To reproduce, or GTFO, that is the question.
December 13, 2012 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Can someone help explain my boyfriend to me? Special snowflake, yadda yadda, you are not my (or his!) therapist, etc.

I do not want to get pregnant. The idea is pretty repellant to me. My boyfriend knows this about me, and has known for years. When we first started dating I told him I'd think about having kids at 28, which seemed like a lifetime away. We have been together for seven years now, living together for five, and in his house for two (I basically pay rent).
He has occasionally responded to my comments about pregnancy by suggesting I may change my mind in future and that I'd make a great mother. We usually agree to disagree until it comes up again.
I asked him a couple of months ago to tell me exactly what his thoughts on procreation were and to my surprise, he said that he absolutely -without question- was going to be a (biological) father someday.
I told him that I didn't want to have a kid, and he said he couldn't see being a father right now, either. He is prepared to wait until he does want to be a father to take any action about it.
I've been getting increasingly agitated because I like our lives as they are. He says he does too.
The thing that worries me is that I'll be 28 soon and we haven't decided anything.
Sometimes I think kids are pretty neat and maybe adoption wouldn't be so bad, but he does not want to adopt. He doesn't want a surrogate, either.
I feel like parenthood changes your life irrevocably and that I will be primarily responsible for them. I don't want to be wishy-washy about having kids and then be the only one taking care of them.
He has a job that requires travel. In fact, he is probably going to work over Christmas this year.
I'd like to get married, but I don't want to stand in the way of him being a father. I won't marry him if we don't agree on this, even though I REALLY want to be married to him.
He does not want to get married, but he assures me that he will stay with me for the rest of my life and that he would rather not have kids if it meant we had to split.
I don't believe him. I think he's comfortable with the way things are now and doesn't want to rock the boat (this conversation took place after I got really drunk and cried because he has never proposed to me). Yeah.
We're not getting any younger, but we still have some years to decide before fertility starts to be an issue.
I like our lives now. I love him. I like that I get to have some time to myself when he travels. I love his family. He doesn't understand why this upsets me so, since he "doesn't want kids now".

Can he really not care about his future? I mean, he's very laid back and "lives in the moment", but I'm showing my crazy more and more because I need a plan, y'all. I feel like I've been holding back, keeping things separate (like the house, although we are beneficiaries of each others 401K and life insurance plans) until I knew for sure what the plan was.
We talk about moving to Denver in a few years, having my parents move up there too. Both sets of parents want grandchildren (big surprise), and the assumption is that we're waiting until this move to "get married and have babies". I want to die every time someone mentions this, because I have a feeling my boyfriend is expecting this too.
I want to resolve this before we move, but I don't want to get into another "lets agree to disagree" or a "we'll see how we feel about it later" conversation.
posted by domo to Human Relations (55 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You and your boyfriend need to sit down and have a talk about this, and don't let him put it off until later. If you can't talk about this, you shouldn't get married, and you shouldn't have kids either.
posted by empath at 12:42 PM on December 13, 2012 [32 favorites]

Aside, and not presuming anything: I assume you two are sexually active. Have you discussed what happens if you unintentionally become pregnant? I think y'all should have that discussion sooner than anything. I wish you both joy.
posted by Infinity_8 at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2012 [10 favorites]

I think you need to reiterate that you don't want children. Tell him that he has to decide if you are more important to him than children, and that you won't be changing your mind. Then the ball is in his park.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

You need to decide if it's a dealbreaker - he's made it clear he wants kids, you made it clear you don't. Something needs to give.

Talk like adults about it, it's a very valid reason to walk away.
posted by lpcxa0 at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2012 [10 favorites]

he's very laid back and "lives in the moment", but I'm showing my crazy more and more because I need a plan, y'all.

That's not being remotely crazy, at least from my perspective; quite the reverse. It seems that while your day-to-day lives are compatible, your futures are not. That is enough to drive any sane person mad, and if it were me, I'd break up with him now and start looking for a relationship that's compatible both in the quotidian life and in the future. There's just no point in hanging around until HE decides it's time for him to father some babies.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2012 [33 favorites]

It sucks, but these are major make-or-break issues. I suggest you state clearly in no uncertain terms what it is that you want and that you need to have a real solid plan in place, right now, that accommodates these goals.

He may decide that his needs and your needs are not going to intersect ever, at which point it's time for the two of you to break up.

