Is this as impossible as it seems?
August 13, 2012 4:41 AM   Subscribe

How do I date, as a late-30's woman who still wants kids?

I'm in my late 30's. I recently got out of a 3-year relationship and am now faced with the unpleasant prospect of trying to date again.

It's hard enough to do this at all (I'm still hurt from the last relationship, plus I have always faced serious prejudice in the dating realm because I am overweight), but the huge complicating factor is that I still want to have children.

I don't know how to go about dating. I don't know at what point in the process to mention that I still want to have kids, especially in online profiles/dating. If I mention it right away I may seem desperate and it may lead men who might otherwise be a good fit to rule me out. If I don't, I may end up wasting my time with someone who really does not want to have kids.

I also don't want to approach men as just potential fathers. Even if I do not end up having kids, I want a meaningful romantic relationship, so I'm looking for that first and foremost. I feel like if I allow my wish for a child to be pressing, I might treat people I'm dating as simply sperm donors. But if I don't keep it at the forefront of my mind, it would be easy to fall into a relationship where it just doesn't happen... and then it's too late.

I don't know how to take my time and not pressure anyone, but also have some potential for fulfilling this deep wish of mine, that will have to be fulfilled soon if at all.

Has anyone else dealt with this type of situation? Or know anyone else who has? What worked/didn't work? Is this as impossible as it currently seems to me?

Note I want a biological child only and I'm not open to (intentionally) raising a child on my own. I am not flexible on these points.
posted by ArgyleSockPuppet to Human Relations (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
1. It isn't a "huge complicating factor". Wanting to have kids is pretty standard. It isn't like you're expecting to move to Peru and become alpaca farmers. Having kids is something that a lot/most people want to do, men and women alike. Already having kids would probably be a much bigger factor for a lot of people (and I'm saying this as a step mother).

2. I may be in the minority on this one, but I would either leave it out of my profile, or I would just touch on it very quickly. The more you try to explain why and reassure them that you don't view them as a sperm donor, the more you are going to seem baby crazy and scare them off. One line, "I'd like to have kids in the future.", is all you need.

Most importantly, if they ask, yes, absolutely tell the truth and say yes. I wouldn't go off on a big thing about how TIME IS TICKING and here are the names I've picked out and ask them what their feelings are on local day cares. THAT would make them feel like you're only in it for kids. Simply saying, however, that yes, having kids is something you'd like to do is totally reasonable. Don't lie or half ass it and say stuff like "I hadn't thought much about it but..." or "yeah, maybe..." or "that is probably something I'd enjoy". For you it doesn't seem like a "maybe" so don't use "maybe" language. A simple, "Yes, I'd like to have kids in the future." would be best. Just be matter of fact, and don't start apologizing or going on about it. I think a lot of people, when they have something like this that they feel may scare people off, start going on about it and trying to reassure them, which in turn makes it worse because you're frantically trying to make it sound like not a big deal.

If you're a few dates in and it seems like maybe there is potentially then you should probably bring it up, but your strong desire to have children doesn't need to be the focus of your profile.

3. I'm in my 30s and overweight, and I was in my 20s and over weight and dating. I've been there, I know what you're talking about. Yeah, it can be hard, but you'll be seriously ahead of the game if you just be confident. Confidence is sexy and appealing. Yes, you're going to be crossed off the list by some men because of your weight, just as some people are crossed off the list because they are too thin, too short, too tall, different ethnicity, too old, too young, have red hair, used poor grammar in their profile, etc. EVERYONE has something about them that is going to make them unappealing to some people. Everyone. Just accept that as a relatity of life. All you can do is put yourself out there and see what happens. And whatever you do, don't reject people because you don't think they'd be in to you/your type. Let people make their own decisions on what they're attracted to. When I weight 330lbs I dated men who were conventionally very attractive (washboard abs, atheltic muscular types). I'm sure when I was out and about with those men, holding hands and whatnot, I'm sure some people were a bit confused as to why they were with ME. I could have easily rejected them because they clearly were "out of my league". There are no leagues. I repeat, THERE ARE NO LEAGUES! So just get out there are see what happens.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:17 AM on August 13, 2012 [13 favorites]

Definitely say in your profile that you want kids. Don't make a big deal of it right away, but be clear and find out where your date stands so as to avoid wasting time dating someone who doesn't want kids.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:15 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most online profiles have a simple checkbox for 'want kids/doesn't want kids'. So make sure you check it.

As someone dating in my mid-30s, i've found that the majority of men in my age cohort also want to have kids, and this isn't at all an unusual or controversial thing, or a barrier.

Your inflexibility on the 'biological children' and 'solo parenting' thing does indeed make your situation tough. You say you want a romantic relationship first and foremost, but that lack of flexibility suggests that that's really an academic issue. In a very practical way, the parenting issue is very pressing.

