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Possible breakup over desire for family

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I fear my boyfriend and I are heading for a breakup. We've been together for over a year... when we got together, I was very straightforward about the fact that I want to have kids. I didn't push the time and knew we needed to let things develop naturally, but was clear at my age (39 when we met, 40 now) that time was a factor. He seemed very supportive for the first months and even helped me with the process of egg freezing. Every now and then he would bring up things like "what names do you like" and "what school would kids of ours go to if we lived here" so I thought everything was good.

Then about 6 months into the relationship, things at work went badly for him. No layoffs as yet but threats of them over his head. He's been looking for another job and struggling. Twice there were promising opportunities that looked certain... each time they've fallen through. Each time a major setback happened he'd tell me - "you deserve better, you should leave me. I'm holding you back." This last time was particularly bad for him as everything was looking good and a last-minute obstacle ended it. He's been saying things like "I'm not sure I can be a dad... I may be too selfish... I don't know if I want to give up my free time... you should go meet someone who can be a better provider." I do well at work and have never required he make a lot of money, but that doesn't seem to matter to him, nor does the support and help I try to give. Reassurance doesn't seem to work. When I ask him if it's just about the job, and would he be ready if he found a good one, he just doesn't know.

I'm torn. Part of me wants to stick by him through this. I've already broken up with two boyfriends over their unreadiness to have a family (one was a 3 year, the second a 2 year) and always wondered if I should have just stuck with it for a while. That said, my current boyfriend has no long-term friends that I've actually met, and I worry that cutting and running is his M.O. when things get tough.

We were planning on moving in together - as recently as 3 weeks ago he told me he was ready for commitment, but this last job rejection was such a blow to him. I feel he needs support but the fact that he so readily suggested I leave him just seems to imply that he is not willing to fight for us as a couple, much less a family.

Any insights or thoughts you can share? Thank you!

Possible breakup over desire for family

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The problem is your, what you believe is, urgency to have a baby. It's interfering with your ability to concentrate first and foremost on cultivating a relationship to the point where babies are then the next step. And same for him, given that you set that 'condition' right from the off.

Part of being a father is being a good provider. He understandably feels like a failure on that score thus unworthy of father hood, and sees no reason to keep positive about his future success.

You can financially support him as much as you like, but that won't help the fact that men see it as THEIR job and identify themselves heavily through that role and ability. If anything, you being a better provider than him will worsen his sense of inadequacy. I'm not surprised, therefore, that each time the situation fails him he turns to you FOR REASSURANCE and does so in the typically male, self-protective way of issuing STATEMENTS rather than "needy-sounding" questions. So... him saying 'you deserve better', 'you should leave me', 'I'm holding you back' are all geared towards hearing you deny each vehemently.

If you're sure you're *reassuring him heavily enough and still it's failed to work, then I can only suggest that he's become depressed about it all whereby there aren't reassurances enough. And I suspect him saying he doesn't know if he'd be ready if he found a good job is more about his firm disbelief, now, that he ever will.

I'm not sure you're qualified to be *sure, however, if in the next breath you're admitting you're torn and only part of you wants to stick by him. Actions!

SHOULD you stick by him? Well, that all depends, doesn't it... on how strongly you feel about him, the person, irrespective of what he can or can't provide - emotionally as well as materialistically.

Doesn't sound like he's cutting and running to me. I don't think a cutter and runner would waste all that energy whinging on and on about it, do you? They'd just do it. Would have done it already.

Nope, he's ASKING... whether YOU are going to cut and run.

Is his negativity starting to rub off on you and destroy your faith in he and you as long-term partners, do you think? If so, maybe you should cease trying to phrase your reassurances so kindly, sweetly and tactfully and just literally yell in his face, 'Shut UP! I don't give two HOOTS whether you've got a job right now or even next year or the next! I'm with you and want to CONTINUE for the rest of my LIFE being with you because you're a lovely person, BERBOM, and, as such, FYI, would make the most SUPERB father!'.

I wouldn't try to augment your justification for your shaken faith with the fact of his having no long-term friends. LOL, I've not met many men beyond cruising-in-packs age who have even *one* of those!

In summary: "We were planning on moving in together - as recently as 3 weeks ago he told me he was ready for commitment, but this last job rejection was such a blow to him. I feel he needs support but the fact that he so readily suggested I leave him just seems to imply that he is not willing to fight for us as a couple, much less a family. " Nah. This whinging - or fishing for really firm reassurance, I should say - *is* his fighting for you and he as a couple and future family.

Tell him to shut up doubting your integrity and judgement because it's achieving nothing but insult. And anyway, why the hell can't he and you swap traditional roles for a while, with him playing house husband (or just preominantly as he kept applying and interviewing)? As long as it was temporary, surely that would be the perfect solution all round?

Trust me, raising a kiddie is THEEE hardest job in the world. Only the toughest women and men can handle it. So if it's a challenge he's after, something to prove his mettle over? VOILA!

