Dating After Divorce: What About the Kids?
Dating after divorce?
I’ve known my entire adult life that I didn’t want kids. My first husband was in agreement and volunteered to get a vasectomy at 22, soon after we were married (try finding a doc willing to do that procedure!). All was good on the childless front.
And then I ended up single and back on the dating scene at 32. An age where my body (as far as I know) could still have babies and many age-appropriate men either already had them or would soon want them.
I was in the position to revisit my former decision never to have kids. And I realized that my position was not based on my former husband. Not only did I not want to have them, I didn’t want to be in a mother role of any kind.
I further made the very deliberate decision to never date anybody with kids. And I was very up front (even on my Match profile) that I never wanted kids. In fact, kid issue was one of the only deal breakers for a first date.
Some men tried to convince me that it was okay because they never saw their kid(s). That only made it worse (trading dad for deadbeat dad…).
One man assumed that I only wanted to avoid pregnancy for appearance reasons and concluded that I wanted to adopt. That was just absurd (stretchmarks don’t bother me, it’s the living, breathing endless responsibility I don’t want).
I encountered some great men (and seemingly great dads) that were kid- and family-oriented.
And I still said no.
Partly for me.
But mainly for them. Because I knew that I wasn’t what they were looking for and I didn’t want to waste their time (or risk their kid’s hearts).
And now happily married to a man that also didn’t want kids (reaffirmed after a stay with a 2-and 4-year-old over the holiday!), I’m very glad I made that choice to be vocal and committed to my personal choices.
But not everybody agrees.
A woman wrote in to Dear Prudence recently who was in a 4-month relationship with an older man who had a 5-year-old son. The woman expressed her concern about being ready to date somebody with a kid. The response was to not worry about the kid yet and just be in the moment.
If the writer wanted kids in the near future or was even open to the idea of a kid, I would agree.
But she seemed unprepared for that step.
Fine for her.
Hard for the guy.
And potentially devastating for the kid.
I’ve watched friends stay in dating relationships too long for the sake of the partner’s kids.
I’ve witnessed the struggle when a non-parent and doesn’t-want-to-be-a-parent partner has to learn to accept their 2nd place position to the kids.
And I’ve seen kids, jettisoned once by their parent’s divorce, try to come to terms with abandonment by a parent’s partner.
Parenthood, either by biology or association, is a huge commitment. One that I believe should be taken deliberately and with the utmost care and consideration.
But of course, that’s coming from someone who has made the choice to avoid it.
So, I’m curious about your thoughts. If you have kids, would you consider dating someone who was ambivalent about children? If you don’t have them and you’ve decided you’re not ready to be a parent, would you be open to dating somebody with kids?