Tell Me About It: Also, I love my mother hugely but she depends on me too much
I am a gay man of 29 and I have no paternal instincts. The man I have been dating for over a year now wants to get married and have children but I don’t think this is for me.
I love my life too much, I love travelling, going out for dinner and cultural activities. While I definitely don’t want to be alone – I want to have a partner to share my life – this feels like a pretty significant road block. I’m not sure if one day I will want to be a parent or if it will never be for me. Do I keep it going with my partner in the hope that one day I will want to have kids or do I cut my losses now and enjoy the life I have?
My father died when I was young and I got a lot of responsibility early in life. When I got to 18 and left for college, I loved the sense of independence I had and I still do. I have a lot of duty towards my Mum and I love her hugely but she depends on me to be the main person at Christmas and family events and I go to weddings with her, even now.
My two younger siblings are living in Australia and seem to be settled there so there is no support coming from that end. My partner is very good with my Mum and all he wants is to have a large extended family with all the connections and trappings. I know that this relationship would be perfect fit for my life now but I feel a resistance that I can’t shake.
You are experiencing a problem that many couples have – one person wants to move to the marriage and children scenario while the other is completely unsure if that is for them at all; this does not indicate a lack of love in the relationship but rather very divergent expectations of life. Being elevated to a position of semi-parenting at a young age clearly has had an impact and this position still seems to be in place even though you are almost 30 now. There are two issues here: your need to separate from your Mum and the other, facing into the commitment issues in your relationship.
It is always difficult for parents to let go their children, but where there has been a loss, it is even more difficult. Your Mum has relied on you and it seems that a lot of this has been good for both of you but you are not her partner and it may be time for her to consider opening up to other relationships or at least creating a life for herself that does not depend on you to such an extent.
Her sense of loss may be exacerbated by the emigration of her other children and it would be very normal for her to hold on to the son who is left with all her energy. The aim is for her to have confidence in your love and affection without the need to have you by her side all the time.
You will need to have many conversations with her where all this is discussed and where both your concerns and needs can be verbalised. It may be important to involve your siblings in this conversation also as they may have options for your Mum, such as inviting her to go to Australia for a number of months, etc. It can often happen that when one person pulls back from a relationship, the other becomes frightened and holds on even tighter. This is why this new structure will take time for your Mum to accept.
The issue with your partner seems to be a make or break issue as he sounds as though he is certain of a long-term future with you that includes children. Many partners are willing to stay in this type of situation, hoping that the other person will come around eventually but he needs to be very clear what the situation is. You may never want to have children or you may never want to commit fully to one person and it is up to you to be honest and open about this. You say you want both a partner to share your life with and also the freedom to be independent and single.
These are opposites and the desire for both can lead to a repeating of this current scenario, where you are attracted to someone who is a life-sharing type of person and you reject them for exactly the same reason. Now might be a good time to address this contradiction and a few sessions with a psychotherapist/psychologist could help bring understanding and clarity to you. Your partner will need to be involved in this as it is also his future that is on the table and you might consider inviting him to your sessions.