He might not even end up being the rearer. It might be that just simply pointing out that option might be all it takes to remove the current pressure and sense of total uselessness? Usually, people, whatever their sex, just need to feel they have options in order to be content.

Hope that helps?

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Wow, those are great points!

I have reassured him a LOT but definitely more in the tactfully sweet way. Your "shut up!" statement is brilliant - I've said all of that sweetly, including the idea of him being the house husband (actually he brought it up first, but with an edge like he thought it was going to have to happen due to his inability to find a better job).

I've been told by a previous ex-boyfriend that he wished I had called him on his bulls$*t more often. I think he was looking for moments like this.

Maybe I've been too burned by something that SEEMED like this happening before so many times - over the past 8 years - to hear that this is a wish for reassurance, not a distancing tactic from someone who really wants out but doesn't want to be the bad guy.

This definitely makes me want to try again. Though, I'm still torn about having him move in next month with this unresolved (it would be a way to really show that I'm really with him in this, and good support for him, but man it's a lot when things are up in the air). Any thoughts on that?

And what is BERBOM? :)

Either way, thank you so much, these are fantastic thoughts and have totally flipped the situation in my mind.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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I think that your desire to have a child is forcing you to accept that this guy is ready for not only being a husband but also being a parent.

Heck, he isn't even settled in his career yet.

You don't need him to have a baby. You need to be able to financially support a child - that's it.

He seems to be pushing you away. Too much pressure on him. You don't need 2 babies.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Hi again CAZ, and you're welcome.

"I have reassured him a LOT but definitely more in the tactfully sweet way. Your "shut up!" statement is brilliant - I've said all of that sweetly, including the idea of him being the house husband (actually he brought it up first, but with an edge like he thought it was going to have to happen due to his inability to find a better job)."

There's a difference between doing something through a sense of onus because your partner wishes it and doing it because you want to and was your own idea. Men definitely - repeat, DEFINITELY - like to feel the things they do were all their own idea because they're raised via societal and peer pressure to be independent initiators and operatives. However, that statement of his sounds more to me like a conflict between him wanting to remain needed and useful (in what seems like the only thing open to him right now - playing house husband) yet simultaneously wanting to appear like it's not something that appeals to him (because it's not strictly "manly" (yawn)). Might be worth mentioning to him the fact that some types of men make far better 'mothers' than women for the simple reason that they're less influence-able by sentimentality (and, later, typical toddler emotional blackmailing attempts), and establishedly more practical-minded.

"I've been told by a previous ex-boyfriend that he wished I had called him on his bulls$*t more often. I think he was looking for moments like this."

Then you obviously attract highly sensitive yet slightly under-assertive men, the downside of which tends to be a greater sense of insecurity and bottling things up.

"Maybe I've been too burned by something that SEEMED like this happening before so many times - over the past 8 years - to hear that this is a wish for reassurance, not a distancing tactic from someone who really wants out but doesn't want to be the bad guy."

Baggage? Oh, quite probably, LOL. He'll have his, too. (Don't we all!)

"This definitely makes me want to try again."

Good. Only if you've each done absolutely everything in your power to make it work can you ever walk away from it without living the rest of our lives saying, 'If only...', and, 'What if...?'. Regret is a killer. Hell, you know that, don't you.

"Though, I'm still torn about having him move in next month with this unresolved (it would be a way to really show that I'm really with him in this, and good support for him, but man it's a lot when things are up in the air). Any thoughts on that?"

Yup. I strongly suspect that, being your typical pusher and tester (acting-out as a substitute for verbal confession), this guy just wants to know you love him for himself above all else... particularly as in you're in the very fortunate position of not even needing anyone's financial support. I suspect that subconsciously, i.e. unwittingly, he's somehow self-sabotaging his job-seeking success in order to put that question to the test. I'm pretty sure that once he knows beyond doubt you love him for him, and to hell with what he can 'provide', he'll suddenly - poof, just like that! - get a firm job offer (- seen it a hundred times before). The excellent news here, is that being in a solid primary relationship and family obviously take priority for him, even over his career, if he's willing to jeopardise his perceived status for a while. That, frankly, is a rare attitude in a man and not to be sniffed at.

"And what is BERBOM? :)"

Full Stop, Period, Nuff said.

In summary, your relationship together being more important to him than anything else in life, he obviously worries that deep down, as opposed to all the noises you make, you (like the ex/exes??) are secretly with him based primarily on what he can bring to the union financially/materially, and won't commit properly until he's sought irrefutable proof. Since you have no need for a financial provider but obviously appreciate his other wonderful qualities, and since layoffs aren't the same as him being a flake who's unable to hold down a job, thereby affording every reasonable expectation of his being able to get another at some point, and since he could be of major help both emotionally and at-home practically as would further your own ability to do even better at your job (and earnings), I really don't see what the problem is.

As opposed to what we're taught to believe, there's a very fine line between genders and the roles we're ascribed. Yes, some spouses find role reversal (even for short periods) untenable, but others - usually where the man has a stronger than normal feminine side and vice-versa the woman - find it works beautifully.

