Healthy ways to deal with incessant worry

I arrive in San Francisco and it takes me fifteen minutes in Melissa’s apartment for her to start crying about that she is not married. “I don’t want to have kids alone. I’m not doing that,” she says.

Not really fifteen minutes, but it feels like that. And I’m going to write about her new boyfriend in this post, who is not totally new because he is the same boyfriend from the last post about her new boyfriend, and he will say “It was more like five hours.” So. Okay. Now I have given you his perspective. You can think of this as a fair and balanced post.

Melissa is making a lot of money in her recruiting business, and it is nothing compared to the money J. made in his high-flying San Francisco life (which he is now retired from at age thirty-whatever) so I am staying in their gorgeous apartment with floor-to-ceiling views of the Bay Bridge and an indoor saltwater pool below them

1. Identify the thing you cannot control.

She is worried she shouldn’t hang more pictures on the wall because maybe she’ll just have to take them off.

“Just hang them,” I say. “You can’t control getting married by keeping paintings boxed up on the floor.”

2. Acknowledge your feelings. 

Now Melissa is crying about not getting married and J points out that she is the one who wanted to move in together after dating three minutes and Melissa says no, it was J’s idea.

I summon all my years of couples therapy with two husbands and three boyfriends and two parents and I say, “Melissa is sad. It’s no one’s fault. It’s hard to be a woman in her 30s and not know if the relationship is leading to marriage. And J is sad that Melissa is sad and he doesn’t want anyone to think he meant to do anything to hurt Melissa by moving in.”

Also, let me add that Melissa says she was not crying she was only teary.

Turkish rugs, Russian posters, Italian cabinets: Everything in the apartment is great, which proves money can’t buy happiness.

J is annoyed with this situation. What guy wouldn’t be annoyed?

Melissa says if you don’t want to get married, you should go back to dating girls half your age.

J says if you don’t want to live together if we are not getting married, then you should just move out.

I remind everyone that all of this is passive aggressive and then Melissa and J curl up on the midcentury modern sofa that comes with all over-funded millennial relationships, and I sit in the chair that is in the perfect spot for the speakers and we listen to Radiohead.

3. Call a friend.

You know when you read a music review and it says something like “lush, intricate sound”? That’s because the reviewer was listening to the music on J’s speakers.

J is smart and cool and I want him to like me because I want to be smart and cool.

J’s smart and cool friend comes to visit. I am scared to talk because maybe I am boring, and I don’t know what to do with myself because what do people do with themselves if they are not talking?

I take out my needlepoint.  I want my needlepoint to be a stuffed frog. But I’m not sure. And I hate when people ask me, “Oh, what are you making?” Because I don’t know.

I ask Melissa if I can go write. She says no. Stay here.

So I go to the bathroom.

The apartment is strewn with souvenirs she swiped from the farm. Like she framed the thank-you cards I used from my first wedding.

I don’t want to be a person who writes the words first wedding. I wish I had made a good decision but I see how hard it is for J and Melissa and it seems impossible to make a good decision. But not impossible to stick with whatever decision you make.  I haven’t seen the thank-you cards in years, and it reminds me of how much hope I had in New York with my ex and I am sad enough to sit on the toilet seat til it makes a circle on the backs of my thighs.

I go back to my needlepoint.

J takes out his guitar. He has five. Or ten. It’s unclear. I find them hiding all over the apartment the way I trip over baby kittens in spring on the farm. I notice that J plays his guitar like I needlepoint. To have something to do while figuring out what to do.

The friend leaves and I sneak off to write my post.

4. Shift your focus to what you can control.

Melissa says she needs me to repot her plants.

I don’t want her to talk to me.

Then I want her to edit my post.

She says I should write maybe instead of mildly. “You never use adverbs,” she says. “This doesn’t even sound like you.”

“I don’t feel like me. I miss the boys.”

“It’s okay to miss them but you have to get away sometimes.”

“All I want to do is raise kids. What’s wrong with me? How can I be an ENTJ and love raising kids?”

“You think of each kid as a company.”

