My Boyfriend Is Telling Me Marriage and Kids Will Never Happen for Him.

My Boyfriend Is Telling Me Marriage and Kids Will Never Happen for Him.

I’ve been seeing a really great guy for about 3 months, and it feel really right. We spend a lot of time together and include each other in our plans. I am 37, and he’s 42. He says he wants to get married and have children (these are things I want), but that he’s worried that he is too old and that it doesn’t seem likely to happen for him. Meanwhile, he also tells me that he loves being with me and looks at me lovingly. Am I overlooking a big red flag? Or, is this just nothing and he means what he says (that he wants kids and a wife)? Thank you for any insight you can provide.


First, read this article, called “Believe the Negatives, Ignore the Positives.”

I’ll wait.

Next, your question begets a few more questions.

First, the guy you’re “seeing” – is he your boyfriend? You may feel weird about the title, but the title matters. A boyfriend has the potential to turn into a fiancé. The guy you’re seeing for three months who has not claimed the mantle of boyfriend is not a good bet.

Boyfriends act like this, by the way.

Next, I appreciate you reaching out to me for my interpretation of events, but you know who would be the best person to tell you what this guy really means? This guy!

Stick with me, because I know this sounds crazy, but when you have a question about some intentions, the only person who can REALLY know what he’s thinking is HIM.

You’re not trying to trap him. You’re not trying to interrogate him. You’re not trying to force him into a premature proposal or promise ring.

Dump the “I don’t know if I want a family” guy.

You’re trying to clarify a statement that didn’t add up in your head:

“You’re 42, you want a wife and kids, you have a girlfriend who wants to get married and start a family – why would you say that it’s not likely to happen?”

See how he answers.

Perhaps, he will fumble his reply and reveal that he’s actually ambivalent about those things (which is your cue to leave!)

Or, more likely than not, he’ll tell you that he would like to believe it’ll happen for him, but after years of mistakes, rejections and regret, it’s hard to feel optimistic about any new relationship.

How do I know this?

Because it’s the exact same thing that women have been telling me for years when asked about starting a family in their late thirties/early forties.

Forgive the insecure guy. Dump the “I don’t know if I want a family” guy.

Life is too short to wait to see if he figures it out on your watch.

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  1. 1

    I swear i hate topics like this…OP….he is 42 you are 37 why are we pretending this is teenage blissful puppy love with our whole life ahead of us…the family ship has sailed be real…marriage is a possibility…but chances are you have been married before, so stop pretending marriageis a magic pill that makes life perfect …i have no idea how marriage is a deal breaker for previously divorced women…the irony

    1. 1.1

      I would respectfully disagree with your statements here. Love can happen at all ages and can be “blissful” at any age too from what I’ve seen. As for the family ship, it’s still realistic to assume the OP would have some chance of conceiving and having children until about 40-42, so I wouldn’t say the ship has sailed just yet. Naturally it gets more challenging with age, but not impossible.

      I do think Evan is right in pointing out that a lot will depend on the man and if he is willing and able to support a family moving forward though. So, that being the case I think it’s solid to assume that if both want to get married and both want to have kids, this could still end up positive for the OP. If not, well then she will need to look elsewhere.

      1. 1.1.1

        And by the time she looks elsewhere she will be how old…and by the time they plan a marriage and potentially have child after marriage as it should be they would be how old…but it all goes back to the fact that the LEAST important factor of a woman being fulfilled in a relationship is anything related to sex/physical attraction/just enjoy a person…there always has to be more …even when they know it doesn’t make sense…even when they have had enough life experience know to better…they think he is getting ME but what am I getting…no true appreciation for landing the man and i get it because just based on biology and male/female dynamics, getting a man to be attracted to you is the easy part…so as a woman the only challenge is getting the man YOU want to do all the things YOU need to keep u satisfied

  2. 2

    P.s. when u find out he wants to get married in a “few” years just go ahead dump him and put yourself in a position where you are forced to start over with someone new in another couple year when u are almost and new mate is now 45 lol

    1. 2.1

      Kevin, who hurt you?