Sad, but it's the truth. You can't 'compromise' on marriage and kids.
posted by greta simone at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

As someone who has been in this situation, let me say it will save a lot of drama if you leave now. Don't wait for him to get someone else pregnant behind your back. In my situation everything was going okay until he turned 30, then I guess the biological clock changed his mind.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

You're so not on the same page.

And stop lying to yourself. You don't like your life now. You wish you were engaged. You want to be married. That is good that you know this.

He doesn't. He wants things that you don't to be a biological parent. Someone shouldn't have to sacrifice a huge desire like that to be with someone else.

I mean, you need to sit down and have a discussion that may lead to a breakup. It's okay to want things and it's okay to not want things. But if you want something he doesn't of you has to give up on what you need...and this way resentment lies.
posted by inturnaround at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2012 [17 favorites]

Having a child is magical. If you love him, encourage him to have that opportunity by telling him it is OK for him to move on to find someone who can provide that. The secondary benefit of doing that is you will let him know that you are dead serious about not wanting to have kids yourself.
posted by Dansaman at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

It sounds to me like you each have a deal breaker.

*You want to get married. He does not.
*You do not want to have kids. He does.

I think it's time for you both to move on.
posted by zizzle at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2012 [32 favorites]

Have you ever told him that you never, ever want to have children and that this is a deal-breaker for you? If not, why not? Is it, in fact, a deal-breaker for you? Do you, in fact, never, ever want to have children?

You've been dating since you were 20 and he has been assuming that, like many and perhaps most people, you would develop a greater desire to have children as you grew out of being a 20-year-old. He agreed with you at age 20 that it was not the right time to have kids. You phrased your explanation of your desire not to have children as something that even you anticipated would change with time. If you had told him at the time that you emphatically did not want to ever have children, his reaction might have been different.

It appears that you have told him that you don't want to have children right now, not that you never, ever want to have children. He also does not want to have children right now. If you have a life plan that includes never having children and you are not willing - right now - to alter that plan in order to be with him, then you need to tell him that. Like, now.
posted by The World Famous at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2012 [16 favorites]

What's there to explain? He doesn't want to look at the facts in the face because they require you to break up. He loves you and doesn't want to break up. But what you guys want for your future is irreconcilable.

If you are sure parenthood is not for you then don't do it. 28 is not too young to know. I say that as a parent. Don't let anyone pressure you into it or tell you you'll come to change your mind. You MIGHT, of course -- I know people who were vehemently opposed to it in their 20s who did change their mind -- but more likely you won't.

If he had asked this question I would have told him that he can find another girlfriend, but that the chance to be a parent is a binary thing. You either do it in this life or you don't, and you don't get another life.

Good luck. It'll be ok. Lots of people don't want kids. It's probably the single biggest factor you control in terms of how your life goes, so don't let anyone downplay its importance.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:50 PM on December 13, 2012 [21 favorites]

If you can't have a conversation about something as relatively simple as having children, what are you guys going to do for something like discussing your wishes regarding when to pull the plug on yourself or a parent or loved one or even him? Which I know is a long way off (hopefully), but life doesn't get any easier as you go through it.

I'm guessing he assumes you'll change your mind, as most people do assume.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The 28 thing is an arbitrary number. If you turn 28 and still feel negative-to-ambivalent about having kids, that's OK. You can still have kids in the future if you change your mind. Or not, if you don't change your mind.

The big thing for me (and this is less of an issue because your boyfriend is a guy, but still something to respect) is that your boyfriend definitely wants kids and it sounds like maybe you definitely don't. I agree that it would be a bad idea to marry this guy if you are divided on such a big issue, especially if you did so by leading him to believe that you wanted children when you didn't.

As someone who is a little older than you, is female, and who (probably?) wants kids "someday", the thing you really need to think about -- if you are pretty sure you don't ever want kids -- is that the time is coming for your boyfriend where, if he really wants to meet someone who is realistically going to be the mother of his child, he needs to start moving in that direction. It's worth thinking about whether you're wasting your boyfriend's time. Which feels like a cold thing to say to someone who otherwise seems happy in their relationship. But there it is.
posted by Sara C. at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I told him that I didn't want to have a kid, and he said he couldn't see being a father right now, either.

