Is there still hope for me to meet someone and get married? - or - What should I do?

Love advice needed. I hope this story doesn’t sound too cold and calculating…Just as a disclaimer, my S.O. and I have talked this over at length. I’m not plotting behind his back; he knows I’m considering my options right now. I just can’t make a sound decision. I thought I’d cast my dilemma to the Dopers and see what your collective wisdom might produce.

My S.O. (We’ve lived together a year and a half) has made it blatantly clear that he will not marry me (ideas of marriage at the first part of living together, but he firmed up within six months into “no”), nor does he want more children. I, on the other hand, want to be married and produce more babies. Alternatively, I have considered artificial insemination (my S.O. has had a vasectomy) to have my own children in the context of this relationship. My S.O. has said he will help me raise any children I might have, but I’m not sure if this is fair to him, as he has stated he really doesn’t want that situation. Despite not wanting marriage (he states not to me or to anyone else, at least for now) he is comfortable with the situation the way it is and likes and loves me.

(I’m probably going to figure this out as I’m writing. But I still want to know what you think.)

As you can imagine, this situation is breaking my heart in a lot of ways. I love him dearly, and am very attached to him and to the living situation, but part of me does not want to give up my dream of traditional marriage and family. However, I’m 36 years old and not getting younger. I’m not sure if I would have a chance at meeting and marrying someone (in adequate time for more babies, especially) . I have a high IQ, at least average looks, and am in good shape (5’4" and 125-130 lbs), along with other good qualities. I love children and have a 12 year old daughter of my own. I would welcome being a step-parent (in fact part of the heartbreaking_ness of this situation is how attached I have become to my S.O.'s children - another complication is that my daughter is quite attached to him, though their relationship has been contentious at times.). I’m a licensed social worker and can earn my keep. I work hard, have a good sense of humor, and am sexually adventurous. I’m well read and I think I can carry on a decent conversation. However, there are some drawbacks. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is usually not obvious but I have to take medicine. Even with the medicine I am a little bit of a worrywart. My daughter also has special needs and requires a high level of structure. I’m a little messy, but the house is always sanitary. Despite my age, I think I might be a good wife for someone and mother for their kids. I just don’t know if it’s worth it to leave a decent situation like I have now, for the unknown of the dating world and possibly being alone for the rest of my life. On the flip side, I don’t know if it’s worth it to stay with someone whose goals are fundamentally different, even though we love each other and get along very well.

Oh, and if you’d suggest I try being alone… I’m not afraid of being alone, just don’t want it to be a permanent situation. Like being seventy and having no one, you know what I mean? My ex and I got divorced when my daughter was 2, and I didn’t date anyone seriously for five years after that. I was fairly comfortable although horny.

Also, anybody that has a Dr. Laura-style response of “well that’s what you get for living together” - please don’t bother. It’s a little too late for that and I am all too aware of the messiness my decisions have caused. Just please, Dr. Laura people-please stay away. That’s all I ask.

I hope this makes sense to everyone. If you need more information to understand the problem, please ask. I guess if you need to flame me for whatever reason, just do it. I feel pretty bad and mixed-up at the moment and feel like flaming myself, although I can’t pinpoint precisely why. Anyway, I know Dopers tend to be pretty brutally honest, and maybe that’s what I need right now to understand myself from another’s perspective. Anything you might share, opinions, your own experiences, shreds of hope, anything would be welcome. Thanks in advance.

The way I see it, whether or not you still have a chance of getting married and having more kids is irrelevant with respect to whether or not you should stay in your current relationship. Right now, what you want and what he wants are completely irreconcilable, and the situation is breaking your heart. What he wants isn’t going to change. What you want isn’t going to change. The fact that that what he wants and what you want are irreconcilable isn’t going to change. So if you stay, this situation is going to keep breaking your heart for the rest of your life. Think about the way this situation makes you feel, and project feeling like that for the next forty years. That’s a long damn time to feel as bad as you seem to feel now.

