his time at the moment.

MadeMan Sat 31-Aug-13 12:16:18

From what you've written it sounds as though you see him as more of a good friend than as a lover/partner.

It all depends on what you want, which to be honest you don't really seem to be clear about in your post. You say you don't believe in 'the one' but you know you don't want to spend your life with this man, although you are happy and having fun with him at the moment.

If you are looking for someone to marry and have children with soon, then maybe you need to think about ending it with this man if he's not for you. If you are really happy at the moment just having fun with him then I'd say stick with it for now and see what happens. Having fun is more important than worrying about body clocks and time limits to relationships.

Lastgasp Sat 31-Aug-13 12:56:44

I see him as a lover, but not a partner.

What I want ultimately is someone who is lover, partner and best friend. I'm just not sure I need that person right now, hence not knowing whether to be content or not.

I suppose I'm probably not yet in the place of needing/wanting to knuckle down and find a serious partner, which probably means it's unnecessary to end it.

I think I do just worry about finally being ready and there being no one left!

mrsm22 Sat 31-Aug-13 13:05:28

Hi Lastgasp, I can relate to your situation as I used to be in that very situation a few years ago. I'm now 31 and have been married for 2 years and we have a baby boy. Before I met my DH, I was with someone for 5 years, and like u say he made me happy and we had fun and it was a good relationship BUT deep down I always knew he wasn't someone I could marry or want kids with. Like you, I wasn't desperate to settle down but was often wondering if I was wasting my time in that relationship if I ultimately knew I wouldn't end up with him. The crux came for me when he asked me to marry him and I said no. After that the relationship did go slightly downhill and I actually met my DH while I was in that relationship and I instantly 'knew' and ended my relationship. Don't know if that is any help to u but I always think that in the end, seething has to give and it usually does. Something will happen that will make u know what to do.

thegoldenfool Sat 31-Aug-13 13:17:07

i split up with my DP at 27ish, it was a hedonistic young persons relationship he was very exciting and it took me a long time to feel ready to try again and I had about 8 years of singledom before I met my current DP (with the odd fling or FWB - which were obviously not going any further . . . )

I enjoyed my singledom but it was all getting a bit much (another wedding invite to go on my own, another friend having a baby, friends wanting dinner parties with their DPs rather than going clubbing, being propositioned by YET another married man etc etc etc) I had a big change of life and met DP who was completely unlike anyone I had gone out with before, but lovelier and kinder and an excellent father smile

My advice:
If you are living a fun life at the moment with a wide social life with lots of varying activities be aware it can very quickly narrow down when your friends start having children and it is simply harder to meet new people without being a lot more calculating/desperate etc so if you think you won´t want to stay with your current DP change now whilst there is still a good pool of men to choose from!

Lastgasp Sat 31-Aug-13 13:28:49

Thanks for that perspective MrsM. My prior relationship was very much like yours accept it was my ExDP who left after the realisation, ultimately I agreed with him though and was grateful. I think I worry that I once again am getting into something not quite right and don't want to waste years this time.

Goldenfool I think your final line is the kind of blunt advice I wanted to hear/see if people doled out. My nagging worry is the entire picture you paint is right.

Salbertina Sat 31-Aug-13 13:34:15

You're v sensible to be appraising this now, good for you! As others have said, opportunities can and do rapidly narrow- much much more do for women hmm - but not a reason to marry the first decent man, as you realise. However, soulmate/best friend/fab lover all in one? Not sure such a paragon exists. Rather several compatible viable options will present themselves at the right time, if you're lucky.. And notice them. All will be a compromise of sorts on both sides. Right romantic me wink
Oh and don't change and marry this guy, you doubt it too much already to have enough faith in it working.

Anghara Sat 31-Aug-13 18:24:35

Lastgasp, this TedTalk might be helpful for you, I found it thought-provoking on some points (I'm 26 and have wondered the same things about a previous relationship, although I'm now single):

www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20.html

superstarheartbreaker Sat 31-Aug-13 18:48:47

Un;less you are desperate to procreate though, why the rush to find 'the one'? After experiencing so many wierdos on the dating scene I am beginning to become very cynical about monogamy/marriage/ this couple culture that is literally just shoved down our throats. I think the best people for us come when we leat expect it.
As for expecting this 'one' to complete us; I am no longer buying it.

superstarheartbreaker Sat 31-Aug-13 18:48:59

least

perfectstorm Sat 31-Aug-13 19:00:23

It all depends on if you want kids. If you do, then no, I don't think you can faff about with someone you don't see as close friend material. I agree that you need to be realistic - a human being will be as flawed and imperfect as you are yourself - but I'm married to my best friend, and we've also had and still do have the best sex life I ever had with anyone. I think the friendship is essential to weather the storms, and trust, and you need to genuinely really like one another. But soulmates? I think that's bollocks, personally.

