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“My Husband Isn’t Ready to Have a Baby, But I’m Becoming Obsessed”
I’m now 41 years old and I’m regretting my decision. I’ve changed my mind and now I’d like to have a baby. I see that Eric is still online shopping for the compatible connection. About a month ago, I clicked an icon to “like” his profile, but he clicked an icon to say he didn’t like mine. If he had clicked on the icon which I was expecting, we could have chatted. In hindsight, I should have sent him an email direct via the dating site, but I wanted to gauge his interest first.
How do I tell him I’m interested (in him and in having a baby)? I don’t have his phone number, but I have his private email address. All I want to do is find out if he’d like to continue where we left off 16 months ago. And to tell him I’d like to have a baby. Should I send an email on the dating site? Send him a private email? What do I say?
I don’t want to have regrets, so what have I got to lose, right?
Any advice would be helpful. — Ready for a Baby Now
Here’s the thing: You didn’t make a decision to regret. You told Eric on your second date that you were undecided about having children. That wasn’t a decision — that was a statement, a true statement. HE made the decision – the decision to not see you again. At fifty years old, he decided that the desire for a baby superseded any interest he might have in you and decided not to risk investing time in someone who wasn’t sure whether she wanted a kid or not. At best, he hedged his bets, hoping he’d find someone else young enough and interested enough in having a baby with him, with whom he also felt a romantic connection. At worst, he wasn’t all that into you in the first place and the bet he hedged by giving up a potential future with you for a potential future with someone else wasn’t a very risky one. The bottom line here is that his interest in having a baby superseded his interest in you, period.
For argument’s sake, let’s say your scenario was the best of the two options and he WAS very interested in you and rejected you only because of your indecision about wanting a baby. You might still have a chance with him if this is the case because now you’ve decided that you DO want a baby. But…do you want to have a baby with a man like Eric? Think about it. To be fifty — and, now, at least 51 — and reject a woman more than ten years your junior because she’s not sure she wants a baby is an audacious move only a specific kind of man could get away with (and, yes, I can’t help but think about Robert here). It suggests either a cockiness that one has so much to offer that even a much younger woman who is still in her child-bearing years would be interested in procreating with him, OR a desperation so strong to have a baby that it matters more than having a romantic connection. Either way, I can’t imagine a man like him is going to be a great partner for you — especially after already rejecting you now twice — let alone a supportive co-parent.
If you are hellbent on reaching out to him though, I suggest sending him a private email and saying something like this: “Hi Eric, I saw recently that you’re still on [name of your dating app/site]; I am, too. I remember our dates together fondly and thought we had a great connection. I know, at the time, our future goals didn’t quite mesh. You were interested in having a child and I wasn’t yet sure what I wanted. In the past 16 months, my feelings have changed, and I am wondering if you’d be interested in seeing whether we might be better matched now as a result.” This way, you are still framing your pitch for a potential relationship as a connection between the two of you vs. “WE BOTH WANT A BABY, SO LET’S GO HAVE A BABY!” You hint at maybe wanting a baby now without making it the thesis of your argument, which is how I think you should approach any potential romantic relationship, whether it’s with Eric or with someone else.
In addition to pursuing a relationship with someone based on mutual attraction and interest and not just a mutual desire for BABIES!, I urge you to really think about how important being a mom is to you. Is it a bigger priority than making a romantic connection? Can you be happy in a long-term relationship that doesn’t result in a child together? Would you consider single parenthood if you don’t find a partner with whom to have a baby? What if you aren’t able to have a biological child? Would you consider other methods to become a mom? These are all really important questions to be clear about as you pursue dating/ searching for a partner. If making a love connection is a bigger priority than becoming a mother, I hope you won’t pull an Eric and reject someone who isn’t interested in parenthood. And I REALLY hope you don’t convince yourself you do want a baby when what you really want is a boyfriend. You can certainly have both — even in your 40s — but being really clear about what is most important to you will help you make decisions you won’t likely regret.
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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.
Fyodor February 6, 2020, 12:16 pm
“It suggests either a cockiness that one has so much to offer that even a much younger woman who is still in her child-bearing years would be interested in procreating with him”
I mean, the LW wants to procreate with him. Maybe not so cocky?
