I’m a Man Who Doesn’t Want to Have Kids. Who Is Left To Date?

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Hi Evan,

You frequently advise singles to reevaluate their list of deal breakers and to shorten that list where they can to increase their options.

How do you feel about applying that advice to parenting preferences?

I’m interested in dating women in their 30’s through early 40’s. I like children, but I am sure that I don’t want to be a parent. It seems likely that women who list exactly how many children they want on Match.com are pretty set on their preferences too.

I don’t want to date someone, grow attached to her and then feel hurt when the parenthood issue sends us off on our separate ways. The option of least risk would be to filter my searches to only return profiles of women who are sure they don’t want to be parents. My problem with that option is that it also returns a greatly reduced number of profiles.

I know you don’t have a magic wand, so I just have to play the hand I’ve been dealt. I’m willing to take a risk by contacting women who list that they are “not sure” about wanting children. I’m wondering if there are other types of women worth taking a risk on. Maybe women who may have listed a less than accurate preference about having children to not scare people away?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

Steve

Steve,

I’m running your email, not only because you’re a regular commenter, but because it follows last week’s question so neatly.

Steve’s a perfect example of a kind, relationship-oriented guy, who is extremely conscientious about the potential damage of two partners having different long-term goals. Of course, he’s more worried about getting hurt than he is about hurting the woman, but we’ll leave that aside. The point is that he is, as he pointed out, in a position of scarcity. Act with integrity and his pool of dateable women diminishes considerably.

Expecting your partner to share your rare passion cuts your dating pool by 99%.

This brings up a larger point that I’ve wanted to make for a long time:

People who are not “mainstream” have some very tough choices to make in dating. These choices mainly apply to two sets of people:

1) People who are in a minority in their preferences and insist that others share their preferences.

You’re in a minority in your preferences if you were into BDSM, or were an animal activist, or gave half your earnings to the Pentecostal Church.

There’s no judgment against minorities, but we must acknowledge that if you insist that your partner also have your non-mainstream preference, there are going to be far fewer singles from which to choose.

Simple exercise: Ask yourself what percent of people are ALSO (hardcore bikers, jobless backpackers, Buddhists who don’t believe in possessions)? Expecting your partner to share your rare passion cuts your dating pool by 99%.

My advice: find someone who is open to/tolerates your passion. Otherwise, accept the fact that it’s going to be a rare day, indeed, when you find the cute, kind, stable, age-appropriate, emotionally available person who ALSO eats only green foods.

2) People who are in a minority of OTHER people’s preferences.

An Asian man who will only date Caucasian women.

A sixty-year-old widow who will only date men 5-10 years younger.

A Jewish rocker with dreadlocks who wants to be with a Jewish woman.

A man who doesn’t want to have children. Let’s call him Steve.

My advice to you is the same as my advice to anyone who restricts their own choices: open up or quit complaining how hard you’ve made it on yourself.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with these choices, except to point out that they are choices that are self-restricting.

You can probably add other things to this list, including  overweight women, older women, short men, and poor men. These are not choices, but they are groups that face longer odds because they don’t fit into many people’s preferences.

So if you’re in one of the above minorities and you’re faced with a frustrating situation, you have a choice: Keep doing what you’re doing, or change. I don’t judge you either way. I just have to point out the obvious:

If you’re only open to dating 5% of the population – you’re going to have a harder time finding love.

So what changes can be made?

An overweight woman could lose weight. The Jewish rocker could cut his hair to appeal to his demographic. The vegan could tolerate a man who eats chicken and eggs. The shorter man could be open to heavier women, the older woman to older men.

The problem is when we refuse to budge and then complain how hard it is to find anyone. It would be like me saying that I want to drive a car, but I’ll only drive a hot pink Lamborghini that I see being driven down my street. Guess I’m not going to be doing too much driving.

