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Married By 30... Or Bust!

A love-life timeline is haunting many young women. Go easy on yourself! Take this advice.

Something happens to a lot of women when they hit their mid-20s: Panic sets in. It feels a bit like you`ve climbed aboard a runaway train and it`s barrelling right through your life. Suddenly, there`s an urgent need for things to fall into place – career, home and of course love. And then when your friends start to find that special guy but he`s taking his time showing up in your world, that panic takes an even stronger hold. Your married-by-30, kids-soon-after plan isn`t working out.

Okay, yes, it`s completely natural to want to be with a great man, but hyperventilating over why he`s missing in action isn`t going to drop him on your doorstep tomorrow. `You can`t enjoy life`s pleasures when you put so much pressure on finding The one, because you`ll become completely consumed by it`, says Doree Lewak, author of the upcoming book, The Panic Years. Here`s how to chill out about finding Mr. Future Father of My Children …and putting your love life on a schedule.

Just trust that you will meet someone
Perhaps you`re already feeling miserable because there is no potential partner in the picture and you`ve brainwashed yourself into thinking that you`ll wind up solo at dinner parties. Here`s a reason your odds look good: You`re a pretty cool woman. `If you have friends, take it to mean you`re a likeable, sociable person,` says Terri Orbuch, director of The University of Michigan’s Early Years of Marriage Project. `Once you can have faith in the fact that you`ll eventually meet someone – today, tomorrow, next month, whenever – you`ll naturally loosen up,` says Orbuch. `And guess what? That relaxed attitude is precisely what attracts guys.` Men don`t really like the desperate thing, but they love a girl who`s comfortable with herself.

But you still need to get out there
Now that some of the weight has been lifted, be active in your quest to meet someone with whom you`ll really be happy. To be clear, active means going out a lot, saying yes to invites, and actually having fun doing all kinds of stuff. It doesn`t mean putting on blinkers and zeroing in only on potential mates. The point is that you`re taking control, which always feels good, and putting yourself in the path of possibility. The point is also that you eke out the most enjoyment from your situation right now. Think: I`ll go to that networking event because it will be interesting, I`ll learn something, I`m single and I have a free Thursday night to do it. And, hey, if I hit it off with someone, great; if not, I`ve had a nice evening.
And when you do meet a guy, ditch the `Is he The One?` mind-set. `When you put so much stress on whether or not he`s the right man or if you have a future together, you end up sucking the fun out of the moment,` says Orbuch. It may seem too Shirley Temple, but ideally, you should try to have a good time with every new guy. So what if he`s not your soul mate? You`ll work that out, but along the way, why not appreciate his quirky sense of humour or the new foods he`s introduced you to? Hey, you can always feign interest in his chit chat and check out the hottie at the next table.

Fight off those panic relapses
Even with your newfound autonomy, little freak-outs are bound to resurface. Maybe another friend got engaged or the initial fireworks with a new guy faded. `It`s normal for these single-forever worries to crop up, but it`s important to assertively not let them overwhelm you,` says Elson. Find a trick to stop the negative thoughts. `Literally pinch yourself,` suggests Orbuch. `It snaps you out of your head.` Getting down on yourself is such a waste of time.

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