How do you say “I can’t have children” to someone you’re interested in? These tips for telling your partner you can’t get pregnant are in response to a reader’s comment on my article about living with the fact that you’ll never have children.
Below are my suggestions for her, which apply to many women who can’t get pregnant. If you’re struggling to accept female infertility, read Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility. The more you understand infertility, the better able you’ll be to cope.
“How and when do I tell a new person that I am infertile?,” asked my reader. “I tend to think that I should tell a new person early on about my condition. I’m an honest person and do not want to trick anyone or make them feel lied to. What can I do?”
I Can’t Have Children – How Do I Tell My Partner?
The most important thing is to come to terms with your infertility. Find peace with yourself, your body, and your future. If you can’t accept and love yourself, you can’t expect your partner to.
Remember that not having children doesn’t make you less of a woman
Female infertility, no matter how it was caused, isn’t a sign of a less valuable, less beautiful, or less desirable woman. The ability to get pregnant isn’t something women have control over — it’s a health issue that has nothing to do with how smart, lovable, beautiful, or worthy you are. If you can’t have children, don’t fall into the trap of feeling “less than” other women.
Tell your partner you can’t have children early, not later
There’s no set rule for talking about infertility; you really have to trust your gut. And, different men may need to be told at different times! For instance, Philip may start talking about having a big family on the first date, in which case it’d be wise to tell him you can’t have children right then. In contrast, Sammy may want to date but not commit to a relationship for years, which may mean you don’t need to talk about having kids for ages. Your relationship and partner will help you figure out when to discuss fertility and families.
Learn about the different ways to get pregnant or start a family
If you’re dating a Philip who cares deeply about having children, then be prepared to discuss different options for having children. Conceiving your own biological baby may be your first choice, but we don’t always get what we want! So, learn about adoption, fertility treatments, surrogate motherhood, and other ways to get pregnant. The more you know about in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, sperm donors, and different ways to have a family, the better off you’ll be!
Remember that your partner will pick up on your vibe
If you present your inability to get pregnant as the most depressing, sad, horrible, terrible thing that’s ever happened to you, then your partner may feel the same way. On the other hand, if female infertility is simply part of who you are as a woman – a health issue like diabetes or ulcerative colitis – and you present it that way, then your partner may react the same way.
Don’t assume your partner will end the relationship
My husband and I can’t have children because my husband has sperm issues. Even if we knew this when we first met (we didn’t find out until we’d been married for two years), I still would’ve married him. So, just because you’re coping with female infertility, don’t assume your partner will leave when you tell him you can’t conceive a baby naturally. People fall in love and stay in love for many, many reasons — not all of which involve having children together.
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One final tip for relationships and infertility: be open to different possibilities and options. Maybe right now you don’t want to have children through infertility treatments or adoption…but maybe you’ll feel differently in a few years. Don’t rule out anything, because many life decisions depend on your relationships and life circumstances, which constantly change.
If you don’t have a confirmed “infertility diagnosis”, you might want to read 5 Ways to Overcome Fertility Problems.
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What do you think of these tips for talking about infertility, or telling your partner you can’t have children? I welcome your comments and questions below…