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Looking for childfree love in all the child loving places.
August 23, 2011 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Dating filter: The women I tend to feel most connected to pretty much all want to have children. But I don't. Or at least, I mostly don't. How do I deal?

I'm 36, have been dating around for a long time. About 1.5 years ago I started dating someone who I eventually found myself really loving. And still love. She's someone I feel very comfortable around, an excellent communicator, funny and very loving. We had two big issues: a lack of sexual chemistry and a real difference regarding children. (I wanted a lot more, and a bit wilder sex, she was adamant about having children).

We've had our ups and downs and some really rough times but are slowly becoming stable friends (I think). She's dating someone now, and honestly I really hope it works out for her, as much as it makes me a little sad.

Anyway, my thoughts about kids have always been: there are women out there who don't want kids, and if I don't want them, I just need to find someone who doesn't.

I'm dating online (of course), and in my profile, I state pretty explicitely: "I'm not sure if I want kids, I lean towards not having them but it's possible I could be convinced. It's more important to me to find the right person to be with." That's the truth of the matter. I could see it happening, although it's truly daunting and frightening to me, and I could see it turning out to be a cool thing. But in general, I think I am like 85/15 or something like that.

The problem is...through okcupids questions, I'm able to see that most women that I would be interested want kids. The vast, vast majority of them. I know there is a percentage who don't, but I'm wondering if perhaps they are (generally) in a demographic that I'm not interested in.

I don't want to obfuscate on this information. If someone really wants kids and is 35 and seeing the end of their fertility in site, I certainly don't want to be in the way of one of their dreams. But I'm also wondering if I'm shooting myself in the foot by being so direct about this. Perhaps by putting this out there so early I'm eliminating someone who might find themselves interested enough in me to want to compromise some goals in the place of others?

I really would love to avoid what happened with the above mentioned ex though, falling in love with someone where there is this huge thing that will most likely prevent us from ever being able to get married. If we'd had more of a sexual bond, I would have been more likely to have stayed in and tried to seen what we could have come up with. Between the two issues it seemed really hopeless.

apologies for the rambles

Basically my question is: as a 36 year old guy who leans fairly heavily against not having kids, how do I deal with dating, when it appears that most anyone I find myself interested in wants kids?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
[thread is about dating advice, not birth control. carry on.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:20 PM on August 23, 2011


This line in your dating profile "but it's possible I could be convinced" is almost like a dare or a goal for some women. I'd just say I do not want kids and that be that. Even if you miiiiiiiiiiiiight want a kid or could be convinced, I'd just let that happen in time.
posted by ACN09 at 1:20 PM on August 23, 2011 [47 favorites]


I was about to recommend what ACN09 did. OKCupid has a "Doesn’t want children" option in the profile details. Just stick to people who have that.
posted by Jairus at 1:22 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps by putting this out there so early I'm eliminating someone who might find themselves interested enough in me to want to compromise some goals in the place of others?

No, because that's not a goal most people who really want children are willing to compromise on. I think it's good to be upfront about your desire/lack of desire in wanting children. No wasting each others' time.

And we ladies who don't want kids, we're out there (hi!). It might just take a bit longer to find us, is all. Don't give up hope.
posted by Windigo at 1:23 PM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


By saying in your profile that you could be convinced makes it sound like you're playing a game right off the bat (even if you really, really mean that you could be convinced.) Women don't want to start a relationship already wondering if they're good enough, or wondering what level they have to get to to be the right one.

Dating is scary and messy and frustrating as it is; there's no need to add achievements to be unlocked to it. I think you would have better luck if you just said in your profile that you weren't interested in having children at all.

You might be surprised how many women (currently mute on the subject) would respond to a definitive statement.
posted by headspace at 1:25 PM on August 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Please state that you don't want kids in your profile, it's a turn-on for some people.
posted by marais at 1:26 PM on August 23, 2011 [19 favorites]


I think you're right to take it out.
As mentioned, you can put it in the details section. I think it comes across as less of a Thing there in the multi-choice than it does if you write a paragraph about it in your profile.