I mean - you're clearly a hunter-provider type. So what on earth do you need another provider for??? You don't. You need a man with loads of love and support to give and who's as keen as you on starting a family.

In short, I don't think he's the problem. I think he senses you are. And I agree. *Not much* of a problem, though. Just conflicted between conventionality and unconventionality. S*d that. It's about what works to make you and he (and your future kid) happy.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Damn you're good, SOULMATE. I always wondered what the pattern was that I had with previous boyfriends, and I think you nailed it. I attract and am attracted to highly sensitive men who have trouble asserting their needs. I'm a highly empathetic person who, paradoxically, is not very sensitive unless I "turn it on" (although I think maybe this was a reaction because I was more sensitive as a child - and less assertive - and pushed myself to change). I may even be judgmental when someone seems overly sensitive or under-assertive because I didn't like it about myself - but seek it out in a partner because I still appreciate it, and find comfort in it.

I just read up on HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) and it is so relevant. For example, it helps explain his comment about being worried about having kids because he wants his free space - which speaks to him getting overwhelmed and needing to disconnect.

Cue breakthrough music and close-up of the eyes as the lightbulb goes off!

Once again, from my heart, thank you. An amazing relationship was about to end. If it's not too late, maybe we can bring it back.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Irrespective of not liking it in yourself, I'd have thought it also a case of impatience, as in, 'If I can conquer it, anyone can so why are you making such a big deal about it?'. We FORGET what hard work overcoming something (or making the initial transition to tackling it) actually was, including the intricacies and timespan involved, thus tend to expect others to just do it - in 5 seconds flat, click! - and feel frustrated when they can't or seem to struggle more than we did (emphasis on seem). That's not judgmentalism per se, it's impatience as I say, mixed with over-empathy and rescuer tendency ("fix, fix, fix, make his/her wailing stop, quick, aargh!"). But he needs his struggle because, if you remember, it's all part of the strengthening process.

I wouldn't pay too much heed to his need for space comment. What bloke *doesn't* worry about any loss of freedoms? Plus, as you imply, it is indeed natural to have a fear/self-doubt we can't articulate and instead find a zillion-and-one other things to blame it on. The other excuses men traditionally make when wobbling over becoming a dad tend to be about not having the *right* job, not earning enough, not having a big enough house, living in the wrong neighbourhood, yadder-yadder... It's simply that men who've yet to go more through the mill are unused to thinking of themselves as slaves to nature/fate; they're planners who like to delude themselves they're masters of their own destinies and schedules and at liberty to be totally prepared and ready (hah!) for even life's greatest events and changes.

I don't agree this 'amazing relationship was about to end', though. Just as a man who's resolved to wriggling out of the relationship doesn't waste time going endlessly on and on about it as a precursor to taking action (that's women, actually), neither does a woman who's closer to ending her relationship than keeping it go to the effort of asking for and responding mainly only to *positive* opinions on a forum. Nor does she use the term 'fear' about heading for a break-up. She certainly doesn't advocate for him and subtly but pervasively sing his praises, including labelling the union amazing, because (think about it) it'd be *self-justification* she needed, not counter-justification. Most notably of all, NEITHER of them endure seemingly approaching cloud for 6 long months after only 6 months of initial sunshine. So there's obviously something far, far stronger than circumstance and fair weather keeping the two of you together. Must be true love, huh! :-)

So, 'too late' my bottom. I repeat, you just need to figuratively-speaking grab him by the shoulders, give him a good shake and yell your reassurances into his cloth ears whereby they finally drown out and put paid to the silly, non-stop, negative narrative going round and round in his self-doubting head. Once that's done, it might be a good idea to leave off the baby talk for a wee while: most men can't multitask, particularly over emotional issues. One thing at a time, horse before cart.. let him deal exclusively with his potential/pending job situation, and show your support in order to convince him that he and his troubles are as important to you as becoming a mum. You're a TEAM, so his problems and solutions are your problems and solutions and vice versa, right? :-)

All in all, you and he, together and as individuals, just need time to adjust to the new and unexpected direction you're seemingly headed in and to BOTH stop being so impatient (and wobbly). Coupl'a control freaks - what are ya? (;-D)

Let us know how it goes, yeh?

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Will do! His lease is up at the end of September so a short time will tell how things go :)

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Well, sadly I have bad news about this situation.

He and I talked again and I gave him all the reassurance I could - acknowledged that he's been under pressure, told him I very much want to be with him and took away the time pressure as much as I could, told him that I appreciated him telling me about his concerns about being a father and that I wanted to be with him knowing that he has those doubts - that I wouldn't hold it against him if it turned out that he truly didn't want them, after the job situation was resolved. Things seemed better and we kept moving forward with planning for him to move in.

