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Marriage Can Wait

Why One Man Put His Career Before Love

Most of the articles we've seen on the work/love balancing act have been written about women. This piece provides a story less often told — when a man decides to forgo romance in order to pursue his career passion. —Glo

By John Bowe for YourTango

When I was eight years old, I decided to be a writer. Like most people, somewhere around high school I inherited the notion that, at some point, I would get married and have kids.

I'm 45 now. I've written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, GQ, and lots of others. I've written extensively about social justice issues and won big journalism and human rights prizes. I have a slowly filling shelf of books‚ and one movie‚ with my name on them. But I'm not married.

When I got serious about relationships in my twenties, I realized that dating‚ for me‚ wasn't just a pleasant way to pass the time; it was a dress rehearsal for mating and child-rearing. After two to three failed relationships, I was forced to admit that the whole road to mating (for me, anyway) felt like a dead end. I began to feel like it was bad faith or false advertising to have fun with someone, get to know them, sleep with them, and get them addicted to my boundless charms (kidding!) only to reveal the deeper reality that, unlike most men in most careers, I had chosen one that might not ever pay a living wage.

Perhaps I could have found someone wealthy, or someone happy to wait for years while I figured out the writing thing; but that never happened, nor did it occur to me to seek that out. I didn't want a partner who would, over time, pressure me to change my career goals; nor did I trust myself not to eventually pressure myself to change course in order to have kids with someone, thereby feeling bad for sticking with a dream I'd worked towards for so many years. And so I stepped out of the dating queue.

For years, I paid a price for my decision. Close friends nagged me: "What's your problem? You're afraid of intimacy!" What could I say? Yeah, I guess I am! Because intimacy is what you do in a relationship; and relationships are what you do when you want to have a family; and families cost money. It certainly wasn't fun to spend an extra decade or more watching couples I know bundling up their kids and cars and heading off for long weekends together while, generally, I'd be alone, or hanging out with other single people, worriedly growing older.

But now? The wait is over. I'm solvent, ready, and as mate-able as I'll ever be. My life is really fun now. I get to do work I love, and I work with people I adore, who continually spark my creativity. How much more fun will it be to come home to who I am now, rather than the person I would have been, had I heeded society's advice and given up my dream to join the herd?

If I'd listened to the people who told me I need to live their way, I'd be making someone awfully unhappy right about now. As it is, I can't wait to entertain the future Ms. Bowe‚ while helping to support our family.

There's no doubt in my mind that my life would have been vastly more comfortable if I'd been able to do it all. But isn't that what maturity is all about — accepting the fact that very few of us get it all?

If you had to pick your career or your love life, what would you choose?


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  • Would you put love on hold to follow your creative dreams?

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Marriage Can Wait
Why One Man Put His Career Before Love
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