Most of the women on OKcupid that I've been interested in are inundated with interested guys, and one of the results is that when browsing suitor profiles, whether the women realises it or not, most eventually start looking more for reasons to say "next!" than for reasons to say "hi!". Dwelling on this issue seems likely to turn away people who may be on the fence themselves, just like you, simply because it makes them feel like they have to make a decision about kids NOW just in order to date you. And most people will never do that, they'll just move to the next profile.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:28 PM on August 23, 2011


Other than commiseration, I'm not sure what you want here. Your relationship options are limited because of your specific preferences, just like everybody else in the world.

You're not going to lie to people about wanting kids (I hope), and it doesn't sound very likely that you'll change your mind about wanting them. Being honest with people, and accepting that, when you're honest with people, they're not always going to want to date you, is pretty much the best option.
posted by box at 1:29 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know there is a percentage who don't [want children], but I'm wondering if perhaps they are (generally) in a demographic that I'm not interested in.

I don't know that there's specifically a demographic of women who don't want kids, though I do suspect that you're likelier to find women who don't want kids (or who are at least neutral/can go one way or the other on the question) within certain demographics. Does that make sense?

Speaking in very general terms, I think you're more likely to find a wider range of opinions/hopes/preferences about having kids among women in urban areas and college towns (as opposed to suburbs and small towns), and among women with pursuits (whether professional, creative, hobbies, etc.) that tend to skew more towards independence (travel, art, academics, etc.). Again, these are just very, very general impressions based among the women I know who have either explicitly not wanted kids, or who were sort of 50/50 on the question and wound up not having kids due to circumstances (which is how I would characterize myself).

That said, I agree with all the advice upthread to remove the "I could be convinced" line from your profile. Saying you lean strongly toward preferring to remain childless while concentrating on finding the right relationship is direct enough.
posted by scody at 1:30 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am not interested in compromising on wanting children.

Your phrasing:
"I'm not sure if I want kids, I lean towards not having them but it's possible I could be convinced. It's more important to me to find the right person to be with."

would make me avoid your profile, because I'd feel like you want to have your cake and eat it too. Maaaaaaaybe you'd do me the favor of impregnating me, if I'm awesome enough. But otherwise, we'll just hang out until I get tired of trying to convince you to make a baby. Well, I'm not that patient. If a guy doesn't know he wants to breed or otherwise acquire a baby, he is barking up the wrong tree with me.

You know you don't want kids, be more direct about it, not less, because the women who definitely don't want kids are avoiding your profile also, because they think you're saying "I want kids, but it's not cool for a dude to admit that. So, I'm being coy. Talk me into it. Please. Convince me how awesome kids are."

Those women who don't want kids but are reading your statement this way are barfing into their hands.

So. In short, the way your statement currently stands, it misleads ladies on both ends of the spectrum, and attracts the wishy washy crowd in the middle.
posted by bilabial at 1:31 PM on August 23, 2011 [35 favorites]


Yes, be 100% crystal clear about it. 85% is pretty close to 100% and there's no point in pretending you are more into the idea of kids than you are.

The problem is...through okcupids questions, I'm able to see that most women that I would be interested want kids. The vast, vast majority of them. I know there is a percentage who don't, but I'm wondering if perhaps they are (generally) in a demographic that I'm not interested in.

I find this confusing. Did you search for every woman who doesn't want kids and find that there was no one you wanted to date? I'm not sure your preferred demographic is more likely to want kids - that seems strange.

I know women who would love to stay home and take care of you, and don't want kids - if that's what you are getting at.
posted by rainydayfilms at 1:32 PM on August 23, 2011


I would state that you don't want to have children. Women see you "may be convinced" as a yes to the question of having children. It is better for you to search amongst people who don't want children and then maybe think about children later than to search amongst people who want children and you have to convince them you don't really want children.

Why fall in love with someone who wants children and then be disappointed and hurt when they decided that they want to find someone with the same desires?