      1. 2.1.1

        exactly my thoughts; this guy sounds… ewww

        1. Paula

          Unhinged is the word that comes to mind

  3. 3

    I have fallen for multiple commitment-phobes over the years and took too long to break things off. Before I met my fiance, I dated a divorced guy with two kids who didn’t want to get married again (dealbreaker) or have any more kids (fine for me, but he was also non-committal about any relationship I would have with his children). And he wasn’t even legally divorced after three years!!! (His wife left him for another man and it takes 2 years to get divorced in our country but W. T. F!!! Maybe I was just enjoying his company or the physical connection but I found myself making internal bargains – as in, I’ve wanted to be married my entire life but maybe I can learn to live without it. I think if you have a pattern of non-commitment it does something to your judgment. Fortunately he dumped me, and the next guy I met starting talking about marriage within two months. We have been together for three years and are getting married this year. A guy who wants to marry you won’t need any convincing. He will know and he will move in that direction without making you guess.

  4. 4

    Classic toxic feminine toxicity move…dimiss ALL the facts, woman nearly 40 man over, both parties are most likely previously divorced…all in the name advancing an agenda…I AM SORRY that i refuse to entertain a conversation about 2 people on the verge of being grandparents already talking about having a new baby because without a new baby and marriage she cannot be happy or continue this relationship all goes back to the little girl dreaming of her wedding day funny how the man is always just interchangeable means to an end to complete this ever evolving picture of what you believe your life is supposed to be lol…but you and any other 40 plus year old woman better believe by 40 No man is or will be head over heels for you or anyone…like i said to start i will not even attempt to entertain the idea or conversation of grandparents basically starting a new family…i really wish OP could be a fly on the wall if a buddy of boyfriend and boyfriend were having a conversation about this subject

    1. 4.1

      Do you know THAT many 40-year-olds who are grandparents? LOL. I am 38, divorced, getting married, and won’t be a grandparent in my 40s (I have a 7-year-old). You have quite a cynical view of men. My boyfriend is 46 and by all accounts seems to head-over-heels in love. We will elope at the end of the year. He doesn’t have any biological kids of his own and can’t now, but we talked and he said he would have kids with me if he could.

      It seems like you might be mad because a woman left you because you wouldn’t marry her. If so, why does that bother you? She just wanted something you couldn’t provide her. You just had an impasse. It would be selfish to keep her if she wanted something different. The guy I dated before my boyfriend told me he didn’t want anything serious when we started dating. I didn’t know what I wanted at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I wanted something serious. So I dumped him after 6 weeks. He was mad about it. But oh well. I appreciated his honesty, but he didn’t appreciate mine. Again, oh well. He was honest with me and I was honest with him. End of story.

      1. 4.1.1
        Emily, to

        “My boyfriend is 46 … He doesn’t have any biological kids of his own”
        That’s the motherlode right there! 🙂

        1. Nina

          Sorry, I don’t understand what that means.

          He loves me more because he doesn’t have kids? I admit things are easier because we both don’t have kids (we don’t have to deal with two exes, two schedules…all that…), but I am not sure it would change how he feels about me.

        2. Emily, to

          “He loves me more because he doesn’t have kids?”
          No, you hit the motherlode in that he’s 46 and doesn’t have kids. That’s hard to find for a man of his age. He’s a beautiful unicorn! 🙂 But in all seriousness, also easier for you in that you do have kids and merging two sets of kids can be tricky.

        3. Lurking

          Childless man is a Unicorn indeed. A winning lottery ticket. All the men I meet are divorced dads, huge childhood support payments, needy bio moms texting daily, sullen kids who resent new girlfriend. So, with dads, essentially you are getting only half a man- half his time, headspace, money, efforts, property are going to his first family. Shrug. This is life at this age. The ‘new normal’ they tell me.

