“He just sat at the end of the bed, silent,” says Erica. “I just knew it was right. My parents were married for 50 years, so I come from that, or else I wouldn’t have gone out on such a limb.”
She turns to Scott. “You probably thought I was insane.”
“I was shocked,” he responds.
“If I was 25, it would have been insane,” she says. “Suddenly you’re in your mid-thirties and you realize it’s time to get going.”
Scott, whose parents are divorced, didn’t give her an answer right away. A month before Erica’s proposal, he’d received another shocking piece of news: that he had a 5-year-old son, the result of a brief fling in Florida. He and Erica were due to fly down to meet the child. “I felt like my life was out of control,” he says.
As Scott was sitting in Lauderdale by the Sea, a cheesy surf-and-turf joint on the beach, trying to figure out how he was going to incorporate his son into his life, Erica asked him how much longer she was going to have to wait for an answer. Something about the gravitas of discovering his son made everything clear.
“ ‘Yes, let’s do it,’ he said. And that was that,” says Erica.
Two weeks later, they found out that Erica was pregnant. “All of a sudden Scott had a son, we had a house, we were getting married and having our own baby.”
"WHO MOVES TO NEW YORK BECAUSE THEY'RE LOOKING FOR LOVE?"
Judging from the stories of couples who paired up fast, it’s apparent that fertility pressure—especially for women—is a huge catalyst for the quickie family. But for many of the couples involved, there is also a redefinition of love, making it less about whirlwind romance and more about a practical desire to just get on with it. Their point of view is that after a decade of dating experience there’s no point to a long courtship: You just know if it works.
“New York is a weird scene for dating,” says Joe Cooney, a handsome 32-year-old musician with an angular haircut. “Who moves to New York because they’re looking for love?”
He and his wife, Larissa Martell, who is nine months pregnant, are sitting in a midtown lounge after work. She is 37, an ethereal Brit with long black hair who aspires to be a screenwriter, although she currently manages the gym at an investment bank. After dating Larissa for two weeks, Joe said, “I love you.” A few months later, they took off on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Paris for the weekend.
“When we were in Paris, I knew he was the one,” says Larissa. “I thought to myself, I’m going to get pregnant in a year.”
Three months later, Joe packed a bottle of vintage champagne and took Larissa away for the weekend to Montauk, where he planned to ask her to marry him.
“It came on fairly quickly, like, this is it,” he says. “I was ready to settle down. Careerwise, I wouldn’t say I’m the kind of guy who has to have my ducks in a row, and now I have to find a wife. I’d spent a lot of time in previous relationships trying to figure out what’s important.”
“Suddenly you’re in your mid-thirties and you realize it’s time to get going.”
But before Joe had time to pop the cork, let alone the question, Larissa confessed that she was pregnant. They had conceived when they were in Paris.
“At first I was afraid that he would be upset,” she says, smiling coyly.
“At first I thought she was joking,” he says.
After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, Joe said, “Let’s do it!” and gave her the ring.
Larissa was surprised—and relieved. She later admits that she had been thinking about her biological clock, and that, combined with being caught up in the moment, made them both less conscious about using birth control. “We didn’t go to make a baby, but I thought, If it happens, it happens. So many people have trouble getting pregnant.”
Larissa and Joe planned their wedding in a day, and got married at a BYOB Chinese restaurant in midtown.
“The justice of the peace was on a schedule and married us in, like, six minutes,” says Joe.
“We know people who were together for, like, six years and then broke up,” says Larissa.
Practical desire is also what brought Béla Schwartz and June Zimmerman together quickly. Eight years ago, Béla, a baby-faced financial executive, turned 40 and looked back at a decade of fourteen-hour workdays and weekends in the office. “I just kinda said it’s time to grow up and get a life, have kids, and, you know, figure it out,” he says. Six months later, he was dating June, a sporty redhead who was living in a small studio in midtown, dating rarely, and preoccupied with the pressures of her career as a medical writer.