I don’t blame you, Steve, for not wanting to have kids. It’s a huge decision, a life-altering decision, and you shouldn’t do it if it makes you feel profoundly uncomfortable. Just know that the only options you have are to date women in their 30’s who state that they don’t want kids, to date women who are in their 40’s who may be cool with the idea of not having kids, or wait for women in their 50’s whose kids are already grown.

Otherwise, buddy, my advice to you is the same as my advice to anyone who restricts their own choices: open up or quit complaining how hard you’ve made it on yourself.

By the way, thanks for putting yourself on the line with this one – a lot of readers can identify with you.

Evan

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Susan

    The decision as to whether or not to have children is a huge problem. It’s binary – either you do or you don’t. There is no in-between, there is no gray area. You can negotiate where you live, the place you live in, what color you paint it, the car you drive, how to landscape your garden, what to eat, what movie to see, how often you visit your parents, and to some extent the career paths you take. But children drive family dynamics and you really can’t compromise on that. Once a decision is executed, it can’t be undone.
    And it is horribly unjust to the man when his partner marries him “hoping he’ll change his mind”, or “accidentally” gets pregnant. If she wants a sperm donor, she should just be upfront about that and plan on raising the child alone.
    An obvious logical thing to do then would be to focus on meeting people through dating services customized for this issue. Google “childfree” , “child free” dating and the services are out there. That would go with any issue that was hugely important to somebody. If veganism is an issue, you go to a vegan dating site. If practicing your religious faith is important to you, then you utilize dating services geared toward dating others in that faith.
    When I was 32 I met a wonderful 37 year old man who didn’t want children. As you can guess he wasn’t exactly Joe Popular in the dating world. But we are happy, and still an item, 19 years later. We made the right decision.
    Prior to meeting him, I was very ambivalent about children. In fact, I ended a relationship with a man who said he wanted children – NOT because he wanted them, but because he was bad-tempered, emotionally abusive, and inattentive. I realized that I would never want him to father my children, so why the heck was I hanging around putting up with him?!?

  2. 22
    Heather

    Hahahaha … I have NEVER wanted children, and I beg to differ that ‘most’ women want children. I know too many like myself to believe that is the case. I actually find it odd when men insist they want children – it’s almost hypocritical. The way I was raised (which was somewhat dysfunctional, mind you) one of the frst things I learned about relationships was this: if a woman wants a man to stick around, she would be wise not to ‘saddle’ him with children (my mother’s exact words). Having children is NOT easy in this modern day existence – I don’t know how anyone, God bless ’em, does it!

    Join a group like ‘No Kidding!’ for childfree-by-choice people. You are not alone, and not even in a tiny minority.

    Getting to Evan’s point about being in the minority on preferences. I will attest that, as a woman who only finds men who dress the way we all did back in high school (sort of on the ‘punk’ side) attractive, I have pretty much dug my own hole. I will argue that it is a lifestyle/philosophy/mindset/etc. but that doesn’t ease the situation. I will cry and moan that I can’t find a man because the ONE guy I know who meets my criteria won’t date me. Meanwhile there are probably several men would love to date me but I have put them in the ‘unworthy’ pile because they aren’t ‘like me’ that way. That is dating self-sabotage at its finest and I stubbornly refuse to change. I wish I could sometimes, ’cause it’s lonely here.

    Hello, my name is Heather and I’m a death rock subculture fetishist. As long as there are men out there who fit that description I won’t want to date outside of it. THAT is being in the minority!

  3. 23
    Jessica

    Just one more perspective on why women might say they are unsure about wanting kids: I just turned forty and as I don’t have kids now, I probably won’t. Fine by me.
    I would still select “unsure” about kids on a dating site though, because I don’t want to rule out guys that already have them. I know the whole step-parent thing can be tough, but I do like kids and I definitely wouldn’t rule it out ahead of time.
    I don’t know how old this thread is, but I found it because I’m in a bdsm sub-group and not sure how or when to bring up the topic. It seems worth dating guys who don’t put it in their profile because they might well be into my thing, but not want to scare off a lot of women. If I meet someone I hit it off with in other respects, it might be worth seeing if he’s into it or willing to experiment. Sorry, going way off topic now….