Dear Wendy February 6, 2020, 1:22 pm
Oh, to have the confidence of a middle-aged, mediorce white man who believes his prospects are limitless.
Fyodor February 6, 2020, 1:32 pm
Do you know that he’s mediocre? Or white? The LW said that he was tall, handsome, successful, fun and that she was attracted to him. I don’t understand what he’s done to warrant calling him unfit to parent.
Dear Wendy February 6, 2020, 2:26 pm
I never said he was unfit to parent!
Bittergaymark February 6, 2020, 2:56 pm
I was confused by this bizarre hostility towards the guy. If he was a woman and wanted a kid I think we’d all — rightly — applaud her for not wasting her time on somebody who was so ambivalent about them.
Dear Wendy February 6, 2020, 3:27 pm
I’m just so over 50 year-old men acting like they have limitless possibilities among women ten+ years their junior. Women could NEVER get away with this. I’m sorry, but if you’re fifty and haven’t had a child yet and you desperately want one, look into how to do so on your own. Quit using dating apps like a shopping experience for a surrogate, it’s gross.
Vathena February 6, 2020, 3:33 pm
Right, this was my problem with Robert too – like, you knew that babies and children were a thing. Maybe if you really wanted babies you would have, I don’t know, pursued a relationship sometime in the past few decades?
Bittergaymark February 6, 2020, 4:12 pm
Eh, please. She seemed equally cocky thinking he’d MAGICALLY want her back.
Skyblossom February 6, 2020, 4:33 pm
Men can have babies at a later age. It’s just a fact. I assume it is much harder for them to find a woman who wants them to father a child at that age but there is no harm in trying.
I don’t see any reason for getting angry over it.
We have no idea what was happening the guy’s life that left him childless at age 50. All we know is that he is divorced and had no children while married.
Fyodor February 6, 2020, 6:06 pm
“Right, this was my problem with Robert too – like, you knew that babies and children were a thing. Maybe if you really wanted babies you would have, I don’t know, pursued a relationship sometime in the past few decades?”
This guy was married and divorced.
Dear Wendy February 7, 2020, 9:12 am
She’s referring to Robert though, from this forum thread:
Robert is around 46 years old, hasn’t had a date in, I think, 15 years, and it’s been even longer than that since his last real relationship. And, yet, Robert REALLY wants to have children so he’s on the dating sites/apps looking for women 10+ years younger – although he says now he’s opened the age range to include women closer to his age. This is a forum thread that has been going on for several months, so it’s something those of us who have followed it closely are very familiar with. I think for a lot of women who have experience on dating sites, it triggers some frustration and even anger – which is what you’re seeing here, from me anyway – because it’s just so typical and so annoying and so gross when men constantly pursue women so much younger.
You can argue that women have their own appalling dating habits and that’s fair. And you can argue that Eric, the man this particular LW went out with isn’t like that — but if he’s a 50-year-old man pursuing women who can give him a baby then, yes, he is. And you can argue, as you have already, that if men can biologically have children at a much older age than women can, what’s wrong with them trying to find a woman who’s interested in having a baby with him if such women exist? All fair points. And it’s also fair for a woman – like me, for example – to be sick of it all, anyway!
To be fair, I’m sick of a lot of shit right now: I’m sick of men being the frontrunners in our democratic primary race when the women are clearly better candidates. I’m sick of women being put on administrative leave and getting death threats for even mentioning that a dead man many people call a hero was also an alleged rapist. I’m sick of a monster like Trump and all his cowardly minions ripping up the constitution but tearing Pelosi a new one when she ripped up his dumb speech. I’m sick of fucking rush fucking Limbaugh, one of the world’s biggest misogynists and racists, being awarded a medal of honor, omg, are you kidding me?!
Clearly, I haven’t done a great job this week of not letting the news get the best of me. I’m human, it happens.
Fyodor February 6, 2020, 6:14 pm
“I’m just so over 50 year-old men acting like they have limitless possibilities among women ten+ years their junior.”
There is no indication that he thinks that he has limitless possibilities. He had something that was really important to him and he didn’t date her because she didn’t want it.
” Women could NEVER get away with this. ”
There are some women who would rather date a tall, handsome and successful guy who is ten years older than a guy their age who is not those things. Like the person who wrote in asking for advice.
