Zane wants children

When he wants children, and I don’t.

Zane and I have seen each other several times since we met at the party a few weeks ago. He wanted to see me again as quickly as possible, so we snuck in a short drink date the next day before I got Liam for the week. I liked him as much one-on-one as in the party atmosphere.

He is soft-spoken and very articulate. While he says he’s an old man inside and is worldly, he’s clearly in his mid-thirties. He asked me for advice on my work success and I died a little inside: it’s not the kind of relationship dynamic I’m looking for.

He’s told me how beautiful he thinks I am and marvels at how captivated he is. But he has none of the creepy clinger vibe of John. He’s not in love with love. In contrast, he tells me he’s picky and I believe him. 

He walked me to my street and we had a terrific kiss goodbye. It started tentatively, the heat built, and I could sense how much more he wanted. We broke apart, he told me he had to stop or it would get embarrassing, and I walked home.

When Zane asked to see me again that week I told him I’d be happy to, but since I had Liam it would need to be for a drink after he went to bed. It’s a reality of dating me: if you want to get to see me regularly and get to know me better, it’s going to need to be later at night, chatting on my couch over a drink.

I had no intention of having sex with him. First, it would only be the third time we met, and second, I don’t do that with someone new when Liam is home. Yes, it does happen on occasion, but only after I’m comfortable with someone. We had a great makeout session and I fully expected to have great sexual chemistry.

He came over that night, we saw each other another night when I didn’t have Liam, and had a full formal dinner date at one of the best steakhouses in the city. We’ve talked on the phone multiple times, had sex a few times, and it was all pretty damn good. He’s got the right equipment, the right bravado, and decent stamina. He was the first man in ages who proactively used a condom (I should write a post on that; I think of all the men I’ve been with since my split, fewer than five were proactive about it).

He’s a gentleman, he’s keen, intellectually interesting, and enjoys many of the same things I do. He’s looking for a serious relationship. Other than an inherent discomfort with our age difference, there’s no reason for me to not continue to date him.


He’s a first-born son from a country where first-born sons are expected to…well…not be dating a divorcee a decade older who isn’t having more children.

He mentioned during an early date he wanted children. I explained I wasn’t having any more. He asked whether I couldn’t, or didn’t want to. I said I couldn’t, but I don’t think he actually heard me.

He insists being a mixed-race couple wouldn’t be an issue for his family. His mother is mixed-race and the family is well-educated and has experience around the world. All things which reduce inherent issues with such a coupling. He says my being a decade older and divorced doesn’t matter. Perhaps it’s true. But I believe he’s telling me what he wants to believe when it comes to children.

He’s smitten and doesn’t want to face the reality that there will be an unsolvable conflict of desires. He’s said he doesn’t know that he for sure wants children, that it’s okay if they aren’t his own biologically, that his sisters are the ones who will provide grandchildren, that the world isn’t a great place to raise a child these days, and the like.

But honestly, I can see right through it.

He doesn’t have the perspective he needs. He thinks it’s going to all work out, and doesn’t realize no romantic choice is worth putting aside something as significant as wanting to bring a human into this world.

I absolutely cannot let him get into a situation that could cause discomfort and regret later. I know he’s a big boy and can make grown-up decisions, but even though it is the early days of dating, I had to be sure there is zero room for misunderstanding. I owe it to him as someone I respect.

So I laid it out for him on our dinner date. I eased into it by telling him the story of the man who explained he wanted his own biological children on our third date, which happened to fall on the day I booked my fallopian tube surgery.

When I said to Zane this man and I agreed to stop dating at that point, he was surprised at the finality of the decision. I knew in that moment it was exactly what he needed to hear. I explained to him that I am NOT having more children. It wasn’t negotiable, I wasn’t changing my mind, and there were medical reasons it wasn’t happening. I told him I wanted to be sure he understood it.

I took him back to my place after dinner and we kissed and talked and he pushed me up against my kitchen counter, telling me how beautiful and smart I am and how hard it is to keep his hands off me. He liked how people looked at us as a couple in the restaurant. He told me I looked a decade younger (he’s the fourth person that’s told me the same thing this past week, but I’m still not sure I believe it).

But in one moment, as I sat at my kitchen island and he stood looking into my eyes with an intensity which made it hard to look back, he made a comment about being torn about knowing that with me, he’s never going to have his own children.

I knew I’d done the right thing.

I have no reason to stop seeing him. He’s a great date and a good man. It’s early days and who knows what will happen.

Except for one thing which never will.

Image from the 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

28 thoughts on “When he wants children, and I don’t.

  1. Oh he sounds like a great guy. You’re so lucky you are having all of these experiences. I get that the ‘child’ thing is big -but, like you said: he’s a big boy and you’ve been forthright about everything.
    Sometimes age is just a # too….. I met someone ..20(!) years you get than I. We had a Great connection. He’s on the other coast tho. We message but have yet to meet up again. You’re lucky( I repeat 😉), that you have these relationships take off even if ( some are)short lived … you are having these experiences. Happy New Year Ann❤️

    • He’s a great guy. Not sure if he’s right for me, but it’s been nice to meet him and date him.