I feel like I am in my right place. I ask for coffee and she has it delivered. She also has grilled cheese delivered. And it arrives hot.

Melissa wants to know if I think she should move out.

I say, “Yes. You should. Because I want to live here.”

She says, “Will you repot the plants now?”

“Do you have potting soil?”

“I’ll have some delivered.”

“Oh my god. Wait. Let me just look at the plants.”

The plants look like they fit in the pots just fine. I give a little tug to see if the roots fit. I say, “The plants haven’t had time to grow into the soil. Their roots are untethered.”

“They’ve been in these pots forever. I’ve moved them from Austin to New York to Austin to San Francisco.”

“The plants feel like they’ve been dropped fifty times.”

“I moved them carefully.”

“They need to just sit in their pots without you moving them. Give them a chance to grow.”

Melissa puts the pots in a window.

We do not eat dinner. J has ice cream delivered. And he makes us each an old fashioned.

I fall asleep on farm time to the sounds of J’s Telecaster vibrating through the amplifier.

86 replies
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  1. Tom
    Tom says:

    Holy cow, this is awesome. Hilarious and beautifully observed.

    It reminded me of Louis CK’s bit, “Everything Is Amazing And Nobody Is Happy.”

  2. Carol of Kensington
    Carol of Kensington says:

    Men marry you when they love you and don’t want to lose you.

    If he’s not planning a wedding with you he’s not worried about you leaving him.

    Read John Molloy on the subject.

    If you aren’t focused on getting married it won’t happen as even the nicest guy in the world is not bothered.

    • Hendo
      Hendo says:

      Second the commenter who suggested reading John T Molloy’s Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others. I read over 30 books on relationships and dating last time I was single and this was the best by far. It is based on actual research.

      Best of luck Melissa. I have been there and am still walking the path.

  3. Pam
    Pam says:

    beautiful imagery, and great insight. And I love this: “the way I trip over baby kittens in spring on the farm”. My now adult kids really miss this phenomenon.

  4. Jay
    Jay says:

    Your writing is so beautifully real. I feel like I was there in SF watching the whole interaction like a fly on the wall.

  5. Barb
    Barb says:

    This post reminded me of a man in my youth that I lived with. I didn’t want kids so that clock wasn’t ticking but I still had an expectation of a future life with him. One day I realized he didn’t adore me so I left and found a man who did. We’ve been happily married for many years.

    It sounds too simple but profound things often are. J. doesn’t love Melissa in the way she wants to be loved. Period. She can settle for what she has or move on as she can’t make him love her enough that his heart clenches at the thought of losing her. He told her to move out if she is unhappy and that tells her everything she needs to know. She is sad because this isn’t what she wanted but she will never get what she wants if she stays there waiting for a man to love her when he doesn’t.

    • Jim Grey
      Jim Grey says:

      Your second paragraph is very insightful. I wish all of us could get a class or something in our late teens that helps us understand how we want to be loved, and encourages us to look for a partner that loves that way naturally. I think so many problems couples have that break them up come down to the two not loving each other as they want to be loved.

    • Isabelle
      Isabelle says:

      This is so true.
      Also, Melissa, of course your hormones are going crazy wanting kids– mine already were at 25– but seriously, no one in the Bay Area has kids before 35 unless they are married to someone 12-15 years older (I’m in Berkeley with 2 small kids and ALL my parenting peers are 10+ years older.) Find an older guy or find a way to wait and enjoy life now.

        • Tom
          Tom says:

          Great comment. You can’t judge this from outside the Bay Area social system and understand it.

          A guy who thinks he’s the caliber to help launch companies is not going to have kids until he’s ready to give that up for good. It’s just too all-consuming. That’s probably early 40s, because right now he’s probably wanting to prove he’s not a one-hit wonder.

          And I’m not sure if a guy in his early 30s who can afford that apartment would ever consider marriage. They can have kids without marrying. (And they don’t want to be Elon Musk with his ex-wife demanding to be on the boards of Tesla and SpaceX.)