You guys are not communicating. You meant 'ever' and he thought you meant 'now'. These are so far apart they might as well be opposites. He is either in denial about the fact that you don't see a life with kids in it, or else it has not been made sufficiently clear to him that this is what you have to offer him. You need to have a real conversation about this and make sure you both understand each other.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

This is a deal breaker. It has to be. You can be happy in life disagreeing about a lot of things, but not whether you want to have kids. It doesn't matter that he doesn't want kids now - if he wants them, he wants them. And if you know you don't, ever, and he knows this too, then not talking about it now and dealing with it now is just postponing the inevitable.

Can you see yourself having children in the future?

Can he see himself not having children in the future?

If the answer to both of these is, "no," you break up. That's it. Putting it off longer just causes more pain. It sounds like that's where you've both been for a long time, and you either haven't realized it or he hasn't wanted to deal with it.
posted by Dasein at 12:56 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

There have been more than a few questions about the reverse situation (F wants kids now/soon, M doesn't/isn't ready yet), but the same advice applies: If your feelings were, "I may want kids someday, and I definitely want to spend the rest of my life with this person," then it would be reasonable to negotiate a timetable that works for both of you. But that isn't the case here. If you don't see your feelings w/r/t having kids changing, and you don't see his changing, then you are at an impasse. One of you isn't going to get what he or she wants or needs to be happy. It's a deal breaker. Waiting several more years for one of your positions to change just forestalls the inevitable.

I am sorry.
posted by mosk at 12:56 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think he's avoiding thinking about this and hoping that you'll come around. His motivation for doing that might be that the thought of parting from you is particularly painful, so at any given moment it seems easier to just avoid the topic and hope your biological clock will start ticking some time in the next few years.

I think you need to insist on a much more blunt and unequivocal talk about this issue. Probably, it makes sense to break up.
posted by Area Man at 1:01 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I agree with everyone else that you need to make him understand that this isn't something you want, ever, because it seems like that's sort of going over his head right now. The two of you need to sit down and lay it out, once and for all, and decide together what this very fundamental difference means for your future together.

I would also suggest telling your parents the same thing, in very explicit terms. You don't want kids, and that is 100% normal and okay, and everybody needs to back way off of their expectations for your life. This isn't a conversation you have to keep having over and over; you can say it once and expect people to believe you. 28 is old enough to have a pretty good idea of what you want your future to look like.
posted by something something at 1:01 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's a dealbreaker, and it's sad, but there it is.

I don't have kids. I knew from about the time I was 30 that the ship had sailed and that I had no interest. It really eliminated a lot of guys from the dating pool, but it worked out in that I met and married Husbunny and we're both blissfully happy and blissfully childless.

You're both wasting each other's time here. If you honestly don't want children, no matter how great the guy is, if he does want kids, then it will never work out.

When you are young, you have so much time, these decisions can be put off, and we can fool ourselves into believing that the other person's "core belief" will change. Here you are 7 years later and you're each, just as sure as you were when you first met about your position on this.

You can love someone, and still not have them be right for you.

Break up and move on. You're both fooling yourselves.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

He's putting it off because he knows that if/when the conversation happens, there will only really be one answer and it's a pretty sad answer with a lot of painful implications.

He is certain he wants kids. Deep down you're certain you don't. It will be incredibly hard to have that talk and to break up as a result, but it will only get harder every day you put it off.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

So let me get this straight.

1) It brings you to tears that a guy you've been with seven years hasn't given you the commitment you want.

2) He completely doubts your mind on an issue that's a huge deal to you (not only a fundamental life decision, but an issue so huge you describe it as a phobia in your post tags).

3) And he dodges you, manipulates you, and plays you for time in which he assumes you'll either come around to his point of view or just see it as the only option for being happy together.

I don't see one potential dealbreaker here. I see three.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:07 PM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I guess I should clarify: I have always said I didn't want children. The 28 number came out of him basically saying 'You're still very young, we'll see how you feel when you're closer to 30" (paraphrase). I never led him on about this. Even my parents know that I don't want kids. His parents know this as well, especially since I blew up at his father once for suggesting I didn't know my own mind.
All of you who are suggesting that I "sprung" this on anyone are projecting.
posted by domo at 1:08 PM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's strange, and worrying that he wants to have kids but his work takes him from home a lot. Who is going to be taking care of "his" kids? Will he only see them an hour a day at bedtime...if so, why have them at all? He has this goal but has not realistically looked at what it takes to achieve this goal...up to and including having a willing partner. Even if you were willing, it sounds like you'd still be getting treated unfairly in the kid care department.

