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Is his clock ticking?
Men who want to settle down and start families? Extinct, some say. Nope. Theyre out there: Guys with biological clocks that have started sounding alarms, warning that theyre heading into middle age without familiesso theyre looking to build one, and soon. These men are relatively easy to spot: They may mention marriage moments after meeting you. They may follow-up casual questions like Do you enjoy your work? with pointed probes: Do you think youll give it up to stay at home when you have a baby? On date number three, they might describe the blinding bling they want to buy youor offer more subtle suggestions of a together-forever future: Remarks à la My mom will love you.
While such behaviors may seem refreshingly romantic at first, eventually they can start to feel confining if youre not on the same speedy timetable to get hitched. Heres how to handle an over-eager partner while you sort out how you feel about your futures:
Tip #1: Be straight with him
Why its important: If hes open with you about what hes looking for, you owe him the same thing. While its scary to have a guy spring marriage and babies on you on the first date, having all the cards out on the table up front can be a good thing. I actually recommend it, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Ph.D., author of The Complete Idiots Guide to a Healthy Relationship. Whats the point of dating someone who doesnt have intentions that are compatible with your own? says Kuriansky. So be direct: Tiptoeing around the issue only leaves misunderstanding and misguided hope, says Anne Dean, 29, a divorced public relations director in Henderson, NV, who found that her comical anti-marriage quips only confused her boyfriend of 10 months. We had to have lengthy discussions about specific reasons for my not wanting to remarry and about what he can expect from me and when, says Dean.
How to do it: If his talk of the future is making you uncomfortable, say soand say why. Start the conversation with a positive point why you like spending time together then ease into why youre not ready for marriage now (or ever) and when you might be, whether you ever see yourself with kids and approximately when. Be honest. Dont agree to something just to pacify someone, says Toni Coleman, LCSW, a dating coach and psychotherapist in McLean, VA. Its not fair to pretend that youre on the same page and then later say, Oh, by the way, I really dont want kids. If youre not 100% sure, say Hey, look, I have to tell you: You just expressed your dream of having five children, and Im ambivalent about kids. Listen to what he has to say about it, and know that while some give-and-take is possible, if you truly dont want the same things out of life, thats probably a deal-breaker. You might be able to negotiate timingbut you shouldnt try to negotiate kids or no kids, says Kuriansky.
Tip #2: Make sure hes looking at you for you, not your ovaries
Why its important: If hes busy fitting you into the bride/baby-maker slot in his mind, youll both be missing out on the chance to see if you can connect as people, not simply future parents. Sarah, 34, a quality manager in Denver, had a brief online correspondence with a man who seemed less interested in who she was than in whether she met all the criteria required to be the mother of his children. He revealed his plan to retire from the Army in five years, get married and have three kids, each a year apart, says Sarah. He was way too interested in my thoughts on the spacing of children and being a stay-at-home mom.
How to do it: Ask questions that will offer insight into his attitudes about relationships in general and how he feels about you, specifically, says Kuriansky. Start with these: Have you ever wanted to marry before? Why is it a good time for you to marry now? What do you like about me? Why might we be compatible as a couple? If its clear from his answers that he does care about you and not just your parent potential, draw out his thoughts on fatherhood. If he just wants a child because all of his friends have kids but has no idea what parenting involves and assumes youll deal with all of that, you may want to back off, says Kuriansky.
Tip #3: Dont be afraid to ask for space
Why its important: Sometimes men looking to marry are guys who crave constant companionship; its not so much that they want family life but that they dont want to be alone. Be alert to this type, though its usually pretty easy to spot. He calls four times an hour. He wonders why youre not spending Saturday and Sunday with him. These behaviors can be red-flags to a dependent personality, says Coleman. Michelle, 27, a designer in Hinesburg, VT, discovered this firsthand last year when she starting dating a guy who told her on the first date he was looking for a wife and as the relationship progressed, couldnt handle that I wasnt with him 24/7. When she asked for space, he told her that she needed to learn to compromise her time if she ever wanted a real relationship. At first, Michelle wondered if he might be right, then realized he needs to find his own hobbies and learn that just because someone doesnt want to be with him all the time doesnt mean that she doesnt like himor that she has issues.
How to do it: Engage him in a dialogue that will get at the emotions that drive his all-over-you actions. Tell him that you feel he gets upset when youre unavailable. Express that you think you have different perceptions of the perfect relationship. Ask for his thoughts. As he responds, pay attention to his wordsand his body language. Does he clench his jaw? Assume a defensive posture (armed crossed, etc)? Talk through this process, says Coleman. Point out that you feel he looks angry; invite him to discuss those feelings. Eventually, it will come out that he is upset, which gives you a chance to explain that you cant be in a relationship with someone who doesnt respect your independence. Give the guy another chance only if he agrees to back off a bitand you truly believe he means it.
Source: Nicci Micco, co-founder of www.whatrealwomeneat.com and a contributing editor for SELF, also writes for Cooking Light, Mens Health and More. msn.match.com/msn/article.aspx?articleid=4889&menuid=6&lid=0>1=7569