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        Totally! I live in SF and had a baby last year (I’m 35). We were the first in our group of friends and now quite a few are aging into it and giving birth this year.

        It was funny to watch them watch us. I think there was an element of, “If those two weirdos can do it, then surely we can pull it off!”

    • Kristi
      Kristi says:

      It might be pretty early to be deciding if there is enough love. Marriage is so longterm. The love changes so much, no? I like your phrasing of “the way she wants to be loved,” though. If people in a relationship aren’t mutually ready/aiming for marriage (or any other goal), that is not the same thing as there being some deficiency in the way or amount they love each other. It ends up the same place, if the love and lifestyles aren’t compatible. They can arrive there without blaming and vilifying each other, though.

  6. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    Ooh, they have a Kloss Model One radio. (First photo.) I have one too. It’s wonderful. Too bad there’s nothing on the radio worth listening to anymore. Well, out here in Indiana, anyway. In SF, you have KCSM, an outstanding jazz station. I’d have my Kloss Model One on KCSM all the time if I lived in SF.

  7. amy parmenter
    amy parmenter says:

    M will get married when she stops focusing on getting married and focuses on love. Power is the opposite of love. As long as M is with someone who doesn’t truly share her desire/timeline to marry, there’s a power play and no true love. Which is a bummer because at that age you think your only/best option is to have kids with someone you don’t love or who doesn’t love you. I don’t have kids because I didn’t want to have them with the wrong person – and I stayed with the wrong person thru my 20s and into my early 30s. I wish I had kids – in the fantasy kind of way, but I don’t. I am however head over heels in love with my husband in a way most people with kids are not and that may or may not be better than having kids because I always feel extremely happy and grateful. I wish that same feeling for M. And everyone really.

  8. john
    john says:

    Man, those people wore me out just reading the post. And the rich guy is kind of being a d—

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      No, he’s just (1) clear about what he wants and (2) decent enough not to mislead her.

      That puts him in the 1% of men, and I’m not speaking financially.

      So many millions of lives are ruined by women who can’t stand straight talk.

      Men mostly want straight talk. Women will usually punish it relentlessly.

      • Shira
        Shira says:

        Agreed. Sounds like she’s pushing her own fantasy and Penelope is too caught up in the chic to straight talk her pal

  9. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I’m really touched at the heartfelt advice you guys are giving to Melissa. I know she will appreciate it. And also I like that we are all doing it together — giving Melissa advice. Thank you.

    Not all advice is right all the time, but all advice makes someone think more about what they are doing.


  10. beth
    beth says:

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re married or not.
    Even when you ARE married, being married isn’t the point.

    Caring enough to keep trying to stay together is all that matters.

    • Shira
      Shira says:

      She says she wants kids. Marriage is kinda nice for that no? Or are we all rolling back marriage with gendered bathrooms?

      • Kristi
        Kristi says:

        Not being alone is good for raising kids. Marriage, family, household partnerships, a community–all different ways of not being alone, all represented in various traditions.

        I’m seeing comments here in the vein of “tough love,” urging Melissa to adjust her expectations because of her age, or because of who she is attracted to. I would say maybe be more creative in imagining what would make you happy.

        A very rigid set of requirements makes it riskier that you will be crushed by disappointment, no matter how young you are.

        And there will be more waiting required, so get better at that. Making yourself and your partner miserable is detrimental to the cause. Whatever you do, maybe try to enjoy it more. Make that part of the game plan.

  11. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Melissa – “You think of each kid as a company.” – Hilarious!

    Can’t agree on who’s idea it was for Melissa to move in with J? That question and most likely a few others that aren’t resolved are not a good sign. It seems to me it is a relationship that values the premise of who is right or wrong over the value of the relationship itself. Two people who have a very good chance of a successful marriage look to each other to resolve differences between them rather than make excuses or blame outside influences. Love does make all things that really matter possible. Somehow two people with a strong love for each other are able to make the marriage last in the most difficult times. Only Melissa and J really know the level of commitment that exists between them. Good luck to both of them.