I would have liked to have avoided talking about kids at all for a while, but we had both agreed to watch my brother's kids for 3 days while the parents were out of town for something urgent. Never having done it before, and with kids of 1 and 4 (the youngest requires a small amount of medical attention too) I needed my boyfriend's help and as he had already said he'd do it with me, we set out to watch them. It was a challenging weekend going from never babysitting overnight, to 3 days, virtually nonstop. I thought he and I ended up working together through it well and he even said something here and there about "our kids" afterwards like he was imagining it. He also seemed overwhelmed but proud of what we did.

Four days later, he called to tell me that after that weekend, he's pretty sure he doesn't want kids (doesn't want to lose his freedoms, doesn't want the full-time responsibility etc) and maybe doesn't even want marriage. The move-in date was weighing on him and he's just not at a point in his life where any of this is feeling possible and possibly not even desirable. Basically he was pleading for me end the relationship (being unwilling to do it himself) and already talking about things in the past tense "I'm sorry I led you on about wanting those things..."). Postponing the move-in date wasn't enough.

When I asked him what he wants, he said what he wants for me "I want you to be happy, I don't want to hurt you") and when I push him to say what he wants for himself, he said he just doesn't know. I've been in this exact position before, sadly - almost word for word.

Unless he feels it for himself that this is something he wants, I don't think there's much for me to do. And with him now seeming so sure he doesn't want kids, it feels like a losing fight against the tide of his anxiety, with an unclear end. I love him, but I'm unwilling to give up my hope of family for him.

I've given up. Today I mourn the end of the relationship.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Okay, CAZ... I'm going to spank your bum now - bend over, please.

CAZ, I did advise you not to push it and to instead take the pressure OFF. I appreciate your brother and his wife had an "urgent" need but, your life is just as important and that time wasn't the right one to step up and act in someone other than your own's best interests, given that you and your bf had hit a delicate stage. I mean, you're not seriously telling me that you and your bf were the only other people on the planet that your brother/sister-in-law could have asked, are you?

And let's be honest here: it was not his equal idea to agree like you try to imply, it was yours (because he's *your* brother, whom, accordingly, asked *you*). Well, no-one but NO-ONE in that situation would have the confidence to state any objection for fear of exposing themselves publicly in front of your whole family as some heartless git. So, really, you boxed him into a corner over it, meaning there WASN'T anything he could have said but 'yes, okay'.

So let's just tell it like it is, okay?

Things had got reasonably better, thanks to the talk, but you then, out of impatience, using your actions, went and contradicted yourself and your tacit promise to ease up on the baby pressure a full 180 degrees.

Be honest - a part of you was hoping that by the end of the weekend, EITHER he'd be a convert, as gagging as you to get started with trying for your own baby, or would at least make a decision the other way so you could fast-foward knowing where you stand (because at least that's better than prolonged uncertainty, thinks you).

Couldn't you help yourself? If not, then you're even more gagging for a kid than we originally supposed and are in so incredibly much of a hurry that you'd rather push him away than wait out his circumstance-led uncertainty.

(Of COURSE he's "just not at a point in his life where any of this is feeling possible". I repeat: HE FEELS LIKE A FAILURE OF A PROVIDER, BEING ASKED TO PUT THE CART AFORE THE HORSE!)

So your plan worked (in the negative direction, anyway)... his cold feet are now even colder. ALMOST. And I say almost because...

"Basically he was pleading for me end the relationship (being unwilling to do it himself) "

...Who is he trying to kid?! Pleading for you to do it my arse. He may have fooled you but he's not fooling me. A man who's sure he wants out is perfectly capable of saying so. So clearly he's NOT sure. Ultimately, therefore, your game got you no father forward or backwards besides into A POWER STRUGGLE. He's lately using this so-called desire to end it statement as a Sword of Damocles. It basically translates thus: "SHUT UP ABOUT THE CART ALREADY, WHEN I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF I HAVE THE HORSE OR WHEN OR *IF* I EVER AGAIN WILL!" After all, thinks he - if you're focused on just KEEPING your relationship you're not going to be thinking about any stage beyond that, are you.

He's clever but he's not being fair. But then neither are you and you started it.

"I've been in this exact position before, sadly - almost word for word."

Then don't you think you should have learned how better to deal with this by now?

If you're already aware that by pushing too hard for what you want you achieve the exact opposite - how is that intelligent? It's called self-sabotage.

By such behaviour of yours, I'm not sure you actually DO want a baby as much as you claim. Or, let me put it another, more exact way: yes, you do have the urge and desire. But what you have in far greater quantity is FEAR. Fear of becoming a mother or just settling down (for whatever reason/s...reasons you have to seek, identify, and overcome or come to terms with). It's coming out in the form of this self-sabotaging, self-defeatist behaviour:

First you immediately put the man on the defensive by revealing your desire for a child far too prematurely and attaching unfair, untoward conditions to their getting to 'have you'. That's not how men want it to work. They, like everyone else, want to feel SPECIAL, like it's YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM that's got your ovaries all excited. Your way smacks of this: "I want a baby so - eenie-meenie-minie-mo - okay, you'll do!". Hardly flattering, right? And then - as has become the case here - you demonstrate an almost total lack of empathy and consideration towards his LIFE CRISIS.