  4. 24
    Roma

    It’s nice to see that some men really know they don’t want children. I’m in my mid-30’s and never wanted to have children, I still don’t want them, and my last boyfriend walked away because he wants to be a father. In fact, I already lost 2 nice guys because of that, so I feel like a really really tiny minority when trying to find a guy who’s really sure he doesn’t want them – because of course I don’t want to get hurt again when having to part ways when HE decides to have children! It’s hard to find those guys, I tell you! – most are “not sure” and that usually means they’re “normal”, that is, they WILL have children someday. Come on Steves, keep looking, there are still women who dream of finding a guy who knows what they want ( above 30, it’s so easy to say we don’t want children before that 😀 )

  5. 25
    vicki

    If he doesn’t want children of his own, he should NOT attempt to date a woman who has no children. Even a woman in her 40s without kids might change her mind and want to have fertility treatments or adopt. I recently read that Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger dumped her boyfriend because she wants children and he doesn’t. She is in her late 40s.
    What is the solution for Steve? Steve should date ONLY single moms with kids over 18 years of age. If by saying he doesn’t want kids means (probably) he doesn’t want to spend 18 years raising them, then he needs to get with a woman whose children are grown. That way, *her* maternal needs are satisfied already and are unlikely to become an issue. Also, kids over 18 won’t need midnight feedings and diaper changes, and are unlikely to still be living at home.
    So Steve, either change your ideal match preferences on Match.com and/or join a site like SingleParentsMeet and start dating more single moms whose kids are grown. That is your ideal match.

    1. 25.1
      Richard

      Vicki,

      You’re correct, except for one item: I married a lady who had tow boys, ages 12 & 14. I NEVER wanted kids. They’re grown and quite successful now. One of them has dtwo boys. BUT, the expense never goes away.
      Richard  

    2. 25.2
      Kimberley

      Vicki—-While your view is theoretically accurate, life is rarely so. I am the daugther of a man who dated and married a woman (funny enough- her name is Vicki) who did not want children and, like you, ASSUMED (because I was 23 at the time) that I wouldn’t really be in the picture too much or need anything. That is SUCH a load of crap for many reasons! First, children are a LIFETIME commitment. Not just until they are 18. People, or I should say adult children still need love, guidance, and sometimes financial help AFTER the age of 18. Especially with college expenses and God knows what else. In my case, I returned home after college to help care for my Grandmother. I have an extremely small family and I was the only one willing. It was a full time job for two years until she passed away. I had no time to start my own career (not that there were any jobs anyway) and had no time to date or really have anything resembling my own life. My family had to continue to help me financially if they didn’t want to care for my Grandmother- which they selfishly did not. My point is that I can say from being the adult child in the scenario you speak of—life isn’t always so neat and tidy. And it really grinds my gears when people like you write advice to just date someone with grown children (the implication being that they aren’t an issue). That is an unrealistic, antiquated, and misleading stance. My stepmother learned the hard way. Let’s not lead people into thinking once a child hits 18 they are gone. Let’s not lead people to think that dating someone with a grown child is anything at all like dating someone who never had children! That’s SO ridiculous.

    3. 25.3
      Crystal

      A lot of parents of grown children end up raising the grandchildren. A childfree man needs to date a childfree woman. PERIOD. If she changes her mind later, he can cross that bridge when he gets to it, just like he would handle any other issue like if she cheated or wanted a divorce from boredom, etc.

      If one is truly childfree, they should not date a parent. Period.

  6. 26
    Sarah

    I’m a single mum and dating regularly. My observations of men who don’t have or want children is that they don’t understand the concept of selfless giving. Just giving to make others happy. It tends to be a little too much about them and their needs. For this reason alone it is probably best that Steve steers clear of single mums. The last thing they need is another child – especially one that can reach the cupboards.

