I have wanted to find a lifelong partner since I was very young, and yet I have struggled to stay in a romantic relationship for longer than a year or two.
In the past few years even that has become elusive.
It seems to be getting harder as I get older.
The thing is—I love easily, and yet I give my heart cautiously.
And—when I do finally care about and trust someone enough to fall in love, I fall hard.
Finding a partner has never been something that has felt easy or common for me, and so when I do, it is always a big deal.
I have spent a great deal of my life on personal-growth and transformation, as there were many energetic and emotional aspects of myself that needed shifting, growth and development.
There were many patterns ingrained in me from a young age that were running my life, love, and relationships, and I was determined to dispel and break up these patterns in the name of a happy, healthy life, and in the hopes of finding happy and healthy long-term love.
I have even ended some really good relationships in the name of growth and development, and years later I sometimes wonder if those were wise decisions. At the time of these break-ups, it felt choiceless, I felt I was following my heart—and, in many ways I still believe I was.
And yet—in all of this growth and development, it has also become increasingly harder to find a partner. What I want has become so specific. Not to mention I am now 37 years old and the options are becoming fewer and fewer.
On one hand I can’t regret any decisions that I have made as they have all led to who I have become today. But on the other, I have sometimes found myself wondering if I might be married to one of these men if I had taken the risk of growing and changing while in a relationship.
While I have been dating a bunch in the past few years, I haven’t found anyone of note or who I have stayed with for more than two to three months at a time.
Until this past New Year’s Eve.
I went to the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat in Rollinsville with my brother for the night of New Year’s Eve, and I met someone there unexpectedly.
I didn’t even think I liked him at first, but quickly we became friendly. Upon our return to Boulder, we wound up making lunch plans. The week preceding lunch was full of endless emails, texts, Facebook messages, article exchanges and phone calls.
By our second date, he was making special date plans for us. By our third, when he made me a five-course dinner amongst other beautiful and sweet plans, we had our first amazing kiss and the deal was sealed.
We were inseparable for the next two months.
We talked before bed every night on FaceTime, we texted constantly and we saw each other as much as we possibly could. Neither of us could sleep. Our passion was endless. He wrote me poetry and planned fun and exciting dates for us. We had plans on the calendar that were months in the future right from the beginning.
But as it turned out, in this new amazing love that seemed so natural and easy, there were some major obstacles in our way.
What I haven’t mentioned yet is that this beautiful man was (and still is) in the process of divorcing. And he has three children.
As much as I have always wanted to find “the one” since I was a young girl, I have equally (or perhaps even more so) wanted to have children of my own. I always wanted to hold other people’s babies when I was practically a baby myself. I started babysitting when I was 12, and part of my career path has become focused on working with pregnant and birthing women. It never occurred to me once that this might not happen for me.
Two months into this wonderful relationship, he told me that he knew for sure that he didn’t want to have more children.
I was devastated.
I cried for a week. I was shattered to the point of being paralyzed with deep mourning. I felt that I had been put in a position by life where I now had to decide between this new love—that had made me happier than I had felt in so many years—and pursuing my lifelong dream of having children.
And yet, it wasn’t even as simple as that—because ending things with this new man of mine did not guarantee that I would then go on to find a partner and have children.
While anything could happen, well—anything could happen. Or not happen, for that matter.
It had been years and years since I had found a relationship resembling anything like this one.
Over the next few weeks, I came across several motivational quotes whose messages were along the lines of, “If you want to make something happen, you have to put things in place to make it happen.” When applied to my situation, this would mean that staying with a divorcing man who definitely doesn’t want children would not be the pathway to having children. In fact, this option would theoretically delay or prevent me entirely from having children altogether.
The next few weeks were painful and strained for both of us. We had lost our ease in the relationship. Even though we had both said we didn’t want things to end, I was fairly certain they were going to, as it was hard to ignore what had been revealed about the incompatibility of our futures. He distanced himself from me, and I became needy and emotional. Things got weird between us.
I decided that we had to break up—and the sooner I could “rip off the bandaid,” the better—and then I could continue on with my life’s mission of finding a partner and having children.
Girlfriends were offering to set me up with guys who were single, never married and some even ready to have children.
But I didn’t want to find someone else. I wanted to be with him.
It seemed impossible to reconcile these two feelings.
Not to mention impractical.
I wound up going on a weeklong meditation retreat to try and find some centering, balance and peace. It was amazing just how effective this retreat was in doing exactly that.
The retreat did not give me any “answers,” but I reconnected with heart and myself. I knew that whatever happened, I was going to be okay.
While I didn’t have any answers or solutions at the end of the retreat, being on this retreat did make me more certain that our break-up was inevitable upon my return, and yet—I was at peace with that idea. I had found peace with myself and was able to let go of my ideas of what the future might be or what I needed it to be.
I knew I would be okay without him.
When I came back though, unexpectedly, we went running into each other’s arms.
We have been back to our “old” ways of bliss, ease, love and passion ever since.
I don’t want it to be over yet, and neither does he. Maybe it will never be over. Or maybe it will end in a few days, weeks, months or years for reasons not even related to the question of children. I really don’t know. But I do know that right now I want to be with him.
I do not want to give up on my dream of having children, but my decision is to choose the love that is here right now.
Because it is precious and rare.
As much as I want to make a logical decision for my future, what I have come to understand is that love is not logical.
And that I have broken my own heart too many times.
And that everybody needs somebody.
I have been an independent girl all of my life, and I confess to being tired of being alone and lonely.
I want a boyfriend.
This statement may be unpopular with more feminist and independent-minded women whom I identify with strongly, as we are supposed to “be enough for ourselves” and be “independent women” and charge ahead and have all of the things that we want and not compromise them for anything.
But, the heart wants what the heart wants.
And my heart wants him.
It would feel like an act of force and possibly even violence on myself to end things right now in the name of independence and a future dream that may or may not happen.
So, I don’t have any answers.
As I write this piece, I find myself trying to figure out what incredible conclusions or wisdom I can impart to my readers, or find an explanation that makes sense for why I have chosen to stay with my boyfriend right now despite my deep wish to have children someday—some neat and tidy fairytale ending where things work out in the end and everyone lives happily ever after.
But what I realized is it’s as simple as this: Life is not black and white. I can’t predict the future. There are no guarantees. I am happy right now. I have ended love relationships in the name of truth, beauty, nobility and self-growth in the past.
Growth is not a linear path.
Right now, the truth and beauty of the situation is that I want to love and be loved and see where that takes me.
I may or may not find the happily ever after of my dreams, but I am grateful for my happily ever now.
Author: Rachel Leber
Editor: Emily Bartran