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Dear Nicola...

I want children but I don’t know if my older girlfriend does. How do I ask her?

Written by . Published on December 3rd 2010.

Dear Nicola...

Nicola Mostyn

Friday 3 December 2010

I want children but I don’t know if my older girlfriend does. How do I ask her?

Dear Nicola

I’ve recently met an amazing woman and things are going really well. The thing is, she’s 43, I’m 36 and I really want to settle down and have kids. I don’t yet know where she stands on this – whether she wants kids, whether she can have them – and it’s something that’s really important to me but I don’t want to scare her off by asking her if she wants my children after I’ve only been seeing her a few months. How should I approach this delicate situation?

Nicola replies:

I’m sure a lot of women in their late thirties can relate to this situation, but it’s interesting to hear it from a guy’s perspective.

Whether male or female, this is always going to be an awkward subject to raise, but I definitely think you should tackle it because if you are thinking about this, then you can guarantee that your girlfriend is too.

This need not be a dramatic moment. If having children is central to your life plan, then your conversation might take you there naturally. I don’t mean to suggest you should crow bar it in at every opportunity – pointing at tiny shoes and musing over how you’ve always liked the name Serena for a girl. But at 36, if you really do want to procreate then a simple ‘when I have kids, I’d love it if….’ type comment will effectively communicate to your new woman where you stand on the issue - leaving her to explain her own stance in her own way and in her own time.

What happens then is the tricky bit.

Once you’ve dropped into the conversation that you intend to be a dad someday, if she doesn’t want kids or can’t have them, she’ll doubtless find a way of letting you know. And then you’ve got a decision to make; whether life plus your girlfriend but minus kids seems like a good deal after all - or whether you should part amicably and keep on looking.

But let’s think positive – it may be that she feels exactly the same way about you, and about kids, in which case you two are a match made in heaven.

If fact. If this is the case, your girlfriend is probably having to physically restrain herself from bellowing the question at you every time you meet. She, after all, has far less time to play with. That’s biology for you, which is why many more women than men end up in the exact situation you fear – scaring new partners witless with their attempts to suss out a prospective mate’s life goals. That’s not because they necessarily want to have the man’s children in the imminent future, (not even because they are particularly certain about the guy) but because they know they want to have kids at some point and if the man isn’t interested they could really do with knowing up front. You know, in the same that if you intended to emigrate you’d really rather know straight off if a date breaks out in a rash when he travels out of Manchester. See, it’s not desperate, it’s just practical.

Such is the tricky territory you have to negotiate in a new relationship when you are in your thirties. I’m sure it would be easier if we all wore badges proclaiming our intentions; green for single and into monogamy; amber for wants kids someday, a nice red one for the pathological commitment-phobes – this at least would save all the secret squirrel activity as people try to determine a near-strangers intentions while attempting not to seem like a total psycho.

But then, that would take all the fun out of love, since it’s the things we least know we want that often bring us the greatest happiness.

Nicola Mostyn has been a freelance writer for 10 years. She is 35. Preoccupied with the subjects of relationships, self development and the pursuit of happiness, Nicola’s agony column Dear Kitty was nominated for Best New Blog in the Manchester Blog Awards. Nicola is currently working on her first novel, entitled The Love Delusion.

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