Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear iris,

I'm turning 32 this year and would like to try to start having children in the next two to three years. About six months ago, I started dating a great guy, "F.” However, he's barely 28 and doesn't know if he wants kids very soon. ("Definitely not in the next two years," he says). I really love F, and he loves me. We have so much fun together. I've thought about it and am okay with the possibility of just getting pregnant without him, using a sperm donor of some sort when the time comes. But ideally, I would find someone who wants to be a parent alongside me. Should I stay with F and just see what happens? Or do I break ties and try to find someone who is a little older and more on the same page when it comes to kids?

Baby Thoughts

Dear Baby Thoughts,

I’ll be upfront: the decision of having kids is something that can make or break a relationship. You made it clear you want children, so it doesn’t seem like not having them is even an option. It's great that you're sure about your decision —things wouldn't end well if you ignored your instincts. If you make your choice based on what someone else wants, that's a surefire way to breed resentment in your relationship.

Now the question is, what do you do in your current situation? Both you and your partner are entitled to your own opinions on children. It sounds like F stated his feelings about children clearly. With that in mind, you have a few choices.

Option 1: You could talk to F openly and honestly about your dilemma. Ask him questions about why he doesn’t want kids in the next few years. Understand what F’s fears are about that life choice. If he doesn’t want kids in two years, what about four? Five? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine if there is any possibility you two could compromise on a future that includes children. You and F could even volunteer with kids together, to see if that stirs any emotions in F that he didn’t know were there. However, I strongly discourage you from trying to change his mind or pressure him. You should simply make an effort to understand his feelings.

Option 2: You could decide to use a sperm donor. You need to be open about this with F. While he can’t dictate your decision, he has every right to voice his concerns. F might choose to end the relationship, even if you tell him that you would take 100% responsibility for the child. And if he leaves you, you would know that it wasn't meant to work out. The bright side of making a decision to have a child on your own is that you take that decision into your own hands. It’s not easy to become a single mother, but many women have done it before you.

Option 3: Your last choice, and one that I think might be your best, is to move on from dating F. You’ve only been together for six months. You’re not as invested in the relationship as you would be in, say, two or three years from now, when you want to have kids. You can make a clean break now, given that F is firm on his decision not to have kids any time soon.

The fact that F is young might play a role in his thought process. What you'd be better off doing is finding someone who is ready to start a family. Since raising a child together with another loving, caring partner is what you want, that should be your priority. There are many people out there who you'll have chemistry with. Love will come again. But you don't have many options when it comes to having a baby.

It’s important to be honest in a relationship and compromise in healthy ways. But at the end of the day, you can’t have a half-baby. If this decision is very important to you and your timeline is set in stone, then begin to date in a way that prioritizes that decision. You may love F, but that’s not the only aspect to a fulfilling, lifelong relationship.

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