Not in Love, but Wants Kids

If the perfect mate — and father — has yet to materialize, should she settle for closest available male? Our dating expert answers.

By Sherry Amatenstein, LMSW

Q. I’m 44, never married, have a great job and definitely feel the biological clock relentlessly ticking. I’m dating a man who, as I do, wants kids very badly. However I’m not sure he’s the right guy for me. He’s a good person, hardworking, and I feel we have potential. But he has jealousy and insecurity issues — he’s willing to work on this — and until a few years ago was a drug user. He’s clean now and I believe will stay that way, but all this gives me pause. Still I’m afraid I’ll lose my last fertile years if I keep waiting for the "perfect" man to appear. Should I accept his proposal? — Suzanne

A. You want to become a parent, but at this stage what you sorely need is some parental-style advice. So here goes: Accepting this man’s proposal simply to have a willing sperm donor is a dangerous idea. A baby’s birthright is to be born into a loving home with a mother and father who are a functioning, nurturing unit capable of providing a safe and secure environment. Is that the picture you are describing?

Nicholas Aretakis, author of Ditching Mr. Wrong: How to End a Bad Relationship and Find Mr. Right, puts it this way, "Hitting the ‘baby panic’ button is not a reason to marry a bad prospect." Let’s see — was love mentioned in your description of the potential cigar hander-outer? Perhaps the word was buried amidst eye-catchers like "jealousy and insecurity issues" and "drug user." Yow! Is this father material, much less husband material?

Aretakis adds, "Women need to realize that their potential children, and subsequently they themselves, will have a lifelong connection as a result of this decision. If they come to a conclusion they wouldn’t want to be connected to this guy in a relationship, the even stronger inclination is they shouldn’t have a child together."

The point is not that you should be waiting for the perfect man to ride up on his noble steed (no such animal exists and I’m not referring to the equine) but that you shouldn’t plunge recklessly into a relationship that has so many red flags. At a bare minimum go into counseling alone and possibly also with this man to see if these issues can be sorted out.

If I haven’t yet driven my message home, listen to the eloquent words of Mary Jo Fay, RN, MSN, author of When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong: "If having a child is the most important thing, you can do that without a man. But having a child with the wrong man, just because he’s the only one standing in line, is like playing Russian roulette with your life and your child’s."

Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?

E-mail Sherry at datingexpert@more.com and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.

About Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry Amatenstein, LMSW, is the author of Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and Q&A Dating Book. She runs dating seminars around the country and does private coaching — not to help singles marry in 60 days, but to uncover their blocks. She has given relationship advice on the Early Show, Regis, Inside Edition, CBS News, VH1, BBC, and many other programs. Her philosophy is that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself.

Originally published on MORE.com, January 2009.

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