There are plenty of women who don't want to have children out there!
posted by Yellow at 1:32 PM on August 23, 2011


There's no need to write about this in your profile text since OKCupid has the "Doesn't want children" option in the details. Others have pointed out that your equivocal statement could seem like a dare to change your mind. Also, the text of a dating profile doesn't just literally communicate information; there's always a subtext. The subtext of what you wrote is: "My desires are half-formed and lacking in passion. I don't have a strong sense of what I want, so I can be whoever you want me to be." Since you're on OKCupid, you've been reading women's profiles, and I ask you: does that sound like what most women want? I don't think so.

The best strategy is to be totally upfront and honest from the beginning. This will tend to (1) attract women who are compatible with you and (2) repel women who aren't compatible with you. The former is obviously a good thing, and the latter is good too even though it's harder to instinctively recognize as good. If you spend your time dating someone who's plainly incompatible, that has opportunity costs: you're not spending that time dating someone else who might be compatible.
posted by John Cohen at 1:34 PM on August 23, 2011


in my profile, I state pretty explicitly

except that what you state in your profile is the exact opposite of explicit. It is vague and ambiguous. I think you should be more, and not less, direct, to the point of overstating your desire to not have kids.

Perhaps ... I'm eliminating someone who might find themselves interested enough in me to want to compromise some goals

Don't go looking for someone who does want kids and hope to convince them otherwise, or hope to convince yourself otherwise. Life is surprising, and you may someday find yourself in a relationship with someone who thought they didn't want kids, just like you think you don't want kids, and one or both of you realize your goals have changed. But for goodness sake, don't go borrowing trouble.
posted by drlith at 1:34 PM on August 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Continue to be honest and open about it. If not on your OKC profile then at least within the first few dates.

I agree with the advice about removing the "could be convinced" bit, also. You could avoid a lot of drama (and help someone else do the same, even if it's only internal).
posted by batmonkey at 1:34 PM on August 23, 2011


For OKCupid, don't leave the children stuff blank when you have this problem. It's better to put "Doesn't Want Children" with a note in your profile that you're flexible on it, rather than leaving it blank or "Wants Children" and a note saying, "...well, maybe." Also: you're at the age where this is a huge thing, so being clear about it is better for everyone. Good luck!
posted by rhizome at 1:35 PM on August 23, 2011


: "I know there is a percentage who don't, but I'm wondering if perhaps they are (generally) in a demographic that I'm not interested in."

So, what demographics are you interested in? If you are 36, have you considered going older, and maybe dating women in their late 30s/early 40s? What about dating women who already have kids?
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:36 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is...through okcupids questions, I'm able to see that most women that I would be interested want kids. The vast, vast majority of them. I know there is a percentage who don't, but I'm wondering if perhaps they are (generally) in a demographic that I'm not interested in.


Most women you are interested in want kids because most women want kids.
posted by bq at 1:36 PM on August 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


+1 to amending your profile. There's nothing wrong with having a nuanced view on the desirability of children. But the place for that is a conversation reasonably early on (e.g., after the first date) about that, rather than in your profile. Your profile as it stands may both serve as a challenge, but it may also scare off some prospects who surely don't want kids and who might sense uncertainty.
posted by Hylas at 1:40 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being "pretty" explicit leaves a hell of a lot of room for vagueness. Just be explicit. You don't want kids. A note in your profile stating that you don't want kids but you could be convinced to have them under the right circumstances is way too coy and cutesy -- when I was online dating and I ran across profiles that said that, I assumed the man wanted kids but thought it was uncool to say so, and I steered clear since I really really don't want kids and don't want to date people who "might" want kids someday because I don't want there to be any confusion about that issue at all.

To get what you want, it helps to be crystal clear. You are not being crystal clear about not wanting kids. Get crystal clear.
posted by palomar at 1:46 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I agree that you should leave off the stuff about being convinced.

Do you like children? Would you consider getting involved with a woman who has children and does not want any more? There are plenty of women around your age who are in that situation.
posted by mareli at 1:48 PM on August 23, 2011


But I'm also wondering if I'm shooting myself in the foot by being so direct about this. Perhaps by putting this out there so early I'm eliminating someone who might find themselves interested enough in me to want to compromise some goals in the place of others?