“I’m sorry, but if you’re fifty and haven’t had a child yet and you desperately want one, look into how to do so on your own. ”
Why? If they want to have a kid and there are forty year old women who will have kids with them,why should the men and the women like the LW not get to do so?
katmich15 February 7, 2020, 9:45 am
“I’m sick of women being put on administrative leave for reminding the public that a dead man they call a hero was also a rapist. I’m sick of a monster like Trump and all his cowardly minions ripping up the constitution but tearing Pelosi a new one when she ripped up his dumb speech. I’m sick of fucking rush fucking Limbaugh, one of the world’s biggest misogynists and racists, being awarded a medal of honor, omg, are you kidding me?!”
Agree with all of this, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Rush Limbaugh award, you can’t make this shit up!
Dear Wendy February 7, 2020, 9:52 am
No, you really can’t.
Kate February 7, 2020, 9:53 am
Omg, Trevor Noah or someone played a montage of clips of Rush Limbaugh saying racist and sexist stuff, and it seriously makes you throw up in your mouth.
Fyodor February 7, 2020, 10:28 am
It’s fitting in a grotesque way. Trump is the living embodiment of the ugly grievance politics that Limbaugh popularized.
Skyblossom February 6, 2020, 3:57 pm
I didn’t pick up on any cockiness either. Just because he knows beyond a doubt that he wants kids and isn’t going to date a woman who isn’t sure doesn’t make him cocky. It makes him certain he wants kids. It’s a waste of his time and her time if that is his dealbreaker and she doesn’t know if she wants them.
Fyodor February 6, 2020, 12:26 pm
“Either way, I can’t imagine a man like him is going to be a great partner for you — especially after already rejecting you now twice — let alone a supportive co-parent.”
What is the possible basis for saying that that he wouldn’t be a good co parent.
Dear Wendy February 6, 2020, 1:23 pm
Because co-parenting support begins with actually being interested in your partner as a person first.
Copa February 6, 2020, 1:08 pm
I wouldn’t reach out to this guy, LW. You went on two nice enough dates almost a year and a half ago, but mutually(?) decided it wasn’t the right fit. If I had to guess, you’re not having much luck with online dating and it’s starting to feel like a slog, and now you’re convinced he’s the one who got away. But he’s not because he’s not interested in you! If he were, he would’ve been excited when you “liked” his profile and reached out. Instead, he “disliked” your profile. You may have nothing to lose, but he’s not interested.
I say stop putting this much emotional energy into a man you went on two dates with — you barely knew him! Keep putting yourself out there, meet new people, date with an open mind, and don’t let the slog get you down. Also take the time to consider if you really want a baby or if you were just feeling down about dating and feeling a little bit desperate to make something that felt like it had potential stick.
Miss MJ February 6, 2020, 1:16 pm
I wouldn’t bother with this guy, either, LW. He’s already made it clear he isn’t interested. Twice, actually. (And, no, I don’t think you now deciding that you do want a baby is going to change that. To have a successful relationship, you have to have the, well, relationship part before you get to the baby part, and that’s where your connection just wasn’t enough.)
katmich15 February 6, 2020, 1:40 pm
Interesting, I didn’t read it as cocky, although he may be, who knows. He’s 51 and knows he wants a child, meets the LW, finds out on the second date that at age 40 she doesn’t know if she wants a child, and he should keep dating her? How does that make sense? Yes it means he’s more interested in finding someone who wants to have a child than in her but he barely knows her, it’s only the second date. He should keep dating her and possibly fall in love and then be stuck with a much harder decision? I think at his age that’s unwise. And he may not have liked her profile back because he didn’t know she had changed her mind. I don’t think it’s shallow or cocky not to proceed with a relationship when you find out VERY early on that your future plans are very different in a very important way.
Kate B. February 6, 2020, 2:39 pm
I read it that way, as well. It absolutely would be a waste of his time to continue dating someone who doesn’t want kids if he does. Having kids is an issue you can’t really compromise on. Speaking as a woman who never wanted children, I would appreciate hearing that early on so I can detach without getting too much more involved. Maybe when you’re young you’ve got that kind of time, but at 50, if he wants to be an active dad, he’s got to get on it (so to speak).
anonymousse February 6, 2020, 1:58 pm
He made it clear he’s not interested. You liked his profile and he disliked yours. If he was interested, he’d have liked yours and maybe asked if anything had changed. He didn’t.