My cousin recently found out she has early onset menopause approaching. She's 34 and trying for her first baby. As someone edging 40 and pregnant with my 2nd, I'm feeling really grateful... but I also think you need a good couple of years together before you even contemplate kids. If you do want children, maybe more than one, then yes, I think you need to look for someone you want to have them with, sooner rather than later.

If you don't, then you have a lifetime ahead of you and all the time in the world.

magicturnip Sat 31-Aug-13 19:06:08

I have lots of great, smart, funny, interesting and attractive single female friends in their late 30s and early forties. I only know one decent single man in that age group. The pool of decent men definitely narrows to vanishingly small as women age, in my experience.

difficultpickle Sat 31-Aug-13 19:10:19

I wish I'd made more effort at that age. It semed to be in a blink of the eye that all my friends, male and female, got married. I didn't and now in my late forties I don't know anyone who is single (other than me).

Salbertina Sat 31-Aug-13 19:12:16

Scary, isn't it Magic? Why weren't we told?!

OP so pleased its dawned on you and hopefully some of your friends. Am in my 40s and we were fed line of being just the same as men, focus on your career, university just about the degree (when hell its THE best place to meet a decent guy and from a v eligible pool not puddle!)

WaitingForMe Sat 31-Aug-13 19:14:15

How flexible are you willing to be? I'm a stepmum to two and have a child with DH. If men with baggage doesn't bother you then fine but if you want to be a first wife and not a stepmother time isn't on your side.

Loopytiles Sat 31-Aug-13 19:23:40

Depends if you want children. If you do and not with him, better not to spend more time with him.

lotsofcheese Sat 31-Aug-13 19:36:33

Personally, my view is that women in their 30's don't have time to hang around/waste. The biological clock answers to no-one. If you want children, that is (or the option of them, at least).

If not, then you have more scope.

But I do recall "30-something dating hell" very clearly.

Also, I'm not sure how realistic your expectations are. You seem to want everything in a partner. But one person can't meet all our needs.....

BellEndTent Sat 31-Aug-13 19:45:22

I married my fwb, we now have two children and are just 30. I think you take out of the relationship what you are looking for at the time.

I can obviously only speak for myself but in my case I was very strongly, physically attracted to DH when we first got together, didn't know him very well but grew to really admire and respect him as a person and then we just kind of developed into being good friends as time passed and matured together into good partners. I know now that I have everything in one man but if I was speaking a few years ago, I probably wouldn't have thought so. I compartmentalised a lot when I was younger and didn't allow the relationship to be all it could be iyswim as I wasn't in that frame of mind and didn't expect him to be either. We surprised each other.

SDhopeful Sat 31-Aug-13 19:55:46

Interesting! when I was 30 I was in a relationship like yours, not serious, and an older male friend asked me why I was wasting my time. ( He was not hitting on me, just concerned I was frittering away my fertile time). He was right, I should have been thinking. As it was, I did meet my husband a few month later, tho it was 5 years before we married, and then at 36 suddenly had a panic about maybe being infertile. As it happens, we did have two lovely DC, but I am not now convinced he was 'the one' - and to be brutally honest, if we did not have the DC, I would leave him. But.... I am glad I found the father of my DC in time, and would rather a million times have the DC than now be with 'the one' without them...

mrsm22 Sat 31-Aug-13 20:59:58

I think you've got some really good comments here from everyone and it must give u lots to think about. If part of your worries about staying in your existing Relationship comes down to having children then i wouldn't worry about that just yet. You certainly do have plenty of time in my opinion, I am 31 and have one DS and wanting to try for number 2 soon and I'm the first of all my friends to have children. 30 is not old to have children, it is the norm. But as for your relationship, if you are happy plodding on and if u care for this man then I don't see you really have a reason to end it. Maybe ask yourself why u don't think he is the one you'd want to settle down with because u might in time realise he is. When I was with my ex boy I often used to get fed up and feel a bit down that I was just plodding on through life with someone I didn't really feel enough for and it got to the stage where I was worried that during the five years I had been with him/wasted that I could have missed out on meeting 'the one'. Just don't be hasty though and end something if it suits for now. My dad always says if it's not broken, why fix it?!

Salbertina Sat 31-Aug-13 21:43:12

Mmm, cant agree, am afraid if Op wants kids. Rather different to be 31 with a dp having already successfully had a dc and be thinking about the next one.

Arisaig Sun 01-Sep-13 00:33:56

Garfunkel and Oates sum it up well....

EBearhug Sun 01-Sep-13 00:41:24

I am 41 and single. Never had that many boyfriends. Not sure why yes I do, that's why I've spent a fortune on therapy, thanks Mum for all the undermining you did.

My father died a few months before I turned 30, and I actually turned 30 in NZ, as I'd been planning to do some travelling before we knew he was ill, and he made me promise I would go. Mostly I was concentrating on staying sane and surviving the grief.