I agree with being more direct, rather than less. From reading your profile I would assume you're open to kids, since many guys have the attitude you present even though they generally want kids "someday."

My friends who are very strongly against having kids are all very well-educated, liberal, somewhat geeky and live in big cities. You will get less options on OkCupid choosing women who state they don't want kids because there are less women who don't want kids, sorry. Many women within 5 years of your age will have this issue on the back of their minds. You have to search for women who specifically state they don't want kids or look for women over 40/45. Please don't waste women in their 30s time if they are looking for a partner who wants kids.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:49 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Hylas's answer is exactly right: it's OK that you're open-minded about this, but a dating profile is just not the place to start having such a personal and sensitive conversation. If there's going to be any compromising or mind-changing on this issue, let that come up naturally in a real-life conversation between you and someone you're actually dating.
posted by John Cohen at 1:49 PM on August 23, 2011


Yeah, take out the "could be convinced" and fly your no-kid flag proudly.

Nothing clarifies decision-making like a lack of choice. There are plenty of women out there who don't want kids and are Awesome (like myself!), many of them single. You now have delightfully more manageable pool to work with, and don't have the problem you did previously.
posted by ldthomps at 1:50 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kids/no kids isn't a choice that can be fudged or compromised on. (You can't have half a kid, or a kid just some of the time. At least not without possibly being arrested.) It is also one of the biggest choices you can make in your life.

So if everything else matches with your potential life partner and this comes up, it's the roadblock, the atom bomb, the 10000 ton relationship-ender that you just can't get around. As you've found out. (Sorry to hear about that.)

Please, fly your 'No kids' flag clearly and don't diddle time away dating women who want kids. You could be meeting the 'no children thanks' woman of your dreams instead!

Sincerely,

Woman who does not want children happily married to a man who does not want children
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 2:02 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Also agree you should be upfront.)

So, is what's happening here that you look at Betty and Cassandra's profiles, and Betty wants kids and Cassandra doesn't, and they are in all other ways equal, and BETTY is attractive to you but Cassandra isn't? And this happens to you all the time, the women you're attracted to want kids, and the women who don't want kids aren't attracted to you? If you're just not finding them, that's one thing. But if it's that you're only attracted to women who want kids, you need to unpack that and figure out what's up.

(Like, you secretly want kids but don't want to be the one to make the decision. Or you're looking for someone really nurturing who'll care for you, and "wants kids" is a sort of emotional proxy for that, but you don't actually want kids, just a mom-type. Or ... I dunno, something else entirely.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:05 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kids/no kids isn't a choice that can be fudged or compromised on.

Well, that is not true. Anything can be compromised on, even though of course you can't have half a kid. You can compromise on the number of children or on other things.
posted by John Cohen at 2:07 PM on August 23, 2011


I wish you weren't anonymous because I'd love to explore your concerns more. There are a lot of ways your question can be interpreted (possibly because you're still sorting this out, yourself). Do you mean: Most everyone here seems to be answering question #1. I wish I had some personal advice for you on the others, but maybe others do (or maybe you can add more by writing to the Mods).
posted by the jam at 2:07 PM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


To give an example of what sometimes happens. Friend that works with my wife has a long-time marriage that s often not very happy. She wanted kids. He didn't but never told her. Now, years beyond child bearing age she resents his not having made known that he did not want kids.
Be clear. If you change your mind, so be it. But now you don't want them so say so.
posted by Postroad at 2:12 PM on August 23, 2011


I'm willing to bet that the majority of women want to have children one day, so unfortunately you may need to date a lot before you find a woman who doesn't. There's not much you can do about that.

However, one thing you can do that might change your luck a bit would be to remove the wishy-washy statement about how you probably don't want kids but maybe you can be convinced. Just state that you don't want to have kids. This removes the hope that, if you just hit it off well-enough, a woman will be able to change your mind about wanting kids.

Be clear about what you want and you'll be less likely to attract women who want kids.