It’s time to move on.
Kate B. February 6, 2020, 2:41 pm
Move on, LW. He made it more than clear that he is not interested. There are other men out there.
Vathena February 6, 2020, 3:30 pm
Move on – if you really do want to become a parent, there are plenty of guys out there and you can date with that in mind going forward. You have no way to know if a guy you went out with twice, almost a year an a half ago, is actually the Dad Material you’d be looking for – and he’s not interested.
I’m super curious as to what exactly changed for you between age 40 and 41 that you decided you’d like to be a mom after all. Certainly it’s fine to be ambivalent, but given the state of society today, it seems like something that most women might start seriously pondering in their 20s or so. I’m just kind of curious as to how you go through your 20s…then early 30s…late 30s…40…and then at 41 are like, yes I definitely want to be a mom! What was the hesitation before? Financial stress? Family stuff? What changed in the past year? Do you REALLY want to raise a child, or are you panicking that the door will soon close to the possibility of a biological offspring? Do you want to be a parent badly enough to go the donor-sperm route? Just some nosy questions I have. ; )
Nardo February 6, 2020, 4:08 pm
To be fair, the LW wrote “He really wanted to be a father, so we decided not to see each other again.” There was no indication that this was a unilateral decision.
Dear Wendy February 6, 2020, 4:43 pm
You’re right about that. That was a mid-reading on my part. I do stand by the rest of my advice though.
Ange February 6, 2020, 5:22 pm
Let’s not forget they went out TWICE and that’s led to this hand wringing about having babies together. At what point does the desperation to have a kid, any kid, overrule the common sense to not go around attempting to make humans with someone you barely know? LW you might be 41 but at the same time your kid is owed the best chance at life if they do materialise, maybe start thinking hard about not jumping on the first dude to show interest just because you’re broody.
mellanthe February 6, 2020, 5:44 pm
You guys went on two dates. You really don’t know if things would have progressed further or would have stalled for some other reason. You also don’t know quite how much he liked you. It’s perfectly possible it could have petered out for any one of a million reasons if you’d have carried on. Part of this may be that for you, he’s the one that got away. You told him you aren’t sure you want kids, and both moved on.
Sure, you could email him, if you want to try, just to get it off your chest. But you might find his response may not be how you’d hoped. How would you feel if he’s cooled on you, or realised he wants something else, now? You’re both on dating sites, and there are plenty more people out there.
Having kids is clearly important to him – you weren’t sure, and you’re at a time where having kids is likely to be a bit harder, and women are more likely to experience problems. Maybe he thinks you’re still unsure, and that he doesn’t want to wait for you to figure it out, knowing it may never happen? He probably wanted to plan his life in a reasonable time frame, and wanted to avoid falling for someone who might likely not want what he wanted. If I was dating a 40 year old woman who wasn’t sure, I might be worried the opportunity might pass whilst they were making up their mind -given that so far that person hadn’t wanted to have kids.
I say this as a woman with fertility problems in the family and no idea if I can have kids even though I want them – so I know it’s a frought topic. if you want them, then focus on looking for the right guy. Time you waste on people who are showing you they aren’t really interested is time that you may not have. Absolutely don’t rush the decision to have kids with any one, but don’t dawdle with people who are showing you they aren’t interested.
FWIW I’m also not keen on much older guys shopping around for much younger women because they’ve belatedly decided to become family men after turning it down when their previous partners were of reproducing age. I certainly didn’t appreciate the glut of divorced men old enough to be my dad who hit me up when I was online dating (having clearly specified my preferred age range was several years either way). Some of whom clearly made it clear that the main draw was that I was much younger. I’m not saying some people don’t want an older partner, but not looking at what people say they want is part of the problem.
Kate February 6, 2020, 5:54 pm
I just… you two didn’t have a connection. It was two dates. Sure he’s tall, attractive, successful, but at the end of the day it was 2 dates and you decided not to see each other again. There wasn’t a connection there. And you’re talking about having a baby with him.