        4. Nina Merchant

          Yes, I do feel quite lucky. Blending things can be difficult and I understand how it can be hard. Its weird though, when ai was going through the dating process after divorce, I mostly dated childless men. I didnt mean for that to happen. That’s just they way it ended up.

          Mostly I feel lucky because he is a great guy. He loves me and my daughter, which is all I can ask for. I am not friends with my ex, but we have no drama. So things are pretty easy going for my boyfriend and I overall.

        5. sylvana


          Right? It’s almost impossible to find a man who doesn’t have biological kids. Especially, if they’re over 30. Even rarer to find one who doesn’t have any and doesn’t want any. I decided people have always lied to me, claiming that women are the ones who are pushing for children and want children. I never wanted to have any (will actually refuse to have them), and have rarely be able to find a man whose also wants to remain childless. They all say it’s ok at first, then change their mind later.

        6. Emily, to

          “It’s almost impossible to find a man who doesn’t have biological kids. Especially, if they’re over 30. Even rarer to find one who doesn’t have any and doesn’t want any. … I never wanted to have any (will actually refuse to have them), and have rarely be able to find a man whose also wants to remain childless.”
          I’m in the same boat you are. I never wanted kids and ideally would meet someone who also didn’t have them. Although that is narrowing even further an already narrowed field after one gets on the other side of 30. Even if the kids are grown and out of the house, chances are they are a significant part of a potential partner’s life. I couldn’t respect a man who was distant from his own children. (The flip side of that is someone who is overly involved with his grown kids. I’ve seen that, too.) So there’d be family gatherings, the potential for the adult child to have to move back in temporarily at some point, discussions of the child, grandchildren, etc. If you’re with someone in a permanent relationship, you’re taking all of that on.

      2. 4.1.2

        So nina, tell me between tha age of 16-46 what was your bf doing…was he sitting around waiting for the day he would meet you and hasn’t attempted a relationship with anyone else in the last 30 years…you think he was sitting around thinking “wow the woman of my dreams is married to someone else, having kid with someone else, completely planning a life with someone else”…you women love to create fairy tales…yea i can hear him now the woman of my dreams is on her honeymoon right now but in a few years she will be all mine but tell yourself the fairy tale of every other relationship you had was just setting you up for this one…by the age of 46 he has definitely had enough ups and down with women…i am sure he thinks you are wonderful, beautiful, and make an excellent partner and would love the opportunity to spend the rest of his life with you…but head over heels, googly eyes, butterflies, “idk what i would do without her”…it is emotionally impossible to achieve such feelings unless you are the first woman he has been with in the last 30 years

        1. Ames

          I’m an odd duck on this blog, having never been married and less illustrious, (comm college, low level manager) next year I will be married for the first time to a divorced dad of 3 young adults. We’ve had bumps on the road to finding each other. Not because we were sleeping with everyone in town but taking care of kids, working 10-12 hours a day. I’m glad we met as calm adults knowing what we wanted sexually and from a relationship. He too, was snipped. I was thrilled as I already raised a younger sibling and am not interested in kids. We both had thought we might never find what we were looking for and I can tell you it was butterflies on both sides. He was sure before I was. Two years in we still surprise each other at work with food, hold hands, laugh, tickle, try to make the other’s life better. It’s not the nervousness we had in the first months, but there are calm sparks and chemistry. I attribute this to neither of us becoming bitter. We loved and slept with other people in the past and cleaned up their messes. We don’t have to go out to “find ourselves” or figure out desires. There’s much healthy road between awkward clueless youth and embittered, world worn anger. We both feel quite lucky. A lot of how life turns out all starts in your head, I think.