The way I see it, you’ve got two options:

  1. Change yourself and what you want and stay with this guy.
  2. Leave and pursue what you want with someone else.

He’s told you what he wants. Do you have the time and energy to stick around and wait to see if he changes his mind? No. You want marriage and babies. Are you getting what you want out of this relationship? No. Are you likely to? No. When a guy says he’s not going to marry you, he means it. (Learned that the hard way.)

I think artificial insemination is a bad idea. He doesn’t want kids. Lots of men out there do, and would be happy to oblige you, marriage and all. I think it’s best to avoid intentionally bringing a child into a situation like the one you’re in.

What is this REALLY about? Is this about you wanting to marry, or wanting more kids? What if you somehow found out tomorrow that it’s too late for you and you’ll never get pregnant again? Would that make you more comfortable with the idea of staying with this guy, even if you never marry? Or, babies or no, do you really, truly want to get married and do the stable nuclear family thing?

I have to admit I don’t understand the fear of being alone. I’d rather be alone than settle for someone who can only give me half of what I want/need from them. No, a spouse isn’t designed to meet 100% of our needs, but if you want marriage and the best he can offer you is living together, then this is not the best relationship for you to be in. Why settle?

You can be married and be alone, too. There are married people out there who haven’t had a real conversation in YEARS and don’t even know their spouse anymore, really. There are single people out there, even 70 year olds, whose lives are full of friends and family and not empty at all. Being unmarried doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be alone when you’re old, and being married is no guarantee that you won’t be lonely.

You are too young to accept the short end of the stick out of an unfounded fear of loneliness. You already know what the rest of your life with this guy will be like: he gets what he wants, you don’t, and you may well end up alone anyway. You have no idea what will happen if you leave: maybe you’ll find another guy, maybe you won’t. But oh, the possibilities! I’d take the unknown if it were me, scary as that can be sometimes.

If you’re really sure that you want marriage and more children, it sounds like you need to pursue those things in the context of a different relationship with a different guy.

Have you explored within yourself, and rejected, the possibility that you only want those things because they are conventional & traditional?

What you and he want are two different lives. I’m sure he’s a great guy and I hear that you love him. That’s fine. But if you really want what you say you want out of life, he is not going to be in your life the way you want him to be.

He’s not the guy for the life you want. He has told you this. Time to go. (Unless you don’t really want to get married and have more kids. If you can honestly accept that you will be happy never getting married or having more kids, then stay and be happy with what you have.)

And I understand this sucks. I’m very attached to the idea of getting married and having kids. Because of this, I limit the relationships I start to men who are also interested in getting married and having kids. I refuse to open myself to these problems because they really, really suck. (Other problems still arise, but at least I know that the guys I date seriously are at least capable of being in the life I want to live.)

Rough situation, please, whatever you do, be very honest with yourself right now. If you are honest and do what you need to do you’ll be fine either way. If you rationalize yourself into living a lie you could seriously damage your happiness for a long time to come.

Almost everyone you meet in your age range will have already had their children, and will not want more. They’ll be looking forward to getting the kiddies educated and having some personal freedom time.

It’s hard enough to find a compatible person to marry, without looking for the needle-in-a-haystack guy that’s in his mid-thirties or older and wants more children.

I found and married a wonderful woman when we were ages 42/38. But if either of us had wanted more children, it would have been a deal breaker.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

Thank you, so much, everyone that has replied so far. I’m so grateful for the thoughtful responses. It took me a long time to get the courage to post this stuff here.

Whew. What a great question. And I’m still thinking about it, but i believe the stable nuclear family is truly what I want. Although I combine that with babies, as I’ll state in a moment. I see other people in stable situations and secretly want that; although I have mainly lived in “alternative” situations (single motherhood and this live-in relationship, mostly) and been generally happy, I am very attracted to the idea of a committed relationship. Someone I treasure, who treasures me. Someone with whom I can create more children, children who look like him and me both. So I guess the long short answer is, I want both. I dread the thought of never being able to get pregnant again, but if that was the case, I would want to be with a loving husband who would fight through the alternative ways of adding children, by my side.