You set them up. You set them up right from the word Go.

WHY do you? What exactly are you in conflict over? Are you a commitmentphobe with a conversely louding ticking clock? Or do you actually deeper down sense you'd work better as a single parent?

Sorry if this comes over harsh but, in my experience, only real firmness can counter this amount of Catch 22-type confusion.

You can pull your trousers back up now and hate me later, LOL. ;-)

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Taking care of a brood of kids is NOT the same as taking care of your own. He got baptism by fire, dear. You set him up for bolting on you.

O well, he did verbalize that he does NOT want kids and does NOT want all the responsibility of a family.

Better that you know this NOW.

Sorry for the loss of your dream.

PS - at your age you will probably meet someone who already has kids (of course, please be divorced or widowed) and then you two will add more. That seems like more sense. He will already be 'broken in" to what it means to have the patter of little feet in the house.

Good luck and keep looking. Mr Right is out there somewhere.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Majority of the men are lost when it comes to kids. They need to be coaxed into being a father for the first time. Even then it will take them a while to finally settle with the notion.
Your boyfriend understands the time factor and initially he felt he could do it for you. But as set backs came he realised that he just cannot give into this and since the time factor counts, he decided its best to set you free to follow your dreams. If you still stick together it would mean he will require much more time than you are willing to give him for settling in.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Thank you for your perspective. I am coming to terms with alternative ways to have a family. I appreciate that he was able to be clear about where he was (in the past I've had relationships go on for 3 years before realizing we didn't have the same desire).

It was a trial by fire, I realize now. I wish I could have figured out a different way.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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SOULMATE - I get what you're saying and yes, I knew that the weekend was potentially going to be a problem. But if I could have found a way to rely on someone else, I would have. It was not a game.

Sadly, the urgent reason is truly urgent and based on something that is shaking my family to its core. My boyfriend was one of only 3 people who know what's really going on right now (he was with me when we found out the news, which shocked us both) and the third person who knows shared the responsibility before we took over. We agreed before I understood the extent of his fears. Could I have found someone to dedicate those days to helping me without sharing the reason? I'm not sure - the friends I would ask have their own children or would have had a hard time clearing that time at that point, and I don't know if I could keep the reason from them if asking them to clear the time. And that reason could be damaging to more than relationships. It's a reason that excluded my ability to ask parents for help. Because I don't have children, I didn't know what other options there might be for overnight paid childcare. So I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place, and he was more than willing to help. In hindsight I know it was too much to ask with where he was. But this was NOT a test and if I felt I could have avoided involving him, I would have.

I agree was clear from the beginning that having a family is important to me, because I wanted to make sure that was something he wanted. I didn't want to start another 3 year relationship only to find the person I was with was not really interested in having kids, after all. Once it seemed we were both interested in family, I was happy to jump in wholeheartedly.

For the first half of the relationship he seemed to as well. I didn't hit him over the head with it, and he actually talked about it more than I did - asking what names I liked for our children, for example. From my past history with men being unsure about children, I was always sensitive to saying too much because I didn't want it to be about kids, but about us first, then eventually a future with family. Whenever he did bring it up I was happy to hear it and join in on the future talk.

When the job issues came up he always put huge pressure on himself and I did whatever I could to be supportive and take the pressure off. I felt like I was talking him off a ledge anytime he encountered a setback. When he started questioning his desire to be a father, that's when I started to get really worried about our future together.

When we talked about moving in, I did say that I didn't want us to move in together until we both knew it was a step toward marriage and family, but that is a personal value I have about living together. He was actually more interested in moving in together - I would have been fine with living separately until we were ready for the next step.

I think you have excellent points about how he's feeling and about how this has affected him. But your assumptions about how I've been in the relationship and my testing him with this are way off. Yes, I've been clear about what I want at this point in my life, but I will defend communicating my feelings about this.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Only now my analyses are gross misassumptions as well as way off? Yet not back when I "assumed" your reassurances hadn't been firm and forceful enough, etc.?

Well, if there TRULY was no other way/other babysitters due to this new and, sorry to say, oh-so-conveniently unmentionable mystery obstruction then you can avoid self-reproach and put it down to Fate having stepped in on your behalf in order merely to speed up what was always going to be the inevitable outcome. ...Although, saying that...

...Utterly gagging for a baby plus somewhat paranoid/braced against finding yourself yet again let down in that regard, yet managed to keep a tight lid on *all* expressions of such with the exception of one or two firm statements in the beginning and thereafter only under topical instigation of his??

Well, that's a new one on me, I must say.

I take it you do realise that verbal communication - including anything that presents to the other person as pressure - makes up only 7% of total forms of human communication and cues?

...Eyeballing babies in prams; watching baby-related TV ads where normally ads get fast-forwarded; making "ahhh" noises; premature nesting behaviour/decisions in terms of decor or other pre-preparations; 'merely' mentioning that so-and-so friends are pregnant or have just sprogged; sharing news over supper about little neice/nephew's latest antics; sudden pauses in front of shop windows to admire baby clothes; books on the subject;.. (the list is endless). What - none of these? None whatsoever?