Now, having said that, some people are willing to put aside their desire to have kids if they meet the right person. In fact, I'd say that it is probably best to not have kids if one partner doesn't want them (you don't want one parent resenting his or her children).

There's also the question that the jam raises: Men, did you think you didn't want kids until you met The One? Could I become someone who wants kids?

I can't answer this personally but, anecdotally, this type of situation seems to be surprisingly common. A guy says he doesn't want kids but then he meets Mrs. Right and decides that being a family man is the life that he wants to live. So, you could become this type of guy. But, if you're pretty sure that you won't, it's probably best to primarily seek out women who also don't want children.
posted by asnider at 2:16 PM on August 23, 2011


"I'm not sure if I want kids, I lean towards not having them but it's possible I could be convinced. It's more important to me to find the right person to be with." That's the truth of the matter. I could see it happening, although it's truly daunting and frightening to me, and I could see it turning out to be a cool thing. But in general, I think I am like 85/15 or something like that.

To me, this doesn't say "doesn't want kids". It sounds more like half the male friends I have who are (or in some cases were) ambivalent about having children.

If you really don't want children then you need to say so more explicitly. Alternatively, decide that having children scares the life out of you but that you're prepared to do it anyway with the right person. You'll hardly be the only person (make or female) in that particular boat.
posted by pharm at 2:40 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


male or female. Sigh.
posted by pharm at 2:41 PM on August 23, 2011


ok so this is me. I asked anon because I didn't want this obviously associated with my profile, and the above mentioned woman, who is also my friend, is a sometimes user of this site (who I know would have no particular problem reading this, as she is awesome and we have been up and down this whole thing in ridiculous detail many times).

For the record, I can say I have done extensive searching on the ol' Okcupid regarding this. I get the argument that "you are finding that most women you are interested in want kids because most women want kids". Perfectly clear.

In truth, there is an element of me that is on the fence. Wishy washy or not, I am not anti-kids. I really like my friends kids, they seem to like me. There's things I'd like to do with and teach kids. Hearing my father well up with love for me and my brother and be just incredulous about the idea of not having kids. Also as I get a bit older, and my 20 year old going out all the time friends have become 36 year old at home with their kids adults, I definitely feel something missing. Something that personally I think a strong romantic relationship would fill, but I could see how having kids could be really awesome.

That said, the idea of having kids totally freaks me out. I see my friends totally stressed out and frazzled, my female friends obsessively on facebook as they struggle to maintain their sanity home with the kids all day. I super, super stress about the idea of having a kid with downs or autism or anything like that. Money, the way the country seems to be heading, etc...all are reasons that having kids is really freaky to me.

So I am wishy washy, and I think 85/15 is about right. I wouldn't object to a woman who already had kids, that's a lot less challenging to me. And if someone got pregnant, I think I'd suck it up and make it work and try to really enjoy it.

Anyway, this is not "should I have kids" but "how do I deal with dating women who want kids when I'm pretty sure but not totally sure I don't".

I get how the "could be convinced" line is pretty weak.

And yes, I do think that there is a chance (a chance) that if I met the right person I could come around. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm pretty sure it's not impossible. I am totally cognizant of not wanting to waste the time of a 35 year old, say, but also open to changing my mind. I get that the wishy washy thing is kind of annoying, but it's true.
posted by sully75 at 2:52 PM on August 23, 2011


Perhaps by putting this out there so early I'm eliminating someone who might find themselves interested enough in me to want to compromise some goals in the place of others?

This way leads to madness. Having children is not the kind of goal that most women are open to compromising. Women your age cannot afford to wait until you decide that you're convinced.

You should be upfront about not wanting to have kids of your own, but since you're cool with her having kids, you should mention that as well.
posted by crankylex at 3:08 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


It sounds to me as though you are pretty sure you could be happy NOT having kids. You are completely unsure about whether you could be happy having them. So the obvious thing to me in that case is to date the women who are sure they don't want kids. Most likely that will lead to you not having kids, and you are pretty certain you could live that way. There's a small chance she would accidentally get pregnant or change her mind, and it sounds like you are willing to take that small risk.

