My girl­friend wants a baby but at 47 I feel I’m too old to be a fa­ther

I’m wor­ried my boyfriend won’t ever come out

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - MARY O’CONOR -

My part­ner and I have been to­gether for more than a year and a half and we have re­ally gelled. Some­times it feels as if we have been to­gether for about 10 years which I find good.

Lately she has been ask­ing about start­ing a fam­ily. I should have men­tioned that I am 47 and she is 38 so ob­vi­ously her bi­o­log­i­cal clock is tick­ing.

I don’t want kids at my age and I have told her this. I re­ally love her to bits but this has changed it all. I don’t want to be self­ish but at my age it’s not right — in my mind any­way.

How can I get around this?

ATHERE re­ally isn’t any get­ting around this and de­ci­sions have to be made. I fully ap­pre­ci­ate that at 47 you feel you are too old to start a fam­ily, although some peo­ple would dis­agree with you. You and your girl­friend have en­coun­tered a re­ally dif­fi­cult prob­lem and you are equally en­ti­tled to your point of view.

I’m not sur­prised that the ques­tion has only re­cently arisen — no girl is go­ing to say to a prospec­tive life part­ner that she wants to have a baby straight away. She has to wait un­til the re­la­tion­ship has de­vel­oped, un­til they get to know each other re­ally well and un­til she feels sure that he would make a good fa­ther for any chil­dren they might have. All of this takes time, and rightly so, with the re­sult that you are now faced with the dilemma of what to do.

It is not fair to keep her hang­ing on — time is not on her side and if she re­ally wants to have chil­dren then she will need to be on the look­out for a new boyfriend who also wants to start a fam­ily.

That process in it­self will take time, so the sooner you make a fi­nal de­ci­sion, the bet­ter. You will have to ask your­self what life would be like with­out her and how much you love her, and if you are re­ally pre­pared to let her go.

Women in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion have told me that the wish to have a baby can be­come all-con­sum­ing when they get to their late thir­ties, and it is prob­a­bly dif­fi­cult for some­body not go­ing through it to un­der­stand.

Men do not face these prob­lems be­cause a man can fa­ther chil­dren at any age — fa­mously Char­lie Chap­lin be­came a fa­ther to his youngest son when he was 73. My late fa­ther-in-law was 47 when my hus­band was born and they had a great re­la­tion­ship.

The op­tions are — break up with her and al­low her time to find some­body else, con­tinue to­gether but agree not to have a baby, or stay to­gether and try for a baby.

If you do go ahead and try for a baby, you may not be suc­cess­ful in be­com­ing preg­nant, and this is some­thing that you will also have to think about. In all of these sit­u­a­tions one or other of you is com­pro­mis­ing, which is what usu­ally hap­pens in lov­ing re­la­tion­ships.

What­ever you both de­cide is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult in some way, so good luck with all of this.

You can con­tact Mary O’conor anony­mously by vis­it­ing www.dear­

or email her at dear­mary@in­de­pen­

or write c/o 27-32 Tal­bot St, Dublin 1. All cor­re­spon­dence will be

treated in con­fi­dence. Mary O’conor re­grets that she is un­able to an­swer any

ques­tions pri­vately I am a gay man in my early twen­ties, and have been in a re­la­tion­ship with a closet gay man for the past eight months. I have been in other re­la­tion­ships in the past, but none like this. I am truly in love, yet my part­ner be­ing in the closet does im­pact on our re­la­tion­ship a lot. I’m of­ten re­ferred to as a ‘friend’, I’m pushed to the side­lines when fam­ily comes to visit, and all this makes me think, am I just a se­cret?

My part­ner was open with me about his sit­u­a­tion be­fore we em­barked on our re­la­tion­ship and I said I didn’t mind as I didn’t think he would be clos­eted much longer.

How­ever, months have gone by and I’m still just a friend to his fam­ily. He’s met my fam­ily and they know about him and how he is not yet out. But a lot of this has im­pacted on my men­tal health — I’ve been re­cently di­ag­nosed with gen­er­alised anx­i­ety dis­or­der. I find my­self sec­ond guess­ing our re­la­tion­ship, ask­ing my­self if he’s ashamed of me, of be­ing gay, and ask­ing my­self if he’ll ever come out.

One thing that al­ways sticks out in my mind is that if any­thing were to hap­pen to him, I’d never know. None of his fam­ily would know to con­tact me. I’d be left in the cold. I’ll al­ways miss big fam­ily events; he’ll have his life with me, and his other one with them.

I’ve thought re­cently about giv­ing him an ul­ti­ma­tum, but I’m afraid that it would back­fire and leave us both walk­ing away.

Is this the best de­ci­sion? Or can I re­ally have a full and open life with him?

AI won­der what is go­ing on for your boyfriend that he has not come out to his fam­ily. It is very sad, in an era where we lead the world in le­gal­is­ing civil part­ner­ships and then same sex marriage and when we have an openly gay taoiseach, that your friend re­mains so firmly in the closet.

It may be that some­body in his fam­ily very much dis­ap­proves of the gay com­mu­nity on ei­ther re­li­gious or other grounds and so he feels un­able to come out. But at the same time, I feel cer­tain that at least one per­son in his fam­ily knows or guesses at the truth. He may not be aware of it but it would be very strange if some­body hasn’t spec­u­lated about his sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

You have been pre­sented as a ‘friend’ and surely this will con­trib­ute to their won­der­ing as to what you re­ally are to him.

It would be quite in or­der for you at this stage — eight months is a size­able amount of time — to ask what he in­tends to do about all of this and to let him know how it is af­fect­ing you. Ex­plain that you were fine with it at the be­gin­ning be­cause you thought he would be com­ing out very soon. I have seen peo­ple wait un­til both par­ents have passed on be­fore they came out, and you don’t want to have to be wait­ing in­def­i­nitely as this would not be good for your men­tal health.

You should also ex­plain that as things stand you have no rights what­so­ever and if he were, say, to have an ac­ci­dent or sud­den ill­ness, you would be left out in the cold and that is un­ac­cept­able. There is no need to give an ul­ti­ma­tum but you do need to know what his longterm plans are with re­gard to your re­la­tion­ship.

Per­haps you could talk about him com­ing out to just one fam­ily mem­ber to whom he is par­tic­u­larly close and whom he feels he can trust. In that way you would then have at least one per­son whom you could de­pend on to let you know if any­thing were to hap­pen to him.

For sure he is not ashamed of you — all this is to do with him­self and his re­la­tion­ship with his fam­ily. But it could be an aw­fully long time be­fore he feels that he can be open with them about your place in his life.

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