    1. 26.1
      Crystal

      Don’t expect single men to raise your kids and then shame them when they don’t want to. A man who knows himself enough to know he won’t make a good father is a man demonstrating maturity.

  7. 27
    Zax

    I’m in my 40s & always knew I never wanted kids.   Knowing exactly what you want  & not  being able to be tied down to the guy often seems to be what the kid issue really is.   As a woman, you’d better be prepared to raise the kid yourself.   I have had men tell me that I will change my mind when I meet the right guy.   That comment is telling me that I really don’t know what I want & that comment alone is the final date.  

  8. 28
    KellyAnn

    I’m a woman in my early 30s and I absolutely don’t want kids.   I don’t want anyone else’s kids either so I avoid dating single fathers.   I’ve been called all sorts of nasty things…the kindest were along the lines of “cold, heartless, selfish b****.”   I understand this turns the dating pool into a shallow puddle at best but like some of the other posters have pointed out, this isn’t an area where you can compromise.
    I live in a major city but it’s becoming harder and harder to find men my age who are childfree.     Another year of fruitless dating and I’ll be ready to throw in the towel and embrace spinsterhood.
    Oh yeah, I’m also into BDSM so I guess I’m really out of luck!   😉

  9. 29
    Jessica

    Kelly Ann, I’m in a similar situation, but I guess I haven’t been dating long enough to find it a disadvantage yet.
    I’ve never been certain I DON’T want kids, but I definitely don’t want to have my own now at 40, plus kids are a major impediment to certain consensual adult activities. 😉
    I wouldn’t rule out a great guy if he already had kids though.

    1. 29.1
      JG

      I think we’ve proved that actually Steve’s pool of dating options is not so tiny as EMK stated. I am also a woman who doesn’t want kids. I usually leave that space blank on the dating apps because my answer is so much more complicated than just no or not sure. I am someone who has never really wanted kids, but I’m now a “definitely not for a while” and “possibly never”. The “possibly” tends to change from day to day. But on top of that are other grey areas. For instance, I wouldn’t mind dating someone who already had kids. I would say for all the not sure people- it’s worth meeting them and bringing it up, because everyone’s answer is different and there are many grey areas. It’s a very personal thing.

  10. 30
    KellyAnn

    Jessica,
    I would rule out a great guy if he already had kids.   I’ve already been through all that drama with some of the guys I’ve dated.   A person with kids will have completely different priorities than someone who doesn’t.   Sometimes these can be reconciled, sometimes they can’t.   Kids are not and never will be welcome in my home.
    My experiences with single fathers have been bad.   One in particular had his kids every other weekend which meant I could only see him on the off weeks or twice per month.   I like to see someone a little more frequently than that.   Then those dates started getting pre-empted by kid drama so I would see him once a month or less.   When I let him know I was unhappy, I was told that I was selfish and that his kids ALWAYS came first….subtext: I came last.   Sorry if I’m not willing to come last in my relationships.
    There was another guy I dated who had an extremely jealous ex-wife.   Whenever she suspected he was out on a date, she would work their 4 year old up into a crying tantrum and put her on the phone with her daddy.   More than once we had to leave a nice dinner so he could go read her a bedtime story to calm her down.
    I realize this puts me in the minority but I’m just not interested in dealing with other people’s kid drama/ex-wife drama/child support drama, etc.

    1. 30.1
      Matt

      Same here, KellyAnn, I’ve dated a couple single mothers, and it’s just not worth it after a while. I’m okay with coming in last, I understand it, but they at times make you feel so insignificant and they get all defensive if you bring anything up. I for one will never date a single mother again, because I never want to come in between her and her child. A smart single Mom would know how to manage this, but the ones who are single Moms for very good reasons, just don’t know how to deal with it. I even had a woman tell me after almost a year of dating her that I was cut off from her kid for a while because apparently I wasn’t in a good mood one evening and she wanted to protect her child from moody people. She didn’t ask me about it, she just cut me off, yet expected I would be fine with this and wait in line until I’m re-invited into the bond with her and her kid. This is after a year of bonding with her child and she had the nerve to just suspend that bond without even ASKING me about it. We no longer date.

