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I recently met another SIW, this one in her mid-40s. Yesterday she shared her story with me, an all too typical one. She was engaged at 22, but her mother advised her to break it off, “not marry until you are at least 30.” So she did that, went to college, built a high flying career at a well known tech start up you likely use everyday, was paid very well and got some gravy train stock options to boot, bought her own place, travelled the world, and told herself, “I can do it myself! I don’t need a man!”

Except about a year ago she started to have major regrets. She started to have panic attacks just thinking about her job, and decided to quit that and spend a year “finding herself.” She’s luckily in the financial position to do so, and yet a year later she’s still aimless and wondering what direction her life will take now.

She’s slim, active, attractive. She’s got lots of cool interests and hobbies. I don’t know her well enough to know how much she’s dated, or how long her relationships have lasted but she doesn’t speak of anyone in the recent past.

I wonder if like I once did, she goes on dates and talks about her career and her travel and her education rather than what the guys in the manosphere clued me into what men really want to hear — about how she loves kids, is a great cook, and all the other feminine/wifely qualities she has to offer? Because of course, women are taught those things don’t matter to men, when clearly from men themselves, they do. And that when she talks about her career, travel, and accomplishments, what he hears is, “I am not ready/wanting to settle down.”

She’s got two canine “fur babies” but admits she’d much rather have a husband and real babies. But what her mom didn’t tell her at the time was she would miss the maximum MMV (marriage market value) window. By the time she was ready to marry, no prince charming was to be found. The commitment minded guys were long ago taken. And the men her age who were single either have long since given up on gals and gone MTGOW or have been through the divorce wringer already and aren’t willing to go down that path again.

At 46, the likelihood of a successful pregnancy is slim and despite ernestly looking (she says, although I wonder if she’s looking in the right places and at the great guys so often overlooked in favor of the flashier PUAs) she has yet to meet a long-term mate. She seems to suffer from the common fallacy that the guys she could date short term (her SMV or sexual market value) were the same she could expect to marry. So like many women who have followed her path, she finds the guys who likely would be interested in marriage too “boring.”

I wonder if someone had told her that she was choosing a fork in the road back then, if she would have taken the same path? I wonder if her mom realizes how the advice she gave her daughter long ago was going to lead to no grandchildren and a possible spinster daughter? I wonder if her mom would give her the same advice then, knowing where it has led now?

I am not saying she has not had a quality life or that she has not accomplished anything. Clearly she has. She’s smart, funny, and a really neat person. And like most women of my generation, she was following the supposed “best path” for a woman. But like many women find at about her age, you can’t grow old with a career. Your job probably won’t be as satisfying as a family who loves and cares for you. If family is truly the path a woman desires, she is best to seek it early in life, not wait until the window of opportunity is rapidly closing, like the fabled grasshopper. In ten years she’ll likely find the tech job market has moved on without her, and that what came easily in youth may not later in life. And that those who told her, “you can have it all, you go gurrrrrl, there will always be time for that later!” were actually selling her an experimental, unproven product.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, realizing that one can’t have it all on demand. And that there might not be any going back. But one may not want to go forward, either. I hope she finds her way, despite the odds. I really do.

Let those who have ears hear.