Maybe, then, it's truer to say that, like everyone else, your apt-to-test-and-push subconscious is more powerful an influence on your whole psych and its gamut of subtle behaviour as well as more determined and effective at sneaking under your own radar whenever you're not looking than you perhaps realise.

Whatever/whichever...As long as you're sure about this decision of yours, that's the main thing.

As for me, I need to go lie out on the grass in readiness of re-condensating back up into the rainclouds by morning, LOL. ;-)

On a more serious note, however, there is another possible issue to consider: perhaps what with your separate urges for a kid and for a lifelong partner getting muddled together because of their somewhat unnatural concurrence, you're unconsciously choosing men who fall that bit too much on the immature side. In other words, the men you're choosing/accepting are in certain important regards HELPLESS BABIES who appeal to you because of how they afford you a handy bit of mothering pre-practise?? That would certainly explain why, possibly, despite they tell you what you want to hear (promises they're either ill-equipped or loath to keep), once the time to step up starts to actually loom, in comes them scrabbling around for excuses that will pass as plausible and justifiable?

Food for thought?

A....NYWAY.. As long as you're sure this is the route you want to take. Again - "If only..." is a heavy weight to carry. (Same message to him.)

Best of luck!

Possible breakup over desire for family

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Soulmate, regarding the weekend, you don't seem to believe me when I tell you that this was not something "convenient" that I set up as a test or game, but it's true. It was something I'd never been asked to do and hopefully will never again for this reason. There are rare times when you truly are one of the only people who can help with something and this was one of those times. And I didn't have the courage or knowledge to do it alone. At the end of the day, I probably did make a choice of family over our relationship without fully acknowledging that that may be the result. But please stop implying that it was a test or game. It was not. If I could erase all of the circumstances that led to it, I would have done that in a heartbeat.

You may be surprised, but no, I don't do those baby antics that you talk about. Share stories of my nephews who he knows and has spent time with and said he misses when he doesn't see for a long time - that's true, when there is a story. But I've never been the type to ooh and aww over baby clothes, buy baby books, buy anything in prep. I'm not "utterly gagging for a baby." I've found many words of wisdom in your responses but this part is what is off base. I want a family - it's a long-term dream. To me family means husband and child or children who become adults.

And I truly had been beginning to think he was ready for kids even more than I was. My brother asked if we wanted any of their baby things they were getting rid of and my boyfriend said yes right away, before I could even form a response. When I asked him about that recently, along with the other times he seemed to be looking forward to having kids, he acknowledged it and said he was trying it on like a hat.

My desire for kids did come late in life, and I know that's contributed to that concurrent desire for a life partner and family. At this age I think that's tricky.

I think it's true that I pick sensitive, conscientious guys who are still immature in their way of handling insecurities and setbacks, and that's been a problem. In their minds, if they can't envision a future for themselves than how can they take care of someone else, right? And I know I feel a need to be a problem-solver for them. Not so much mother as therapist. I actually thought he was different there until the first major setback happened and he had a meltdown. Maybe I should have left then, to stop the pattern.

I'm not really ready to walk away and I do have if-only's. But I also feel like he is at the point right now where my reassurances of support and love are not enough - they don't make a difference to the despair he is feeling. It almost like it's making him feel worse. And he rejects the thought of my being with him until things begin looking up because, to your earlier point, he feels like they never will.

We sat on the phone in silence while the minutes ticked away. I really felt like there was nothing more that I could say, other than, "Ok."

Possible breakup over desire for family

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I believe you genuinely believe it. But I know how powerful the subconscious is as getting its way regardless (please go google Freud's conscious versus subconscious). And I know not everyone can instantly feel that one mechanism of their psyche has been pushing against the will of another part. That's all.

In fact - here, have this link so you can appreciate what a giant conscious you is up against; we're talking David versus Goliath:

(You won't get very far as a therapist if you won't pay befitting credence and respect towards the psyche's REAL mover and shaker in that there trio.)

"And I didn't have the courage or knowledge to do it alone."

If it had been me, I'd have said to brother, 'Look... my boyfriend has been making anti-baby noises lately which has put our whole relationship on the line... so I don't think it would be sensible of me to ask him to help me in case he thinks it's me contriving a sampling, but yet I'm don't confident feel enough that I could handle both kids on my own. Can you try to arrange someone as on-hand back-up for me, please? Otherwise, I fear by saying yes to you - which ordinarily you KNOW I would at the drop of a hat - this could sound the death knell for us'. Any caring brother would have bust a gut to ensure his need didn't end up playing the final nail in the coffin of your relationship. He'd have perished the thought.

You report no such initial endeavour.

So it's less about you having accepted the mission and more about having involved bf.

I would also, as implied, find it easier to believe you were it not for the fact that what made asking someone/s other than you such a giant no-no is allegedly not specifiable on here despite your own intimate life details are.

