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Q: Dear Meredith,
I met my guy about a year and a half ago (let's call him Eddie). Our relationship has gone through various stages over these past months -- from friends with benefits to exclusively seeing each other, and even a little time broken up. But we're going strong now and I'm happy. Some additional context: I'm also a man, and he's a bit older than me (I'm in my early 30s, he's in his late 40s). Aaliyah taught us "age ain't nothing but a number," and generally I agree with that, but the reality is that he's been on this planet longer than I have and had more experiences than me (this is my first serious relationship).
The other day, during an average conversation on some unmemorable topic, Eddie said something about how he would never have kids. It totally caught me off guard, and I didn't know how to respond. Personally, I'm not looking to have kids at this exact moment in time, but I'm not sure I *never* want to have kids. Part of me wondered if he feels that way because he has known a time when gay men didn't necessarily have children -- there weren't a ton of "modern families" around -- so he accepted that and moved on with his life. But that has not always been the case for me.
Naturally, instead of talking about it with him, my brain went into overdrive. Sure, I don't want kids right now, but I'm not sure I would give up the chance to have kids in order to continue being with him. At the same time, I'm not sure the future chance of maybe someday having kids would be more of a priority to me than staying in the relationship, either. I kept asking myself, do I need to cut and run now, before we get too far into this? Is it unfair to him or to me (or to both of us) to continue our relationship, only for me to potentially call things off down the line if/when my paternal instinct finally kicks in, and he's not ready? I don’t want to chicken out, but I can't help but wonder if it saves us both from future heartache.
We had a bit of a "state of the relationship" talk the other day, and I explained what I mentioned before and how my concerns resulted from the comment he made. Eddie said that I misunderstood him and it's not that he is totally against the idea of having kids, but it's not something he definitely wants and the circumstances would need to be right (being ready financially, professionally, etc.). I was happy that I was able to express my worries -- I essentially got to say "I might want kids someday and it might be a relationship-ender if you don't," and he didn't want to end things right then and there, so I thought that was a good sign. However, there's still a little piece of me that wonders if we are wasting our time.
I guess the question I am left with is: How much weight should you give to the maybes or the not-sures in a relationship? I understand sometimes you have to "take the leap" and "let the cards fall where they may" and other clichés of this nature, but does there come a point when practicality trumps possibility (or vice versa)?
– Potential Proud Papa, Boston
A: You're worried about the age difference, and that's OK. I adore Aaliyah, but I'm pretty sure she released "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" when she was 15. An older person (me) would tell you that numbers are often very important.
Your relationship sounds pretty great right now, but if you're thinking that you might want kids in your late 30s, that puts him in his ... mid-to-late 50s? Maybe you want to have this experience with a real peer.
I believe Eddie's maybes and that he could come around on having children. But I'm not sure that you want to have a family with him. You don't have to make any big decisions right now, but please think about where you want to be in five or 10 years. Is Eddie the guy you want by your side? Does your happiness seem temporary?
You don't have to let the cards fall where they may. They're your cards -- you can arrange them however you want.
Readers? Is this about the maybe on the baby or the age thing? Is the LW unsure because this is his first big relationship? What should he do? 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.