Dear Wendy: “He Doesn’t Want Children, But I Do”
I began seeing a great guy about five months ago. I’m 23 and he’s 34, but the age difference has never been a big deal as we have a lot in common. We recently went on a weekend trip where he told me nonchalantly over dinner that he did not want children. When he asked me what I wanted, I replied that I did want children. The rest of the night wore on and I didn’t think much of it because I’m so young and I don’t see myself having kids for a while. But this morning, I began thinking about the situation some more, and now I’m very troubled. I will want kids some day, and if he doesn’t, eventually we will have to break up. Does is make sense to do it now, before we have invested time and emotions, or should I wait? Again, I don’t want to get married and have children soon, but I will one day, and if he doesn’t … what’s the point? — Sad at Work
If you don’t want to get married and have children soon, I’m assuming that you’re dating for companionship and the experience as opposed to searching for your life partner. If that’s the case, continue dating your boyfriend who doesn’t want to have children. So many things can change in the time before you’re ready to settle down. Your boyfriend may change his mind about kids; you may change your mind about kids. Or, what’s perhaps more likely, you may break up for totally unrelated reasons.
It’s true — most relationships end at some point. Knowing that, do we avoid ever dating to save ourselves from the potential pain of breaking up? Do we avoid investing time and emotions into someone for fear it won’t work out? No, we accept that by getting close to someone, we risk getting hurt. We take the risk because doing so means a more enriched life. At the very least, it gives us a more layered personal history from which to learn and grow. If you were 15 years older and feeling the weight of your biological clock, my advice to you would be different. I’d tell you not to waste time with someone who doesn’t want the same thing you do. But that’s because what you’d want in 15 years is different than what you want right now. You aren’t interested in getting married and having children soon, and neither is your boyfriend. There may be a problem one day if you stay together and your wants change — if you decide you’re ready for marriage and babies and he still isn’t. But, why worry now about what could happen? Why not enjoy what you have with him and see where your adventure together leads you?
I started dating this guy two months ago. He’s everything I’ve always thought I wanted, that I can tell at this point. He’s sweet, affectionate, generous with his emotions, funny, and we can talk for hours. And so far he adores me just as much as I think I do him. BUT… I cannot shake the feeling that there’s something off. My problem is that I can’t tell if it’s just that I am really not that used to dating nice guys (the last three prior to him were douchebags) or if it’s that we don’t click romantically and there’s just lust sustaining that part of the relationship. If I let him go, what if it’s the former and I’m just too wrapped up in the image I’ve formed of what “THE” relationship would look like to recognize it. He’s everything I thought I always wanted. My friends tell me to just get over myself and go with it and it’ll be fine. Help … — Fixated on the Fantasy
I don’t understand. If he’s everything you thought you wanted, why would you be in such a rush to end things with him? It’s one thing if you’ve already figured out how you feel about him and you’re just not into him romantically. It’s quite another if you’re still getting to know him and seeing what’s there between you. I can’t tell if you’re afraid of leading the guy on or, like our first letter writer today, you’re afraid of investing time and emotions only to be disappointed if/when things don’t work out. But if you’re undecided about the guy, why not keep dating him until you’re sure how you feel? I mean, the guy’s not asking you to make a lifetime commitment to him at this point, right? You’re just taking things one day at a time and I don’t see any reason from what you’ve shared to stop doing just that. Yes, continuing to date this guy means opening yourself up to the potential pain of breaking up or the awkwardness of letting someone down, but isn’t the risk worth knowing whether you made the right decision in the end? If nothing else, this dating experience will help you realize that relationships aren’t about recognizing some image you’ve always had of what things SHOULD look like, but recognizing the power of your own feelings to lead you in the right direction. So, go ahead: let them lead you.
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