When you woke up this morning, you could feel the world-weary ache of time passing in your bones, and you rolled over and listened to the tick, tick, tick of your alarm clock as you waited for your snooze time to be up. As the hands ticked over you internalised the insistent beat, taking it into your chest cavity, holding it close to your heart, filling the space in your ears.
You’re not getting any younger, it whispered into your ageing ear canal.
You close your eyes and think about how much more salt there’s been in your salt and pepper beard lately. Soon you’ll have to go back to clean shaven, or risk looking over the hill.
But what’s worrying you more is the way the lines around your eyes and the weathered appearance of your hands is marking you out as inferior stock. Soon women at your local bar are going to start passing over your witty approaches for those of younger, more virile men. And you can’t blame them. Your body isn’t what it once was.
There might be some men, like Mick Jagger, who are able to pull off parenthood as a grandpa, but he’s the exception. You’ve got to face facts, you’re not getting any younger. If you don’t settle down soon and have children, will your life even have amounted to anything?
If you don’t play your cards right, you may even have to settle for a woman you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.
After all, your biological clock doesn’t just affect your romantic prospects, it can also cause trouble for your career.
Once you hit your early 30s, you may notice you are being passed over for promotion, or not getting called back for job interviews even though you know you impressed the recruiter.
So it’s a good idea to make it clear to your boss or prospective employer that your biological clock and paternal drive to reproduce isn’t going to get in the way of your work ethic.
So, what to do once you hit that late-20s danger zone where women will begin to worry you’re trying to trap them in a relationship so you can procreate? Here are some tips to stay cool and collected in the face of your own mortality.
Take care of yourself
This is so important. No one wants to date a man who has given up. If you don’t love yourself first, how will anyone else? Pay attention to what you’re eating, and how much you’re drinking. And don’t forget to moisturise every single day. There’s no easier way to tell you’re getting old than counting the lines on your face.
Don’t be so picky
So, your date may not be everything you’d hoped for, but if she’s nice and she has a good job, don’t give up on her just because you’re not “feeling it”. Older men can’t afford to be too fussy – if you don’t try to build a connection with any woman who wants you, you can’t then complain when you end up a lonely bachelor at 35.
Be honest about what you want
Women appreciate it if you’re upfront with them. They know your clock is ticking and they are going to expect that you want to settle down with them as soon as possible. Don’t pretend that’s not true, or that you just want to take things slow. Women know you aren’t biologically capable of playing it cool or just wanting something casual, so there’s no point pretending you are.
Dress for the job you want
You might have heard this one before in the office, but it applies to your love life too. Don’t get a cat and spend your weekends binge-watching Netflix and browsing Tinder if what you really want is a wife and children. Get out there – the sooner the better. And while you’re nursing a prosecco at the bar remember to always be open to approaches. No matter how many times you’ve heard that line before.
Don’t worry, you don’t need a baby to be complete. Men can live full and happy lives without having children. Who cares what society thinks? Really all that matters is you are happy, and you can do that without procreating.
Just kidding! Of course you can’t. But if you follow our advice you’ll hopefully be fine.
Sarah-Jane Collins is a writer and editor who lives in New York. Twitter: @sarahjanenotes