    2. 4.2

      Also you said he cant have a child…probably because he decided to have a vasectomy…and being male i understand the psychology of men that have had vasectomy and i also know a few…so its real cute of him to say i would if I could lol…trust me men dont get a vasectomy because they want to have a closer relationship with their urologist

    3. 4.3

      Kevin said “classic toxic feminine toxicity move…dimiss ALL the facts,” You are assuming facts that aren’t in evidence. The LW didn’t mention past marriages for either, so you don’t factually know if either of them were divorced. Also, you don’t know if they have children, and if the don’t they can’t possibly be on the verge of becoming grandparents, so that is something you just pulled out of your rear end and not a fact. There is nothing “Toxic” about wanting children, nor is it an “agenda”. The desire to procreate is normal, natural and necessary for our survival as a species and is a desire held by both men and women, so I don’t get why you are singling out the desire for children to be “toxic femininity”. The male the LW mentions has expressed a desire for children as well, why do you not think he is also “toxic” You wouldn’t be around to make your toxic remarks, if your parents didn’t create you ? Do you think you are just some toxic waste by product of your mom’s toxic femininity ?

      I had my one and only child at age 34, just 2 weeks before my 35th birthday. Perfectly healthy, baby boy, who grew up to be a wonderful, smart, kind, funny, creative living human being.

      I was very much in love with my hubby, but he dumped me after 23 years, and said the main reason he married me was because I was cute and he wanted to have a child. Once are son was 21, he said he no longer needed me, but thanks for giving him a son. Toxic masculinity or just human error ?

    4. 4.4

      “by 40 no man will be head over heels for you”. Oh Kevin have we found the incel? I met my fiance at 40, I’ll be 44 and he will be 39 when we marry later this year and we both express daily how amazing it is that we found each other. What do you think happens to women after we’ve been exposed to oxygen after 2080 weeks?

  5. 5


    Of course, you are right. We were both married before and both experienced infidelity from our former partners (which is why we are both divorced). I am sure he experienced nice feelings for his former wife before she was unfaithful, and as I did for my former husband. That doesn’t negate anything he feels for me now or what I feel for him now. I still get butterflies around him and he is very romantic with me. Falling in love doesn’t change just because it has happened before. What does change though, is being able to evaluate compatibility a lot better. We were both married to very selfish people (hence, the cheating) and put up with a lot of BS from our former partners. We are also both very aware of what we will NOT put up with in this relationship–yelling, meanness, selfishness, etc and treat each other accordingly. You may not think that helps us have loving feelings, but it does. I know that he doesn’t love the thought of me being married before, just like I don’t love the fact that he was married before, but there isn’t anything we can do to change it. All we can do is move forward in the future. He said to me, “We may not be each other’s firsts, but we will be each other’s lasts.” He might be pulling the wool over my eyes, but I truly don’t think so.

    In terms of kids, he did have a vasectomy because that is what he and his former wife decided together. He has said (and I do believe him) that he would have had kids with me if he had met me when he was younger. He was ambivalent about children when he was younger and met a woman who didn’t want them, so he decided that was fine. I told him once that I wouldn’t have dated him if he didn’t want kids when he was younger, and he gave me a truthful (cute in your words) response that he was pretty ambivalent, but would have had kids with me. He also let me know that if I seriously wanted more now, he would get a reversal. That seems pretty committed to me, but I might be reading that wrong.

    1. 5.1


      For what it’s worth, the (second) husband of a colleague of mine said a similar thing to her when they got together in their late 40s/early 50s after bad marriages and with teenage kids. By all accounts he meant every word. They are now in their late 60s / early 70s- I’ve been to their house and spent a lot of time with them – and unless they are great fakers, they are very much in love and extremely happy.

      I think it’s just a way of expressing, I wish I’d met you first, and I want you to know that 🙂 Unless there are other signs the guy is using you or a player; definitely not the case with my colleague and no sign it’s the case with your bf.

      1. 5.1.1

        Hi Marika,

        Do you ever want kids? I know you are very open to who you give a chance to in dating so I’m sure you would consider dating a man with kids but I’m wonder do you want any of your own biological children?

