Q: I am going through a terrible heartbreak right now. I had been dating the most amazingly perfect man I could ever imagine for myself for the last 10 months. I know that nobody is perfect, but we truly seemed perfect for each other in every way except for one big one: he doesn't know if he could ever have another baby. He has two from a previous (very unhappy) marriage in which he felt trapped. His kids are now 9 and 4 and he doesn't want to start again with a baby. Although I grew very close to his children during our relationship, I don't have any of my own. I realize that I could have a very fulfilling and special bond with them as a stepmother, but I also recognize they have their own mother who is not me. He has almost 50% custody, so I did have the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with his children.
I had always said that I could imagine a happy life for myself with or without kids: that the most important thing was to find the right person and everything else would work itself out. This has been the best relationship I have ever had and I truly love this man with all of my heart. However, I feel like having a baby in the future needs to at least be an option on the table for us. The way I see it is this: if we continue in our relationship and two years down the road, we jointly decide that our lives are full and we don't want to change anything, then it would be a mutual decision and I would have peace with it. Or if I was infertile, I would accept that it wasn't meant to be, or look into adoption. But if I continue in the relationship, knowing that having a child would never even be a possibility, I fear that I would eventually feel loss, regret, and resentment.
After some tearful discussions over the past few months, we broke up last night over this issue. He thinks that eventually he could change his mind, but that it will take time for that to happen and he doesn't want to leave me in limbo while he decides. I don't know what to do, because I am scared I will never find anyone I feel so strongly about again. At the same time, I am scared if I stay with him, I will regret never having the possibility of a child of my own. If it matters, I am 31 and he is 34. He had been separated from his wife for about a year and a half, but the divorce was just finalized earlier this year. Do you have any advice for me? Has anyone been in a similar situation where one partner chose to compromise on such a big issue or eventually changed their mind? Any thoughts would be so appreciated.
– Baby or the Man, N.C.
A: I don't have a magic answer for you, but it’s clear that you're listening to your gut -- and that your gut probably wants a baby no matter what. At 31, you certainly have some time to stay with him and see how things look in a year or two, but something inside of you has told you to end this. I believe in intuition.
Commenters can tell you stories about people who changed their minds (or didn't) about babies, but no one really knows how your guy will evolve now that his divorce is final. My advice is to see how life feels without him and to continue to pay attention to your instincts. You could have said, "I know I love this man. Let's reevaluate in another six months. This relationship is too good to leave." Instead you said, "If a baby probably isn't on the table, I have to walk away from this." And that's OK. It wasn't an easy choice, but after 10 months of falling for him, getting to know his kids, and getting to know yourself, you made a call.
All you can do is trust yourself. Because in this case, there's no right decision --- other than the one that brings you the most peace.
Readers? Did she make the right decision? Am I right to say that her gut made the right decision for her? If she was open to compromise, would she be finding reasons to stick around? Is her gut actually looking (to you) for reasons to stick around? Thoughts for her? Discuss.
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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.