Plus you didn't even know for a FACT that said friends with own kids wouldn't have at least been perfectly willing to play on-call back-up because as you admit, you didn't even ask them. So the truth is you *did* have options; you just didn't pursue them.

On the issue of whether you did or didn't manage to contain all urge-related expressions like some super-human: maybe this guy's more sensorially sensitive than you gave him credit for and, as such, picked up on your 'mere' VIBES that whole time? Whichever, it's now clear that he said and did all the things he thought you wanted to hear and which would help him get his feet under the table, so to speak. So that was bloody irresponsible and mercenary of him, wasn't it.

But let's not argue over spilt milk. It's pointless. The damage is done now. Now is about your next move - whether you walk away or try to damage-limit and salvage what's left of your relationship. Talking of which...

I believe there's a Scooby clue held in the fact that you felt you couldn't handle your own niece and nephew single-handedly despite according to you it's something you're going to willingly have to do in the future with your own sproglets whenever your significant other half was at work for 8 hours or away a couple of days on business, anyway. I find it quite surprising that a woman who fully intends to have her own kids one day wouldn't naturally have gravitated towards playing anyone/everyone's babysitter at least HERE and there as pre-preparation. Wouldn't you if you were me???

If I were to prescribe a useful measure it would be that you start volunteering your babysitting services to your brother and sister-in-law on a regular basis so that - this fear of [a] not being able to handle having kids on your own or [b] should any marriage go to pot and you're left alone, GONE - your mind is then free to decide unimpeded and without bias whether you even WANT a marriage (or want one *prior* to having a kid). I suspect somewhere in your mind you quite fancy the idea of going it alone... albeit that's hardly surprising a sneaking preference if you're already aware that having one kid would actually mean you'd end up with TWO (- "...and Little Lord Fontelroy came too").

But there right now seems to be a disconnect between the personal criteria you use to pick/accept a partner and that geared towards your future baby's needs. You're obviously trying to please two people at once. Well, don't. As I say, TRUE LOVE FIT TO LAST is what makes a man ready to then 'promote' the romance to family. Most men don't go, 'I want a kid so, now..where can I find me an oven?'. If they're capable of nurturing you to an acceptable standard they'll naturally be capable of doing the same with a Mini You.

And now - take the pressure off yourself: if you're a late developer then you're a late developer, meaning SO IS YOUR BODY, meaning, no you are NOT in danger of getting too old. You've only just come into season... bang on time. You've got a good 10 years or more and "PrrrTH!" to your on-paper age.

Regarding what to do to make your bf get properly back in the relationship: the dating rule for difficult periods like this is: MIRROR, MIRROR, MIRROR. Whatever he does, whatever noises he makes - MIMIC THEM. "I think a break would do us good / You're right, so do I"; "I'm not wooorthyyyy / Hm, maybe you're right?", etc. He wants the freedom to back off a bit. That is not the same with men as wanting to see YOU do it. (One rule for them, another for us.)

...Picture a romance as two people tied together inside an elastic band that goes around their waists. Initially, men who aren't yet ready to commit fully need a certain tautness/comfort. If you come too much towards him, the elastic goes slack so he'll involuntarily react by backing away to regain that critical tautness. If you then back away too, discomfort again results (this time from over-taughtness), meaning he has to come forwards again. Voila.

You sat on the phone in silence - caller-recipient non-specified. If he's not contacting you, don't contact him. Repeat: do not contact him.

He's the unsure one so he can do all the damn calling from now on. In fact, you're so damn unimpressed and unsure, now, he can do the wooing and chasing all over again!

If, as you claim, your behaviour hasn't been sending 'baby-baby-baby-soon-soon-soon!' vibes then maybe the problem is by whatever degree IN HIS HEAD and this pressure needs putting paid to through actions of yours that smack of 'I'M CHANGING MY MIND!'.

If there comes another incident of phone silence, rather than saying a sad little defeatist- and victimised-sounding 'ok', say this: "Well!...this is I'm going to get off now because I've got this/that to be getting on with. Byeee." and say it amusedly and chirpily. Don't make ANY mention of when he might call you next. And this, your new decidedly unimpressed and un-turned-on responsiveness, is the consequence of his action. Let's see how he likes THEM apples, shall we!

Possible breakup over desire for family

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I didn't mean to imply I never mentioned anything that related to my desire for family. Just that I was being as careful as I could not to add pressure once I thought we were both on the same page (and also the part about gagging for a baby - to be honest, I think I'd be happy if I could fast-forward to age 1 or 2, which is probably why I should practice babysitting more often as you say). Yes, maybe some of this fear is leading to picking men who aren't ready, although I read his earlier signs as being very different compared to previous relationships.

