At 43, I Feel Like I’m Running Out of Time to Have a Child

Hi. I'm a 43-year-old, professional woman, and I've spent my entire adult life to this point getting ahead in my career. I am at a very stable place financially, and I have been trying for a couple of years to find Mr. Right, settle down, and have a family. I'm feeling my biological clock ticking with more intensity every day, and the pressure this creates seems to drive me toward mainly "wrong" men while driving the few potentially "right" ones away. I try not to bring it up too early in the dating process or seem desperate, but I lose patience faster than I once did and eventually I feel compelled to cut bait simply because of the time factor. I'm just flat running out of time! I want to be able to have at least one healthy child, and with each day that passes, this becomes less and less realistic. I'm terrified that I will not have the family I've worked so hard to be able to provide for, but I don't know how to attract the kind of man who is willing to make a commitment quickly enough to sustain my dream. Any advice? —Tick Tock
Dear Tick Tock,

You are not alone in your dilemma, and it is a tough one. You’ve prepared yourself and created the kind of life you want for your future family. Unfortunately, “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t really work when it comes to finding a partner and having children.

In my work with couples, particularly couples who have recently become parents, I see how difficult it is for many of them to maintain a solid partner relationship while attending to their new parenting duties. This is exponentially more difficult for couples who do not have a solid foundation to their relationship. I hear your very real fears, and generally, when we are driven by fear we don’t always make the best choices. If you rush into a commitment with someone so that you can have a child by a specific deadline, you risk overlooking some incompatibilities that may be problematic in the future.

You are right, however, that time is a factor, and I am wondering if you’ve considered alternatives to your original dream of finding a great partner and starting a family together. One of the biggest challenges of your dream is that you don’t really have control over how it works out. You can’t simply will the right guy into existence, you can’t ensure that he will be the kind of partner and co-parent you want, and you can’t guarantee that you will be able to conceive a healthy child together in the right amount of time.

With so many things out of your control, it would be natural to feel helpless, frustrated, anxious, and stressed—not a great frame of mind for dating. It might be helpful to open yourself up to some alternative plans. Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, would you consider, for example, waiting for the right partner and adopting or fostering if your childbearing “window” had passed? Would you consider having a child by yourself and on your own timeline? What options would you consider? What elements can you let go of?

Having alternative plans that you can live with can relieve some of the pressure you are feeling and, very likely, the men you are dating may be feeling as well. By all means, keep pursuing your original dream, but knowing that you have alternative plans that work for you might help you relax. Incidentally, chances are much greater that you will attract the kind of man you want when you are relaxed and content rather than stressed and anxious.

To really open yourself up to alternatives, however, you may need to take some time to process and accept that your original dream might not come true. There is a grieving process involved in this that can be painful but ultimately freeing. You don’t have to do it alone. You can get support from friends and family, or work with a therapist to come to terms with the very real loss that comes from letting go of the vision of the life you expected to lead. It can be a difficult but powerful process. Mourning the loss of a future you hoped to have can ultimately lead you to a place of being able to accept and embrace the future you will have.

Best of luck!

Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
  • Leave a Comment

    April 19th, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    Jumping into a relationship because you want children is not a good idea.take time to let the relationship is not easy but let go of the thoughts of having a child when you are dating someone.then your judgement is not clouded by that want of child(ren).you can then choose the right partner.that is far more important.because whether you have a child of your own,or adopt one,your partner is the one you are going to co-parent with and it is him who you are going to be spending the rest of your life wouldn’t want to choose the wrong man in a hurry and then please please take time to find the right person,it is worth it.

  • Bess

    April 20th, 2013 at 5:32 AM

    I sympathize with the writer of the letter a great deal because I waited until I was older to both get married and have children and sometimes it’s like I could just hear that clock ticking away.

    I had to deal with a mother who was constantly harping about it and eventually I stopped even talking to her or anyone about it. I was lucky in that my husband wanted children quickly too so that all worked out for us and we had no real problems with getting pregnant and having our children. But you do have some valid concerns and I wish you the very best.

  • Naomi

    April 20th, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    This is a tough struggle, especially for women since biologically the timeline is shorter for our ability to have children. I think in life it is important to maintain flexibility as of to what things look like. There are at least a dozen alternative scenarios I can think of for this woman, ultimately she needs to decide what is most important to her. If having a biological child is an extremely important life goal, have a child. Having a partner does make raising a child easier but not if you just rush in to it with someone who ends up causing more stress than support.

  • susan

    April 20th, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    no expert here but be strong and don’t lose heart.Mr.Right will come along and you will still hopefully be able to have all that you have dreamt of.all the best.losin heart is not a solution.if anything it may cloud your judgement.take care.

  • Gardiner

    April 22nd, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    I would suggest that you not give up but also that you not forget that adoption could also be an option for you too.

    Don’t presume that since you are getting older that this could never happen for you; it can, it just might be a little differently than you once envisioned.

    There are always options out there for people who want to have a child but may not be able to conceive on their own.

    Keep the faith, and stay strong, because it can always happen for you.

  • eric

    April 22nd, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    maybe you should get those newer techniques of something like a sperm bank, but for women. u could be more relaxed due to that and have peace to find the partner you deserve. I know how they say u gotta hurry but really there is nothing worse than running into a relationship and then have it all backfire.

  • KimD

    April 23rd, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    there are loads of women now having children well into their 40s! you have time girl, don’t sweat it!

  • Maria

    March 20th, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Many women worry about their biological clock, especially when Mr Right is nowhere in sight. The pressure of a “ticking clock” isn’t something you need to add to your stress list! Egg freezing is becoming increasingly popular and more widely available to single women. Cryopreservation (Egg freezing) technology and success rates have significantly improved, and more cost reduction options are available. Women can now preserve their fertility and find Mr. Right without the stress and the time pressure.

    Do you need more information on egg freezing and egg freezing costs? Visit FertilityAuthority’s website:!

  • Jamie

    October 6th, 2016 at 4:52 AM

    Perhaps the answer is to get pregnant through the use of a sperm donor, then try to find the husband afterward. I don’t think at 43 there is too much time left to waste.

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