If i were you, i'd be pretty upfront about this in my online profile, but i wouldn't harp on it online or in real life. In your self summary, something like "i'm looking for a someone to fall in love and have kids with.", and then never mention it again in your profile, and don't talk about it early on in the relationship. Most guys want kids, but they don't want to feel pressured, and this seems like a decent way to do it.
posted by Kololo at 6:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

Most online profiles have a simple checkbox for 'want kids/doesn't want kids'. So make sure you check it.

Yes. If the dating site you're using doesn't have an option for this, switch to OKCupid. Also, filter your searches for men by "want kids."
posted by John Cohen at 6:29 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Currently, there's a big cultural meme that women are desperate to get married, and men are trapped marriage. If you come off as over-focused on babies and marriage, I think it will be unsuccessful. It's also possible that you are not focused enough on what guys want, which is really what any individual guy wants. Everybody likes somebody who really listens and pays attention.
posted by theora55 at 6:32 AM on August 13, 2012

Was just reading an article recently about location-based dating apps, and how people like those because time-wise, instead of wasting huge amounts of time on the internet going back and forth with someone before you meet, you just meet up and pretty much can tell right away if you're a potential match for someone. There's the person behind the emails and there's the real person. Rip off the band-aid and meet up right away.

Once you get past the initial contact 3rd or 4th date, try this: if you see a baby or little kids at a restaurant or in line at some event, just say, "oh, how cute! Look at that baby!" Fall fairs are coming up, plenty of kids at those! I do this naturally because kids seem to gravitate toward me in grocery check-out lines so it's hard not to play peek-a-boo or make faces at them.

If a guy is into family life, he will (hopefully) respond in a manner that indicates it. Look at how he talks about his mother, or sisters if he has any, and especially how he talks about his ex's. Is he everyone's favorite uncle? I wasted a year dating a guy before I finally figured out that he just plain was not into kids (or marriage!). Did stuff like ask me to help him pick out a new house and then dropped bombshells like, "don't get any ideas about marriage." Even though I never brought it up. That was one of those, "hey, let's be friends things," on my part and we parted ways.

Write down your deal breakers ahead of time, print them out and keep them in your wallet. Flip side could be the things you're looking for in a person. If in doubt, excuse yourself, go to the rest room, and pull out your list. Also watch for guys who comment randomly about strangers, because eventually it will be directed at you, while in the honeymoon stage, they could be loving and accepting, but it takes about 3 months at least, to really know if someone is a potential long-term partner. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but getting past the honeymoon stage is key for re-examining the relationship and determining if it's the right fit for you.

Make sure you look up the red flags for dating, as if you are still vulnerable from your recent break-up, consider that there may be a guy who is a rebound relationship, and don't get dragged into something long-term due to looking at dating as a "well, I need to stay with this guy due to ____," fill in the blank. A lot of women tend to invest a lot of time and emotion into relationships, myself included, and don't want to lose that time and emotional investment. That's the real time waster, so make up your list and stick with it.

There are plenty of guys out there who like larger women, I know a few married women who later in life met and married nice men who had an appreciation for curves. I have a friend in her mid-30's who's in the same boat, and she is religious, so meets guys at church or art events, as she is also an artist. So consider "real life" places for meeting men as well as the internet. Good luck!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:44 AM on August 13, 2012

I will never, ever understand how as human beings we suddenly feel some weird need to be ashamed or coy or secretive about what we want. I will also never understand how wanting to have a husband and family is suddenly this giantic taboo thing.

Just be honest with yourself and honest with whomever you're dating about what you want. Wanting to settle down and have a family isn't a giant pox on your dating life. It's actually pretty normal! Seek out like-minded people and I'm sure you'll find plenty of awesome potential mates out there who want the same thing as you. Check the box for "wants kids" and be explicit in your profile.

There are plenty of men out there who would love to love the heck out of the overweight you and are aching to start a family with you in your late 30s. Sure, they may not be as prevalent as say, the party d00ds who just want to casually date and/or get laid, but they're worth the wait and search. I know this because I'm dating one.
posted by floweredfish at 9:06 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm 39 and I assume most single women I meet want to have kids. I would check that box on your profile and maybe mention it as well. But some guys just skim pictures and send messages without reading profiles. Mentioning it 20 times won't make a difference with those guys.
posted by thebriguy72 at 8:25 PM on August 13, 2012

Wow, do I feel misunderstood. I realize many men want to have children, but if they DO want kids, are less likely to gravitate towards someone who is in their late 30's and has few years left in which to have them. It takes time to develop a relationship and then to have kids, and most men who want kids would rather choose someone younger and more fertile. I'm not "coy" or "secretive" or any of that. I am ALWAYS honest, it's not a question of honesty, it's a question of timing and presentation. I am amazed no one apparently understands the issue I am asking about and how to manage it. I feel like not a single person so far has really even understood my issue. Thanks but I won't be checking this thread again because it is WAY alienating to ask for help and have people not even understand your issue.
posted by ArgyleSockPuppet at 9:35 PM on August 13, 2012

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