Getting back into the dating game is always tricky. But the pressure is heightened when you have reached a certain time in your life. It’s all proposals, weddings and babies and I’m still struggling to decide whether to pop olives on my salad for lunch or not.

I’m soon to turn 26, single and working abroad, being in different countries every 6 months. My dating life is looking bleak. The people I see regularly and could potentially date have either just entered adulthood or are in relationships, and even then 6 months down the line, I’ll probably be working in a completely different place, with a new set of people.

Reaching, dare I say it, beyond the mid twenties, the dating game turns up the heat. No longer are people looking to just have a girlfriend and companionship and end it at that. They are looking for life partners, wives, and mothers of their children.

But what if you don’t want any of that? I made the decision quite young that children were not for me, and everyone used to comment that I’d grow out of it, that it’s different when you have your own. However, that decision has stuck.

The same goes for marriage. Most girls spend their childhoods dreaming of the biggest day of their lives, walking down the aisle in a white dress and meeting their Prince Charming at the end. That thought has never entered my musings.

I worry that both of these decisions will make me a real life Bridget Jones, and the older I get, the more people will feel sorry for poor old me, the spinster with no offspring!

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So how long should you wait to tell a new love interest what you want from life? Is it rude to reel off all your relationship standards on the first date? But if you wait a few months, and find out your tick lists don’t match, is that wasting a person’s valuable dating time?

It seems like modern dating is split into two categories, one being casual sex and the other being love of your life. Where is the middle ground? Whatever happened to just spending time with someone you really like? To enjoying getting to know someone on another level, having great sex and just experiencing life and companionship together?

Society puts such pressure on labelling your relationships. And if yours doesn’t seem to fit the norm, you’re seen as a love weirdo. Who says after so many years you have to live together? That there is a timer to putting a ring on your finger? That as soon as you’re married, you must have children? Yet if you don’t live your love life so linearly, society seems to think you’re doing it all wrong.

It’s not like I don’t want to settle down. I’d love to spend the next chapter of my life with one person. To love someone and have that love reciprocated. But in life you should never have to compromise, especially on such a big life choice. So should I just wear a t-shirt stating marriage and children are off the radar and be done with it? Or is having made a decision that is so black and white stopping me from finding my one great love?

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Image: Shutterstock

Elle works as a freelance singer, travelling the world performing on cruise ships and in hotels. Find her on Facebook or check out more about her writing on her website.

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