When I was 36 I went on 3 dates with a guy in his early 40s. He had sold a company and probably made a bunch of money and decided now was the time to settle down and have kids. Fair. We went on the 3 dates and had a nice time, and he was cute, and I think he thought I was cute too. I think I got a little caught up in like, I’m seeing a guy who is successful, has money, owns a house in a fancy neighborhood, etc. I actually wanted to go out with him again and I texted him. He texted me back that he liked me or whatever but he knew I was a hard maybe on kids and he def wanted them. Fair, fine. But here’s where what Wendy is saying comes in. We did not have a real connection. We went on 3 dates and had a nice time and there was mutual attraction. That’s it. He wasn’t that into me. It wasn’t like omg I feel like we could be soulmates and she’s hot as hell but doesn’t want kids so I have to deprive myself of this wonderful connection and move on. He just was not that into it.
When I met my husband a year later, we DID have a very palpable chemistry and connection on the second date. Very different than the guys I had gone on 2-3 dates with because they were cute and successful and I wanted to keep seeing them. This was something real.
Anyway, I think it’s a little wack on your part to think you can now reconnect with this guy on the basis of you both want a baby. There’s nothing really there. I mean, reach out if you must, but I don’t see this going anywhere.
Jessica February 7, 2020, 11:44 pm
The LW says they had a connection. They were attracted to each other. The deal breaker was the kid thing. What’s the point in staying with someone if you want a kid and the person doesn’t ? If LW had wanted a kid, they may still be dating. Or down the track, found out they weren’t a match. Who knows.
I’ve read many letters about one person wanting kids and the other not wanting them. You have to break up. It’s deal breaker.
Kate February 8, 2020, 7:12 am
I mean a connection beyond finding each other attractive. This sounds like a pleasant date, nothing special, and they decided not to keep seeing each other. And she’s fixated on it well over a year later and ready to try to have a baby with him.
brise February 6, 2020, 7:10 pm
I understand the whish to have a baby but it is so theorical here! You don’t know him. The only thing you know for sure about your interaction was that he rejected you. It is for me a bit crazy to fantasise having a baby with a guy you met twice, and who isn’t so nice with you. If you really think so much of an old date, perhaps you go through a personal crisis. Look for support, and look forward, not backward. There will be an other guy than this one.
Ron February 6, 2020, 9:07 pm
I strongly disagree that his guy ‘isn’t so nice with you’. He behaved as he should. He was a good date. She really liked him. He ran up against a deal-breaker and they broke up. That’s what we advise LW’s to do most of the time. Kids vs no-kids is a rather large deal-breaker. To my taste, at 50 he was already old to expect to have kids: 50 when they dated, at least 51 when they would marry, at least 52 when the kid is born, 74 when the kid graduates college. I think that time-line is already nuts and not fair to the kid, but if he is going to father a child, time is ticking. Yes, he’ll still have sperm in 5 years, but the quality isn’t going to be so good and genetic problems for his off-spring are a very real possibility. So, yes, he can’t wait around to see if the woman he’s dating, who’s leaning to not having kids, will change her mind. It would just be wasting both of their time.
I don’t think she’s baby-crazed and fantasizing about having a baby with a guy she dated only twice. She is experiencing regret over not being with this guy, because she really liked him and views her temporary problem with having kids as the reason a very promising (at least from her end, we don’t know how far it would have gone from his side if she had been enthusiastic about kids). A potential baby is featured here, because it was an obstacle to their continuing to date, and now that obstacle is gone, not because she is desperate to find a man with whom to have a child.
At least that’s how I read her comments. In any case, that bridge was crossed a year and a half ago and 90+% there is no going back.
Kate February 7, 2020, 6:52 am
Ron, you say “broke up” like they dated. In reality they had one fun date and then another one where they decided they weren’t compatible. All she knows about him is he’s tall and a fun date.
Kate February 7, 2020, 7:02 am
Brise is actually spot on. If she’s this fixated on a guy she barely knows, who rejected her over a year ago (that’s what she means by “not so nice”), then it sounds like she’s having a bit of a personal crisis.
ron February 7, 2020, 9:35 am
Kate — I agree with what you wrote, but how does that equate to he is ‘not so nice’ with her. What did he do wrong?
Kate February 7, 2020, 9:46 am
@Ron, English isn’t Brise’s first language. She doesn’t live in US. I used co-reference analysis, which only humans can do – there’s no NLP program that can do it – to deduce that she was referring to the rejection she already mentioned as “not so nice.” As in, you’re fixated on a guy who rejected you / wasn’t even into you.”
