The help desk: 'My boyfriend isn't ready for a baby - but time is running out for us'


Q. I love my boyfriend more than anyone I've ever met. Six years ago, I fell deeply in love with him, but he was a classic commitment-phobe. Things were quite stormy, but now he has finally committed to me and that makes me very happy. But I'm desperate to have a baby – I'm 39 and he's 45 – and he won't give me one. He always says he isn't ready – but time is running out for us and I really can't imagine how I will face the future if I don't get to do this.

Friends say I should just have a baby, by insemination or with a gay friend, and that maybe he'd even stay with me. But I don't want to risk losing him. I'll never find anyone like him now and I don't want to be without him. But I do feel I've given away my last fertile years to him, and part of me worries I could end up without him and childless as well.

A. Because your friends know you and your situation a lot better than I do, I guess I'll have to assume that their idea about you having a baby with a stranger's sperm or a willing gay man – and somehow still hanging on to your relationship – is not as stark-staring loony as it sounds. How very modern.

What it also tells me is that the people who know you best believe that desperate measures are called for.

Your boyfriend has made his feelings clear, and rather than wait around for him to change his mind, you need to get moving. You are staring 40 in the face and there's a reasonable chance you have already left it too late – that will be down to your individual biology. And if a man says he doesn't want a baby, you can be darn sure he not going to sign up to months of fraught and expensive fertility treatment. So there's no time to waste making this decision.

Some questions to consider: is he really worth it? Do you feel that giving your last fertile years away has been a reasonable sacrifice? If you stayed with him, childless, could you ever truly forgive him for that? Do I get the sense that you don't feel secure with him? What do your friends think of him; what do they really think when they're not telling you what you want to hear? Which do you fear most: a future without motherhood, or a future without him?

Something tells me that a commitment-phobe such as this man never really changes his spots. What, at 45, does "not ready" mean anyway? On paper, he doesn't sound like a good enough bet, and my instincts tell me you should move ahead swiftly with your motherhood plans, assuming your gay friend is an actual person and not a piece of wishful thinking, or that you've investigated sources of donor sperm.

The ins and outs of this will be down to your own moral compass. And maybe he'll stay with you – maybe he'll even do the loving thing and give you what you want. But don't count on that. The important thing is to take ownership of this agonising decision, which has somehow come to rest with him.

Your problem shared

Have a dilemma? Email your predicament no matter how big or small to Louisa at

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