On the other hand if you dated women who did want kids or who were ambivalent, there is a very high chance you would end up having to either break up or have kids: neither of which are guaranteed to make you very happy.

Basically you need reality to skew in the same direction your numbers of 85:15 do. So date the women who don't want kids and you probably have an 85% chance of not having them. If you do it the other way around, it's more like an 85% chance of having kids, and a 15% chance of not.
posted by lollusc at 5:10 PM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's totally normal to be a little ambivalent, as I'm sure you know if you've read previous questions about the subject. I was much like you (mostly didn't want kids, but could see it happening, but was also Anxiety-Ridden at the idea of them). Therapy helped me realize that it was ok to be ambivalent, to mostly not want kids, but to also sometimes want them. Even if I mostly didn't.

If I were you, I'd just take the topic out of my profile, and be really choosey about which women that identified as "want kids" that I contacted. Then meet them pretty early on (don't email back and forth forever), and make it a topic of conversation on date 2, if you like them enough to want a date 2. That way neither of you invests too much if it's a dealbreaker, but you haven't ruled out women that you would totally choose and who might choose you if this weren't in your profile.
posted by ldthomps at 5:22 PM on August 23, 2011


OkCupid has a "likes kids, but doesn't want any" option that seems like it might describe you pretty well (I know I feel like it describes me, an excellent babysitter/pseudo-aunt with no interest in having kids of my own but a sense that I could be a good caregiver if I had to be). I'm on the fence about getting involved with someone who already has kids, and I suppose it's possible that my missing biological clock could show up at some point, but now and for the foreseeable future, I'm not interested in trying to establish a relationship that's meant to lead to having children. Based on who contacts and favorites me, "likes kids, but doesn't want any" is not off-putting to a substantial number of people who already have kids.
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:27 PM on August 23, 2011


So the thing about liking kids but not necessarily wanting them -- that's how I feel about them, and how I've pretty much always felt about kids. Like large dogs or facial tattoos, they're nice but not for me.

When my close friends started having kids, those were the first kids I had any real prolonged contact with, and they were pretty damn cool. I started thinking about how much fun they were and how cute they were and how it's super awesome to teach kids things and have a positive impact on their world and blah blah blah. One of my friends with a kid listened to me natter on one day about how I'd always been anti-motherhood but now I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a mom or not but that her kid sure was cool and I liked hanging out with them so maybe I would be a good mom, and she was like, "Yeah, you know, with the right partner I think anyone can be a decent parent. But you need to think about this some more, like, really think for a long time. If you're at all on the fence, if you're not 100% gung-ho baby crazy, then don't do it. I'm serious. I wanted this kid like nothing else, and I love the shit out of her, but even now I have doubts that I'm cut out for this, or that I even want to do it until she's 18. If I didn't have [her husband] and I had to do this alone, I would not be able to do it well at all. If you feel like your life would be utterly ruined if you don't have children, then obviously you're not going to be happy unless you're a parent. But if you don't feel that way, if you feel like your life would be just fine if you didn't have a child of your own... well, honey, I think you have your answer."

And she's exactly right. When I took a step back and stopped snorting pure baby-head scent off her kid (let me tell you, baby's heads smell GOOOOOOD), I realized that while I liked the fun moments, and the tender moments, the rest of parenthood kind of blows (from my perspective). For me, the good parts of parenthood don't outweigh the bad parts, and the lifestyle adjustments I'd have to make to allow for children in my life aren't really adjustments that I'm willing to make. So even if I broke up with my equally non-parentally-inclined partner and met someone who was totally mad for babies, I don't know that I'd be down with parenthood. I used to think that I could do it if I had a partner who was willing to be the primary caregiver, but now I realize that wouldn't be fair to this hypothetical partner OR to our imaginary child/ren. Or to me.

My point, let me show you it: If you are not 100% thrilled with the idea of being a father, mark yourself as "likes kids but doesn't want any", and then share your feelings about the issue with any dates that make it past the introductory chit-chat level.

