Bombarded by fertility facts and figures, women are increasingly obsessed with the tick tock of their biological clock, with the desire to find ‘Mr Happy Ever After’ feeling all-consuming. And movie’s like The Back-up Plan starring Jennifer Lopez and the delicious Alex O’Loughlin don’t help with the unrealistic expectations of love.
“Trying to find the perfect partner, who meets all of your ideas, can lead you to missing out on prospects who would make a very good partner,” says Dr Gian Gonzaga, relationship scientist at eHarmony.co.uk, “Conversely, settling for someone who doesn’t even have all the things you need in a partner, just to start a family, can lead to a very unhappy marriage.”
According to Dr Gonzaga, who studies thousands of singles and couples at the eHarmony Labs in California, much of the energy going in to finding Mr or Mrs Happy Ever After is being channelled in the wrong direction, leading those who crave to settle down and build a family never managing to meet the right person to share their life with.
Dr Gonzaga’s research has resulted in five key learnings that singles can apply to ensure that they meet the right person to build a life and a family with:
- Be careful who you look for. A serious partner needs to share your values, and life plans. It’s important for both men and women to avoid the types of people who seem to have a roving eye, who prioritise a lot else in their life before you, or who seem to be heading in a totally different direction to you. It’s best to avoid even dating people who aren’t remotely ready or able to commit if you’re thinking seriously about marriage and babies in the near future.
- As well as a ticking clock, chemistry can also cloud your judgement. There’s no denying chemistry is an important factor in deciding on a potential mate, after all we have to be attracted to someone to want to have their children, but try to look beyond that initial ‘zing’ and ascertain whether you share the same long term values in life. Looks don’t last – but shared interest and values make for a solid potential partnership.
- If you’re single and already on the dating scene, it helps to become a savvy dater and learn how to recognise the signs of a relationship that is casual, or not likely to lead to anything serious. You need to be in a relationship where both parties are investing equal amounts of time and energy, as this is when it could be time to commit to a relationship that could be the start of something serious.
- When dating a new person, or considering dating them, think carefully about your compatibility and make sure you know whether they share the same ‘must-haves ‘ when it comes to children as you. For example, does this person really want children in the future? Do you have a similar outlook on how a child will fit into your lives? Having a similar attitude to child-rearing is one of the most fundamental areas of compatibility.
- Finally, take a step back and relax. Young people, particularly women, often put pressure on themselves to meet certain deadlines in life – for example, marriage at 30, or babies by 32. These timelines are often only imposed by society, or peer pressure, and are not worth being restricted by, as it’s impossible to control every factor in life and the best things can happen at the most unexpected times.