Our 20s and 30s can be an interesting period of our lives, there’s a lot we feel we need to accomplish during this time. The quarter-life-to-do list might sound like finding your passions, figuring out your career path, making new friends, moving out, being happy, saving money, finding yourself, settling down and starting a family. The pressure to be in a relationship seems to top the list. That’s a lot to do in a short space of time, which is why so many women feel pressure to get it all done by a certain age. You might have ticked off most of the accomplishments on the list, except the part where you settle down and start a family.
But your loved ones can make you feel like these are the two most important priorities, and you haven’t achieved much without them. Navigate the pressure to be in a relationship with Dr. Lurve below!
It comes down to tradition for women. There is an expectation from society and our loved ones alike to find a suitable partner, marry and bear several children. Since the dawn of time, it’s how women measure their achievements in life. While still a path most women are on today, more of us are starting to push back at the traditions and take on both family and career, or putting careers over starting a family altogether.
What can be frustrating for women who are going against tradition is how much they need to explain themselves to others; having to constantly justify why you are single or not ready to have kids can be exhausting.
It can be especially hard for your family to accept you won’t be having kids or settling down anytime soon as this tells them you don’t want to help in extending the family tree. Your parents have expectations for you from when you were born, and one of those is giving them grandbabies, so this can be a touchy subject for them if they can’t accept your decision to wait or not have kids at all.
When it comes to friends, there are pressures that are more silent than those from the family, this can be as simple and unintentional as your friends getting married and having kids. While you’re happy for them, there will inevitably be a shift in your friendship due to this big change in their lives – you may start to feel left-out or disinterested in certain conversations.
Your friends move into husband/wife and mum/dad roles, and you don’t quite understand what they are going through on a daily basis anymore. They make new friends with married couples or parents who are in the same boat as them, leaving you feeling an outcast if you are single, or in a relationship with no kids.
There’s no doubt you’ll endure questioning by strangers, acquaintances, family, and friends. It will be annoying to repeat yourself and justify your decisions, but having a solid stance on your reasons will give people less room to try to persuade you otherwise.
Knowing your reasons and assuring yourself is your best defense. Write down your reasons and what you would have to sacrifice if you were to settle down or have kids. Write about where your time and energy will go to instead, and if being childfree isn’t in your control, focus on the positive aspects of the situation.
While having reasons and knowing them is a great way to get people off your case, remember it’s also none of their business how you choose to live your life. No one but yourself is going to dictate how you should spend your time, so if you’re in a situation where you feel pressured or judged, handle it with grace.
If you don’t want to discuss the issue with your family or friends, let them know you are uncomfortable. If you want to speak on the topic however, you need to be assertive in your tone and state your feelings without hesitation. Not only will you be taken seriously, those questioning you will respect your stance and move onto another topic.
We can’t do it all in life, and women are starting to realize there are aspects of life that can be just as fulfilling as having kids or settling down with a partner. Great friendships, amazing sex, trips overseas, experiencing cultures, making career moves, reading for pleasure, and putting yourself first are just a few.
Find people that live a similar lifestyle to you who won’t constantly ask questions about your non-existent partner or babies. Be around those who support your decisions and want to talk about important issues in your life—like complaining about work or the new Pilates instructor—over a bottle of wine and cheap takeout.
While you’re here, check out Dr.Lurve’s insider tips on how to make the best out of your Valentine’s Day if you’re single.