Q: Hi Meredith and commenters,
My boyfriend and I have been together 9 years, since freshman year of college, and have been friends since middle school. He knows me better than anyone and he can make me laugh like no one else. I have so much fun with him and we're alike in so many ways -- all the ones that are important to me (physically active, love dogs, very laid back). We have everything in common. (Yes, maybe a consequence of basically growing up together. I can't image who I'd be without him.) But, he doesn't want kids. In fact, he is vehemently against kids (reasons of time, money, relationship stress). We had discussed this in the past but I was almost positive I didn’t want kids either -- until recently. I do.
Maybe he'll change his mind, but I feel like I can't really wait around and see. All I can do is go on what he's saying now, which he seems pretty passionate about. It literally makes my heart hurt when I think about him not being around. I've been thinking about this for like a year and I don't think I can hold it in much longer. But, it feels awful to even write, never mind saying it out loud. I'd be crying if I wasn't at work. I'm terrified, and I'm not even sure it would be the right decision. I don't even know if I'd regret not having kids (i.e., staying with him). I used to not even want them! And how do you break up with someone you are still in love with?
– Not Out of Love, Seattle
A: I'm so sorry, NOOL. You've worked hard to maintain a loving relationship for almost a decade only to be faced with an undeniable deal-breaker. There's nothing you can do to fix this. If you know you want kids, you have to let this go.
This is why a lot of people can't even start to look for an appropriate partner until their mid-20s -- because they just don't know what they need. You're just figuring out how you want to live your adult life. He's getting in the way.
I wish there was some magic way to cope with this, but there isn't. You just have to accept that you know what you want and speak the truth. "I love you, but we want different things." Sounds simple, right? Heartbreaking but simple.
Contrary to what we often see on Love Letters, breakups are not always about cheating and falling out of love. Sometimes they're just about reality. If you've been thinking about this for a year, you're ready for reality.
Readers? Will he change his mind? Should she leave him? Should one of them compromise? How can she get over this relationship if she's still in love? 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 novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.