  12. Mark Homer
    Mark Homer says:

    I have no advice for people in relationship. However, it strikes me that if you are paying top dollar to live in San Francisco and you keep ordering out for food, you should probably be living somewhere else.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      I have no advice for people in relationship. However, it strikes me that if you are paying top dollar to live in San Francisco and you keep ordering out for food, you should probably be living somewhere else.

      I think you are not up on the kind of money people make on a successful exit.

  13. Teach By Type
    Teach By Type says:

    I think Melissa is afraid to get married and/or have kids. She’s subconsciously choosing guys who won’t force her to confront this fear. She pretends it’s the guy holding her back, but I think she’s holding herself back. Or not… I’m projecting my feelings onto her, but maybe it will stick.

    I think we instinctively know if a partner will give us what we want. We do the dance of trying to get water from a stone, because it’s easier than working on ourselves


    • Ellen
      Ellen says:

      ^ agree. The hardest thing is to dig deep within to figure yourself out. It’s unpleasant/uncomfortable and time consuming. She should just have fun!

    • malaika
      malaika says:

      “I think we instinctively know if a partner will give us what we want. We do the dance of trying to get water from a stone, because it’s easier than working on ourselves.”

      Could. Not. Agree. More.

      and not accepting that instinct leads to a lot of resistance and misery.

    • Shira
      Shira says:

      I knew a Melissa type. She had a kid Alone at 48. Not biologically related. She’s happy. Has live in help. She was strung along by a guy ten years then strung along another guy for six. If you want marriage minded it’s easy but you’ll need to kiss some frogs. I think it’s not good to have kids late. Big generation gap. Lack of energy. Don’t know why we applaud this.

  14. Sandy
    Sandy says:

    I found this post a little sad. Melissa has always jumped into things with both feet, gotten bored quickly, and moved on to something or somebody else.

    Now, I suspect her biological clock has her in a panic because she wants to get married and have kids right now. But the guy she picked doesn’t want to marry her and doesn’t really sound like he loves her all that much. Which leads to the question: If they did get married how long would it be before they split with or without a divorce? And how would having kids work with Melissa’s personality? Kids anchor you in a good way and are a lifelong commitment. It’s a little difficult imagining Melissa in that role at this stage in her life.

    My advice for Melissa would be to go with her strengths and stop making marriage and having kids right now such a stressful goal. Find a guy she likes and let the relationship develop in a slower, more natural way. If there’s a love match then and only then talk about marriage and kids. There are countless women having kids in their 30’s. So don’t add to the stress by thinking she can’t do the same thing.

  15. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Hmm… This guy does not love Melissa the way she deserves to be loved. And I think that it’s a grave mistake to try and force a child into a relationship that is not working. It will only make things worse. You have to remember that your child is just as likely to resemble your partner as he/she is yourself… which necessitates the obvious importance of enjoying your partner!

    To echo the sympathies of many others here, and at the risk of sounding cliche, I think it’s time for Melissa to spend more time on loving herself. It reminds me of the kind of millennial 20-30’s crisis that Dr. Meg Jay talks about: co-habitating out of convenience rather than a shared or at the very least mutually communicated, vision of the future. You cannot accuse someone into wanting the same thing as you.

  16. Phuong
    Phuong says:

    It sounds like ENTPs are a bit of an emotional flake in that it’s hard to make them stick with concrete commitments, but probably easy enough to just stick around with them and even have kids and they won’t realize you have become enmeshed in their lives.

    Stay long enough to surprise him that you’re common law.. haha. Then ask him if there’s really a difference. He’ll probably argue a bit, but it will make sense in the end that maybe you should be married on paper anyway, then it can be done with a shrug.

    If you like each other enough to stick around for funsies (even if one doesn’t wanna “commit”), then I think this is a good long-term strategy! :D

    p.s. if this works, invite me to your wedding, Melissa.

  17. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I pretty much agree with Barb’s comment up above. I’m getting the impression the guy might not really want kids, in which case Melissa should break up with him immediately and get some kind, nice ENFP guy to fall madly in love with her and marry her, and then she can start the family she wants.

