Question: I recently met a woman through a dating app and we went on about four dates. I really like her and I think we have the potential to be a couple. Thing is, I never wanted to have kids and while we haven’t discussed the subject, I’m wondering when to tell her.
I’m worried if I say it now that she might think I’m too strong and it would turn her off. Likewise, I don’t want to waste her time if she wants to start a family. I’ve also heard from couples who have fallen in love and found a compromise in starting a family because the relationship was too important to them. And maybe that could be the case here. What should I do?
Katie replies: The question of whether or not to have children hangs over most early-stage relationships. We might not want to admit it, but it’s always there, and it’s always best to address it as close to the beginning of a romance as possible.
I shared your dilemma with three experts, and they all agreed that differing views on having children is a deal-breaker for relationships. The problem, notes Dublin-based psychotherapist Bébhinn Farrell (bebhinnfarrellpsychotherapy.com), is that this particular deal-breaker on dating apps isn’t always settled.
“Whereas Tinder or Bumble is a casual sex app for some, that same app is seen by another as a portal for finding a future spouse,” she says. “These two people could be flirting with each other without realizing the massive discrepancy in their wants and needs. This can lead to great disappointment and confusion.”
They haven’t opened up that conversation yet, but, as Farrell notes, they’ve now been on four dates and see the potential for a long-term relationship. “For many people, the most important thing in their hopes for a future partnership is that they agree on the desire to have children,” she says.
“Put simply, it’s time to get this woman straight with you on where you stand on the subject of children. She doesn’t care. She may not yet feel it is relevant. It can be a deal breaker and you save each other heartache by stopping things before they go further…”
I also have your dilemma with psychotherapist Margaret O’Connor from Are Kids for Me? (arekidsforme.ie). She specializes in helping people decide whether or not they want to become parents, and she says it’s very important to tell a potential partner as soon as possible if you don’t want children.
“Unfortunately, there’s a common assumption that everyone wants children, so being different is all the more important to communicate clearly,” she says.
Before you bring up that conversation, however, O’Connor suggests that you engage in a deeper conversation with yourself.
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“You start off by saying that you don’t want to have children, but also mention that some people can change their minds in the context of a relationship. It’s both an unhelpful belief — ‘Oh, you’ll change your mind when you meet the right person’ — and a thing that can happen naturally.”
O’Connor notes that the decision not to have kids can sometimes feel like an “abstract idea,” especially when you’re younger and “maybe wouldn’t plan on having kids anyway, so it feels like a choice.” for the future”.
“However, it becomes a real decision when we actually have to take action to implement and follow through,” she says. “It feels like you’re right there – meeting this woman and thinking that you could see a future with her. I think you need to take some time then and review your own position. Is it a no to children no matter the context or who is in your life, or could you think of a scenario where you might be open to becoming a parent?
This will inform what you are actually discussing with the woman you are dating.
“It’s also very important to get the woman’s perspective and observe your own reactions to it,” she adds. “Are you disappointed, relieved or do you have another emotion? How does their position affect you?”
So how do you address the topic? Farrell suggests you ask it as a question, such as, “Do you know if you want kids someday? Because I don’t think I…”
Cognitive Behavioral Therapist Susi Lodola (susilodolacounselling.com) says that there are “subtle ways to address the issue without being too overpowering.” “You don’t have to just come out and tell her ‘I don’t want kids.’ Something along the lines of asking her how she sees her professional and personal/family future. A question like this could be a good way to start bringing the topic of future children to the table.
“Once the topic is open, you can tell her how you feel about having kids,” she adds. “Have an open dialogue and you may want to explain your reasons and state why you don’t want children.”
If you procrastinate on this conversation, Lodola says you risk reaching a point where you’re both “too emotionally involved” and one or both of you will end up hurt.
Farrell puts it bluntly, “Don’t waste her or her time investing in a relationship that may be misaligned with one of life’s biggest decisions.”
If you have a dilemma, email email@example.com.
https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/modern-morals-i-dont-want-kids-should-i-tell-the-woman-ive-just-started-dating-or-will-it-put-her-off-41921323.html Modern moral: I don’t want kids — should I tell the wife I just started dating, or will that put her off?