Whoo. AHunter3. Another astoundingly appropriate question. No, I truly have not done this, and I’m almost afraid to. A lot of my life has been spent in the quest to “be normal”. It is a frighteningly compelling question about this situation, and one which I truly need to ask myself. It’s entirely possible that the whole “marriage and kids” thing is a fantasy which I am not capable of making true. But wouldn’t it be nice if it was real instead? Thanks again, for this thought-provoking post. I had never considered this angle, which really is pertinent to me.

Everyone else, thanks so much for your thoughts and sensitivity. I’ll keep reflecting and reading your replies, whatever others may come. Peace,


Never ever, stay with someone because you’re afraid of being alone. The fear of never finding anybody else is natural, but incorrect. As long as you have some self confidence, and try, you will succeed in finding someone else.

Spending the rest of you life with someone who isn’t what you really want, but is better than nothing, can lead to lots of regrets about what could have been, had you had the guts to leave and find somebody new. And the longer you stay in that relationship, I’ll be the harder it is to leave. And the more you’ll probably quit trying and accept you fate, which isn’t what a relationship should be.

Also, it’s not fair to be someone, not because you want to be with them, but because you fear leaving them. Say he said to you “This isn’t the relationship I was looking for, but I may not be able to find another, so I’m staying with you.” How would you feel?

Just some things to think about.

I’ll be the harder it is to leave should read I’ll bet the harder it is to leave

“What might have been?” is a terrible terrible question to ask yourself. Try not to put yourself, or let yourself be put, into a position where you are asking yourself “What might have been?” all the time.

I’m saying that choosing to stay with a guy out of fear of being alone might put her in that position.

But let me rephrase.
If you commit yourself to someone because you’re afraid that you won’t find anybody else, then, as time goes on, you might realize that you could have found somebody else, or, there are others you would like to try for a relationship with, but, it’s too late, you’re already involved with somebody else and can’t bring yourself to break it off, maybe out of guilt, or fear, what if the new romance doesn’t work, and now I have nobody, or, whatever.
Of course, not being married would make it a little bit easier to leave the current relationship. (or you could try polygamy or polyandry :D)

Of course this is only a possibility. She might be able to just bottle up her feelings and grin and bear it. Or, it’s even possible she might actually come to accept it, and not harbor any feelings of anger and resentment. But that’s probably a slim chance.

Master Control, I think you may be misinterpreting what I’m saying. Like when you say,

That isn’t exactly my situation. He really *is * a person that I want, he just refuses to get married. This definitely isn’t a “desperate not to be alone” situation as you may be thinking it is. As I stated before, I’ve been alone. I don’t mind it. I just don’t want to be alone permanently. I’m sure we would most likely live together until one of us dies, if I don’t leave. If I do leave, however, in hopes of someone who is both a person I wan (like my S.O.) and commitment-ready, I do risk being alone permanently, which is not something I even want to think about. At the risk of sounding extremely shallow, simply filling my sexual needs (among others) is dangerous to attempt while alone.

My situation is a bit of risk analysis, with heavy emotional overtones. I could comfortably produce children within this relationship, have a father figure in the house that would contribute love and support to me and the children, and more than likely have a place to stay forever. OR, I could “go for the gold” and ditch a long-term relationship for a dream of marriage and biological children with a man who may or may not materialize. Then, the children would not materialize, and I would wind up doing artificial insemination without the support of a domestic partner.

Also, I love him. Not just because he’s “better than nothing”.

However, your point is well taken. Although I don’t believe I’m stepping cautiously out of fear, it is not outside the realm of possibility. Just like my S.O. doesn’t want to risk another divorce, I’m not sure I want to risk raising a young baby by myself again. So there is some fear involved, and perhaps even a fear of being alone. However, I’ve been soul searching for months, and I still don’t think that’s what it’s about. I will think about that particular aspect of the situation though. It’s almost a natural anxiety for most people.