    That’s is kind of mean to say and is based on the assumption that he doesn’t want kids, though. Does he? Have either of you asked him? Like, how does he feel about the fact that marriage AND kids are a big part of what Melissa has been planning to get out of this relationship? If his answer is in the negative – or vague, which usually means it’s negative and the person doesn’t want to say it outright – then he is wasting her time.

    …Or she can do what Phuong said. Phuong’s an INTJ with Asperger’s like Melissa, and she’s been happily married for years, so…

  18. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:


    This made me so sad for you!!! I just want to give you a hug, so I’ll send a virtual one ((hug)). You are awesome and a lot of fun and have the INTJ cool factor!

    Relational advice: Enjoy this time together without worrying about kids. When the time comes for having a family, let it be an organic extension of who you are. You are totally going to be an awesome mom one day! But, make sure you have a family with the RIGHT person, which may or may not be Mr. Right Now.

  19. Shira
    Shira says:

    How and why are you and Melissa friends? There doesn’t seem to be much there.
    1) Melissa, freeze your eggs
    2) Melissa j won’t marry you. Or he would’ve told you there’s a chAnce. He thinks you’re desperate.
    3) the odds of you finding a hot rich guy are low. You’re too old.
    4) you can find a decent guy but he may not earn as much as you. Use a service to get someone marriage minded. This is silly
    5) if all else fails adopt. It’s such a blessing for the kids. There are needy kids abroad that Angelina hasn’t scooped up yet
    6) don’t move in with men so quickly. Disagree with Penelope. It’s not Europe. You’re far less likely to get hitched esp at your age.
    7) don’t mean to imply you’re old. You’re just late in terms of marriage kids
    8) Penelope if you’re a friend don’t document your friends sadness to feel better about yourself and push on her kid button. You’ve written awful things about kids making you unhappy.
    9) you may miss controlling overseeing your kids as much as their company
    10) why not make your friend a godparent?

    • Corinne
      Corinne says:

      You sound like someone who has never left the midwest. Things are different in the real world, sweetheart.

      • Juliet
        Juliet says:

        Corinne, I’m not sure who you’re replying to or what your point is, but the Midwest is the real world, sweetie. Just because I can’t get a hot grilled cheese delivered makes my life less “real” than yours, honey.

  20. carol of kensington
    carol of kensington says:

    I thought I didn’t want kids because my mom always acted like having them was a huge pain.

    My sister went ahead and had one after being married 7 years, she was 34. I’ll never forget her holding this tiny creature in the sunshine, looking at me and saying “who knew”.

    My nephews blow my mind. How much more wonderful if I’d had the guts to commit to one of the nice guys I’d been with, when I had some fertility.

    Definitely freeze some eggs. A good friend has just had (2 months ago) her IVF miracle baby, Sophia Isabella.

    The world needs more wonderful people like you Melissa. There are tons of nice guys who want to be soccer dads but maybe not in the big city.

  21. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Needlepoint???! Huh, wouldn’t have guessed it.

    I love the symbolism of the potted plants for this relationship in this story: “Give them a chance to grow” Not everything can be engineered like a high-growth start-up.

  22. Tina
    Tina says:


    I know this will sound similar to other comments here, but here are the things I see:

    1. You jump into relationships too quickly. Or P is mischaracterizing. You seem to make it way to easy for men to take advantage of you.

    2. You are coming across as far too desperate. The men in your circles who wanted to get married and have kids are already taken.

    So, you will have to make some sacrifices if you want to get married and have kids. Some options are:

    1. Have kids without being married. I think this would be tough because kids are so much work, especially when they are little. But if you can hire help, you’ll be ok.

    2. Get married so someone who is less than desirable, but will stick it out.

    3. Get married to someone like J, but know that you will probably get divorced by the time the kid is 2.

    Marriage is so hard. Kids make it so much harder. Take your time getting to know the men, I know you want to rush in, but how’s that working for you?

  23. Teach By TYpe
    Teach By TYpe says:


    1. Melissa you’re brave for jumping into relationships faster than I would. It takes guts to risk rejection. I’m impressed.