        1. Marika

          Hi Adrian

          I would love kids. Until fairly recently the idea of – potentially – not having them really upset me and I couldn’t imagine life without them. But now I accept that it may not happen biologically, or I may get to be a step mother again. I’m also open to the idea of adoption. I know now that it’s much better [for me anyway] to have an amazing relationship without kids than a sub-par relationship so to rush to have kids. I figured that out when I was thinking about adopting after my divorce, alone.

          I thought it through and I realised that while I very much would love to be a mother, if I had to choose, I would rather have the great relationship and either be a mother through other means [or an amazing auntie, which I like to think I already am!!] or not. I also work with kids, which helps.

          It was actually a podcast of Evan’s, among other things, which helped me figure that out. So I’m very grateful.
          How about you?

  6. 6

    Who hurt you? Bwahahahaha!!! Heard this one before but before you start castigating me like brother Kevin, understand that he is pointing out some non-negotiable, biological realities that exist and how they conflict with our current cultural construct of love and relationships.

    37 is a bit old to start popping out babies. Our OP should have considered this fact during her prime, child-bearing years in her early 20’s. My guess is that if she was reasonable attractive, there were a ton of guys she could’ve made a family with but, she got sidetracked by all her right swipes on Tinder and her career. Someone told her she could have it all and she believed them and now that dating pool has gotten pretty shallow because all those sexy/good dad/provider types got scooped up early.

    I never thought the Sex and the City women were all that happy.

    Now, having raised my kids, step-kids, and foster kids, that urge to procreate has disappeared a long time ago. I like not having to be responsible anymore but that’s me and I never, ever, give up control of the birth control. Been there and done that. Now to add to Marika’s point about her colleague, I know it’s possible to enter into a mature relationship where each person is the focus of the other without the added burden of children and provisioning. It can be a joyful thing. I wish this young lady luck.

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “37 is a bit old to start popping out babies”

      My wife had children at 41 and nearly 43.

      1. 6.1.1

        You lucked out then. A much higher incidence of congenital birth defects with older births. Especially for those women who do not have affordable access to good pre-natal care. There has also been some linkages tied to “older” sperm too. Men don’t get off the hook that easily.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I did but perhaps you should spare my readers the sweeping generalizations about who can and can’t have children. I am quite sure I know the statistics as well as anybody.

    2. 6.2

      This is parroted incel babble. If you devalue every women outside childbearing years it will be impossible to have a long term happy relationship. I myself never chased the pretty boys, or “bad boys”. I dated the awkward nerds and loners, the financially challenged, kept an open mind. Took me a long time (36) to find the right one because I was working 2 blue collar jobs 50-65 hours a week, raising a sibling. I didn’t drink late with fellow waiters at the bar, I had to work a day job. I couldn’t use drugs, (day job drug tests,) a lot of young guys “just aren’t looking for anything serious right now,” so I said “thanks we can be friends only”I didn’t sleep around although I don’t see why it’s so shamed. I was always serious, relationship oriented. Most of my peers were immature and non commital. Or not interested in working full time, or in being sober. Don’t assume every person who didn’t find a partner by 22 was partying or putting education before finding love. Some stayed single cause we were holding out for a grownup. Or working monster hours to support ourselves instead of expecting our parents or significant other to. Assume the worst in people and don’t be surprised when the good ones run for the hills.

      1. 6.2.1

        “Parroted incel babble”? Is that the feminist version of “snowflake’ or “libtard?” I love it!!! Ames, you get a medal for doing all the things you did however, my point still stands. Having babies later incurs a very real risk and two, holding out for a grownup can work against a woman.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I agree, Olongapo. If you’re going to contribute to a blog designed for smart women who want to make smart choices in love – including women 35-42 who want to have children – you’d do best to be more understanding and respectful. If not, you can find another place to play. As a man, I value men’s perspectives that help broaden women’s understanding of men…but I always run off the guys who are here to vent about women and end up contributing more negative than positive to my readers.