(Also, please keep in mind that you do not have to be a parent to have a positive impact on a child's life. You can be involved in a child's life and development in so many ways -- maintain an "honorary uncle" relationship with the children of your friends, volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters or similar organization, et cetera. Every adult I spent time with as a child left their fingerprints on my life, not just my parental unit, and I remember each and every one of them fondly.)
posted by palomar at 6:44 PM on August 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


According to an actual sociological study on childfree folks (I will post the link if I can find it), women who choose to be childfree tend to:

- have a bachelor's degree or above (skewing heavily towards "above")
- have professional type careers
- are more often white
- are not religious (are "spiritual but not religious," atheist, or agnostic)
- live in urban areas or college towns

Are any of these demographically undesirable to you? In particular, is a more mainstream religion important to you? I'm trying to understand why you might find childfree women demographically unsuitable for some reason.

There are plenty of women who don't want kids. I'm one of them, and when I'm perusing online dating profiles, I stay away from the "wants children" or even "might want children" because I DO NOT (and I can't physically have children anymore, but don't want to hear "but what about adoption" or "what about donor eggs"). I find I have the best results by being honest upfront. That way any man who thinks he maybe someday might want a kid won't waste his time and my own adamantly childfree time.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:45 PM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I put "doesn't want kids" in my OKCupid profile. Was contacted by a guy that also had "doesn't want kids" in his profile. We've been together almost a year, heading in an exciting direction, and happy as childfree clams.

Do you know how nice it is to be on the same page about children with someone, right off the bat? No sad reveelation months down the road. No pussy-footing around what is usually a touchy topic.

If you don't want kids, be honest and put it out there. Women who don't want kids are out there. Some of us love it when people are up front about what they do and do not want in life.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:35 PM on August 23, 2011


I do not want children. If I weren't already married, your "willing to be convinced" thing would make me NOT message you because I would be looking for someone who is sure and is not going to change his mind on me. Just say you don't want kids. Trust me.
posted by Nattie at 9:27 PM on August 23, 2011


Perhaps by putting this out there so early I'm eliminating someone who might find themselves interested enough in me to want to compromise some goals in the place of others?

What you've written there seems to basically be you wondering if you are failing to attract a woman who wants kids, but will be oh so interested in you, so much that she would decide to not have kids just to be with you. If you are truly at 85/15 on the kids issue, why is this even a concern? You could remain silent on the kids issue, and if you meet someone who 100% wants kids you could compromise and have them, since you are only 85% not wanting them.

And if someone got pregnant, I think I'd suck it up and make it work and try to really enjoy it.

With the idea that the "right person" could make you change your mind about kids, and that attitude, someone who thinks you would be a good father or at least keep up the child support payments is going to end up pregnant. Someone is going to figure you will come around -- you can try to enjoy it, but what if that doesn't work -- do you pretend you enjoy it? What if this "someone" is someone that you haven't yet decided you want to be in a long term relationship with? Think about that.

Those women who want children will _not_ be interested enough in you to compromise on that -- even if a woman decided that she would forgo kids when she really wanted them, she wouldn't suddenly not want them any more.


I do think that there is a chance (a chance) that if I met the right person I could come around.


Think about what that says to a woman you would be asking to change her mind on having children to get into a relationship with you... it's basically like saying to her that if you were with a different woman you would be willing to have children, but not with her.

Anyway, this is not "should I have kids" but "how do I deal with dating women who want kids when I'm pretty sure but not totally sure I don't".

It seems like the main thing driving this particular question is demographics -- that there are more women who are single who want kids, so that's who you are are going to date, even though you are 85% sure you don't want them.

If your goal is to be in a long term relationship with one person, you don't need a big demographic pool full of women who meet all your requirements -- you seem to be focused on fishing in the biggest pond you can find. You might find it easier to meet someone suitable if you try to meet women who would be interested in someone like you --- and it's likely that those women will either have all the kids they want already, or not want to have kids. There are quite a few single moms out there who aren't interested in having more kids.

