Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Date My Sperm Donor?”

From the forums:

I recently split from my partner when he suggested I terminate my pregnancy, and at four months along I lost the baby. I’m mentally and financially stable enough to be a single parent, so when I lost her, I decided to go down the donor route to try for another baby instead of building another relationship. I met with the donor (just for a drink) after texting every day for a while, and I already felt like there might be something more there. After we met, he confirmed it by voicing everything I’d been thinking. We just really connected, had a lot in common, and found each other very attractive. We kept it professional and arranged for a donation, but the entire time we’ve been talking it’s like excitement to see him completely separate from the excitement of trying to get pregnant.

We met for the donation and it was just instant — we talked for hours, we ordered a take-away, and he ended up staying the night. It felt right, like we’d known each other for years. Now he wants us to date and see if anything comes from it, and he hopes to be a proper father to the baby. I will always keep the door open, but is dating him going to complicate things? If it goes wrong, surely the worst is that I never see him again, which was the original plan anyway. And if he wanted shared custody, that’s fine by me; it’s his child too. He has only donated to a couple of women, years ago, and is a single man with his own home, successful career, etc. He didn’t do this with the previous women and I’m not being naïve: I just want to do what is best for the baby and myself. Any advice is appreciated. — Motherhood, Take Two

This is a really bad idea. You’ve moved quickly from a traumatizing experience – a midterm miscarriage immediately following a breakup. It doesn’t sound like you have given yourself time to heal from either loss and, instead, are rushing to replace them. You say the worst that can happen if you date the man who’s donating sperm to you is that “you never see him again,” but that’s most definitely not the worst that can happen, and that you believe it is underscores how not ready you are to pursue motherhood and dating at this particular moment. You are thinking about logistics in your worst-case scenario and not of your emotions. Your emotions need your attention.

I urge you to put the brakes on pursuing pregnancy until you’ve healed a bit more from the loss of your last pregnancy. See a therapist if you haven’t already, give yourself six months at least to have a little more distance from your loss and to let your hormones settle a bit. If you’re already pregnant by this sperm donor who’s making the hard push to date you, keep him at arm’s length. It’s suspicious that he is pursuing you as aggressively as he is – a woman recently single, who just experienced a traumatic pregnancy loss and wants to immediately get pregnant again. It’s strange he’s talking about co-parenting with someone he’s only just met – and not just talking about it, but actively trying to make it happen. It is not, as you say, professional. It’s the opposite of professional, and I worry he is exploiting your vulnerability – not to mention the power imbalance in your relationship together (as in, you want to be pregnant and he has the ability to help make that happen).

In answer to your question, “is dating him going to complicate things?”: YES, YES, YES. How could it possibly not complicate things? If you break up after having a baby, the worst that can happen is not that you never see him again; there’s much worse that can happen. You don’t even know this guy. You don’t really know what his true intentions here are. He may fight you for full custody of your child, he may fight you for child support, he may work to turn your child against you, he may be abusive, he may leave you emotionally shattered in a way that threatens your ability to parent well. These risks are too great to take. You don’t even know this guy and you want to have a baby and co-parent with him? That you don’t see how irrational this sounds underscores the state of your emotional well-being right now and, again, I urge you to address your mental health first before pursuing motherhood. There’s just too much at stake here and you are in too vulnerable a state to think as clearly as you need to to make the big decisions that will be required should you continue down the path you’ve begun.

I am a 32-year-old female in a 4.5-year relationship with a 44-year-old man. We have a 3.5-year-old son together and recently bought our first house together. I am now 16 weeks pregnant with our second child. Since I was pregnant with our first son, I have periodically discovered Facebook conversations with other women, ranging from flirtatious to graphically sexual. As far as I know, the conversations have never led to physical cheating. During this whole time I have snooped on his FB, sometimes once a month, sometimes every day, depending on what I have found. In the past several weeks he has changed his patterns to be more bold, commenting “hot” on different women’s photos, messaging recently friended females to say hi, and has even said, “hey sexy new friend” just the other day to a new friend (although he deleted that message the same day). I should mention that almost all these women are older, in their 40s and 50s, while I am 12 years younger than he is.