        2. Ames

          I’m not a feminist, but a humanist. I want good for good people and I LOVE men. Wouldn’t want to live in a world without them. It’s easy to say guys/gals are out sowing oats. Wait for the one who isn’t. Compromise on things like fitness, beauty, physical preferences, an arm trophy you’ll find plenty of great girlfriend potential. Just as women do when they compromise on status, baldness, height or income. At the end of the day I want to date my best friend, not show off like a celebrity couple.

        3. SparklingEmerald

          Olongapo – Ames stated that she was not interested in having children as she raised kids herself, so your point about having babies is moot, as she is not interested. She was referring to your ugly unsubstantiated assumptions about women who aren’t married by their twenties.

          Also your point that holding out for a grownup can work against a woman, that is laughable. Marrying and overgrown man-child just to have babies in your 20’s is what really works against women.

          Anyway, you probably won’t even read this, since Evan has asked you to clean up your act or leave, but in case you are lurking . . .

        4. jo

          Olongapo, I don’t see how ‘holding out for a grownup can work against a woman.’ I don’t see how any woman, or man for that matter, should want to marry or have a serious relationship with one who isn’t grown up. That would just be a disaster.

          No one wants to be in a relationship where the partner is a child who needs to be looked after – that is more like a parent-child relationship, rather than one where each can respect the other and count on the other. Ames’ expectation is reasonable.

  7. 7

    Consider me castigated and corrected. BTW, I don’t lurk nor troll.

  8. 8

    When I was 27 I fell in love with a guy who was 39, no kids and divorced X 2. He also had a history of cheating. Red flags all over the place, but the chemistry was out of the ball park, and I fell hard before I knew the details of his history. I refer to him as “the carrot dangler” because of all the sort-of promises he made, such as “I always knew that when I met the right woman I would want to make a home together/get married again/have children.” Life was bliss for about 6 months. Then he turned 40 and his father died of a heart attack and he had a sort of midlife crisis and decided he did not have room in his life for me (passive/aggressive, just spent less and less time with me) and wanted to focus on his artistic career. It got to be that he would back out of the room if I brought up our future, or even tried to talk about what it was that he wanted and if we still had a future. I pulled the plug after 2 years of hoping/wishing/therapy and trying to make it work. 2 wasted years. It took 2 more years to recover from the heartbreak and finally I met my husband who DID want to be married and have a life with me. We had our daughter (natural childbirth and perfect baby) when we were both 37. No regrets for moving on from Mr. carrot dangler.

  9. 9

    My guy is 61 with no kids and I’m 58 with no kids. WOO HOO! We are both retired and feel like we won the lottery. It IS possible to find men with no children. If that’s what you want, don’t give up!

  10. 10

    The guy is in his early 40s and he has never had kids or been married before. He probably has never lived with a girlfriend either. I’m in my 30s and I’m so used to my lifestyle, I can’t but imagine this older guy would need to seriously change his entire lifestyle, completely, to accomodate a wife and kids, and he’d probably be unhappy with the arrangment.

    Besides, he’s in his 40s. The older a man is the more and more likely it is for the child to either be born with birth defects or with neurological conditions that will have a negative impact in the kid’s quality of life.

    There are healthy babies being born to older men, sure.I know a guy who became a biological father for the first time at the age of sixty, and another guy who also fathered a healthy child when he was 55, but cases like that are extremely rare, with men becoming a father for the first time when they are those ages, and producing a healthy child.

    I’d say the ideal age for a man to become a father is when he’s 25-30. I know someone who is in her 50s and she’s already a grandmother, and I feel that if a guy is independently wealthy at the age of 18, then why not, have a kid or two, but overall most guys can’t afford a child until they’re middle-aged and that’s not ideal, so either have a child when you’re a young man, or don’t have one at all.

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