Lazysuzanne Sun 01-Sep-13 01:19:39

Interesting thread, and Magic I find your observation a bit alarming

I have lots of great, smart, funny, interesting and attractive single female friends in their late 30s and early forties. I only know one decent single man in that age group. The pool of decent men definitely narrows to vanishingly small as women age

assuming the pool of men is about the same size as the pool of women this means that men must somehow decline in their late 30's and early 40's such that most women wont consider them as partners.

What is happening with the men? do they turn into smelly troglodytes from spending too long away from the civilizing influence of women? confused

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 07:46:30

Men tend to be able to date from a much wider pool with age- from lots younger to their own age plus. For women -with a few rare exceptions-it's the opposite. fucking unfair it is too!

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 07:47:51

I wish I'd cottoned onto this so much younger. Glad for OP's sake that she has done so.

Lazysuzanne Sun 01-Sep-13 10:23:17

are you sure? When i was online dating i had alot of offers from younger men

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 10:27:57

How old are you Lazy? Must be quite attractive still?
I had quite a lot of offers when younger but all changed, clearly lost the sexual equity or whatever i had! hmm

Like others on here, i know a fair few attractive, lovely sorted professional single women in their 40s and about 1 (tortured) rarely single man

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 01-Sep-13 10:29:14

You are much more likely to find "The One" (whatever that means for you) if you are single than if you are in a relationship.

colditz Sun 01-Sep-13 10:37:58

You can't find "the one" if you are with a man who isn't "the one", also, there is no such thing as "the one", find someone you are happy with and keep being happy.

Lazysuzanne Sun 01-Sep-13 10:53:56

im 47, i consider myself well cared for, more than can be said for most men my age!
I was contacted by alot of much younger men but generaly was only interested in those who were late 30's and upwards

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 11:08:19

You give me hope! So it really doesn't seem a desert out there then or full of dodgy men?

i'm 37 and single and can verify the pool of viable men gets very, very small.

i'm not into men who look like my dad and for some reason very few men seem to reach their 40's without looking like your dad or something (awful i know).

so you're looking at guys your own age and younger attraction wise - guys your own age don't seem to exist - i don't know if all the unmarried men go off to an island for their mid to late 30's and there's only so much younger you can go and hope to have much in common in general.

when you're at this age older men aren't what they were when you were 20 wink and actually when i was in my 20's it was older men who were chasing me around so i guess that's where the men in their 30's are off to.

i'm a bit lost though as to how someone can make you happy, be your lover and friend and you want to be with them if you've already decided you don't really want them? as in wouldn't you be happier not tied to someone you''ve decided isn't right for you?

for me it's a desert with the odd beautiful oasis smile none i've gotten to stay in though - mostly short lived, not really suitable but lovely for a while affairs or brief encounters and staggeringly rare sometimes.

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 11:19:21

Swallowed, yep reminded me of how i wasted precious time when i was hot on briefly dated a gorgeous 40yr old in my late 20s who was forever justifying it by saying women his age just wanted to trap him into marriage & kids! I now think shockangrybiscuit but at the time didn't really give a stuff (female solidarity came with age and a few knocks!) as he was FAB in bed and i didn't really take it too seriously.

Lazysuzanne Sun 01-Sep-13 11:28:09

it might be a dessert if you're looking for a full time partner...i've had enough of that sort of caper i was only ever looking for non serious relationships.
If i was looking for someone to procreate with..well, i dunno, if i had my time again i dont think i'd evenbother with all that bloody drudgery, hell nogrin

MadeMan Sun 01-Sep-13 12:28:07

"i'm not into men who look like my dad and for some reason very few men seem to reach their 40's without looking like your dad or something (awful i know)."

But what if your dad looks like Pierce Brosnan, what then?

Most men over 40 aren't going to be fake tanned chiseled hunks (unless gay), they'll have beer bellies, receding hairlines and will wear dark colours.

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 12:32:11

Funny how women ARE expected to be the equivalent of "fake tanned chiseled hunks" though, hey? Toned, tanned, plucked and groomed with no grey hairs! Nothing less is socially acceptable let alone desirable. And all for some overweight badly dressed guy who fails to look after himself. -got one of those at home Fume.

MadeMan Sun 01-Sep-13 12:38:00

"Funny how women ARE expected to be the equivalent of "fake tanned chiseled hunks" though, hey?"

To be honest apart from leg hair and underarm hair, I prefer women to be fairly natural and a lot of men would probably agree with me. I cannot stand fake tan, hard toned bodies, over plucked eyebrows, excessive makeup, dyed/bleached hair, etc, etc.

I always get the impression that women doll themselves up to look good for each other rather than for men anyway.

but i don't fancy fat balding men who have let themselves go mentally as well physically.

i am still learning and growing and open and pretty hot for an old bird so i'm not going to be attracted to people who really aren't.

and yes OP, as someone else said i'd skip the whole marriage and kids thing if i was you. get yourself a nice dog smile

MadeMan Sun 01-Sep-13 12:48:22

"...get yourself a nice dog."