OTOH, maybe your goal is to date around, in which case your desire to have a large dating pool is quite understandable. In that case you should tell the women who want kids that you "aren't looking for anything serious." If they turn out to be that rare woman who changes your mind about kids, then you let them know how you are feeling.
posted by yohko at 4:07 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


- have a bachelor's degree or above (skewing heavily towards "above")
- have professional type careers
- are more often white
- are not religious (are "spiritual but not religious," atheist, or agnostic)
- live in urban areas or college towns


This describes exactly who I would want to date, more or less. And yet, I've done quite a bit of searching and still within this crowd, and in what would seem to be a godless land of childfreedom, my searching yields very few women who don't want kids. For the record.

Thanks for all the thoughts, it was very helpful.
posted by sully75 at 5:44 AM on August 24, 2011


You will probably be more successful if you target women who are past prime childbearing age - in their late forties or older.
posted by bq at 2:43 PM on August 24, 2011


In truth, there is an element of me that is on the fence. Wishy washy or not, I am not anti-kids. I really like my friends kids, they seem to like me. There's things I'd like to do with and teach kids. Hearing my father well up with love for me and my brother and be just incredulous about the idea of not having kids. Also as I get a bit older, and my 20 year old going out all the time friends have become 36 year old at home with their kids adults, I definitely feel something missing. Something that personally I think a strong romantic relationship would fill, but I could see how having kids could be really awesome.

That said, the idea of having kids totally freaks me out. I see my friends totally stressed out and frazzled, my female friends obsessively on facebook as they struggle to maintain their sanity home with the kids all day. I super, super stress about the idea of having a kid with downs or autism or anything like that. Money, the way the country seems to be heading, etc...all are reasons that having kids is really freaky to me.


I'm going to go against the grain here and say that it actually sounds quite a bit like you want to have kids. Your reasoning sound, to me, much closer to those I know who have reproduced, or want to reproduce at some point, than those who are stringently childfree.

Because, dude, reproducing is scary for everyone with an ounce of sense in their heads. Yes, it's a major life change. Yes, it's unpredictable and scary. Terrifying!

But all that "something missing" "I like kids" and dad-welling-up-with-love stuff sounds like you're ready to start considering it. And you know? That's okay. It's okay to change your mind.

I'm younger than you are (and a woman), but I went from identifying as strongly childfree to open to the possibility to, yeah, I want kids in the next few years over the course of the last two years or so. My husband seems to have gone through the same thing. The scariest first step was admitting that maybe I'd changed my mind about it. I'd identified pretty strongly with my arguments--I felt proud of them. I'd made loud declarations about them. But for me, allowing myself to say, "Yeah, this is scary, but maybe it's something that I will want" was pretty freeing. You're not a guy, so you don't need to get down with the babymaking right away or anything. I'm just saying that sometimes it can be liberating to give yourself permission to change your mind. You wouldn't be alone in it. Even Lou Reed seems to have some relevant regrets.

Maybe I'm totally wrong, and if that's the case, that's okay, too. All I'm saying is that it sounds like you're more middle-of-the-road about this than you think. I probably wouldn't make any dating decisions based on this at all, if I were you. There's just too many unknowns.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:25 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Erk. You are a guy, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:29 PM on August 24, 2011


You're 36. Date women a little older for starters who having a child may no longer be a realistic option for. You should still of course be totally honest that you don't want kids. Or date women who already have kids.

To be frank though, most women want kids. Not all absolutely, but far fewer women don't want kids than men. For most women this is an absolute deal breaker.

But really enough with this I could be convinced stuff. Figure out what you want. Is it just fear holding you back or do you really not want kids? Take some responsibility and figure out how you actually feel, don't push the onus on a woman to convince you.
posted by whoaali at 9:33 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps by putting this out there so early I'm eliminating someone who might find themselves interested enough in me to want to compromise some goals in the place of others?

Yes, as you should. Letting a woman who wanted kids become so attached to you and love you so much that she felt trapped like she had to "compromise" and never have children would be a horrible, awful, cruel thing to do. Please don't go down this path.

Don't mean to be harsh, I wish you well and hope you find the right woman you're looking for.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:18 PM on August 25, 2011


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