I don’t feel I can talk to him about it because there’s not much to confront him on right now and every time he finds out I snoop (even if I do discover something) he gets defensive and angry and turns everything around on me. I should note that if I was not snooping, I would have no indication he’s not happy with our life, and we have a very active sex life. What do I do??? I even went so far as asking a friend of a friend to bait him with a outwardly flirtatious conversation and he didn’t bite in that circumstance. My greatest fear is he’ll cheat on me and I won’t know it. I feel out of control and feel this stress is negatively affecting the health of my unborn child. — Depressed Snooper

 
I’m not sure what you mean by not having much to confront your boyfriend about. He is actively pursuing other women and you don’t trust him as far as you can spit. He’s emotionally cheating on you, and if he hasn’t already physically cheated, it is not for lack of trying and it is only a matter of time before he does. In addition, he is gaslighting you when you try to talk to him about it – a distinct tactic of manipulative, and often abusive, people. Your relationship sounds dysfunctional at best and potentially dangerous at worst (please have yourself tested for STIs). You need to protect your emotional and physical safety as well as that of your children (both born and unborn) by getting yourself out of this relationship and into a safe home.

Now is the time to call on your support network. Now is the time to summon all your courage and emotional strength. Now is the time to plan to be a single mother, to talk to a family attorney and find out how you can get financial support from your children’s father. You don’t mention domestic violence as part of this scenario and I sincerely hope it hasn’t reached that point yet, but these tips will still prove helpful for you as you make plans to get yourself and your son to a safe place, out of the home you share with your child’s father (especially steps 9-16).

If what I’ve written makes you panic, it should. I worry that you’ve been in denial about the kind of person you’re with, and for the sake of your children, if nothing else, you need to wake up. A man who sends sexually graphic messages (likely unwanted ones) to women – on a regular basis! – when he’s in a committed relationship with someone else, and then gaslights his partner when she questions him about it, is not a good person. He is not someone to be trusted, and he is certainly not someone whom you can build a future with. I think – I hope – on some level you already know this, and now is the time to take active steps to get away from him and build a new future that he will only be part of as a co-parent and only then if he can lovingly do so.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

19 comments… add one
  • avatar

    dinoceros September 10, 2019, 10:37 am

    LW1. What Wendy said x 1,000. I think that the specificity of your situation has somehow made you think this is normal. But having a sperm donor is NOT that same thing as having a baby with a stranger you barely know. The former is something that can be done in a very particular way that includes legal, safety and emotional protections to go smoothly. The latter is essentially the same as you driving up to a bar and finding a random guy and saying, “Let’s parent kids together!”

    LW2: The fact that you wouldn’t know he was messaging other women if you hadn’t snooped makes it kind of odd that you assume he’s not cheating simply because you don’t know about it yet. Also, your comments about age make me think that you’re trying to convince yourself that he’s not serious about cheating since you’re younger (and presumably more desirable?) than the women he’s messaging. That’s also irrelevant. Regardless of what he’s done physically, he clearly doesn’t respect you, isn’t really into the relationship, and has either or will soon cheat.

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    • avatar

      Tiara September 10, 2019, 11:10 am

      Maybe it’s just me but I took that comment as she was worried that maybe he actually preffers women closer to his own age than she is. Other than that I do completely agree with you and Wendy. This guy does not respect her and if he hasn’t yet it’s only a matter of time before he does cheat on her.

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster September 10, 2019, 11:41 am

    LW1: WWS. Please take 10,000 steps back from this situation.

    LW2: Why are you being so passive in your own life?! You’ve just been passively creeping on his FB activity for literal years while he sent gross and inappropriate messages to another woman and you consider that “nothing”?! And while knowing all this you chose to get pregnant by him AGAIN. Have some self-respect!

    Also, not to be too BGM about this but fucking birth control, people. I’m probably extra sensitive to this because my idiot parents had no business bringing children into the world since they’d just wind up neglecting and traumatizing them but here’s a PSA: A BABY IS NOT A PLAY TOY TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOUR SHITTY RELATIONSHIP. It’s a real human life that needs stability, love, and stable fucking grown ups around it. /rant

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    • avatar

      Ruby Tuesday September 10, 2019, 8:31 pm

      Channel that inner BGM!

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  • avatar

    KatieM September 10, 2019, 12:20 pm

    L1. Wait, wasn’t this a Jennifer Aniston movie? Worked out swell for her. I’m sure you will be fine.

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    • avatar

      Sarah September 10, 2019, 6:43 pm

      I was thinking the same thing about that movie. Also, I didn’t think they let you meet with the sperm donor…

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    • avatar

      anonymousse September 10, 2019, 9:12 pm

      In that movie, I think it was her male friend who that took the donor cup and dumped it and replaced it with his own donation.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph September 11, 2019, 10:04 am

        I’m sure the movie just glosses over the fact that this is sexual assault, too.

