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"Our relationship was perfect. Until, at 31, he told me he didn't want kids."

I was scared of cohabitation at first. Didn’t sharing a room — or worse, a toilet — mean the beginning of the end? Goodbye mystery. Goodbye romance.

But eventually, I warmed up to the idea, and Phil and I moved to Berlin together. We were finally ready to settle down, to build a nest.

So I flapped around the city and brought back decorations for the walls and food for the fridge. He brought home a state-of-the-art vacuum cleaner and kitchen supplies.

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We slept together with an extra pillow whose sole purpose was to sit between both of our sets of legs at once. It was coined “the dildo pillow.”

On Saturday mornings, I woke up beside him and nuzzled my head into his chest. We would lie there too long before getting up to make coffee and read on the Ikea couch we’d picked out together, or taking a walk on the Landwehr Canal.

On weeknights, I’d read my German homework aloud to him, and when I mispronounced something, he made me read the whole sentence from the beginning.

He took me home to his family in South Germany over Christmas. We all ate cookies his mum had spent the previous days baking, sang Christmas carols under their tree, and went to church together, even though I’m Jewish.

My life was perfect. I had just turned 31, I had a cool job, and I lived with a sweet and smart boyfriend, who loved me. I’d even written a blog post about how I’d met a perfect guy simply by doing what I loved.

But there was one obstacle that was too big for us.

One day, we were sitting together at our kitchen table, and he admitted to me he wasn’t sure about having children in the coming years.

It was something we’d discussed before, and on which I’d thought we were on the same page.

When he told me about his uncertainty, my first thought was: we must break up. I couldn’t stay with him for years and wait for him to “maybe” want kids. My biological clock was ticking.

But at that moment, the reality of that choice was too much to digest. Despite this big difference in our desired futures, we needed to stay together.

We’d committed. We had our apartment, our love, our whole lives melded together. I didn’t want to give up the life we’d built for a child that didn’t even exist. So we tried to figure out a solution.

“What if we date other people and I try to find someone who wants to have a child with me?” I suggested.

“If that means we can stay together, let’s do it,” he said.

So I tried meeting other men open to open relationships, but I didn’t enjoy the process. It felt weird to want such a specific thing from the online dating world, which wasn’t fun to navigate in the first place. My heart wasn’t in it. So after a few weeks, I suggested something else:

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“What if I’m responsible for the child and you’re not?”

If I were to have a child on my own, I would rather have someone in my life who loves me than not.

But that wasn’t right either. He thought about it and realised if he had a child with me, he couldn’t forgo responsibility. No matter what we’d agreed, he would feel accountable.

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“Are you sure you don’t just want to have a kid with me?” I asked again. But he was sure, and he couldn’t simply change that.

So at some point, I finally accepted: he wasn’t going budge. I couldn’t make him who I wanted him to be. I was no longer living this “perfect life.”

Instead, I was stuck in a life I didn’t choose with an uncertain future.

So I went back to the drawing board to try and figure out how to be happy again. I didn’t find an answer, but I knew when I squinted I could see past the imminent pain through to the twinkle of a better future for both us. One in which we were no longer together.

So I told him it was over. He needed to move out.

A few days later, still heartbroken and uncertain of my decision, I flew to Copenhagen to give us space.

On my second evening there, I overheard two men in the hostel bar speaking German and struck up a conversation with them. The three of us decided to go out together.

We ended up at a small dance club, and at some point, I stepped outside with one of the two brothers, Bjorn, who was 29. As he lit up a cigarette, I asked him where he sees himself in five years.

His first response was a joke: “I will have won the lottery.” But then he answered earnestly what I subconsciously hoped he would: “Vielleicht mit zwei Kindern.” Maybe with two children.

With that response, the uncertainty surrounding my decision to break up with Phil vanished. I realised if Bjorn exists, there’s probably someone else out there like him, who actually wants what I want too, on his own avail. And Phil was not that person.

When I came home a few days later, my apartment was empty. Phil had moved out. I dropped my bag down in the hall, hung up my coat, and sat down at the kitchen table, listening to the hum of the fridge. The tears poured out of me, and this time, no one was there to hold me. The one person I wanted to cry on wouldn’t be there for me anymore.

My life is not perfect. I didn’t find the perfect man as I thought I had. And now I’m over 30 and alone, while many of my friends back home are long-married or already have babies. I no longer live the dream life that everybody wants. Now, I wake up alone and I have to keep myself warm at night.

But after a few months of coming to terms with our breakup, I know it was the right decision. I couldn’t live with someone who didn’t share my dream.

Maybe one day, I’ll meet someone like Bjorn, who wants children too and maybe I won’t. Either way, I will have a baby because it’s what I want, and I don’t need a man to do it.

The love Phil and I shared was big, all-mighty, brilliant. It could conquer almost everything. But still, it wasn’t bigger than this.

This post originally appeared on nychickinberlin.com and has been republished here with full permission.

Sarah is a writer from New York living in Berlin. She shares raw, personal stories about her life and relationships, the things she wishes someone would have told her before she lived them. You can find more info and connect at nychickinberlin.com. You can also follow Sarah on Facebook and Instagram.

Feature Image: Getty. 

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