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I am male and in my late 30's. About three years ago, my marriage failed and since then, my now ex-wife and I are going separate ways. To make things more complicated, I have a son who was born shortly after separation. Despite a lot of difficulties which come along when going through a separation (especially when there is a child involved), I now have a good relationship with my ex-spouse (on the basis of being parents) and a great connection to my son (I am very happy about that).

I never wanted to have more than one kid and after the experience I made with my first child, I decided, that I REALLY do not want to have more kids. I love my child, but I just do not want to live through something similar again. And I never was the kind of man who dreamt about having a wife, two kids, a house and two dogs anyhow. It is just not the kind of life I envision and which I want to pursue.

So I decided to take family planning into my own hands and I got a vasectomy. I do not regret that decision despite the fact that some family members and friends do not understand it. The say stuff like "how can you know if some day you do not meet the one and only woman who wants you to have one or more children with her" or similar stuff. That is hypothetical and I am not interested in speculation. I just do not want to have more kids and I want others to respect that decision.

My question is: I am open to having a relationship with a woman again. And it will happen eventually. I am an honest guy and I want to be clear about what I do and do not want. How/when do I tell a woman who wants to be in a partnership with me, that I am not the one to have kids with?

I know that the first date is not really proper, but being together half a year and still keeping such vital information from her is not proper too. I just want to avoid waisting time for anyone by not being clear on my intentions from the beginning. And yes, I know that this will make finding (and keeping) a partner difficult for me. But I am sure there are women who do not want to have kids or already have kids and do not want to have more.

In case it matters: the cultural context is middle Europe.

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    Hi and welcome! You might be interested in this question if you haven't seen it yet: How do I stress that having children is not an option when picking a date? Although the circumstances are a bit different, maybe some of the answers could be useful for you too. – Em C Aug 28 at 21:44
  • Your question title and body are slightly different: The title focuses on wanting, while your body mentions the vasectomy and 'not being the one to have kids with'. Are you open to mentioning you've already had a vasectomy because you don't want any more kids? – Tinkeringbell Aug 29 at 16:00
  • @EmC thank you for referring to that question! You are right, the circumstances are a bit different but there are some interesting thoughts in the comments and answers. – Utopia Planitia Aug 30 at 5:57
  • @Tinkeringbell I mentioned the vasectomy to emphasize, that I am really serious about not wanting more children. – Utopia Planitia Aug 30 at 6:04
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    @Tinkeringbell: well, that's a good question. I think fact about the vasectomy is not really required in the real-life conversation. Maybe, if questions arise on how serious I am with my wish to not have children, I could work the vasectomy into the talk ... – Utopia Planitia Aug 30 at 7:28
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The rule that I have used in my own relationships is that potentially make-or-break conversations should be had once you decide to take the relationship from a casual 'try it out' dating relationship to some form of commitment. This might be when you and your date decide to start calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend, when you have the conversation about if you want to be monogamous or not, etc. The definition of 'serious relationship' varies from person to person, but whatever it means to you, in my experience that's the right time to make sure you are on the same page about major issues.

This is early enough that if you decide it's best to part ways because of some fundamental incompatibility you don't feel like you've 'wasted' lots of time and aren't too heartbroken by the end of a serious long term bond, but late enough that it doesn't seem presumptuous or overly awkward.

My (now) husband and I started out as friends, and when we decided that we wanted to go from friends/flirting/going on some dates to being a couple, we had a couple of 'big talks'. Did we both have compatible ideas of what kind of commitment level in the relationship we would ideally want? Did we have compatible desires regarding having children? Were we both in agreement that our relationship was exclusive going forward? etc.

It would also be pertinent to discuss what kind of relationship you might have with her existing children, if she has any, and she with your son. If you have part time custody, is she comfortable with potentially step parenting? Are you alright with more children in your life that you didn't father?

The key to relationship 'big talks' is to be honest, be clear about your needs and feelings, and to have the talks as soon as they become relevant, which often means as soon as you see yourself likely entering into a long term or serious partnership.

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    Thanks a lot for your answer Meg! I like your approach because it does not only cover the issue with children but because "big talks" are really important too when it comes to money, living arrangements and many other things. – Utopia Planitia Sep 5 at 19:52
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It depends on how you're going to approach dating. I'm not sure if the culture/availability is different in central Europe but in the U.S. at least, many dating apps and websites have a section devoted to whether you have children and whether you want more/any at all. If you are going the dating app/website route, I've found that it's much, much simpler to get some of these bigger questions out of the way prior to the first date. The two people usually talk for a few days before swapping phone numbers, and then another few days before they agree to go on a date. Rather than complicate a first date (which should really be used to see if you're compatible personality-wise) with these high-level questions, getting them out of the way beforehand is much simpler. Simply letting them know, "Hey, just a fair warning: I have a child from my previous marriage and I don't have any interest in having any more." If they want to ask more questions, they can.

If you're not planning on using anything like that to meet new people, then I would wait until after the first date. There's no sense in bringing up such heavy subject matter with every single person if you don't even know if you're compatible or enjoy each other's company yet. In this case, the message would be similar: "I had a wonderful time with you and would like to see you again but I should let you know that I'm not interested in having any more children than I already do. If that's something you were looking forward to, I'm sorry but this may not work out."

Most people are accepting and understanding. Of course, you're going to run into someone who doesn't agree or who would have preferred you let them know in a different way or time, but that's par for the course. I've revealed heavy information like that to partners I've met online and offline and the methods I mentioned above have generally seemed to work out well for me.

Good luck to you on your relationship hunt!

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    Although I did not choose your answers as accepted answer I still wanted to thank you for your answer in general and specifically for the fact, that you pointed out the possibility of online dating apps with their various settings for child-related status. – Utopia Planitia Sep 5 at 19:48

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