Q: Meredith! I'm hoping that you and your readers can help me. I'm a never-married 34-year-old. I've had a few serious long-term relationships but I'm currently single.
I've recently started dating an ex-boyfriend (early 40s) who I've been off and on with (more off) for the past seven years. We know each other very well. He's ambitious, successful, handsome, smart, and kind ... everything that I've always wanted. We have a strong and intense physical connection even after all of these years. The problem is that he's afraid to commit. He has deeper issues regarding this that I won't get into ... let's just say his dad abandoned him and leave it at that.
During a recent discussion about birth control, he stated that he no longer wants to use any with me. We're both extremely diligent when it comes to protection and we've both been screened for STDs, so that's not the issue. The issue is baby-making. When I probed this further, it came out that he'd be OK with having a baby ... with me. No marriage, just the baby.
What is going on here? Isn't a commitment to have a baby an even STRONGER commitment than being in a relationship? The confusing and scary part is that I'm actually thinking about it. Time is running out for me and I have to be realistic that the conventional marriage and children might not be in the cards. He and I are both financially stable. I know that he would be supportive emotionally and financially. But this isn't the way that I imagined my family to be. Should I be worried that I'm just blinded by the prospect of having a baby and that I'm not really looking at the big picture here?
– Blinded By Baby Fever, Quincy
A: You need to ask this guy about 1,000 big-picture questions, BBBF. Maybe more.
You can start with these:
Would you raise this baby as a couple? Would you live together? What prompted this decision? How does he feel about being connected to you for the rest of his life because of this child? Is he really opposed to a relationship -- or just marriage? Why now? Why you? Does he see himself dating other people after you have the kid?
After you get some answers, please tell him what you want when it comes to family. Say it out loud so that you can hear it too. It'll probably go something like, "I want to have a baby with someone who's in love with me and committed to me."
The moment you disclose what you want (in a loud, confident voice), it'll be clear whether he's up for it. And let's face it, he probably won't be up for it. He hasn't been up for much of anything over the past seven years. He'll either admit that he's actually in love with you and just scared to move ahead, or he'll just sit there. My money's on him just sitting there.
I acknowledge that at 34, the clock is ticking. But that doesn't mean that you should procreate with someone who's so passive about big decisions that he just wants to drop birth control and see how it goes.
Base this decision on what you really want, not what's "in the cards." The cards aren't relevant. There's always time to make choices based on what's best for your heart.
Readers? What is he doing? Does he actually want to be with her? How passive is he? Should she consider this option? Is her age an issue? What is happening here? Is she in love with him? What if he says the right things? Should she believe him? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.