Yes, unless the dog is fat, bald and mental. wink

focus on your career and your aspirations and surrounding yourself with the kind of people who support and inspire you.

if or when you get to wanting to have children you can make your choices about how, who with etc then.

you're fortunate to live in a time where if it came to it and you never did meet 'the one' you have options for having child/ren on your own. especially if you've taken care of your career and surrounded yourself with positive supportive people.

grin my dogs will never be fat!

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 12:49:20

Interesting... But them how much do you really notice? Most women use light fake tan, most women cover the grey, diet, pluck etc but not to a remarkable extent "just" to (ever more demanding) cultural norms. All of this takes considerable time, effort and money and yet is seen as basic maintenance! Believe me, in my experience, men DO notice the absence of this.

DragonI Sun 01-Sep-13 13:00:07

OP, seriously, if you want kids do not waste any time on unsuitable men. I am so thankful that age 30 I got serious and found my DH. I feel like i was 'just in time', the marriage and kids ship nearly sailed without me. Even if you met someone tomorrow it takes time to build that relationship. Whether we like it or not fertility declines radically between 30 and 40.

If you don't want children then it's much less of an issue.

MadeMan Sun 01-Sep-13 13:03:49

Light maintenance is one thing, but some women do go quite a bit overboard with trying to look good and then it does notice for the wrong reasons.

I agree with you though that men can let themselves go as they get older without thinking they have to make any effort and there is a sort of acceptance of that somehow.

MadeMan Sun 01-Sep-13 13:05:12

^ Previous post was reply to Salbertina. smile

Fraxinus Sun 01-Sep-13 13:35:45

Sorry, op, but for those of us interested in finding a partner, perhaps you give us the answer to where all the decent eligible men are.... With slightly younger women who are not really in love with them. let him go. He might fall for somebody else me and want to get married and have babies with them me .

good point frax. maybe they're all tied up with women who are not really into them but just killing time and not wanting to be 'on their own'.

hmm. right! it's all the op's fault grin

TheContrastofWhiteonWhite Sun 01-Sep-13 14:30:41

If you think you want 'kids' (plural) one day, I would think quite carefully about your timescales. I think it's reasonable to assume that it would be better to plan to finish having children by 40, as although many women successfully have children past this age, many others find that their fertility has fallen significantly.

So, last child at 40, previous one at what, 38? Pregnancy plus time TTC takes you back to 36/37 and time getting to know your partner first takes you back to what, about 34?

Of course, of course, many women meet and have children quickly, or have children later, etc, etc. And of course many women simply don't meet the right person with optimum timing. Equally, for some women fertility declines a lot much earlier than 40.

I would be telling my 30 year old self that if I knew I wanted children, and I knew the man I was with was not the man I wanted them with, I needed to seriously evaluate my choices. The right man might not cross your path that often, and if he's a decent man he will give you a wide berth if you are in a relationship.

I also agree that the pool of decent men falls alarmingly in your 30s.

Mumsyblouse Sun 01-Sep-13 15:09:04

If you want children or to settle down and get married, then I would move on. Six months is a lot of fun, but there's no point just doing more of the same if its not leading where you would like your life to head.

Friends who messed about with fun guys for too long into their thirties (really unreliable types, or ones who didn't know what they wanted, or wouldn't make up their minds themselves), in the main they have settled down, one settled in a panic with a not very suitable guy and she admits this was primarily to have children, he's still a crap partner, another met someone lovely by 40 but it is too late for children for them, they don't mind too much though.

I wouldn't panic, I wouldn't settle, I'd have a lovely time by myself til I met someone who I really wanted to be with in a much more obvious way. If you know there's no future, I'd move on.

Lastgasp Sun 01-Sep-13 15:30:44

Thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to respond. I have to say my heart has sunk a little seeing the consensus. I think I was hoping a couple of people would tell me there is value in living for the present a bit!

I think I know I have to end it. The temptation though is to let it go on another week, which becomes another month. Etc. I don't have a reason to give him apart from my original post, and that feels cruel. He's not a bad person, he's not even "unsuitable", he's just not suitable for me but would make someone else a lovely partner I think.

Oh and yes he is older than me. Not "looks like my dad" territory, but enough for me know to appreciate the irony of wondering who would be around by my mid-30s!

Waiting I'd be flexible for the right person but I admit my preference is for first wife/baby territory.

Swallowed I want to be with him now because he makes me happy but I know I don't want a future with him. My issue is I was enjoying my single life and don't necessarily want to find something serious yet - but my whole worry is that by the time I am ready no-one will be left because they'll all be shagging 20somethings.

lotsofcheese Sun 01-Sep-13 16:52:05

I agree you should finish things, if that's the way you feel.