And jsgoddess, your point is well taken too. I’ve heard that people regret what they *didn’t * do more than what they did do. And I’ve thought about this question haunting me as well.

Thanks again everyone. I need honesty right now, like someone posted previously. The more angles I can see this from, the better.

Well, it looks like I’m boned then, being a never married 35 year old guy with no kids.

Hmm, should I put out a neon sign, or would that look desperate?

Tuckerfan! Dude! Why are you wasting time diggin’ at me? You should be emailing ggurl. :smiley:

OK, now that I’ve had the little joke: You must admit that percentage-wise, the likelihood of finding a compatible person in their mid-thirties that wants to start or enlarge a family is not good.
I didn’t say there won’t be anybody available for her, I said such persons will be few and far between and thus hard to find.

If you are in your early 20’s, nearly everybody you meet expects or hopes to get married and have some children. Finding a good fit under these circumstances is tough, but most people manage. It’s much less likely 12 or more years later. Most of your contemporaries have been there/done that and they want to move on to another phase of their lives. Thus the search is likely to be much more difficult at age 35 than at age 20.

If you are lookin’, good luck to you too.

First off, my mistake for saying he’s someone who isn’t what you want. However, I’ll bet that there are other men who could also be what you want, and want to marry you.

:confused: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Although the fear is understandable, the chances are very good that you will find someone else and won’t have to live the rest of your life alone.

This quote seems to contradict the previous one. You first say that you’re not staying in the relationship out of fear of being alone permanently, then you say that if you were to leave him, you fear that you’ll be alone permanently. At least that’s the way I’m reading it.
Also, nothing shallow about wanting to fulfill your sexual needs, but I’m curious about what you mean by being dangerous to attempt it alone?

You seem to make finding a guy who wants to marry you as being on par with winning the lottery. Extremely rewarding if it pays off, but virtually unabtainable.
If this is true, I’m sorry that you feel that way.

Again, my mistake.

Well, however you decide, I wish you the best of luck, and hope everything turns out the way you want it.


Call me a cynic but if the guy went from maybe I could see myself starting a family to just six months later saying (firmly) “absolutely not”

I’m thinking the guy knew damn well he didn’t want a family from the begining.

Hopefully I’m wrong on this.

Master Control, thanks for trying to understand! :slight_smile:

One thing your post has made clear to me is the convoluted nature of my thinking right now. Wow. Posting about this personal stuff makes one step back and take a good hard look. You’re right about there being a lot of contradictions. But I think I need to be taken to task about the confusion, and having it pointed out is helping. I’m letting emotions and contradictory ways of thinking run the show right now, and that’s a bad place to be.

Whoa. You know, this is really in the back of my mind, how I think about it. And it is a sorry way to think.

I need to really search my soul, that’s for sure. And get rid of the defensiveness, and be truly honest.

Thanks for bearing with me you guys, and for your honest opinions.

Glad I was able to help a little. I was affraid that I was starting to sound like some sort of annoying know it all

This means you have already spent a year thinking about what your response is going to be. That is twice as long as it took him. You have already received as good advice as I could give and if you read it all over you’ll see that it is pointing pretty much in one direction. The best in whatever way you turn. :wink:

I’ll skip the advice, since everyone’s said pretty much what I would’ve said anyway, and since no one’s done so yet, submit myself as an example that it can happen after 36. And you certainly aren’t limited only to men your age and older who’ve already had children and don’t want more. My husband and I met (at a Dopefest, btw!) when I was 39 (nearly 40) and he was 34. We were married the day after I turned 41 and have enjoyed a fabulous first 2 years of wedded bliss. We haven’t firmly decided on children yet (we need to buy a house first, and we’re finding that a little more difficult than we’d imagined), but kids aren’t out of the question, either.

Good luck, whatever you decide!