I have had some issues that have convinced me that I will never try and have/raise kids (either my own or those of someone else).

This, however, leads to some serious problems when dating/having a relationship with people. I always make it a case to mention to people before starting to date them that I don't want children and that I don't want them to hope/expect me to change my mind. I just straight out tell them what I just wrote here. I also explain the underlying issues to them, so it's not like they only know that I don't want kids, they also do know why.

Most of the time, this means we just part ways as good friends before the dating even starts. But in other cases, people say they're fine with both points.

So, I get happy, thinking I finally found someone I can happily share the rest of my life with. Often though, when dating people, the topic of kids is bound to come up again, (either by seeing a misbehaving kid, attending a birthday party where a well-meaning relative starts to tease)... So far, the record is 6 dates before the date will inevitably say something along the lines of

"Well, you'll change your mind when you're older, I'm sure." (to me)

"I'm hoping she'll change her mind on that." (to someone else)

I often follow that up with a talk asking about how serious they were, they'll admit that they are serious and I end up breaking up (telling them I won't take the dating any further) then and there, disappointing both of us.

So, now I have both trust issues and the idea that I'm not communicating this right, that I'm missing something.

How can I stress that having children is really non-negotiable and that I don't want people to be misguided about that?

For those that are curious, I'm female, 26 and live in The Netherlands. All potential dates are getting picked out in real-life, not online, which means we've already had a few conversations before dating comes up, and I'm not blurting out that I don't want kids at the beginning of the first date. I meet these people through events, friends of friends or studies. And I'm not aiming for having one-night stands or short flings here.

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    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes.
    – Mithical
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 12:48
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    Hey, you bunch of chatterboxes :-) do you want to get a chatroom? I could make you all one, it will definitely save me some notifications ;-). For all your information, the doctor won't give me a hysterectomy even for purely medical reasons 'because I'm still too young and might want to have kids' :P
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 21:26

15 Answers 15


My partner has made it clear that she never wants to have children (I do) and I didn't know until about 12-18 months into the relationship how strongly she felt about this. However this didn't cause us to break up...I accepted it, and now we are married. Despite that, I still often say to people "I'm hoping she'll change her mind on that" or something similar. This is just because I still want something that she doesn't, so it's human nature to wish that would change, right?

When I say something like that, I don't add under my breath "...and if she doesn't change her mind soon I'm going to leave her" or "...and if she doesn't change her mind I'll love her less". It's just what it says - a "hope", nothing more than that.

Relationships are about compromise, but there's certain things that a person isn't prepared to compromise on, and I think that's fine as long as they are stated up front and accepted. All that means is that in that area, the other person (the one who doesn't hold a strong view on the subject) has to be the one to compromise. If one thinks that relationships are all about both people getting what they want all the time, one will be disappointed. Sometimes one person gets their way and sometimes the other one does. In this case, it would be you getting your way and that doesn't automatically change the fact that your partner wants something different - but they have to make a choice that they are committed enough to your relationship as to give up their "dream" (although not their desire) to have children.

We even joke about it nowadays. We'll be discussing some future plan and I'll introduce the idea of our child into the story we are imagining (trying to get a reaction)...she'll usually respond by saying that this scenario is now "totally banned" and we'll both laugh about it.

I'm not suggesting that you should wait a long time to express your feelings as my partner did. I'm just saying that if someone says "I'm hoping she'll change her mind on that", it doesn't automatically spell doom for the relationship... And it's not necessarily reason to think that they weren't genuine in the first place when they said they accepted your views.

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    I sympathize with the OP. I think your partner is very nice. There's a fine line between "hoping she will change" vs "wishing she had a different view" because the latter actually accepts her view as a permanent stance. Honestly, if I were your partner I would be annoyed and see the comments and jokes as a type of nagging. So I can see why OP would want to break up with people who make such comments.
    – superstar
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 0:57
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    @superstar if OP sees it as nagging then that's a different problem. She should tell her partner that she sees his comments as nagging and she would like him to stop making such comments. If he refuses, then I can see that would be a serious problem. However my reading of the question is that the very fact her partner has such a sentiment is the problem, rather than the fact that he expressed it or the way in which he expressed it (NB: nagging usually involves repeated expression of the same sentiment, not only one time). And if my partner asked me to stop making such comments, I would.
    – Kidburla
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 10:28
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    I agree with this because in every relationship there will be compromise. Perhaps one partner has made it clear that they will never wash the pans. Dishes, cups, silverware, sure, but pans never. Is it wrong of the other partner to "hope" that they might change their mind? A long term relationship can last many decades, and in that time a lot can change. Hope isn't wrong, or bad, and declining relationships because your partner has hope that you might concede in a particular point decades in the future reduces your dating pool significantly.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 14:09
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    @EmC Consider the comment without the example, I hope you will then see the relevance: "I agree with this because in every relationship there will be compromise. Is it wrong of the other partner to "hope" that they might change their mind? A long term relationship can last many decades, and in that time a lot can change. Hope isn't wrong, or bad, and declining relationships because your partner has hope that you might concede in a particular point decades in the future reduces your dating pool significantly." If not, I'm sorry my comment is useless for you, and hope it instead helps others.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 21:27
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    @EmC I appreciate your remark that "it makes [you] question whether [AdamDavis] understood the issue that the post is actually about" - I wish you had said that along with your first comment on the matter. I know it seems obvious from where you are in your mind that that's where you're coming from, but in my experience without making that explicit, many readers/listeners perceive "did you just compare X to Y" as being both hostile and as coming from not understanding what the analogy was actually about. Explicitly saying what impression the comparison gives us seems to usually work better.
    – mtraceur
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 23:44