None of us would want to be with someone who is just "passing time" with us, until something better comes along.

And being with him is stopping you meeting someone you could be better/happier with.

In life, you regret the things you don't do.

Lastgasp Sun 01-Sep-13 17:14:12

"None of us would want to be with someone who is just "passing time" with us, until something better comes along."

Do you think men think this too though? I meet so many who just seem happy to live in the moment.

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 17:28:33

I think consciously or unconsciously they are just more relaxed in the knowledge that they're far less time-bound hmm

MadeMan Sun 01-Sep-13 17:33:45

I have never stayed in a stale relationship and I especially wouldn't now that I'm in my late 30's. It's like anything in life, jobs, relationships, your car; if your not entirely happy with it then change it.

Mumsyblouse Sun 01-Sep-13 17:37:54

I would rather be in no relationship than a relationship that I was really clear had no future. I was single for much of my twenties for this reason. It's also a bit insulting to the guy, unless he's absolutely fine with no future too. But after six months, I think all the fun's probably been had and the question of the future will start to loom even if you want to keep in the present.

MadeMan Sun 01-Sep-13 17:43:13

Isn't there an unwritten rule about 6 months being the 'make or break' period as well? Sure I heard that somewhere; one of those old wives tales things probably.

Lastgasp Sun 01-Sep-13 17:52:12

You may be right MM. I thought it was around the three month mark, but I was slightly distracted at that point. blush.

Salbertina Sun 01-Sep-13 18:18:28

However hard it is right now and scary, this is a great opportunity- you are realising in time to get out and find what/who you do want. Many of us didnt have your maturity at the same crucial age. I was in deep denial! and in deep shit now as a consequence

lotsofcheese Sun 01-Sep-13 18:29:36

Lastgasp, I think men are generally far more guilty of "passing time" with women they have no intention of a serious future with.

Again, I find men are generally more scared of being on their own & therefore happy to plod along. And also because they don't have the pressure of the biological clock.

Whilst these are generalisations, I've seen it happen to friends who discover to their cost that their partner never had serious intentions. Usually several years down the line in a relationship.

If only these men had given their partners the courtesy & respect of being honest.

good luck telling him. i'd just be honest if i was you. say you don't see you guys having a long term future and you don't want to mess him around. see what he says. though as others have said if you're with someone you won't meet anyone else so if you know in your heart of hearts you want to be finding or at least looking for someone you could 'settle down' with then you should make yourself available to that.

seriously though - career, friends, home, security is what you want to be worrying about/putting your energy into if you know you want a family some day. that will stand you in great stead.

Zoe900 Sun 01-Sep-13 18:37:09

I would tell myself to actively, pro-actively look, no WADE through men, but not to settle for a man who stumbled in to my path. So a combination of look harder but bar higher.

Lavenderhoney Sun 01-Sep-13 19:12:42

If there is no future in it, for you, then my advice would be the same as goldenfools.

When you are with someone, you don't meet men with a view to dating, and you don't behave as though you are looking for someone else. You don't want to end up cheating do you?

Its fairer to him to say " look, I really want to be with someone I feel I am going to marry and have dc with ( if that's what you want) and leave him free to find someone who wants to be with him. Not as emotional blackmail, just stating a fact and you are comfortable with the outcome.

Work on your career, friends, hobbies so if " the one" doesn't show, or happens to be married to someone else whilst you potter with mr ok for now, you have at least a fulfilled life.

I think its great you are doing this after 6 months, not 5 years of wondering and hanging on just in case. It takes a lot of courage to leave, in this situation.

Fraxinus Sun 01-Sep-13 22:11:05

This

I think its great you are doing this after 6 months, not 5 years of wondering

I take back my previous bitter comment. I hadn't actually noticed it was 6 months.

Lastgasp Sat 07-Sep-13 17:39:41

Update: Despite realising what I have to do I've done nothing about it. I don't think I've ever been involved with someone who makes such an effort to make me feel adored and it's really hard to walk away from [Sad]. A friend has suggested I talk through my concerns with him but that feels cruel. There's nothing he can change to improve the odds of us having a future.

you need to let the poor guy go.

perfectstorm Sat 07-Sep-13 18:04:39

He's a lovely man, he adores you. Basically if the sex is also good, he's intelligent, you have shared values, a good friendship and he's solvent, I'd think long and hard before passing for someone else.

Prince Charming does not exist, and none of us are Disney princesses, either. The reality is you want a friend and a lover who cares for you and treats you well, and vice versa. That commitment and compatibility is what gets you through the darker times.

If one of those major pieces are missing then I would let him go before you miss the family boat yourself. Allow him to find some reciprocity, poor man.

Lastgasp Sat 07-Sep-13 18:14:03

Perfectstorm don't think I haven't wondered that. I know Prince Charming doesn't exist, but the problem is I flogged a previous relationship to death telling myself that I couldn't hold out for Prince Charming. And then my ex decided that we "deserved" to find our prince and princess...

