How to Date When You Know You Don’t Want Kids
By Jessica Goodman
While there is no wrong answer to the “do you want kids?” question, it can be one of the most important discussions couples have, especially when the relationship is very new. Having that initial conversation can indicate if you and a match are aligned in your future plans or if you have compatible lifestyles. But it can be tricky to know when or how to initiate this potentially-not-so-fun chat, particularly when you’re just getting to know each other and want to keep things light. (A rule of thumb: If you’re only interested in a long-term or serious relationship, the below advice is for you. If you’re on the hunt for short-term fun, you may be able to skip this convo altogether.) To give yourself the best shot of bypassing heartbreak, here are five ways to help you date when you know you don’t want kids.
Bring up your decision ASAP
Disclose your choice on your Bumble profile, suggests Dr. Ellen Walker, psychologist and author of “Complete Without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance.” You can say so in your bio—or, use the Bumble badge that allows you to share if you want children or not. Doing this gives your match a heads up about where you stand. Putting it out there early on can help you “avoid bonding with someone who you don’t have a future with,” says relationship coach Monica Parikh.
Say it again when you hang out in person
Following up in-person helps suggest that you’re sure of your choice not to have children, and that you’re serious about finding a partner who respects that. “Some people still don’t take that declaration seriously,” says Therese Shechter, a filmmaker who released “My So-Called Selfish Life,” which is about saying no to motherhood.
So, if you chatted on Bumble beforehand and didn’t bring up the “no kids” thing, try casually mentioning it on your first date if things are going well. Say something like, “I don’t know if you saw on my profile, but I’ve decided I’m not interested in having children. I know this might be awkward to talk about but I’m curious if you’ve thought about that, too?” This can feel intense for a first date, so if you lose your nerve and want to wait until the second or third, that’s totally understandable. Just remember that the longer you wait the harder it might be to end the relationship if you’ve fallen for them then find out they really, really do want kids.
Be honest and direct
Talking about why you don’t want children can be difficult to discuss with someone new. But if you see this match going the distance, it’s a good idea to explain your reasoning as best as you’re able. “Talk about your decision openly and with clarity that it’s not under consideration; it is decided,” says Dr. Walker. This way, you avoid the whole “maybe I can change their mind” scenario, which can be uncomfortable for both of you. Parikh also suggests being transparent about your decision making process if you’re comfortable doing so, as it can help your match understand you and the way you make life choices overall. However, remember that you don’t actually owe anyone an explanation; it’s enough to say that you don’t want children. But if your match seems confused, you may well decide to elucidate.
Ditch partners who think they can change your mind
It’s a major red flag if someone you’re seeing keeps trying to convince you to have kids or hinting that you’ll eventually want children. It means they think they know your desires better than you do, when they obviously don’t. If they push, Shechter suggests saying something like, “I’ve given this a great deal of thought and I know for sure that I don’t want children. I also know that I need to be with someone who is as sure about not wanting children as I am. If you do want children, it’s important for you to understand that I’m the wrong person for you and you’re the wrong person for me.”
Don’t try to convince your partner to decide against having kids
In the same vein, respect your partner’s decision if they tell you they do want children. Trying to change their mind will only make them resentful of you and will show them you don’t honor their boundaries. But take note that choosing to be in a long-term relationship with someone whose views on the whole “kids thing” differ from yours might lead to serious anguish. One person will have to compromise, and “the heartbreak comes when you feel pushed into living a life you don’t want,” says Shechter. “Many of us really want to be in a relationship and we’re willing to do what’s necessary to keep it.” She adds that many people push the decision off, or assume the other person will eventually see their side of things. “But honestly, they won’t.”