Ask what they want from the relationship early on, and trust them.

On Asking

Waiting until you feel a connection before talking about the future, especially involving children, can feel like a sensible move. It can feel like bringing up a heavy topic early on will scare the person away, before you've had a chance to get to know them. This sets you up to get hurt.

Instead, you should view the start of dating as the best time to get the biggest questions out of the way. Only when you have removed the major red-flags and blockers, is it then worth expending effort in chasing the relationship.

After finding enough basic ground on the first date, that you know the person is not a complete waste of your time. Ask them what their long-term relationship goals are/what they are hoping to find; are they looking for something that eventually becomes serious? do they want somebody that pushes their career? and importantly, do they see children as part of their future?

Once you have their answers, you can only trust them. If they have been dishonest, this is not your fault - only they can take responsibility for any hurt caused later on. If their views seem compatible, you can continue as normal and always talk in more depth about this specific issue again later. But if their views don't match yours - you've lost nothing and can still have enjoyed a nice evening together.

On Trust

When somebody tells your upfront that they do not see children as part of their future - you have no choice but to trust them. If you find you cannot trust them with this, it is no different to any other issue and it's likely this relationship will not work.

The important thing to remember is that if they lied - you did nothing wrong, and you were not being foolish to not see it coming. If they lied, this is entirely their problem, and they are the one to shoulder the hurt it will cause. You cannot have a relationship where you are second guessing them to try to avoid them hurting you.

EDIT: To clarify, I am suggesting that you do not try to convince them of your position, and instead try to find out what their ideal is in an open way that doesn't suggest either being preferable. After this, determining whether you are compatible is based on whether you think your goals align - not whether you think they can accept your situation or not.

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    I have to downvote this because while "trust them" sounds good what you advice boils down to is "assume they never change their mind". That's not a safe thing with real people. I don't suggest you should ask the same question every week or every months, but maybe ask them again before you get engaged. A different answer doesn't necessarily mean "they lied" but "they've changed their mind". Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:04
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    @DJClayworth I understand the downvote. The trust thing does not exclude the fact they may change their mind - it's no different to somebody changing their mind about wanting to be in the relationship altogether, or changing their mind about fidelity. The important point I was trying to get at, is that OP cannot do anything about it - if they have met somebody that says they genuinely have the same goal; there is nothing more OP can do about it. If they change their mind, that is not for OP to feel like they failed on, or feel that they should have pre-empted in some way.
    – user10883
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:21
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    In fact, for all we know it's even possible that some event makes OP change her mind, so yeah, trusting is really all one can do in these situations, and hoping that if a change of mind occurs, that it's a synchronised thing, although that might be less likely.
    – Brian H.
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 10:31
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    It would have been "their fault", however the OP would have lost their time and also would get hurt to. I think it is reasonable to ask them why they don't want children, and figure out it they are mature about the topic. Because the OP sounds as if they strongly and maturely believe they don't want children, they should seek whether the other person position could be volatile. Because, the chance of the other person changing their mind would be definitely a deal breaker and hence cause a lot of harm, so spending time finding out if they have really thought about the issue s of big importance.
    – clark
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 19:58
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    @DJClayworth "trust them" is not the same as "trust that their opinion stays the same". If OP told them about her childfree decision, they understood it at the time, and they agree to still date her; then the OP should be able to trust that her partner knows her stance. And if their opinion changes at some point (unforeseeable or not), then the onus is on the partner to voice their change in opinion; as opposed to the OP having to continually check in with them just in case that they changed their mind. That's what I read from the "trust" paragraph in the answer, and it makes sense.
    – Flater
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 8:53

Some reports claim that as many as a third of millennials do not want children. How resolute they are, and whether or not they will change their stance as they get older is anyone's guess. But the point is, you aren't alone in your view.

If true, then statistically speaking it shouldn't be difficult to meet like-minded individuals. The thought occurs then that your social circle might lean more towards wanting kids than not? I don't want to advocate a particular method of dating, but perhaps if you aren't finding that a third of the people you meet share your view then perhaps you need to look elsewhere. I have never ever tried a dating app or website, but as these allow you to state preferences like 'don't want kids' perhaps this is the way forward?

