Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I recently started dating a man whom I really like, and the feeling is mutual. I haven’t felt this connected to someone in years, but there is a gigantic red flag waving right in my face and I don’t know what to do. For all of his wonderful qualities, he and I do not feel the same way about having children; he wants them, and I very much do not.
We have been dating less than a month, so we are still just getting to know one another, but I don’t think he really believes me about not wanting kids because he makes jokes about surrogacy, adoption or having a nanny raise the kids for us.
I feel like it’s too soon in this relationship to seriously get into such a deep and touchy subject, but I worry that we’re wasting our time. Do I let things play out to see if there is actually long-term potential, or do I need to nip this in the bud now?
His jokes are your opening, and obligation, to be clear: “You’re making jokes, but I think it’s important that you know I’m very serious. If it’s kids or bust, then I’m not the one.”
If both of you enjoy each other’s company enough, and can see the value in fun-while-it-lasts companionship, then this needn’t be the end of your friendship. You just need to end the phase of wishful thinking on the kid topic, assuming there is some.
Re: No Kids: Twenty-five years ago, I was in a really good relationship with a woman who didn’t want kids, and I very much did. It was a deal-breaker for me, and we ended the relationship. And now, 25 years later? I never found another relationship that was as good, and never had kids. So I guess I’d suggest that you not end it now, and give it a chance to see if one of you changes your mind as to whether this admittedly serious disagreement is worth ending a potentially good relationship.
I don’t have words, except thank you.
Re: No Kids Yeah, but the other end of the spectrum is you could have stayed, and thought “What if?” for the last 25 years. It’s a sucky position no matter how you cut the cake. I was the one who wanted kids, knowing full well he didn’t. I stayed. It took me five years to know for sure it was a deal-breaker. “No Kidding” needs to make sure the guy really understands he can’t change your mind.
Damned if you dump, damned if you don’t. OK then!
Re: No kids:
I’m surprised no one has pointed out that having a deep, serious conversation about Huge Relationship Potential Deal-breakers for Your True Soulmate less than a month after starting to date someone seems, well, a bit odd. I mean, at that point I’m usually trying to figure out if there’s anything on Netflix we both like.
I’m not surprised. Conversations go where they go, and if they go into a serious place that has a big nonnegotiable wall at the end of it, then you deal with that — on day 1 or in year 10.
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