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Insight needed about current relationship


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Hi, everyone.

I'm feeling very unhinged in my current relationship, and need some advice. I wish I could be more specific than that, but I really can't. I guess that's the same reason why I need the advice.

The relationship is about 8 months along now. We were having a discussion about having children (something which I'd had the impression from him was a possibility before the relationship began) not any time in the immediate future, but SOMEDAY. At any rate, he's changed his tune.

I'm not sure what to do about that, because it's something I want very badly. Again, maybe not now, but in a few years for sure. I'm getting to the age where I have to think about these things.

That's not everything, though. I'm feeling unhinged in this relationship in general, without really knowing why.

Any insights would be greatly appreciated.


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I'll go ahead and post a letter I emailed this morning to the guy I'm in a relationship with, just to give you some background:

Feb. 19, 2009

Hi, ____.

First of all, I wanted to reiterate that I appreciate everything you do, and everything that you try to do for me. It’s not lost on me, and hopefully you already know that.

I’ve thought about it a lot. Believe it or not, I think you have an abundance of valuable insights. Maybe sometimes I don’t say so because I’m jealous. I suppose you’re correct—no one can predict the future. But, I think it’s fair you know that my inclination to “nest,” as it’s so often referred to, is more likely to increase than decrease.

I’m not making a prediction, just pointing out what’s likely based on what I know about myself. It’s likely I’ll be more frantic about this issue in three years than I am now, because I’ll hear the ticking biological clock that much more.

I wouldn’t want a child right now or even in the next couple years, but I’ve realized that if I want to have children, I have a very narrow window within which to work. That’s not reluctance to live in the present, it’s biology. Having children at 40 might be possible, but then again, it might not.

I’ve already had my share of regrets—I don’t want one more. And while life will always have its share of regrets, this is one of those big ones, so much more important than whether I went to the prom or not.

I agree that my reluctance to live fully in the present makes this so much worse. Still, I don’t want to end up as one of those Grandmas who’s not actually a grandma, one of those maternal women who’s never had a kid. I’ve worked with a few—they regret it.

Consider your friend _____. He seems like a nice enough guy, but the idea of ending up like him—not only alone with his mane of white hair, but with no one to continue his legacy, would be difficult for anyone to handle without some modicum of sadness. I can not predict, as you’ve pointed out, just how difficult it would be for me, but I know myself enough (I believe, anyway) to know it would be a source of sadness.

No one can live forever—this is the one source of immortality we humans have. That’s the selfish reason. The unselfish reason is that I have a lot to give—witness how selfless I’ve been towards those I’ve care about, even to my own detriment. Another reason is that I have fairly good genes, overall. (I might be plump, but people tell me I’m pretty. I have a nice face and look more like I’m 20 than 30. I might not look like it, but I’ve run marathons. I take good care of myself. Although still somewhat shy, I’m creative. And although sometimes absent-minded, I’m fairly intelligent. I guess what I’m saying is that I think the overall package is still pretty good, and my parents, despite anything else they did, at least donated some intelligent chromosomes. They also gave me good teeth). I have even found myself wishing I had kept the baby I’d gotten with ____, even if only to give it up for adoption. But that leads back into the second reason, because I do believe that I have a lot to give, despite all my flaws.

You’ve brought up the film “Idiocracy,” a few times. Keep in mind that if only perfect people reproduced, it would be the end of the human race. That would be the opposite of “Idiocracy,” one of those flip-flop, opposite extremes you talk about.

Believe me, I’ve known about my flaws for a long, long time. Obviously—that’s one of the reasons I sought you out. I wouldn’t have been very interested in being with someone who told ____: “…when I felt that attraction, I thought, ‘Wow—how cool would it be to help this girl reach her full potential?’” if I had thought I was perfect.

Removing bad programming took a lot of work, going solo, and I was very curious over how another person would help me tackle the lingering quirks. I suppose I was expecting something bizarre and outlandish—like standing on a crowded street corner announcing the time to tackle my shyness…getting assignments kind of like the guys in “Fight Club.” I really was never expecting to be insulted or criticized. I actually feel a little less sure of myself, a little more ugly, and a little more mousy than when I started. Not that I’m doubting your methods. Maybe it’s like spring cleaning—you have to pull everything out of the closet and make a mess before you re-organize again.