    2. You’re coming across as someone pursuing a time sensitive goal. Aware of the little hand ticking away, knowing much of it is out of your control. Scary stuff. This uncomfortable feeling is what will drive you to do what it takes to achieve your goal.

    3. Being a parent is exhausting, no matter how it’s done. With or without help. It’s also incredibly rewarding. Enjoy!

    4. Everyone is undesirable at times. Especially, during a 4am feeding.

    5. I called 1-900-Miss-Cleo to see what the future holds for you. She said you’ll stay married. Even if you marry someone like J.


  24. Ruo
    Ruo says:

    Maybe melissa could re-think about her process of finding the right partner.
    – why does she want to move in with the guy so quickly everytime? Perhaps wait a bit longer before making that move.
    – why does she keep dating guys who doesnt want to commit to having a family with her but doesnt cheat on her at least? It shows shes dating honest people who are just not ready to have kids.
    – why is melissa obsessed with nice expensive furniture decor for her home with whomever she lives with? Probably because she might be mistaking a good looking house vs finding a home that has kids potential. Expensive rugs are not kids friendly.
    – what does she offer to her future partner and baby ? The answer should not include her successful recruiting business or her wonderful array of travel experience. Babies dont care about money or europe.
    – what will the future partner bring to the table of a marriage union with kids potential?

    All signs point towards a FJ type of guy melissa needs to date next. Forget all rational type, melissa can probably out rational most men.

    Good luck to Melissa.

    • Ruo
      Ruo says:

      Just wanting to add, if melissa is so good at recruiting, who would she “hire” to be the future father of her child? She should put them through her interview to see if there is a fit?
      Tinker with the dating process is super fun :)

  25. Cay
    Cay says:

    I think that Penelope posted this up because she knows exactly what is going on, but she has wisely gotten it into her head that she better not tell Melissa the truth herself and risk losing her friend. So, she’s getting us to say it, and helping Melissa that way.

    People with Asperger’s need a partner who takes care of them. This guy does not sound interested in taking care of Melissa at all, let alone her potential children.

    I think that it’s easy to think, “If I’m going to get married at all, I might as well marry the rich, handsome, successful guy”. The problem with that idea is that you have to be the perfect person to fit the role.

    Yes, you could get lucky and find a rich guy who has a mother with whom you share an uncanny resemblance inside and out, and he might marry you quickly to replace her. But that is a very specific and rare occurrence. The role of wife to a very flashy, successful person is, broadly speaking, best filled by someone who is not only gorgeous and intelligent, but docile — very agreeable — and who also has a powerful social network of her own to contribute to his. People with Asperger’s can certainly be smart and beautiful, but they are not famous for being agreeable, let alone socially gifted. So the fit is far from ideal to start, and also in the long-term.

    It’s hard to let go of an illusive “get rich quick” scheme. But doing so allows people to get what they really want in life. If Melissa really wants to get married and have children, she needs to find a man who she can trust to love her even more than she loves herself. That’s the guy who’s going to be there for the family through thick and thin, and serve as an excellent father to healthy and happy children. A stable provider is the ideal here, not a shady Swiss bank account with strings.

    Penelope knows all this because she’s been through all of it herself.

  26. ellen
    ellen says:

    No one has anything figured out, life is messy regardless of planning and every relationship has risks, even when personality types are good matches. I’m 41 and happier now than I ever imagined and I’m single with no kids. When I was in my 30’s I thought I needed a relationship to be happy, I thought wrong. I needed a crappy relationship to learn to count my blessings and one of the blessings i now count is being single. If i wanted kids i would adopt and depend on my family for help. Everyone figures things out in different ways. There is too much emphasis on conforming in order to be stereo typically successful. it’s boring (and doesn’t speak to feminism). kind of a bummer.