I don't want to go into the details here but I'm concerned that we are incompatible in one of the factors you list. Unfortunately there's no blood test you can take to work out if the essentials are in place and trying to work out if you're holding out for something unreasonable is hard (one woman's solvent is another woman's not pulling his weight for example).

perfectstorm Sat 07-Sep-13 18:16:11

No, i appreciate that and I am really sorry if that sounded patronising. I just know a couple of friends who held out for Prince Charming, and are now approaching 40, childless and single.

I don't think a marriage is a good idea if one of the factors is missing, personally, so it seems wise to let him go. Bugger of a choice to have to make, though. sad

friendslikethese Sat 07-Sep-13 21:25:52

I am inclined to agree with perfectstorm.

Bumpstarter Sun 08-Sep-13 08:44:47

Simple question: are you in love with him? (I don't think you have said)

MumblingMummy Sun 08-Sep-13 22:46:11

Answer to the question, where do all the 30+ men go. The number of male prisoners in the UK stands at roughly 80,000. Add to that the number who flee to the world's cities to make their fortune. What you're left with is a sharply reduced dating pool, made up mainly of 'average' men (with the Alphas and the criminals removed). From this, the much larger (thanks to low incarceration rates) female population has to select a mate. We all want the well-off, good looking, smart, funny, six footers. Is it any wonder then that they get to pick & choose who they date (generally 10 years younger, beautiful, sweet, slim etc.). My advice would be to choose in your mid twenties. After that, it's a bit of a scrum. <voice of experience speaking>

Lastgasp Mon 09-Sep-13 20:05:51

Perfectstorm you didn't sound patronising at all, I just meant that it's hard to know.

Bumpstarter, I do. But I have loved others more and imagine I will again.

Bumpstarter Mon 09-Sep-13 22:15:35

Last gasp. I do as in I do love him, or I am as in I am in love with him? There is a subtle difference between the 2.

Mumbling mummy... Wow, I am shocked by the figure. I guess that does impact on numbers. Also, most of my contemporaries who have sadly died were male. Car accidents, suicides. I wonder if this reflects on the mortality rate of men in their 20's and 3o's?

MumblingMummy Tue 10-Sep-13 03:52:14

Bumpstarter sorry to hear about your friends losing their lives at such a young age but yes, you are right, the mortality rate among men is far higher than it is for women.

nooka Tue 10-Sep-13 05:16:56

Here is a nice population pyramid, which shows that there are sightly more men than women until about 40, after which there are slightly more women than men until around about 70 when that starts to widen as men died off so much earlier.

This doesn't take into account prisoners, but will exclude those who have emigrated (I must admit I didn't realise that made my dh and alpha, don't think anyone we know would class him as that!)

I met dh at university and married in my mid-twenties, not sure he was ever the 'one' and we've had some rough times along the way, but I'm very happy now and not just because of my lovely teenagers. Some of my friends thought I was crazy settling without more experimentation, but many of them didn't find their life partners for many years, and then have struggled to have children, which has made them very sad. I think it also leads to a lot of pressure on relationships the later you leave it, because there is more of that 'is he the one' subtext going on, plus at some point people get less picky and perhaps end up with husbands that they know aren't right because they think that 'everyone good has gone' but need a potential father for the children they very much want.

OP, let him go. This guy might be really in love with you and see a future and you don't. How would you feel if the shoe were on the other foot - you were really in love with him, wanted kids with him, but he was only killing time with you until someone better came along and that he had loved previous partners more than you? I don't think you'd like it and I think you're being selfish stringing him along.

Now, if you are NOT worried about kids and marriage, then why not broach it with him. If he feels the same as you, then the two of you can carry on precisely as you are.

Incidentally, I don't think you'll find there necessarily are fewer decent single guys in their late 30s. I'm a single guy in my late 30s and I find there is a dearth of decent single women in their 30s! I do think a lot depends on location.

Lastgasp Tue 10-Sep-13 22:10:50

Voice do you really think I should broach it all with him? Because that just feels like instigating the break up conversation. Or is that what you're getting at?!

MadeMan Tue 10-Sep-13 22:27:05

@MumblingMummy I didn't realise that all those rich bankers that screwed up the economy were Alpha males. shock

I thought being Alpha was all about bodybuilding, tattoos and looking thug.

Lazyjaney Tue 10-Sep-13 23:21:59

I'd tell any 30yo self that they now had about 3 years before it stopped raining men and became a trickle.

Attractiveness changes with fertility, it's a downward curve from early 30s for women, men just straight-line.

MadeMan Tue 10-Sep-13 23:43:27

Men get fatter, balder and greyer than we used to be; doesn't sound like a straight line to me. Plus, we lose our sense of fashion (if we had any) and stop taking care of our appearance.

