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Ask Sharleen: My BF is 28 but I'm 35; Time for Action?

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist, Bachelor alum and all-around cool girl—answers your love queries. This month: how to deal with a ticking biological clock and a younger BF

Sharleen Joynt Flare

(Illustration: Spiros Halaris)

The Baby Show
I’m with someone I really love. We’ve been together for a year and a half, and I want to marry him and have babies with him, and he says the same about me. Thing is: I’m 35 and he’s 28, so there’s a dark part of me that doesn’t quite believe him. I’m like, “He could literally f-ck around for the next 10 years with impunity, beholden to no biological clock! Why would he want to settle down now with someone who needs to get the baby show on the road, pronto?” That fear, combined with the fact that he’s a musician and seemingly swarmed by pretty 20-somethings as an occupational perk, makes me highly insecure and—gah!—jealous. I’ve never really been the jealous type, so this is new for me. It’s exhausting and causes tension between us. Rationally, I know I have a lot to offer, yet I find myself fixated on the fear that he’ll suddenly dump me for someone his own age or younger. What’s the solution here? Learn to love myself so hard that all those cool girls, with their tattoos, killer metabolisms and decades of biological viability ahead of them, don’t bother me?

SHARLEEN: You mention a part of you that doesn’t believe him when he says he wants to settle down. You may call that part of you “dark,” but it may also be your intuition. I tend to be a skeptic, too, but when a relationship is genuinely right, it should be so much so that there’s no doubt in your mind. First, listen to yourself; a healthy relationship should make you feel safe, not constantly worried about your man running off with someone younger. Ask yourself what it is that he’s not providing you with that leaves you in this state of worry. Second, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. You’re caught up in feeling jealous and threatened, but even if your man weren’t a musician constantly surrounded by younger women, that wouldn’t change what you’re truly insecure about: the age difference.

I’m going to be brutally honest, because time is precious. I’ve mentioned before in this column about the difference between showing and telling. A man may tell you every minute of every day how much he loves you, and wants to marry and make babies with you. But until he agrees to set a date and/or officially start trying to make babies…talk is cheap. I know, it’s been 18 months; it hasn’t been forever. However, if you’re 35 and starting a family is a priority, 18 months is plenty of time to know. What’s he waiting for? I generally believe age is just a number; your man being 28 probably makes zero difference in terms of your compatibility. But that difference may surface when it comes to where you are in life right now. Being 28 and male, he very possibly doesn’t feel the urgency you do to tie the knot and begin procreating.

I’m sorry to say you’re left with dismal options here. Very rarely do I believe in ultimatums, but it may be the only way to get an answer—any answer—and fast. Practically speaking, as you yourself said, there is a biological clock to consider. Your heart may love this man, but your head knows you have five years before things could get complicated. (Yes, some women in their 40s get pregnant effortlessly, but they are the exception.) Perhaps he is indeed The One and just needs you to spark a fire under his ass. If that’s the case, congratulations. But if he isn’t, you must prepare yourself for one of two scenarios. He’ll balk, which will hurt now but be a gift in the long run. (I promise!) Or, he’ll tell you plenty but show you nothing. He may get defensive and call what you’re doing manipulative. Don’t be fooled. Those are just more words as opposed to actions, and they will ultimately waste your time. Don’t let them. This is a critical period in your life. Don’t be afraid to be selfish, and keep your blinders off. Remember: if he can’t live without you, he won’t.

More from Sharleen Joynt:
When Does Sharing Become TMIMy Friend is a Train Wreck, Should I Stop Her?
When Should I Stop Making the Next Move?
My BF Is a Heavy Pot-Smoker, Should I Leave Him?
How Do I Get Back in the Dating Game After Years?
Dating Rich and Ditching the Friend Zone
Why Is My BF Icing Me Out on Social?