  27. me
    me says:

    I wrote this in one of the replies to a comment but will repost here. The best book I found for reading about relationship dynamics from an evolutionary science point of view is Love Factually. I’m a science major so I really appreciated that it had research-backed findings. No I didn’t write it and not connected! But it talks about what to do in a situation where the guy isn’t committing. The author also writes about it in a blog post here:

    Chasing a man devalues the woman because men evolved to chase and thus value what they have to work hard for. Societally, I don’t like this either, but modern society can’t compete with tens of thousands of years of evolutionary psychology. The best way to see if Melissa’s man will commit would be to leave because she values herself too much to take second place. Sometimes the act of leaving will allow a guy to connect with their feelings and if that’s the case, then he won’t let you stay away for long.

    When I was in a situation where I was into someone more than they were into me, the thing that got me out of that dynamic was asking myself “if I really loved myself, would I allow myself to have this experience?”

    Your own true feelings will guide you best. Maybe living there is okay for now, but my hunch is that if there is enough hurt to drive this into a conflict then it may drive him further away. Fighting feels like forcing and no one wants to feel forced into a commitment. Either she accepts it or doesn’t and moves out (either way, taking care of herself). The inner self will know what to do and when. <3

  28. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    Sometimes I feel sorry for people who want kids – it puts them on such a stressful schedule! I was standing in the popcorn line when they handed out biological clocks and am very thankful for that. These stories make me think children begin ruining your life before you even have them.

    When I was dating, I was always very clear about the fact that I didn’t want children. Most guys thought I would change my mind, and one told me that he didn’t want children either, but would be put off by a woman who didn’t want to have his babies.

    I got my tubes tied at age 34 so the matter was finally put to rest and met the right guy when I was 37. No deadlines, no pressure, no worries.

  29. Mspeahoe
    Mspeahoe says:

    If getting married and having kids is something that Melissa really wants at this time, she should leave J. He’s not her man. She should move out and move to a small(er) city or town, low cost of living, save money. She can do her career from anywhere and fly to business meetings as needed. Start a global search for a husband and vet him on the criteria of wanting to get married and have kids.

  30. Amy
    Amy says:

    I love you Melissa. Have you read ‘the rules’? I have been married for 6 years and I have a baby. It works. Do the rules. Don’t tell yourself it’s anti-feminist or not for you. It works, so just do it.

    Also watch Allie Wong. Good luck, it sucks to wait, but you can get the ring.

    • Isabelle
      Isabelle says:

      OMG, YES to watching Allie Wong if you haven’t already. So on point.
      Marriage is always a sacrifice, but you get to pick (a bit) what you’re willing to sacrifice to get what you want. Thinking you can have everything, particularly all at once, is a recipe for disaster, though. I’m juuuust finally figuring this out myself.

    • Mali
      Mali says:

      Thanks for this comment! I am reading The Rules now and watched ‘Ali Wong: Baby Cobra’ the other day. Hilarious and smart.

  31. jean
    jean says:

    You could try to look for the type of man who needs a wife. Penelope married a farmer – farmers need partners to excel at what they do. Penelope is always talking about how partners need to have separate but equal roles so that the relationship makes both their lives bigger and better than they would be alone. It sounds like your boyfriend is rich enough to hire people to meet his needs, and his lifestyle choices suggest that he prefers things to people. Find someone who’s greater with you, and with whom you are greater. Find a man with whom you can share something more invigorating than a constant stream of takeout, a sanitized view and perfect speakers (Radiohead sounds better coming from crappy car speakers on a long drive in the middle of nowhere, anyway).

    • Dilys
      Dilys says:

      “Find someone who’s greater with you, and with whom you are greater.” I really like this way of assessing whether someone is right for you – thanks!


  32. Summer
    Summer says:

    Point number one- “Identify the thing you cannot control” I’ve learned (for myself only, not projecting) I can’t control sh*t. I’ve been practicing letting go of trying to control and trying to just “surf the wave” so to speak. getting married, having children, buying a house, or whatever it is…will you be happier when/if those things happen or are you happy in the present? What happens when you let go and let life unfold and how do you do that without being a door mat? I don’t know…maybe like P said “give it time to grow.”