Some Mumsnetters have commented on this decline when discussing the lack of suitable men over 30.

yeah utter bollocks in my opinion on the women decline men straight line. not my experience at all. certainly not from early thirties if you take care of yourself.

Lazysuzanne Wed 11-Sep-13 00:05:53

Alpha male's are just men behaving in a dominant way. The actual manifestation of that will depend on the circles they move in. Wealthy educated men might become bankers.

Uneducated men with fewer prospects have to resort to thuggish behavior

Lazysuzanne Wed 11-Sep-13 00:08:04

And yes either gender can let themselves go. Fertility may drop off a cliff for women but attractiveness doesn't have to!

perfectstorm Wed 11-Sep-13 00:17:09

I was at a birthday party for uni friends recently, and one of the women quietly commented to a couple of the others how much faster the men were, on average, going downhill than the women. She was not wrong.

It seemed to me that most of the guys were taking no steps to look after themselves and their appearance - the women, obviously, were. The ones looking good for their age, men and women, were the ones who exercised, ate well, got decent haircuts/flattering clothes and so on. Most of the men weren't. And all of us are mid to late 30s.

That little social myth is, IMO, having the opposite effect.

Lazysuzanne Wed 11-Sep-13 00:42:55

Perfect, perhaps men still think that their earning capacity will make them attractive to women?
Not going to cut much ice with women who are quite capable of making a good living.

Plus, single men often seem to go a bit 'feral' after a period of time..or so it seems to me

cuillereasoupe Wed 11-Sep-13 07:43:17

I'm not convinced by Mumblingmummy's stats. 80,000 prisoners is a drop in the ocean population-wise and I'd bet that the vast majority of those men are not in their thirties. Likewise the number of "alpha males" hmm who emigrate.

don't know about 'alpha males' but i do know a lot of the kind of men i'm actually attracted to have get up and go and have therefore got up and gone as i did when i was younger. now being a mother i've ended up very out of that world and the stream of lively, interested people who move around - be it overseas or between cities etc as i used to.

i begin to feel as if i've become asexual i go so long without fancying anyone then i revisit a vibrant city i used to live in or an overseas haunt and find that no, it's all alive and kicking it's just literally that there is a dearth of attractive, interesting, passionate men around me here.

Lastgasp Wed 11-Sep-13 08:21:20

Looking around, I think the average woman holds up much better than the average man in their mid to late 30s. That's not my worry. I'm reasonably attractive but that's never been my "thing" so I'm not freaking out at "losing my looks". I think the reason men especially those who have got to their late 30s without settling down are inclined to go for younger women is because they fear women their own age will want things to progress to children pretty sharpish, which it has to.

I think I overplay this fear in my own head - I worry that if I restart dating as a 30 year old men will just hear "thir..." and freak out that I'm a sperm bandit.

what's a sperm bandit?

Silverfoxballs Wed 11-Sep-13 09:00:50

My friends are all 45 to 55 so we are past our fertile years. Three of my friends have not had dc though they wanted them due to the lack of a man. Two of them wasted years on men who were really just stringing them along and the other kept trying to mould really unsuitable men in to what she wanted. They are really nice women but very much heart over head.

If you are absolutely sure you see no future with this man then I think you should end it. Just be sure the tick list in your head is attainable though. I always knew pretty quickly if a man could be suitable for a stab at a lifetime together. When I met DH I was petrified because I knew it could last. I was 31 when I started dating him and married within 18 months.

DH and I suit each other well because we are both very practical. We do enjoy things but we are at a level of sensible and seriousness that would not be attractive to most some people.

LessMissAbs Wed 11-Sep-13 09:11:34

Ditto in that I know a few very presentable, good company single women in their thirties/forties, but struggle to think of one single man who would fit into this category. Most of the single men fall into the clubbing/drinking/casual drugs/sleeping around culture OR can barely hold down a job/pay the rent on their shared room/rented flat OR physically resemble some kind of Frankenstein's Monster (bald head, big fat neck) OR if they are in any way decent, law abiding and job-holding, are very cynical and seem to think all women are out to ensnare them. That's not even mentioning the women haters/misogynists and control freaks who are impossible to have a decent relationship with.

And the behaviour! From what I've heard from single friends, sending pictures of cocks and inviting them to pop by for a shag to women they've met once are par for the course for many of the single men out there.

Virtually all the decent/nice to know men I know are in relationships.

Fairylea Wed 11-Sep-13 09:29:25

Well I am in my third marriage and I am 33. Yes really. I've led an interesting life and now I feel very old and middle aged smile smile

My first husband was my dds dad (she is coming up to 11). I was on a path to go onto study at oxford and then met my then dh and basically my gran got cancer so I moved her in with us and cared for her till she died. Having my dd in the middle of it all. I think all the stress if it all clouded how unsuitable ex was. We were together 5 years ish. I left him when dd was 6 months old. He just didn't get the whole family thing despite us actively trying to have her.