      1. 30.1.1
        Desmond

        WOW MATT YOU BASICALLY JUST DESCRIBED MY LAST relationship IN DETAIL LOL

        1. Fran

          Hi Desmond.

          You still dont want to have kids? I know its been a while since you posted in here. I was just curious.

      2. 30.1.2
        mickie P

        That’s crazy, don’t put all single mothers on that boat! Remember if you look deep into the person, she’s the one who’s full of drama! I just won’t bring anyone into my child’s life unless it’s serious! For the rest I expect that I would be dating a man who is of course imperfect but just a good person, (being optimistic) because, if I saw signs that weren’t good, (if it’s a good guy, upright, honest, open, etc, no problem)then I’d be out and I would never bring a person around my son! But my son is also a teenager so, yeah it depends on the women you get. Some women are overly full of drama, have a set of rules, just crazy if you ask me, sorry to say! Thankfully, I’ve never been that woman, wasn’t raised that way! So, in the end don’t put all single mothers in the same boat please, the majority of them yes. I have friends/family members female who play such games, I call it! NOPE! Life is too short for such drama!

        Now where can I find a man who doesn’t want kids or is sterile?? Just saying!

  11. 31
    Denise

    #30 KellyAnn

    I’m a woman in her late 40s with two teenagers and don’t want to get involved with a man with younger children.   It’s difficult to raise another person’s children.   And the teen years can be challenging and stressful.   I know that because I’ve been through it.   If someone hasn’t had children, then they don’t understand the complexities and awesome responsiblity of raising children.

    Kids are not and never will be welcome in my home.

    Okay, I get your preference of not dating men with younger children, absolutely nothing wrong with preferences.   This is pretty negative though and said with venom.   Yikes…

    1. 31.1
      Butterduck

      Denise #31, some people don’t want to be around children. Just let it alone.

  12. 32
    Jessica

    All good points Kelly Ann.
      
    I’m going to try to look at each guy as an individual, but the thought of dealing with difficult ex definitely gives me pause.

  13. 33
    Christa

    You know, I’m having the opposite problem! Or I guess it would be the inverse. I’m a 43 year old female who already has 3 teens (one leaving for college in 6 months). I don’t want anymore children, especially at my age. I’d be raising kids till I was ready to retire! What shocked me, however, was the amount of men around my age group that wanted kids. I couldn’t believe it. Over half of the men aged 37-47 selected: definitely and some day. My first thought was, “some day?! At this age?”

    Quite a few were fine with me already having kids, but didn’t want any of their own. And the big, surprise question for me is: what are my chances of finding someone near my age who DOESN’T want kids?

    Oh, and Steve, I live in Tampa, but I occasionally visit DC for business.   😉

  14. 34
    Daphne

    As a white woman who only dates Asian men, and has a boyfriend, and had a lot of men to choose from before I met him, I laughed out loud at a certain point in your answer. Thanks, EMK !

  15. 35
    Janice

    Funny, I’ve had the same problem from the opposite perspective. I’ve a woman in my mid-30’s who doesn’t want kids (and doesn’t already have kids) and I have found that my dating options have been severely limited. In fact, during my brief stint on match, one guy who took the time to contact me and set up a date turned around and reamed me out when he “suddenly noticed” the “doesn’t want kids” option I had listed on my profile. He canceled the date at the last minute after I had already gotten myself ready for it (by text, no less – apparently I wasn’t even worth a phone call) and proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t imagine so much as even being friends with a woman who didn’t want kids like I was some kind of freak or criminal. So, Steve, it isn’t just you…just sayin’.

  16. 36
    Kay

    “A Jewish rocker with dreadlocks who wants to be with a Jewish woman.”