It doesn't sound good, but you have to talk to him, not us. And you also need to decide what you will do; stay or go. What will make you happier?
posted by emjaybee at 1:10 PM on December 13, 2012 [8 favorites]

I guess I should clarify: I have always said I didn't want children. The 28 number came out of him basically saying 'You're still very young, we'll see how you feel when you're closer to 30" (paraphrase).

If you have told him repeatedly that you emphatically want to never, ever have children and that you will not change your mind, and he has consistently responded that he thinks you will change your mind and that you should stay together as a couple because he thinks you'll change your mind, then you need to break up with him - not because you don't want kids and he does, but because he has demonstrated for seven (!) years that he does not respect you. You didn't spring anything on him. He just refuses to respect your wishes or feelings. Break up. Move on with your life. You've wasted too much time on him already.
posted by The World Famous at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2012 [38 favorites]

My husband and I were on the same page about not wanting kids since we started dating at 20. We didn't want kids all the way up until we were 30-ish. Then we started talking about it. We asked ourselves, would we look back and regret not having children? We decided that we would. We waited to let our careers settle down, get settled, etc. We talked a lot about our expectations and roles as parents. We went for it. I had my daughter at 34.

And, wow, she's amazing. I've done a huge 180 about parenthood. And I think anyone who truly desires to be a parent should have that opportunity. It's an amazing experience. However, it's not for the wishy-washy. I knew that before, which is why I didn't have any. But I really know it now. Lots of people are wishy-washy, get pregnant, have kids and come around. Of course they do. But, you won't know until you get there.

This is not to say you should have children. Or that someday "you'll change your mind" which is horribly patronizing. But you two, as potential parents or not parents need to be on the same page here. This happens all the time -- two people not on the same page, have kids. You can usually tell who that is. It's not as good.

Now is the time, at 28 -- the perfect time, actually -- to really talk about this. No soft-peddling it. Have it out. It's the only way.
posted by amanda at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have always said I didn't want children. The 28 number came out of him basically saying 'You're still very young, we'll see how you feel when you're closer to 30" (paraphrase).

yeah. I hate to say it- but it is onle of those things that make people who are very in love... break up. there is nothing wrong with either position, but in order for you guys to stay together for the long haul- you have to have similar life goals. you two just... don't.
posted by Blisterlips at 1:18 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

You cannot compromise on children. And for a person who really wants children, not having them is like a physical ache in your body and your soul. I could never have been happy without having children, not even while partnered to my husband, whom I love.

I think your boyfriend is in some truly active denial here, hoping against hope that he won't have to make this choice. . . but he will. It is either you or the kids. And if he's unwilling to face that choice on his own, then as much as it sucks, you will have to force the issue. Sit him down and say "The time is now. I will never be pregnant -- never. If I get pregnant, I will have an abortion. I am also not particularly sold on parenting children, but I am telling you this in absolutely unequivocal terms, I will never give birth to a child. If we are going to be together, you need to be enthusiastic about that reality. Are you?"

Any answer other than "I will happily die childless if it means I get to spend the rest of my life with you" means you have to break up. :(
posted by KathrynT at 1:22 PM on December 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

The last conversation we had about this, he pushed the date back to when I'm 30 (he will be 34). The man is in denial, right?
I feel like I have to take the initiative to break off this relationship. I don't want to be the bad guy, but he never brings this stuff up. he wouldn't have told me it was so important to him if I didn't ask him point blank.
I feel like I'm wasting his time and mine. It would be cruel to wait as long as he seems to want to wait to actually make a decision, because by then we might not actually be able to have kids and he will have wasted his fertile life (guys have problems after 35, too).
Yes, I have brought up the fact that we are basically playing "life chicken". I don't like it. I don't understand why he is so comfortable with it.
posted by domo at 1:25 PM on December 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

I very much support your choice, as I knew by about 22 that I did not want to have children. I've been through the "you'll change your mind" and "you don't know what you want" and all the other crap. I'm 37. I don't have kids. So I do know what you're going through, with that.

But, that said, my partner and I have always been on the same page. The saddest divorces I've seen are when one partner wants kids, and the other doesn't, and somehow each thought the other would come around to their point of view. I haven't seen it happen. Having kids is such a binary choice. Yes or No. You can't have half a kid. Invariably the split comes when the child-wanting partner realizes it's now or never and splits to find a partner who also wants a child.