On top of any subconscious iceberg signs I may have been giving off, I was happily surprised and positive whenever he mentioned "our" kids, and that reaction also probably added to pressure for him. He is incredibly sensitive though he covers it with some bravado and humor. These setbacks... when they happen, he lists all of the people he thinks he let down, including his cat! This is from a man who dedicates a third of his apartment to cat furniture. Despite appearances he puts on, he spends a LOT of time worrying about what other people think to the point that I believe is unhealthy. I don't try to add to his pressure, but he finds ways to add it to himself easily. I didn't fully realize how much until recently. I don't think I've been empathetic enough about it because it seems so over-the-top to me, especially compared to how he is when he's not in a tailspin.

Last thing on the weekend - I did actually find someone to watch the kids for about 6 hours so we could get a break, and also arranged a play date with a friend with a child. I probably could have asked for more in hindsight but at the time that felt like all I could do. I've been open about myself because it's my life and history, but hesitant about the reason for that weekend because it's not mine directly. In the hopes that this never gets tied back to anyone, though, I'll say that it involved the realization of probable past sexual abuse which hopefully never extended to the children we were watching. I felt a fierce protectiveness of them which unfortunately I didn't extend to a protectiveness of him as well.

As you say though, that weekend is water under the bridge.

I appreciate your MIRROR approach. If we do talk again, I'll give that a try. Since our talk that seems to have ended things, we've only had one exchange - I texted him to say "I still believe in you" and he answered "I know you do." Maybe once he starts believing in himself again, I'll hear from him, but I won't be contacting him in the meantime.

Thank you for spending so much time with this, and with me. It's been very insightful. If things between us don't work out, at least I can bring some of this to my next relationship.

Possible breakup over desire for family

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(Cheers for the s.p. No, it won't get tied back; you're anonymous plus that issue sadly isn't remotely unique thus identificatory.)

I wonder how your (?)boyfriend would feel if he received a job offer that fell through last minute, only to hear the interviewer say he'd merely been trying on the idea like a hat? :-p

I don't know whether the problem originally was that his positive "signs" were mainly 'cheap' ones (blah-blah-blah) - with the sole, seemingly-firm action of encouraging you to freeze your eggs requiring no actual 'expenditure' on his part, other than more blah-blahs (whilst *you* were the one undergoing the actual deed) - or whether it's simply a case of things change, feelings change, decisions change (or vice versa). With the latter, even a man who at one point was 100% genuine in his desire for kids by Year X can experience a change of heart.

You do seem this time round to have revealed yet more things about him that you find odd or off-putting (e.g. his over-nurturance of his cat and his lack of oomph under fire), so it could be he's sensed he doesn't quite do it for you and been anticipating a firing thus merely trying to head you off at the rejection pass?

It's difficult to tell over the ether when the 'evidence' provider is you and you've been subtly flip-flopping (understandably, given he is, with the pair of you inter-reactive).

You have to be sure in yourself that you want him for life, IRRESPECTIVE of the issue kids or this (what you see as a) blip, and that deeper down it's mutual on his part, in order to succeed. But if you are sure, then, yes - mirroring would be the next tactic to try. When success is there to be had, that's all achieving it involves: try-trying again, but from every angle rather than the one repeatedly. ...As long as the angles are gender-rightful/natural, that is (you don't want to emasculate him and his already shrivelled ego).

On which note - I agree, don't contact him again. However, I did warn not to even BEFORE you sent that last(!!!). He's der man, the hunter/chaser. He's perfectly capable (or should be). You just ensure you respond appropriately each time in order to reinforce any positive actions and noises of his as lead to repetition and increase. Think of yourself as (a polite) Simon Cowell and he the auditionee. You either (albeit only through your behaviour) give him a yes; tell him it should be no but you're giving him another chance; or cease giving him any more audience. You don't help him 'sing' or do his 'singing' FOR him. Got it?

After all, LOL, you don't in X years want to see him the father start to chase after your typical runaway toddler only to give up after a piddly 30 yards, going, 'Ah, *uck it!', do you.

It is painful, though, having to wait and see. My advice is to keep yourself as busy as possible to let, rather than watch, the time pass. But only if - repeat, ONLY IF the man is underneath it all acting like he still regards you as his firm girlfriend AND, more to the point, he your firm boyfriend, as warrants patient waiting. If not, either dump the now-dud (he can always de-dud and chase you back) and/or start cruising for a replacement*. This might end up with cruising your sole remaining option, anyway, or it might not, but it can't hurt if you keep it firmly under your hat. In fact, it can only help. Men SENSE these things - from the increase in confidence and relaxedness, the Mona Lisa smile...your vibes do the communicating for you, but so damned subtly he has nothing to reproach you with. Women always make the mistake of spelling it out and then wondering why it backfires on them and makes everything so much worse. Let his overactive, negative IMAGINATION be the one to make him jealously chase after you again, not you.

If it ends badly, Susie made a very sensible suggestion which bears repeating:

"PS - at your age you will probably meet someone who already has kids (of course, please be divorced or widowed) and then you two will add more. That seems like more sense. He will already be 'broken in" to what it means to have the patter of little feet in the house."

You can't argue with that logic, so if you do decide to web-cruise, that's the target market you should encourage.

Again, keep us posted.

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