  33. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    As a fellow SF dweller, I think her problem might not be the guy, but rather the city. The city is going through some crazy changes these days, and if you’ve been here for years, like I have, it feels like we are all on a roller coaster. People keep having kids, sure, but its not really an environment that inspires people to set down roots or plan too far ahead.

    Also, a crap ton of new people, mostly men in their 20s and 30s seems to have moved here in the last few years, but most of them don’t actually seem to intend to stay here. They’re here getting experience in this crazy scene which they will then take back to Madison and Minneapolis and wherever, where they will actually put down roots. (I don’t have any sources for this, this is just from a lot of conversations I’ve had and eavesdropped on, and a lot of observation) . This attitude effects the way people date and form relationships, and it bleeds out even to the people who do have roots here, who do intend to stay in this city through its ups and downs.

    Melissa needs to decide if this city is for her, long term. I suspect its not. I suspect this city is great for her right now, with her business that is totally matched to the atmosphere here. Plus, she is lucky enough to have an awesome place to live, downtown, hopefully rent free or very low rent on her part? I know this sounds mercenary, but she should just stick there, in the awesome apartment, with the guy she obviously likes somewhat, eating hand delivered grilled cheeses, running her business and saving as much as she can. In a few years, one of two things can happen: either the guy will have come around and realized he wants to have a life and a family with Melissa, or she can take her money and experience, move somewhere else in the country where her money will last longer and her experience will mean more, and find some guy who actually wants to start a family with her. And honestly, its not even that mercenary, from the sound of it she’ll just be on the same page he is. And kids a couple years from now instead of right now won’t be that much worse, right?

    Basically, I think she’s fine, and I think everything will be fine, and I think despite her worry, she is doing everything just right :)

  34. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Great post, Penelope! I wish I can write this well. Melissa, you’re doing fine. You have your own business, a rich boyfriend, and a high-end home. You are still young so you can still marry and have children. Maybe not just with J. Much success!

  35. Lo
    Lo says:

    Melissa, you are incredible! But this is not the guy for you. Let him go. You deserve better. Sorry J..

  36. Laura L
    Laura L says:

    I am glad that Penelope is seeing for herself how impossible it is for career driven women to follow her famous “blueprint” manifesto.

    If a relationship doesn’t come easily and is pushed too hard it’s just not meant to be. And the idea that women can control the romantic relationship timing is actually laughable!

    The more stress Melissa feels about this situation, the worse it will get for her. Men hate being around that kind of stress. They just want a easy going female that wont get mad at them. It doesn’t really help that Penelope has written a truckload of posts & responses to her mailbag URGING every woman to prioritise getting married and having kids before 35 no matter what.

    Im sure Melissa feels no pressure whatsoever!

    This whole “science of dating” thing is utter bullshit & I don’t know one person thats read a book about dating and it’s magically worked. Sure there are the odd unicorns out there that give single people hope that they will be the exception to the rule. But really the dating advice industry is like the diet industry, full of empty & futile promises.

    I remember writing on the other post about this guy. ENTP men are the worst! They totally lack commitment. Yeah sure they are heaps of fun & earn lots of $$ but they don’t want to stick around when the going gets tough.

    I know how hard it is Melissa and no matter how hard you try it seems to get worse. I have no advice because listening to others on this issue has only ever gotten me in to more trouble.

    So now I’m doing something completely revolutionary and against pop culture sentiment, instead of dating others I am working on having the best relationship I can with myself.

    Best of luck with it all. x

  37. Dale
    Dale says:

    Well, as a man the reason I didn’t marry women was that they said “No”.
    Men who want to have children know they want children. Compare J with Warren Beatty before he got married. J’s apartment doesn’t have a nursery, Beatty’s custom-built house did.

  38. Skurzo
    Skurzo says:

    I like to read your opinion on number 2. It is a kind of our radar to understand what we feel. By knowing it, we know what can happen next, and we an control it.

  39. Caitlyn
    Caitlyn says:

    J is using Melissa. He is cheating on her. She should dump him and find a guy who treats her right. I anticipate some push back here. I assume you will defend J for being “a good guy”. Look a little closer.

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