I wish you luck, and peace. It will be difficult but it's better to find someone with whom you are more compatible. And - he may not be comfortable with "life chicken". He may be more comfortable with denial than with reality, however.
posted by RogueTech at 1:30 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The man is in denial, right?


I don't understand why he is so comfortable with it.

I think its more that he is afraid of dealing with this and possibly losing you.
posted by Area Man at 1:30 PM on December 13, 2012 [10 favorites]

If you really don't want to have kids, then look into getting a tubal ligation. Sitting down to discuss when you are going in for the surgery should clarify things pretty definitively. Maybe wait till after New Years to do this.
posted by Sophont at 1:32 PM on December 13, 2012 [19 favorites]

I don't want to be the bad guy

The bad guy is the one who refuses to accept and respect the other's feelings and desire that run contrary to his own. You're only the bad guy if you dishonestly concede that you think your feelings on the matter might change.

Look: Your feelings on the matter might change. Plenty of people do change their mind. Your boyfriend is right about that. But that doesn't matter. Because what he's wrong about is telling you that he thinks your feelings will change and then betting on it - accepting you as his partner on that contingency, rather than accepting you unconditionally and respecting your position no matter what it is.
posted by The World Famous at 1:34 PM on December 13, 2012 [18 favorites]

I could have basically written your question (though I was the boyfriend/husband in this scenario). I wanted children she didn't or wasn't sure depending on the day. Eventually, my wife agreed she would probably change her mind and we could have 1-2 children, it was after this we decided to get married. Then post-marriage, that turned into children provided we had a surrogate. Then that changed to we could adopt. Then finally she wanted no children. Anyway, we are divorced now (she ran off with a guy who already had a child - but no custody of that child - go figure). Ultimately, I said the same kind of things as your boyfriend that I would be/stay with her even if that meant not having children. I'm doubt I would have been happy with that long term, though. Bottom line, I'm glad we broke up. If your sure your answer is no kids ever I would force this conversation sooner than later.
posted by ill3 at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I don't understand why he is so comfortable with it.

Because he isn't committed to you and can find someone to have kids with at 34 without much more difficulty than he'd have finding a different person right now. When the time comes, he can just "live in the moment" to achieve his priority goal. Which apparently isn't you.

I'm not saying he has thought out the endgame on this. He probably just hopes it'll work out. But for him, it doesn't really have to, because you aren't the priority, else he would have given you the commitment you want as well as a reasonable answer on this such as, "You mean everything to me, and this won't be a dealbreaker for me, although I still like the idea and would like to check in with you on it every year or two."
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:41 PM on December 13, 2012 [11 favorites]

The fact that he keeps pushing the date for The Real Conversation back implies to me that he really, really wants to think that you'll change your mind. You need to make it exquisitely clear to him that you do not EVER EVER EVER want children, and that in fact you have a specific phobia about it. You're not just a young carefree lady who figures you'll decide "later". You do not want children. Period. He doesn't seem to be hearing that.
posted by Sara C. at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

[OP please don't turn this into a referendum on your feelings about pregnancy.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:49 PM on December 13, 2012

Not wanting to go through childbirth is very different from not wanting to be a mother. Maybe your parents and his parents hope that either you'll get over your phobia (therapy?) or he'll get over his "no adoption / no surrogate " rule as you guys get older. Not to say that you will -- parenthood isn't for everyone, obviously -- but maybe that's what they're hoping will happen.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:51 PM on December 13, 2012

One thing that stands out to me is that you are referring to his wait-and-see attitude as "playing life chicken." I really don't think that's true at all and there's nothing wrong with taking this kind of approach to life. Honestly, I feel like it's a more genuine approach than trying to set deadlines and take such a rigid approach to thinking about and acting on goals.

That said, you already know you don't want kids. He's hopeful you may change your mind-- have you ever asked him what he will think or feel or do if you don't change your mind? Maybe have that conversation on a regular basis. Another idea is to tell him that you're looking into some permanent birth control options like tubal ligation or Essure and see if that helps him understand how sure you are that you aren't going to change your mind. Either way, you guys need to have a really clear conversation about this that doesn't end with him saying "well maybe you'll change your mind."

