Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Reconciling oneself to a friend's train-wreck decisions
Washington, D.C.: I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that floored me. She started off telling me that she was starting to feel better about her (roller-coaster) relationship of 10 months because the guy was finally putting her first and really trying.
Next she told me she had stopped using birth control.
Then she told me that the up-to-now problematic boyfriend wanted a baby with her and that she was considering doing this.
Now, my friend is a schoolteacher in her early 30s who desperately wants a child. I believe she would be a good mother. But I feel strongly that having a child in a relationship that has never been stable would be a great disservice to the child.
I was unable to get through to her because she is convinced that he might be her last hope to have a child. Am I off-base? Can you help me find the words to let her know she should wait?
Carolyn: People determined to do something stupid and selfish are runaway trains. I think that's just the kind of momentum it takes to get past all those barriers of reason and logic.
Including the one that says, maybe he's in this for the kid.
Alas, it's her business — though two things might help you feel better about it. One, a happy start and a happy/meaningful life don't correlate one-to-one. None of us got to choose our parents, and how many of us, realistically, were dealt two aces? So (and I say this not as an endorsement of cavalier breeding behavior) if these imperfect parents love their baby, the baby has a decent shot at a decent life.
You can also pose the question to your friend, once, before becoming the model of nonjudgmental support: "Imagine you're the baby. Are you and your boyfriend the parents you'd want?"
Content being single, he takes heat from friends
State of Confusion: I'm 31, athletic, have a good job, not bad-looking (no Brad Pitt, but who is, right?), semi-funny, I'm not an alcoholic or smoker, I treat people well, and I'm close to my family. So, does that mean I should be married with at least two kids? Some family friends see me and ask (every time) why I don't have a girlfriend, etc.
I'm starting to think that all this time I thought I was comfortable in my own skin, I was only fooling myself — and perhaps I do have some sort of weird emotional issue. Am I giving in to what others are saying? Do I just tell them to shut their pie holes and mind their own lives?
Carolyn: If you do, get video and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Pretty please?
You have three general choices: Take these concerns seriously, and run an am-I-kidding-myself scan on your day-to-day life; take them as a compliment, that people assume you have your pick of women; or give your critics a closer look. Misery loves company, and people who caved to marrying pressure can be tough on those who resist it.
Regardless, don't let anyone gaslight you. For many people, being okay with themselves — the very thing others seize upon as so marriage-worthy — makes them less tempted by marriage. It takes something special to please those who already have what they want.