      I agree with you that age is just a number from a connection perspective – but I think all too often people neglect the practical realities of large age differences. Perhaps if I met someone who was an insanely good match in all other ways, I’d overlook it. But otherwise… there’s the children thing. When I want to retire and perhaps move away or travel more, he will still be working. Differences may minimize for a period of time in the 30s – 50s, but there’s a big difference between 70 and 80.

      You’re quite right, I know I’m lucky to keep meeting men who I enjoy being with. I know many people who never seem to be able to connect with anyone. So while I have more disasters, I have more enriching experiences as well. And I’m learning a ton.

      Happy New Year to you as well! xo

      • “-but I think all too often people neglect the practical realities of large age differences.”

        You are dead right. I see it all the time, especially with younger people. Let’s face it we’ve all be raised on the idea that “love conquers all”, we see it movies, TV shows, and books. The couple that manages to find each other despite all odds and live “happily ever after.” But reality is often not that simple. And sometimes there are certain differences (be it age, culture, class, distance, whatever) that are just insurmountable and cannot be ignored, not matter perfect you may be in every other aspect, and that will prevent the couple from lasting, at least not long term. And I think you were very wise to see that, in this particular situation.

    • I doubt there will be any fast decision… but depending how I feel about our interactions in the next few weeks, I may tell him I like him and am cool to hang out with him, but don’t see a serious relationship in our future.

  2. This can be such a major thing for some guys and whether or not this is gonna be a killer remains to be seen… but, sorry to say, sometimes it is. Still wishing you the best of luck with this guy.

    • No need to apologize, I’d rather know now if it’s an issue… but there’s still lots of other things to get to know about one another to see whether we’re compatible on other fronts. All good.

  3. You definitely did the right thing. You can have fun for now and he decide on the possibility later but knows you aren’t pushing to keep seeing him if he can’t get over that. My husband and I had this talk. He didn’t want more, I did but knew I would probably need medical intervention for it to happen. Well come to find out I didn’t but that’s a different story. I did decide I could live with just having the one, thought up all the positives of being done with younger children…. Then oops. He isn’t upset, just said it was meant to be.

    • I’m glad it wasn’t a huge issue for your husband, since it seems it easily could have been! I do feel better making myself clear. Who knows, it’s not like I’ve decided he’s someone I want a relationship with yet, but I’m enjoying dating him.

  4. I have no real comment about the content of this post except to say: “Very well written”!!
    I’m looking forward to the book….

  5. He does sound great but you made the right decision. I’ve never wanted children and I don’t keep that a secret from anyone I get entangled with. I’d say it’s lucky for me because I generally try to date guys of a similar age to me but it’s amazing how many men in their 40s still haven’t settled and had any children. I would hate to deny someone that opportunity by having them in deep in a relationship that would always end in tears if the other party wanted to have kids.

    • And I suppose the risk to you is feeling like you have to choose between a great relationship, and something you don’t want to do. I’d hate to be, or put anyone in, that position.

  6. I can’t imagine. It’s definitely an obstacle in a relationship dynamic like this one could be, and it is concerning that he’s flipflopping like, “oh well, I’m not even sure I want kids.” It does sound like he’s willing to mold his needs to have you, whether this is a sign of immaturity or saying what he has to, to get what he wants, it’s hard to say. But, again, Ann has a clear head. You’ve done your part.

    • I think he’s simply young… and perhaps was worried I’d say I wouldn’t see him again if he insisted? Who knows. I don’t think this is going to go anywhere serious so is unlikely to be a real issue.

  7. I’ve been in this situation except the roles were reversed. Unfortunately it’s not something you can compromise upon. If you are open to just enjoying the attention for awhile and having fun then go for it. If you’re looking for a serious relationship he’s probably not the one, but you already know that from what I can see.

  8. Of course he’s smitten. I’ve met you. You’re quite smittable.

    I once dated a woman 8 years older (35 vs 43) and we had some fun but agreed to call it off before it got too serious.

    I go in waves of reading on WP. Seems like your life if still fantastic. I’ll catch up on more.

  9. I’m struggling with this right now, too. The Engineer is a decade younger than me; he says he doesn’t know whether or not he wants children, but he gets so fawny and broody whenever we see them out in public. I just got sterilized, so I can’t have children – and I’ve told him that if it does come to the point where he realizes he wants children, he deserves to find a partner who wants the same thing, which is gutting for both of us, especially as we talk about having a future together. But you’re right – you can’t compromise on this.

  10. I set up 2 friends — one a guy work friend and the other was a young but wise family friend. It was instant, hot chemistry from the first 5 minutes. He was older, recently divorced with 3 kids. Her goal was to be married to a wealthy man (she comes from money) and raise a family. They had an extraordinarily intense 4-6 weeks together before she came up for air and said “No” He had a vasectomy and absolutely no interest in more kids so with that impasse, they called it quits.

    They remain close friends and each got married to other folks several years later. I was always so impressed with her — she knew exactly what she wanted and refused to settle on the big issues. Now she has her 2 babies, the beautiful house and a doting husband. Oh, my point in all this — people shouldn’t compromise when it comes to the kids or no kids question. It is too big of a compromise.

What do you think?