I mostly want to have a baby; my fiance mostly does not. I’m in my late 30s and have school-age kids; he doesn’t have and never planned to have kids. Deciding to have or not to have a baby seems like too enormous a decision for mere mortals. It’s tempting to just stop using birth control, or reduce our use of it, and leave it up to chance. This was his suggestion, not mine.How stupid would that be?Up to Chance?If it’s a mutual decision, then, it’s fine to let nature decide – as long as both of you are committed to committing to any children that result. For what it’s worth, though, “mostly want” and “mostly does not want” isn’t a description of parents I’d choose for myself. Would you choose them for you?
Re: Up to Chance:While “Deciding to have or not to have a baby seems like too enormous a decision for mere mortals” is a stunning abdication of responsibility, let’s indulge it for a minute. Yes, perhaps some divine influence will “decide” whether you conceive. But afterward, you “mere mortals” have to decide – every. single. day. – to love and support that child emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, in every single way there is. Are you and your fiance sure you will be able take on that responsibility? If not, please don’t gamble on a child’s life.ResponsibleGood call on the abdication, yes. People do decide this one way or the other every day; the letter writer herself has children already and can make a decision as informed as anyone’s.She therefore must also know how much the two of them need to trust themselves and each other.He was the one to suggest the baby roulette, but I’m going to spell it out regardless: If he comes to certainty on never wanting kids, and especially if he is counting on her to be the one to use birth control, then he needs to get a vasectomy. There’s a point at which even 1 percent gambling doesn’t have a place.My boyfriend is responsible, thoughtful, and very very affectionate – which is great for the first four hours of hand-holding, but which makes me want to shove him away and shout, “Just leave me alone!” by hour six. Before this, I thought I was a super affectionate person, but, his level of hand-holding, shoulder rubs, “I love you,” and constant kisses is leading me to feel smothered and irritable.We have talked about it some, with me saying I can’t handle being touched any more that day, and he’s always understanding, and holds back temporarily, but the next day it’s back to normal. And I’m getting more and more annoyed by it.We’ve only been dating for about two months but knew each other vaguely before we started dating; both are mid-30s with major losses behind us, and generally considered to have our acts together with solid careers and good relationships with family and long-term friends.I know he’s super super super excited about having met me, and when I’m not about to jump into the ocean to avoid being touched, I feel the same way about him. Any advice?SmotheredThe reason doesn’t matter; what matters is that you have stated your needs and limits, and he has not responded with a sustained adjustment to his behavior. He’s not the guy. I’m sorry.
And you’re not the person for him, either. I have opinions about so much affection in this new a relationship, as I imagine many others do right now after reading this, but it’s actually irrelevant. The mismatch is the thing.
Re: “any more that day”:You’ve talked about it “some,” but how clear were you? Maybe he’s taking you literally when you say you don’t want to be touched any more THAT DAY, but the next day is a whole new day, so he’s free to touch until you call a halt again. Have you told him that IN GENERAL you need considerably less touching, rather than gritting your teeth and enduring it until you have to tell him to stop “for the day”?AnonymousThere is a little gap in Smothered’s statement, yes, and that could arguably explain why they’re living a handsy “Groundhog Day.”
But it seems reasonable to expect someone to take away the larger message of, “For the love of deities, please, give me air.”
He apparently hasn’t done so – yet more proof that the reasonable must always defer to the real. That allows Smothered to see him as attentive and respectful by the numbers, and that in turn supports an argument for giving the guy a chance.
But if anything, his failure to grasp the larger message intensifies the whiff of doom here. They not only have way different needs and thresholds for affection, but this gap exposes (at least the possibility of) way different communication styles: Smothered speaks in hints and the boyfriend is literal possibly to an extreme. Yikes.
I just spent the weekend in the company of my boyfriend’s brother, who mimicked/mocked me, belittled almost all my actions, and made fun of my chronic health condition. My boyfriend says this is just “’George’s’ sense of humor,” and that I should ignore it and not be so sensitive. I experienced this as abusive, and believe my boyfriend should have spoken up on my behalf, even by calmly stating, “That’s enough, George.” My solution is to limit my participation in future family gatherings, which bothers my boyfriend. What do you recommend?MockedBeing single. Sounds like an upgrade.
I’ll elaborate, but I hope you don’t need me to.
(1) Your boyfriend didn’t stand up for you while his brother treated you like dirt. That’s grounds enough for dumping your boyfriend.
(2) Your boyfriend found a way to blame you for it, not his brother, by calling you “too sensitive.” What other bad things that happen to you are going to be your fault over the course of your lives together? It won’t stop here, guaranteed.
(3) Your way of standing up for yourself against jerk brother is to avoid jerk brother. And look who your boyfriend is annoyed at: not his brother! Nope, he’s annoyed with you.
Run, run, run. The family that created a mean-spirited George also created your boyfriend, and that usually leads to one of two outcomes: Your boyfriend is determined and careful not to be mean-spirited, knowing too well its emotional costs; or your boyfriend is mean-spirited, too. This guy has just given you ample evidence he’s the latter, at least under pressure, which is when you least want that to be turned against you.
Carolyn Hax is a syndicated advice columnist for The Washington Post. She started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. Email her at [email protected].