When Life Doesn't Meet Your Expectations, also, Babies

Hi Edahn,

I found your blog just a few weeks ago and I find your humor and wisdom incredibly comforting. I'm hoping that you can help me with something.

Does anyone in a stable, heterosexual relationship on this site find it necessary to have the "what would you want if I were to get pregnant discussion?" I think it's an important discussion to have, and one I've had with two men in our late 20s who I have been in stable relationships with. They've both answered that they know for sure they would want an abortion since they're not ready to have kids until they're independently wealthy.

I'm firmly pro-choice, but I've always known that, for myself, at my age (28), I would want to keep the child. Hopefully I'm never faced with that choice, but emotionally and financially I know that keeping the child would feel right to me. However, knowing that child wouldn't be wanted by my partner puts a definite kink in things. I feel like I would be compelled to have an abortion if the child wasn't wanted by my partner as well.

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that these men have no emotional attachment to pregnancy. To have their minds made up that an abortion would be their definite preference in any unplanned scenario just strikes me as a bit callous and extreme. I didn't realize there are so many men out there whose first instinct is actually abortion, even in a stable relationship with a partner they trust.

I can't help but take this all a bit personally. Any insight you can provide about what is going through a man's head when faced with this question? Are there any men out there who understand that pregnancy is a possible outcome from sex, even protected sex? And that abortion isn't just a given if that happens? 

A VERY WISE PERSON I know once told me that life doesn't always unfold according to your expectations. She was right, and she touched about a personality trait that, I think, lies at the bottom of your dilemma.

Some cultures (American, Canadian, British, German, Chinese, Eastern European) place a high premium on planning, strategy, and stability and eschew improvisation. Members of that culture are expected to carve out a path and walk it, carefully. When obstacles arise on the path, their habit is to remove them. Other cultures (French, Spanish, Latin, and Italian come to mind) are more comfortable with improvisation and creating new plans to replace old ones. 

I think what you're experiencing in these men is their commitment to their plans. In those plans, babies come after financial security is achieved (and probably marriage), so the pregnancy is out of order. Sounds pretty harsh, huh? They're less emotional about their decision because they haven't really embraced the emotional impact of bringing a baby into the world. It doesn't reach that point. 

The experience is very different from the person bearing the child, because (1) the alternative scenario is much more salient, due to the fact that you're the carrier, and (2) you've probably fantasized about the experience much more than any man you're dating, seeing as how bearing children is something that distinguishes you from half of the planet. Other factors are probably also at play, like your personality, your comfort with improvisation, and your own criteria for bearing children, which might be lower than your partners'.

So where does that leave you? On the one hand, you could try dating people who are more spontaneous and comfortable with changing plans, but I think the planning mentality is probably attractive to many people--men or women--because it signals security. I think you should talk about your thoughts with your partners. You might freak them the fuck out, but you might also encourage them to broaden their approach to life. As the Tao says, "To bend like the reed in the wind, that is the real strength."

Thanks for the great question. Keep working through it. I think it'll help you grow. I hope you find someone special to have those babies with. --ES