I know that I’m not perfect—physically or psychologically. Yet I am more aware of psychological imperfections than many women I’ve observed—and I have observed them. You’re right—for the most part, most women who became mothers weren’t quite up to the task; a few I’ve run into still acted like children and were petty or manipulative. Others, like my friend _____, read every book in creation on babies and motherhood, played music for the baby before it was born, and taught her sign language so she could communicate faster. The opposite end of the spectrum, as you might put it. It makes me wonder—as a species, we’ve been reproducing for a while now. So long as you are aware of one’s self, aware of the nature of the responsibility, and aware of one’s limitations as a parent—and there will always be some, no matter how many books you read—things have a pretty good chance of turning out alright.

The fact that I am so aware of my flaws puts me at an advantage that my mother and other women didn’t have. I’m also much more willing to take control and be pro-active than my mother ever was, even if it’s uncomfortable.

Again, I know I’m not perfect. I don’t look like a super-model and I’m not the best house-keeper. Of course, I’ve always been willing to compromise. When I was 14, I was banking on artificial insemination—not that I didn’t think I couldn’t find someone to knock me up, but because I didn’t see how sharing control over something that important could work. After being in several relationships, I think that it can, and it’s probably good for the child to see how it can. Besides, despite all my physical and psychological imperfections, I don’t think having a family is a completely unreasonable ambition, someday.

I’m not trying to convince you, of course, although I do hope you’ll have a change of heart over the next few years. If I had to convince you it would kind of defeat the purpose. The idea (I would think, anyway) if for the guy to be not only willing but, who knows, maybe even a little eager to start a family with you. That would certainly be best for the children.

Of course, I know you’re not perfect either. But I do think you have very good genes. Also, a guy having children in his late 40’s or early 50’s is not un-heard of. A lot of people mellow as they get older, and you’ve said yourself that this has been your pattern so far.

I’d forgotten, until a couple of years ago, how being a Mom is something I’d always had in mind, even all through college. It was only in 2002, when I stepped out of my parents’ house and started socializing with women and dating men for the first time (on both counts, realistically) that I put children on the back-burner, probably because I felt I needed experiences first. Doesn’t mean that I still didn’t want to raise a family.

When I was writing the first 300+ pages of that self-help book (that I eventually lost on my parents computer) I had a future son or daughter in mind as I wrote it.

I mentioned something to you the other night about this thing in me that makes me share all my vulnerabilities with the man in my life. I don’t know why I do that, but I think female psychology is involved. Sometimes I think I magnify my weaknesses for their benefit. I suppose it’s exacerbated in your case—a man who pledged to help me overcome bad programming. Yet, it doesn’t mean I’m not confident, too, I just don’t share those feelings, for some reason that’s still completely ineffable to me.

Again, this is not an ultimatum, but I must let you know how I feel. Again, in all honesty, I had the impression when I was first getting involved with you that children were potentially in the picture. You’ve said you forget things that are said—now a lot of them are written down for you. It’s only fair you know how unlikely it is that I’ll have a paradigm shift sufficiently drastic to remove all maternal instincts.

You don’t have to say a word to me about any of this, but, I would be appreciative if you did.




Edited by 2002to2009
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Well, my first question is, what sorts of things make you feel "hinged"? :-)

Or, to try another way:

What I read from the letter is --

1) you want children.

2) it seems he does not, or has reservations.

3) he thinks it would be cool to help you reach your full potential.

4) both of you seem to think he can do that, and perhaps even should.

5) you describe having been insulted and criticized, and that you may actually be less sure of yourself than when you started.

6) you seem to have a better grasp of the things about yourself that you see as flaws than of things you're proud of.

The point of the letter seems to be to tell him the first item, that you want children, and then you carefully avoid asking him anything at all.

I guess I don't have any particular point; I'm hardly in a position to have one, knowing so little about you and your situation. I guess I'm just trying to reflect what I heard you say, and see how that gibes with what you meant to say.

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I never asked him the direct question "do you want children," because I already did during our discussion, and he completely went back on what he said when we were first getting to know each other. In other words, he completely "vetoed" any idea of children whatsoever.

When I tried to get some indication from him if it would be a possibility in a few years, after I had my MBA, he said it was impossible to predict anything, and that he didn't want to hear any discusssion about what might happen years from now.

