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When to Tell?

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a blog by S.I.F., January 12, 2011

Dating while infertile.

There are more of us doing it than you might think. Not all are actively pursuing fertility treatments (in fact, many are stuck in some sort of limbo, trying to determine what it is they’re supposed to do next), but each and every one faces an interesting conundrum when it comes to dating.

When exactly is it appropriate to show all your cards? To reveal to the new man in your life that conceiving in the future may be difficult or even impossible.

It’s not exactly first date fodder, but in the same breath; you don’t want to be dropping this information on him right before you say "I do."

So, when is the “right” time to tell a man about the rough road you two could feasibly have ahead if he chooses to stick around and pursue a family with you? And possibly just as scary; when do you reveal to him the condition that has put you in this position to begin with?

For many women facing infertility while still young and in their dating prime, it’s typically the result of some kind of disease. Endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or maybe even cancer and chemotherapy. There is usually illness there.

And who really wants to be talking about illness while in the throes of new boyfriend bliss?

It’s terrifying. Contemplating laying it all on the line like that. Opening yourself up fully to a potential Mr. Right by revealing your struggles, hardships, and heartache. Hoping it doesn’t send him running in the other direction.

One thing I’ve learned, though, is that men tend to react better to this information than I ever would have dreamed possible. In fact, it’s usually me who has the hang-ups and not the other way around.

Perhaps it’s because men aren’t usually thinking too far into the future or because they truly don’t understand the significance of what you’re revealing, but most of the time they don’t see this as a game changer. At least not early on into dating.

The key is to let the conversation come up organically. Wait until the topic of children would come up anyway, and then give bits and pieces of information as it seems fit. You don’t have to lay it all out on the table right away. A few dates in, the new man in your life doesn’t need to know your life story. But he can know the bare bones. The pieces that will one day start to form a full picture. And as time passes, you’ll find yourself revealing more details without much anxiety. And he won’t be overly shocked, because you will have already laid the groundwork.

The truth is, dating is hard no matter who you are. Looking for Mr. Right is a daunting task, and doing so when you feel as though your biological clock has put you on a time limit is even more overwhelming.

But if ever there was a silver lining it is this: You want children. You want a man by your side who will support you no matter what. And any man scared off by your infertility clearly isn’t the one.

Weeding them out actually just got a whole lot easier.

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