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      • avatar

        Kate September 11, 2019, 10:36 am

        Thats such a disgusting plot.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse September 11, 2019, 12:04 pm

        It’s “The Switch” based on “The Baster” by Jeffrey Eugenides published in the New Yorker.

        https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1996/06/17/baster

        Yes, yet another rom com with a pretty dark plotline.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 10, 2019, 12:42 pm

    LW1). Seriously? You need to slow down. Pump the brakes. Grieve properly. You are foolishly rushing into having a baby. More — your VERY bizarre interactions with this total nut job of a donor clearly reveals that you are not at all thinking rationally here. Far from it. NEWSFLASH: This is all going to be one gigantic mess. But of course it is far too late for my advice. As I suspect you are already pregnant. Yikes. Just yikes.
    .
    LW2). TaraMonster already stole my thunder. But seriously? Why are you making yet another baby with somebody who you have so many issues with? Issues that have plagued you now for years? For pretty much your entire relationship? Are you fucking daft? A masochist. Just really dumb? All of the above? Who knows. But my patience with people like you ended years ago.

    NEWSFLASH: I think it’s time we start making people (male and female) pass both intelligence tests and thorough mental health evaluations before they can breed. I am dead serious. The world is already vastly overpopulated with enough clueless dolts. Sorry. We simply so do not need any more. Nor does the planet.

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  • avatar

    CarrieAnn September 10, 2019, 1:31 pm

    LW1: I am so sorry for your loss – I truly understand your need to be pregnant again right-now-this-very-second, but getting pregnant now – and in this way – would be a complicated, messy and painful way of going about it (not to mention tying you to someone you don’t know for the rest of your life).

    Please take time to heal, mourn the loss of your child and process the way your relationship ended before you look at bringing another life into the world.

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  • avatar

    brise September 10, 2019, 4:03 pm

    The problem is that you believe you have a disposable father for your future child and a disposable boyfriend. “If it doesn’t work, surely it will go away”. But it is not so simple! It is a real issue if you don’t know precisely what will be the status of this man in your child’s life. It is very important that you decide wether this guy is a donor – and there is no relationship, no fatherhood, nothing – or wether he is a high speed father+boyfriend (crazy!). But you can’t just fantasise that you will give a try and then reverse to the “donor” status. You might both suffer real consequences, and your child even more. You can’t mess with such important issues without serious emotional damage – to say the least. Make up your mind, out of respect for your future child. If you like this guy, then start dating but stop the “donor” process. If you want a child (too soon, I think, but I understand the urge), find an other donor later, after some therapy, and treat him as a donor.
    I agree with all what Wendy said. You are not over your loss.

    LW2: I would be also depressed if I were in your position, but I couldn’t identify myself to the role of “snooper”: so much below dignity! Please, go to a lawyer. You are being mistreated.

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  • avatar

    Sapphire September 10, 2019, 4:39 pm

    LW 1, I hope you get therapy. I hope you slow down and talk to a therapist. Also when you’re ready, pick ANOTHER donor. Please do not pick him.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. September 10, 2019, 9:38 pm

    I know nothing about this process, so here’s my question: Is it the norm for the birth mother to meet the sperm donor? I never knew that and it seems a little strange to me.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse September 11, 2019, 8:10 am

      The forum post has the location and things are different there. Really weird.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph September 11, 2019, 10:32 am

    It sounds like LW1 already did the “donation” so it might be too late to pump the brakes on that part of it.
    I had an early miscarriage in May and I was also pretty eager to get pregnant again, which I did on the next cycle. But I think its a big difference because my husband and I were actively trying to get pregnant when I did the first time and it sounds like LW1’s lost pregnancy was unplanned. LW went through a lot of changes very fast– adjusting to being pregnant, adjusting to being pregnant while signal, and then losing the baby (and at 4 months it was probably pretty widely known among her family and friends). That’s a lot to deal with in a few months (While also probably feeling generally like shit)

    I do think she’s rushing into this. It can be hard to think of a lost pregnancy as a blessing in disguise but LW1 has an opportunity to start her newly single chapter without being pregnant and mayyybe that’s a good thing. Make no mistake, single momming will be very difficult. You need more than financial stability, you need a LOT of extra money to hire help to get you through those early days.

    If you want to pursue a relationship with this guy, put the sperm donor thing on hold. If you really want to be pregnant, find a donor who will be just a donor. This guy doesn’t have the only swimmers in the sea!

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  • avatar

    charo September 16, 2019, 10:16 am

    SINCE WHEN do you meet a sperm donor for a DRINK? That’s unprofessional for both of them.

    This is a good columnist, she’s very tough and clear-eyed w/both of these off-the-wall LWs. They both need this.

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  • avatar

    Anita September 16, 2019, 10:40 am

    Motherhood take two. How was this donor found? I would think most agencies have safety guidelines regarding communications and dating a donor. You should ask them what the rules are and to help explain their thoughts on this. I have a feeling this is not suppose to be more than a one time meet if any. Let them know what is going on. He could very well be talking to a few other clients the same way.

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