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Do you have to forgo a career to have a real relationship?

There was a man who once said you can’t have a successful relationship and family life with two career-minded people. As women, we often like to have our cake and eat it too. Sadly, the universe isn’t always on our side, especially when it pairs the ambitious and the stubborn together. So, can it work?

businesswoman kissing her husband

In this day and age, we can choose to have both a career and a relationship, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It will come down to how hard you’re willing to fight for both, one or the other.

As careers advance, opportunities become available that might have a negative impact on a relationship. Some people are able to balance a career and a relationship effortlessly, and some are not. And with the average age for a woman to marry hitting 30 last year, the pressure is almost off.

People are going to judge you no matter which path you choose — if you choose. Some will say to pick the career you’ve worked toward your entire life and others will say, “Yes, pass up an opportunity for romance. Love is the ultimate goal.”

Forget those reactions, pour yourself a glass of red wine and ask yourself, “Do I have to choose?”

Importance is in the eye of the beholder

Everything in this world is meaningless until we attach ourselves and our hearts to it. Our ambitions can be put toward whatever has our hearts. If your heart is with a career, you can become incredibly successful. If your heart ends up with a man, give him everything you have. As long as it’s what is important to you, you won’t regret a thing. Neither option is shallow, typical, meaningless or boring — importance is within us. If your heart is in both, you’ll fight for both.

What our editors are saying

“In today’s society, it’s possible and acceptable for women to have both a career and a family. I’m sure a lot of times working women feel judged for being away from their kids all day, but I think it nurtures strong, independent kids who learn to cope, share, make friends and listen to authority. [Women] only have to choose one or the other if they don’t want to put forth the effort to make both work.” — Christina Haller, Food and Travel Editor

“I think you have to have that work/life balance. People who are 100-percent defined by their careers don’t seem as happy to me. I’ve always been the type that has loved what I do for a living, but [I] also make time/priorities for family and friends outside of work.” — Ashley Mullins, Senior Director of Business Development

“The choice isn’t about family life or a successful career — the choice is happiness and knowing what you need as a woman to be a good person, a good mom and good at your job. The choice is that there are days when you wear the mommy hat and days when you wear the successful career hat, days when you wear both and days when you won’t want to wear either. But you adjust and you figure it out and you can do it — with the right resources and support, the right attitude and perspective. Having the realistic expectations and giving yourself freedom and flexibility, [allows you to] then you do both and make it work.” — Crystal Patriarche, Editor in Chief

No one is saying that you have to choose, but you may find yourself in a situation that makes maintaining both difficult. Chances are, if you love someone enough, you can make it work. Whether you choose one, both or the other, here are some pros and cons to either end of the spectrum.

Why choose love

It can be a lifetime

If it’s true love, it can last a lifetime. Unless you’re Anna Wintour or Oprah, younger candidates are always going to enter the workforce and possibly steal your thunder. Even if your corner office seat is guaranteed, what happens once you retire? What do you have at the end of it all — money, status and self-fulfillment? Is that enough?

Love gives back

A career can’t give you a family in the traditional sense. If you choose love and family for the right reasons, it will be the best decision you have ever made. When you’re looking back on your life in your 70s or 80s, you’ll know that you made the right choice.

He’s the one

“I’ve been dating since I was 15. Where is he?” – Charlotte from Sex and the City

If you’re lucky enough to have found your soul mate, congratulations — that makes your decision much easier. The dating pool becomes more of a shark tank every year. It’s exhausting. A woman’s intuition, once seasoned and mature, is the most powerful ally we have in life. If you feel he is the love of your life, can you really live with letting that go for a career? What would the 5-year-old Cinderella-worshipping girl inside of you say to that? Love is all you need… right?

Why choose a career

You love what you do

Careers are incredibly beneficial to our mental health if they are close to our heart. No man should ever ask you to give up something you love. Constantly improving and growing as a professional provides irreplaceable self-esteem. If you sacrifice something you truly love, whether it’s Prince Charming or your dream career, you are giving up a part of yourself. So ask yourself, why are you choosing and who is making you do it?

It doesn’t leave you

“Some women choose to follow men and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore” – Lady Gaga

This used to be my girl-power motto (see right) until a good man completely amazed me with a simple response: Neither will the right man. In any case, the bottom line holds true. If you’re behind the wheel of your success — as we all are — you control the outcome. Love puts someone else in the driver’s seat. With ambition and drive, you can go anywhere and that’s a powerful thing to realize. When a man breaks our hearts, we only have ourselves to pick up the pieces. You need hobbies, interests and sometimes a healthy career path to guide you and help you grow.

Finding the balance in both

In decades past, career versus love wouldn’t be a question. Men were the providers by default and women were the ones who tended to the house, kids and grocery shopping. The elusive dilemma of choosing one or the other is certainly a “first world problem,” so to speak. With women officially making up 47 percent of the workforce, earning more degrees than men and their role in society being redefined, having a career before marriage and family is the official norm — but don’t feel pressured to follow it.

When you find the right person, you know. He will make you feel confident, support your goals and help you achieve dreams you didn’t know you were capable of. Once you find that Mr. Right, don’t let him go. Jobs and promotions come and go, but true love is once — and if you channel all your deep-rooted ambition into that relationship, it will last forever. Bottom line: Don’t force either one. The question should be, “Which one will come first?” Not, “Which one do I have to sacrifice?”

More work-life balance advice

Juggling work and family
Signs he’s ready to settle down
Work-life balance trumps money

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