The letter is partly a warning--I want to be fair, and make sure he knows how important it is to me, so that a few years down the road, when he still doesn't want children, he won't be too shocked when I walk out.

Then there's the other issue. If it really is that important to me, am I wasting my time here? Would it be better for both of us if I left?

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Hey 02-09, I can so relate to relationship difficulties! When you are in love it is so hard to think straight!! Can anyone do it??? That must be why they tell us not to rush into things, and let things develop over time. But the first thing you want to do when you're in love is rush into things!! Part of what might be going on for you is the settling out of the real deal on some things... things that were overlooked, exagerated, not quite true, etc because of the rush of getting together. With so much emotional investment put into this, it has to be very ungrounding to think that you've put so much of yourself out there and maybe things won't work how you thought when you got so emotionally involved. Malign has very astutely picked up on some concerns. No relationship is perfect, but there does come a time when reality needs to enter in, and you've got to do some grappling together to find out what kind of a team you can be (or not) to work things out.

I'm rambling a bit, but are you feeling unhinged because you're feeling alone in this relationship with some of your realizations?

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Finding My Way, you really hit the nail on the head with the whole not being able to think straight thing. Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it.

Yes, I do feel alone with some of my expectations for this relationship. It's frustrating, because I have no idea what his expectations from me are. He's the type to never discuss such things (complete opposite of the last guy, so it's a real adjustment) because he considers it too touchy-feely. He'll often say, "Jeez, I don't know...I'm not a fag, and I'm not a woman." Well, O.K., but what am I supposed to do?

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Malign: I realized I never answered your question about what would make me feel hinged. Finding My Way reminded me of some of it...there's very little communication in this relationship, which magnifies a general feeling of uncertainty I have.

I also realized I never thanked you for your comments, so thank you!

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Hi 2002to2009,

You don't really have to thank me; I look at this place as a "pay it forward" kind of thing. But you're welcome.

One of the hardest things I had to come to grips with in my own marriage, which by the way is on its last legs, was what I could change and what I couldn't. If he doesn't want kids, or may be manipulative or uncommunicative, those are things you won't ever be able to change. That's the first thing. You can ask him to try, for instance, in couple counseling or something similar. In fact, his response might tell you a lot; about whether he thinks your needs are important, for instance. But in the end, you only get to choose your own responses, to tolerate or to leave or whatever.

I don't think I know enough about "love" to ask you how you feel about him. Instead, I have a different question: I know you want children, but what I'm wondering is, with the things you've hinted at about his personality ... Do you want his children?

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Malign: No, you're right, I probably don't. Yet there are other times I genuinely do.

Of course, the ticking biological clock is a factor, but admitedly, I'm also a worrier, so I might be magnifying the deadline in my own mind a bit. I guess this isn't something I have to solve RIGHT NOW.

About the guy: I might be exaggerating the lack of communication a little bit. He actually tells me a lot about himself. But, when he doesn't want to talk about something, that's pretty much all she wrote. At times I'm intensely enamored of him. This is a highly intelligent person. When he worked for the government his IQ tested in the high 150's. So, evaluating him purely from a genetic standpoint, he'd donate some smart sperm. :-) But...the other aspect to consider is, like you said, his personality. In his own words, he's an "evil malcontent." He used to kill people for a living, basically. I wouldn't want to tell you what agency, but if I told you how many people he's assassinated, let alone tortured, your jaw might drop. (My parents' did. Of course my Dad's great at getting information out of me. I wouldn't be saying any of this if it wasn't anonymous). He's responsible, but feels absolutely no guilt over anything--ever. In fact, he's killed when he wasn't "working." He's told me before that he was diagnosed early as having sociopathic tendencies, and said that he probably would have been a serial killer if not for the discipline of martial arts. He's very interesting. He's immensely gregarious and the star of anything social--that's what really attracted me to him, because that, for me is something phenomenal. Despite being gruff he is capable of immense kindness. He showers me with presents (unfortunately, he reminds me of them whenever I want one hug too many). He has a protective manner that I find very endearing and an authoritarian manner that I must admit is a bit of a turn-on. I guess this must all sound pretty crazy. It's actually not as intense as it sounds. However, it does seem sometimes like all I've been able to attract to my life is chaos. I'm rambling...must get back to studying.

Edited by 2002to2009
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