Another conversation you guys should have is: you're both happy with your life right now. Can you both be happy with your life together if kids never come into the equation? Ask him that. My husband desperately wants kids and has always seen himself becoming a father at some point, but he knows that I'm wishy-washy on it and we've both come to the conclusion we'll still be thrilled to be with each other even if kids don't happen. Wanting kids does not mean it's impossible to be happy without them.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:15 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think this is in any way a bad situation. If (especially if!) you don't want to have kids, there is no huge rush for you to find a different partner. You will be alive 50-70 more years if you are lucky. That is a very long time for your next love!! So what if you've spent 7 years in your 20's with this guy who you like and love? You probably had some great experiences in there. It's not a bad thing for life experience and happiness, by any metric.

I don't think this is some tragic awful horror that you need to flee from asap and find someone better. What it does seem like is that you should probably start making peace with the fact that you will not be with this guy forever, and if your major incompatibilities are starting to irk you, take steps toward moving on. You don't have to do make a clean break this week, though.

With no biological clock ticking, it's totally fine for you to enjoy your time with this guy, and make a smooth transition to independence then to dating someone else, when you are ready, and spend 30-50 years with that person. (Or those 3 people, or 29-49 years if you hang out for another year, etc.)

Maybe he feels the same way? That said, you should really get this stuff out in the open. "We are going to have to break up, let's have a really nice time while we are still together, then cry it out and go our separate ways." It's better than pretending / not discussing it, it's also more authentic.
posted by kellybird at 2:22 PM on December 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

he says:

he assures me that he will stay with me for the rest of my life and that he would rather not have kids if it meant we had to split.

he said that he absolutely -without question- was going to be a (biological) father someday.

Ok. One of these is a lie. Probably even to himself.
posted by jacalata at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2012 [27 favorites]

I'm right with you on the no thank you to pregnancy/child birth. Turns out that there are a lot of women who are really into the idea of being pregnant. My Mom loved it. I think it's like saying you love being infected with botflies, but to each their own.

Your boyfriend wants children. He would not have a difficult time finding a woman who also wants children. There are also plenty of men who don't want biological children who would be very interested in you. I don't see why you both have to play "life chicken" waiting for the other to give. No one has to give if you break up. You can both have what you want, and as sad at it is you can't have it together, you can have it with other people.

7 years together is one hell of a ride to abruptly end, but 8 or 9 years won't make it easier. And as someone who's on your side of the fence, choosing to have a baby to keep him around would be disastrous. (Even my Mom occasionally had some very black thoughts creep into her head 2 weeks into constant screaming and crying from a colicky baby, and she was always interested in having as many as possible.) Forcing him not to have children would be as well.
posted by Dynex at 2:44 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I didn't want kids when I was 20 and I didn't want kids when I was 25 and I didn't want kids when I was 28 and I didn't want kids when I was 30 or when I was 35 or when I was 40 or when I was 45 or now that I'm 48.

Yeah, some people change their minds, but lots of us don't. I am hoping you are using a really reliable and unsabotagable birth control method like IUD or Depo.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:49 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was you and I wish wish wish! I had pulled the plug on the relationship as soon as it became clear we were incompatible.

I very definitively do not want children and he kept saying "you wait. You'll change your mind..." (I'm 41 and the idea of having kids has only become less appealing with time.)

I figured since I'd done my full disclosure it was on him to break up with me when he got serious about homemaking and having kids.

Six years in, we did finally break up and last I heard he was still furious, heartbroken, and bitter about six "wasted" years and my "betrayal." I was shocked because I'd been so clear and unequivocal!

And I really don't think people should talk themselves into having kids. In fact, I don't think people should have kids unless they can't imagine life without them. It should be a calling, like becoming a nun or something. It's a lot of work and the planet isn't exactly running short on them. It sounds like it IS a calling for him. Let him go fulfill his vocation, with someone else who has a calling.

It totally sucks, but damn... one of my very few regrets is not ending that relationship sooner.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:57 PM on December 13, 2012 [16 favorites]

If you weren't the OP of this strikingly similar anon question, you might find it helpful.
posted by crabintheocean at 3:52 PM on December 13, 2012

I was in your boyfriend's position, and I made the decision to break up with the man who didn't want more children. For me, having or not having children needed to be a decision of my own making, not someone else making the decision for me.
posted by crankylex at 4:29 PM on December 13, 2012

I don't understand why he is so comfortable with it.
I frankly don't understand why you are either. It seems like both of you are in some sort of holding pattern, waiting/assuming/hoping for the other to change their mind about significant things. He already told you what his plan is - no marriage, but kids in the definite future - and so long as you "agree to disagree" or keep pushing things off to arbitrary future birthdays, or keep waiting for him to propose, you appear to be following his plan. Not yours.