Mrs. Danvers February 6, 2020, 9:52 pm
You went out on TWO dates. How do you know that after two dates you may not have had yet another or several non-compromising issue(s) come up? Suppose his house is a mess and he farts all of the time (or you fart all of the time and he hates that)? Suppose he hates oral sex and you love it? Suppose he’s a Holocaust Denier (or you are and that turns him off)? What I’m trying to say is that, sure, he came off as a great guy but you don’t really know someone after two dates. Stop having the negative fantasy that he was the one who got away, and move on to someone who will like your profile back when you like theirs.
TheLadyE February 7, 2020, 1:07 am
Although this situation definitely gave me “Robert” vibes with the 50-year-old man wanting children above all else, I think it’s a little different. This guy was married & divorced and is obviously wanting children now, for whatever reason he didn’t have them before, we don’t know. So it’s not as though he just forgot about having a family or avoided it.
However, I, too, am frustrated by the swaths of middle-aged men old enough to be my father who approached me on dating sites, and the confidence of middle aged (usually white) men who think they should be able to have their pick of women.
That said – I would feel differently if this couple had dated for any length of time and then he decided he needed to break up because she was iffy on kids. It was two dates. He obviously wasn’t that invested, and it’s possible she’s remembering this with rose-colored glasses. If they had dated for 6+ months (even 3 months) and he threw away a real connection with a woman because she was iffy on having kids when he is 50, then I’d say that’s short-sighted. He didn’t have enough time to get invested.
LW, I agree with Copa that it sounds like you might be getting fatigued with online dating and thinking of this guy as the one that got away. Try to put that behind you. Shoot, when I was online dating I would become enamored with *profiles* of guys thinking they must be perfect for me, then got really disappointed when they never answered my messages. Screw that. The #1 most important thing about a potential partner is that he is interested in you too. Leave him alone and keep dating. Maybe you’ll even find a guy in his mid-late 30’s who is ready to be a dad and have a baby with you, based on love and a mutual connection. One of the best couples I know has a 6 year age difference…and the woman is older. They met when he was 31 and she was 37. They had their first baby and got married when she was 40, and now travel the world with their son. Don’t let yourself get fixated on this guy who isn’t interested when you have lots more options available to you.
Mvpfortoday February 7, 2020, 11:28 am
This reminds me of an article I read by Mona Chalabi for the New York Times where she calls on all women to pledge to date only men their age or younger and take away the extra years that men get to fool around and be young and then feel entitled to wooing a younger women when they are ready to settle down.
Stop upholding the patriarchy!
Dear Wendy February 7, 2020, 11:37 am
Yes! I mean, the pledge is taking is a little far, but yes to burning down the patriarchy and stripping men’s sense of entitlement to much younger women.
Kate February 7, 2020, 11:40 am
So many men seem to see women’s virginity or fertility as a commodity that they’re entitled to. Look at the gross posts we get all the time about men believing they have “rights” to a woman’s virginity. Look at Robert shopping for young viable ovaries.
Dear Wendy February 7, 2020, 11:57 am
You should see the comments I *don’t* publish. The sense of entitlement to women’s bodies is astonishing.
Maggie B February 3, 2022, 6:33 pm
I date who I have a good and compatible connection with, not to uphold someone else’s vision of feminism.
If dating an older man happened to give him a wider window to have a child than I would have myself, so is the luck of biology. Considering how long it’s taken in this country’s economic structure to make me (and so many of my peers) feel close enough to being able to properly support a child to even realistically consider it, I am pretty jealous of men having a longer opportunity to make that choice.
Susan February 7, 2020, 3:23 pm
I agree with Wendy about these middle aged men who think their options are limitless; looking for younger women but having nothing to offer them. But I also think the LW is so desperate. I mean 2 dates all that time ago. no wonder some men behave like they do. All so very sad.
fl_connie February 7, 2020, 8:14 pm
There was a scientific study that shows that the older the man is when he fathers a baby, the higher the chance is for birth defects – and that higher chance continues through their grandchildren. Perhaps older fathers shouldn’t be a thing, after all.
pants February 10, 2020, 1:45 pm
Lack of a reply is, in it of itself, a reply. If he was interested in talking to you today he’d have clicked on that icon to reopen conversation. I wish I’d have learned that a lot earlier in life.