I then returned to work and met my second husband. He was everything my ex wasn't. Really ambitious, family minded, didn't go out much etc. We were happy for 4 years, really happy. We both worked full time, very senior jobs, had lots of money, but..... I don't think there was ever that crazy in love thing. With hindsight there should have been. We grew apart, we didn't know it really. It just happened. He started going out a lot with new friends, so did I. I didn't like what he was becoming. We could never agree on how to share or spend money.

Then he left me, very cold heartedly said he didn't love me anymore. And upped and moved out in 4 weeks. Went back to his ex before me! Never heard from him again, nor has dd despite him being "dad" for most of her growing up....

I then had a second teenager type phase. My mum was living with us so she was happy to babysit and I went out a lot. Had a fuck buddy for 6 months. Loved him and got very hurt. Shagged his best friend. Gulp. Shagged someone else, totally unsuitable. All a big mess. I was drinking way too much and not sleeping. I was very depressed.

I then had a break and thought about what I really wanted. Was single for a while. Got a different less demanding job. Started online dating.

Long story short, met my now dh and he was and is everything to me..I honestly didn't believe in the one .. but well now I do. We just clicked from day one. We have the same ideals, he doesn't drink at all and I stopped too. We share everything financially and child care wise. We now have ds 15 months and I am a sahm. I financially feel happy... I never ever thought I'd feel that.

I think you don't need to panic. But you do need to thinka about what you want long term. I wasted a lot of time going for the wrong people because I had low self esteem and I didn't really know what I wanted myself let alone in someone else.

I don't think age has much to do with it. Some of my partners have been older. Dh is 8 years younger than me.

Above all, enjoy dating. Its should be fun. And if you don't get the butterflies and want to jump them every time you see them in the first 6-8 months then I'd question it. You want the sparks so when things are hard you can remember them and smile. That's the love that gets you through.

Fairylea Wed 11-Sep-13 09:32:37

Finally feel happy ... not financially feel happy but yes that too !

Fairylea Wed 11-Sep-13 09:32:55

Finally feel happy ... not financially feel happy but yes that too !

Bumpstarter Wed 11-Sep-13 14:35:16

Thank you, fairy lea, for sharing.

Lastgasp Thu 07-Nov-13 21:40:28

An update:

Based on the useful advice on this thread, and talking with friends, I ended it with my BF. But I then realised I was much sadder about this then I expected, and we ended up see each other again, and before you know it we're back to how it was. So now I'm confused, because I do have feelings for him and I love him too much just to walk away, but I still can't imagine a future here.

I don't know if I'm struggling to deal with a new type of relationship, or I'm just reverting to what's comfortable and easy. I've always turned down the nice, loving guys in the past - and then watched them settle down with someone else and make wonderful partners. My preference has always been for hyper-ambitious, very intelligent, and frankly selfish people. My current BF is just normal, but makes me feel happy and secure in a way relationships haven't before. I just don't know what to do. Maybe I'm settling, or maybe I'm just realising I don't want what I think I want?

MadBusLady Thu 07-Nov-13 22:48:22

How long were you split up for? It can't have been long, looking at the dates of the thread. Did you do a lot of going out, concentrating on work/friends etc? It is of course sad when relationships end; that doesn't mean it wasn't the right decision, and it would be all the sadder if you didn't take active steps to fill the gap with something else.

I don't know whether you realise but with your last para you are definitely inviting the "nice, normal guys are better, it's not settling, it's growing up" type advice. I'm not sure I want to give that. Yes, maybe you are about to turn a corner and suddenly see how this man is going to work for you. But it didn't happen in a blinding flash, either when you split up or when you got back together again. So you are, as you say, back to how it was.

What if there could be a hyper-ambitious, very intelligent man who was also nice and made you feel happy and secure?

Pinkpinot Thu 07-Nov-13 23:34:28

I'd just tell my 30 year old self to get to a clinic, get some eggs frozen, forget about men completely and find a donor

At 30 I actually wish I'd thought more about finding someone, wish I'd noticed a few more signs, paid attention to who was paying attention to me, given a few more guys a chance
Instead of settling at 37 and fucking it all up, and now it's too late

Lastgasp Fri 08-Nov-13 08:58:39

Pinkpinot I'm sorry you've been through that.

MadBusLady if that man existed I would be smitten, but I've not met him yet, or at least not who's interested in me.

We weren't split up for very long, 3 weeks tops. But it was a busy time at work and I did see lots of friends etc so I wasn't sitting at home moping and watching Bridget Jones. But it's possible I just didn't give myself time to break the habit of him. But you're right in the phrasing, maybe I am challenging people to congratulate me for growing up but secretly hoping people give me a kick up the arse. I'm not sure I put much stock in blinding flashes though, I think slow realisations tend to be more stable.

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