Maybe you'll change your mind. Maybe he will. But after 7 years, it seems unlikely. I think you are right in thinking that you'll have to be the one who initiates the discussion and potential end of relationship, here.
posted by sm1tten at 5:45 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Because he isn't committed to you and can find someone to have kids with at 34 without much more difficulty than he'd have finding a different person right now. When the time comes, he can just "live in the moment" to achieve his priority goal. Which apparently isn't you.

Agreed. It's easy for most guys to put off this kind of decision making until the last possibly moment, because they can. He won't propose to you, he wants kids and doesn't take you seriously when you say you don't. If I were you I would insist on a serious conversation, and if he refused to have it then I'd be clear that I was leaving the relationship.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:49 PM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

kellybird: "With no biological clock ticking, it's totally fine for you to enjoy your time with this guy, and make a smooth transition to independence then to dating someone else, when you are ready, and spend 30-50 years with that person. (Or those 3 people, or 29-49 years if you hang out for another year, etc.) "

I think this would be true if you weren't already upset about not being engaged. Clearly, you want a life commitment, but one that respects your decision not to have children. That is perfectly reasonable, and I agree with others that it's a conversation that should happen sooner rather than later. More likely, a series of conversations. Real ones, not the kicking-the-can-down-the-line kind you've been having so far.

On the other hand, I can offer a counterexample. My best friend from college started dating someone in her early twenties, and they moved in together almost immediately. They were very happy in almost every respect, but there were two swords of Damocles hanging over their heads: she definitely never wanted to have children, and he did; she definitely wanted to get married, and he was... ambivalent.

For the most part, their life went smoothly, but there was always the threat of having to resolve the two dealbreaker-level tensions in their life together. Eventually, after about ten years together (when she was almost 32), they got married. He realized that he wanted to be with her, and wanted her to be happy, so marrying her would accomplish both of those goals. And while he did want children, he wanted her more, and he had plenty of nieces and nephews he could spoil without having to interfere with his wife's desire for non-parenthood (and without the more unpleasant aspects and stresses of actual parenting).

So, it's possible he might come around. It really boils down to how long you're willing to wait for him to decide that it's more important to him to have you in his life than to have hypothetical children with a hypothetical future partner.
Or, not.
posted by Superplin at 9:59 PM on December 13, 2012

I'm puzzled as to why, after 7 years, you have to pay rent in a house he owns. Do you get any financial benefit from that?

I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but it sounds like you're his placeholder until he feels like having a "real" relationship. There are a lot of guys who feel like they're being a good guy when they say what you want to hear, even though they have no intention of following through.

I don't trust any guy in a relationship who says they want to be together forever but don't want to marry you. It's really weird. Some guys have it hammered into their heads that women are out to trap them with marriage so they can divorce him and live off of alimony or some such MRA bs.

I think it's time to break it off.
posted by discopolo at 11:07 PM on December 13, 2012 [11 favorites]

This is the question that was at the heart of the collapse of my first marriage. I wanted kids and initially she didn't. A few years into our relationship she led me to believe that she'd changed her mind, and we got engaged. Once we were married she decided that she hadn't changed her mind after all. The marriage lasted eighteen months and did not end well.

This question will end your relationship, one way or another.
posted by Hogshead at 5:31 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've said this before on MetaFilter, but time and again when people have found out that I don't want to be a parent (for many reasons, including disabling health problems), they'll ask me, "But what if you meet Mr/Ms Right and s/he wants children? Or has them?"
By this stage, I know the answer to that:
"If that person wants me to be a parent, then s/he isn't Mr/Ms Right for me."

Your boyfriend is sending some incredibly conflicting signals - "he absolutely -without question- was going to be a (biological) father someday," but "he would rather not have kids if it meant [you] had to split." It's not really surprising that you don't know where you stand here!

I would recommend you two go see a relationship counsellor and hash this out there. I've heard from several people that having to lay something out for a professional stranger who doesn't have seven years of comfortable familiarity, can help people notice the contradictions in their thoughts, and/or help the other person hear things they haven't been able to hear said by their partner. And it sounds like he hasn't been hearing how sure you are about not wanting children.

(Since you are sure about this, it'll be useful to phrase things in a way that makes that clear. If you find it hard to think in the moment, perhaps taking the comments from here that best match your feelings and opinions might help - you could use them as a starting point for discussion, or rephrase them in your own terms.)

