…is the question I’m often faced with whenever the topic of conversation makes an inevitable turn towards how I’m liking this foreign city and how long I plan to stay, which is when I bring up dating and wanting to start a family, career development, financials and buying property, even early retirement; just general “planning for the future” type of stuff.
Many friends and acquaintances, who are mostly the same age or older than I am, in the range of 28 to 35, tend to then give me a look of scorn and/or confusion. “That sounds like stuff you think of when you’re above 30, maybe as you’re about to reach 40 or more. Why is this person even thinking about this now? Are they joking? Are they actually nuts? Not very cool or fun to think about any of these things, this person must be a weirdo” is what probably goes through their head.
Can you even count to five?
If you take a deeper look at the details (which many people don’t), instead of making sweeping, naive statements (which many people do) like “you’re still young, just live life!” and “it’ll happen when it happens!” in an attempt to console both yourself and the other party, there’s a logical explanation behind my way of thinking.
Let’s take a real-world example that’s not remotely far-fetched from reality. Say you’d like to eventually live the white picket fence dream (21st century edition) of owning a house, with two cars parked in the driveway, a wife, and at least one kid. You’re looking at two-and-a-half serialized processes here: financial planning (and by extension, career development) and romantic life.
Quick tip: Serial processes are things you cannot do concurrently and must instead be done in order. In other words, there are prerequisite(s) at each step before you’re able to move on to the next one.
Scoping into the latter, let’s say you’re 28, single and currently not seeing anyone, and looking to start a family. Here’s what that path can look like under in a very idealistic scenario:
- 1 year of scouting out long-term dating material, which is probably closer to “best case scenario” than average. This considers working a 9-to-6 job as an employee and having a free time balance of roughly 45 hours a week to pack in your hobbies, chores, socializing (includes friends and professional networking), brain dead windows (when you’re watching TV or surfing the web doing absolutely nothing)
- 2 years of getting to know that person, which includes but is not limited to going out, becoming intimate and moving in with them. I think it’s an average number that’s not too long nor too short. Assuming this works out, you can then take it to the next level through marriage (whether civil or common law, that’s still the word used to describe this). Common law marriage is when two people decide to partner with each other and live together doing married people things, without officially registering.
- 2 years till your first child: 1+ year perhaps of enjoying life more (that’s what people these days are into, right?), together, before deciding to have a kid, which takes the remaining part of the 2 year period.
You’re looking at a FIVE YEAR timeline here under optimal circumstances – i.e., you find this person you’re compatible with and everything works out. That means you’ll be 33 by the time you have your first kid. That’s fine, but if you don’t initially succeed somewhere along that line, you’re going to have to start over (again, none of the items in the list above can be done in parallel), you can add another year, another two years, or five to the process.
Applied to my situation
Applying that to my specific case:
- I currently live in Germany where I am not only at a racial but also inherent linguistic disadvantage. Staying on track for the example here: I’ve had more of a dating life in a three-day weekend if I “go back where I came from” in Asia than the 3+ years I’ve been living in Europe (more on this some other time).
- As a result of my fairly recent data-backed findings, I’m realizing more than ever that I will probably have to move back to get a fair(er) chance at dating in order to even get into a relationship.
- Since I’m not one of “those people” who can simply pack up and leave places at will, because I actually care about my career development, financials, and other factors that will affect me in the long-run based on what I do today, it will be at least another 1.5 to 2 years before I actually can move back.
In the best case scenario, I’m looking at starting a family at age 35, if not older.
Of course, 35 isn’t that old, people will argue. And maybe it’s not, maybe 35 is indeed, for most part, the new 25. But nothing will ever change human biology and the fact remains reproduction quality decreases and risks increase for the potential child as people (both men and women) age. That degradation starts at 30 and still “isn’t so bad” at 35, but I would much rather be having children closer to the number 30 than 40.
I think that’s pretty much it for now – this is a pretty broad topic so this might be the first in a series detailing why thinking ahead while you’re still under 30 isn’t such an insane idea but, in fact, a very practical practice. One which too many young people these days brush off because they want to “live the moment” or whatever it is excuse they make for themselves now that they proceed to regret later on in life.