    Right here! Where are ya?? Where is this mythical beast you describe? I’m a female Jewish rocker who’s looking for a Jewish guy who understands this insane lifestyle called “working the music industry….”

    Seriously!

    bac to the subject, though……I have to respectfully disagree with Evan about broadening your search *in this one category*. There is no compromise with the kids issue. Either they are present in her life, or she wants them to be. And it’s not fair to anyone if one person wants them, and the other doesn’t. Like Roma (24) I had to walk away from 2 perfectly good relationships because he wanted to be a parent, and I don’t. Frustrating, yes. But it’s much better than being resentful over an innocent kid for the rest of your life because the child has held you back from living the life you want. Steve, stick with your guns about the no kids thing. You know what will make you happy.

  17. 37
    NonExist

    Totally understand and identify with Steve.
    And there is no compromise on that issue.
    Parenthood is not something to be taken lightly.
    And I’d much rather spend my time enjoying time with my lady and focusing on hobbies than raising children.

    Had an issue about that in my marriage years back.
    Painful memory but I’ve always known I have never wanted kids.

  18. 38
    Jo

    I understand Steve’s plight. For a very long time I knew I did not want to have cildren of my own.   That sent quite a few men away who wanted to have a family.   With that being said, I am not opposed to being a “step” parent at some point in my life.   It is hard at 37 years old to find a man who does NOT have children.   However, dating a man with children is not a deal breaker for me.   I realize the children still have both parents (hopefully) and that if I am lucky they co-parent well together and I won’t have to worry at all.   I love children, I have many nieces and nephews who stay at my place so my sister can have a weekend with her husband alone.   I just do not want to be a mom…is there anything wrong with that?   Not at all….being a step mom, I can handle and am definitely willing to take should the right man come around.   I thought I found him actually…but we are taking things slow, so we shall see.

    Steve, not wanting children is not a bad thing. Knowing what you want is a good thing…I give you props for being honest.

  19. 39
    Dear Steve (from a young 37 woman)

    Steve,   You said that you did not understand why a woman in her mid 30’s to mid 40’s on match would write “not sure”.   I am kind of surprised that you wouldn’t understand this because that is precisely the age that I would expect a woman to be unsure:
    –Biological clock is ticking but it still might be possible.   This woman has considered the option of having kids and not having kids.
    –The woman has spent so much of her adulthood alone that although she want’s kids it might be hard to give up the freedom.
    –The woman thinks that she will scare men away if she is that age and writes yes – but in her heart she knows the answer is yes. **Not being honest with self and not good***
    –If a woman just says she is unsure and that she would like to have kids if she meets the right person, FYI – the right person is NOT you, because you already said that you don’t want kids.   You should know enough that that answer is a clear indication that if you were in a committed relationship then she would want kids.   Unless, you are willing to be flexible, this type of unsure response should indicate that you are not a match.
    Honestly, I think that most women who write unsure but are in that age group might actually really want children but be afraid that they won’t be able to conceive.   There could be a multitude of reasons though.
    My suggestion is this, yes your pool might be limited but do stick with being honest and upfront because in the end you will get burned or burn someone else.   If you consider women who say they are unsure you really should ask why they are unsure on the 2nd date.     If a woman at that age wants to get pregnant she will need a man who can really put the time in to make it happen because it might not be easy.   Don’t waste your or her time.  
    This is all hard – for everyone.   At the right moment it might come so easily that you wondered what the years of this being a challenge was for, I don’t know but honestly is always best, be honest with yourself and be honest with someone else.   Ask the right questions and don’t overlook the answers.   Compatibility lasts a lot longer than lust.

  20. 40
    To Christa

    Must laugh at the post, I saw that on match too.   If I saw a guy that was 47 and said someday for kids, I would run so fast the other direction not because I think they want kids someday at that age but because my first thought would be that they havn’t yet grown up.   Either that or they want a much younger woman but they don’t want to lose the chance at her for seeming like he is in a rush.

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