Perhaps laying this out in front of a counsellor would also be a way of making him look seriously at what a life with children would look like for him (especially if he envisages staying in his travel-heavy job!), and articulate why bio-kids are such a priority for him. If you are considering permanent sterilisation, bring that up in front of your counsellor as well and see where the discussion goes.

I will say that when SomePartner and I got together, he even mentioned on his website that he wanted a partner and children some day. Even at that stage, I didn't believe in marriage and was pretty sure I didn't want kids, so I was conflicted about getting seriously involved with him. We talked it out within the first couple of years, and he realised that children weren't an essential part of his life plan, he'd just run with the cultural narratives about marriage, monogamy, and parenting. Twelve years later, we're still committed partners, we've been poly for a decade and not only are we both certain that kids are not part of our life plan, I think he actively dislikes the idea whereas I just know it's not for me!

So there is a possibility, but no guarantee your outcome will be similar - if he's spent the last seven years waiting for your mind to change, the realisation that it won't will bring big changes to your lives whether or not you stay together. However, it seems like high time the communications channels were cleared on this subject - you can't make decisions, either of you, unless you know for sure where you stand.
posted by Someone Else's Story at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

He will never marry you and he will NOT compromise on his ideal of being a father. I can say with absolute certainty that he will marry someone younger than you. Men don't have expiration dates...but women do. YOU'RE not getting any younger but your boyfriend has plenty of time before he has the resources necessary to support a family.

Do yourself a favour and DTMFA. Find someone on the same page as you about children and get going!
posted by lotusmish at 10:51 PM on December 14, 2012

Have the conversation now.

I waited more than 7 years with no marriage in sight; went to every single friend and family wedding ; had to watch others have children (I don't want them either but sometimes I do). Short side; it sucked. I felt foolish and never had an answer as when my turn was. You (everyone) deserves commitment.
It's obvious you want the ring and wedding; he knows that know. You had to get drunk and tell him; the question now is , do you want that with him?

It's never to late to start over or go back.
posted by Bun Surnt at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2012

FWIW, I was in a kinda-sorta similar situation years ago. From the start of the five-year relationship, which began when I was 22, I said I didn't want kids, but that "I'm young, and it's possible in time my mind will change--though I can't imagine that." He was clear that he wanted children. But we were in no rush. His parents were also clear that they wanted grandchildren.

We lived together for the last two years of our relationship. Upon move in, we had a conversation about this. I still didn't want kids, I was older and felt even more convinced that this was not likely to change. But we wanted to be together. I wasn't comfortable with anything open-ended. So we agreed, "We assess after two years. We decide: either we are for sure having kids *someday*, or we are not and we go our separate ways." There were pros and cons to this, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Two years passed in a blink. About six months before that mark, I was overcome with sadness because I knew it was over. Everything was wonderful and perfect, but he wanted children and I did not. And I knew I'd resent him, any children, and the stupid white picket fence forever if I changed just for him. His mother told me "you knew all along," as if I deliberately set out to hurt her son.

And so we split and we cried and we shared a U-Haul and helped each other move, and I sewed him curtains for his new place. The cat went with him because I was feeling uncertain about my next steps--and then we said goodbye with the understanding that maybe we'd have coffee in six months and see if we could handle being friends (I knew I could, but he thought it would hurt too much). And coffee was good. And we are friends to this day. We danced at their wedding. He married a lovely woman. They have two children.

You say this: "He does not want to get married, but he assures me that he will stay with me for the rest of my life and that he would rather not have kids if it meant we had to split. I don't believe him."

I don't blame you.

You two need to have this conversation. Maybe my story will give you some ideas. Consider saying to him "we've danced around this long enough and it needs to be clear for both of us. Let's start discussing it and let's decide once and for all by September 1st (or whatever), at which point perhaps it's time for us to part." Let it scare the crap out of him.

If you stay together, consider making it official. No wedding? Fine, but how about something symbolic? Perhaps the prospect of putting yourselves out there in front of family and friends will force you both to come to terms with your position. And find a way for you as a united pair to make your MUTUAL DECISION about children very clear to your families. Everything out there for all to see. No passive aggression, no underhanded resentments coming out over time. Bottom line: Communicate. With everyone. Good luck.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 4:48 PM on February 28, 2013

« Older What's your experience with the NPS?   |   How can I buy or rent "Ratatouille" to watch on an... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.