Otherwise you're just going to have to continue being up front. If you feel that saying "I don't want kids" before you go on a date feels like blurting, perhaps you could instead ask what the other person's goals in life are:

"So what are your goals in life?"

[allow for answer]

"Well I've decided I do not want children. I'm absolutely resolute about that and I know it isn't going to change. So, my goal in life is......"

This way you are making your stance clear without making it the main topic. You are also making a more positive statement - rather than saying what you are not going to do (have any children) you are stating what you are going to do with your life.

  • 4
    My only comment is that since you've asked about their goals, you should then lead with yours. follow up with commentary about things which support your goals and life perspective, such as having children, living in certain locations, and other things. Simply put, a life goal to NOT HAVE KIDS sounds myopic whereas a life goal to go into space which is supported by not having kids sounds reasonable. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 19:06
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    Online dating can definitely suck in some ways. But as @BrentHackers says, it absolutely allows for (1) reaching way more people than you can even consider through real life circles and (2) allows early checking for compatibility (very relevant for the question at hand! -- the kids question is always there, usually). And with all due respect OP, saying you're "not desperate" sure makes it seems like you have avoided online dating because you look down on it (since acting like people only use it out of desperation is very disparaging). For what it's worth, I met my wife online (not dating site)
    – Kat
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 18:41
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    statistically speaking it shouldn't be difficult to meet like-minded individuals That very much depends on whether those 1 in 3 milennials are generally still looking for a relationship. Many of the decidedly childfree milennials I know also don't pursue long term relationships (other than maybe short flings and one night stands).
    – Flater
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 9:02
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    @Flater New people are born and come of age every day. If this statistic is reliable then we can assume that at any given time there are a third of people who feel that way, some single, some newly in a relationship, some newly eligible. Anyway, they are still like minded irregardless of whether or not they are single.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 9:50
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – John
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 15:04

Instead of stating it like an ultimatum:

I will never have kids.

How about asking what the other side's expectations are?

What do you think about kids? Do you expect you'll have one/some after some years?

If the answer is yes, you can just tell them it won't work between the two of you. If the answer is no, you can ask for further clarification:

Does that no mean never or just not right now?

If the answer is never, then you've found yourself a date.

If the answer is something along the lines of "not right now but maybe in the future?" then that's where you need to make a decision about dating that person or not.

At this point, you can just tell them what you would have told them at first (that you'll never have kids) then just tell them you would like to date them or not.

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    Find out what they think before telling them what you want. That way manipulative people don't know which way to lie so they might as well tell the truth.
    – UEFI
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 13:47
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    @BrentHackers I think in that case it would be the sentence used after the last answer that will have the most impact. If she goes for something like Oh, good, that's a relief. then it should go smoother and not really feel like a 180, but if she goes for something like Oh, that's nice, I didn't want kids either! then that might feel like a 180. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 5:47
  • @BrentHackers, I think such a question works best in person, since you'd pretty much have to reply (can't just ghost out of that fear) and then OP, knowing the answer, can squash that fear by telling the other person why they asked. You're right it's perhaps a bad question to spring right off the bat in an online dating or first texting scenario, though. I can see some people making that assumption and just bailing (although I'm not sure if people who ghost so easily are really a good match for anyone).
    – Kat
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 18:44
  • 4
    It's quite possible to absolutely strongly desire children but also to happily marry and live with someone who does not (at least that was my experience). It's a matter of choices. If I love someone then I want to be with them because of who they are and live with not having children. Even if both parties want children one might be infertile - that doesn't mean the other will walk out. So I am not sure this is the right answer. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 22:45
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – John
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 15:08

I always make it a case to mention to people before starting to date them that I don't want children and that I don't want them to hope/expect me to change my mind.

If you really go around waving that flag and stating such things before the first date, I would expect you to be really weird and probably change your opinion soon enough on every issue. This is a really strange thing to announce before the first date.

People don't date to have kids... Just have a date. If you like the person, have more dates. Have sex anytime when you are both ready.

I get happy, thinking I finally found someone I can happily share the rest of my life with.

That's not really how dating works nowadays. These days people usually date, sex and live together for months or even years before any talks about "the rest of my life", marriage or kids get brought into question. Don't rush the thing.

[..] and I end up breaking up [..]

This is madness. First get to know each other. Then you can discuss these things. You will never agree on everything. You have to negotiate and each of you have to give in on some things to make the relation work. And when you disagree, you may postpone the question until it really has to be decided instead of ditching a person just because he supposes you may change your opinion.

Well, you'll change your mind when you're older

Your dating partner is giving you the benefit of doubt. You should just reply with the same - maybe you'll be fine without kids yourself? If that relationship eventually turns out serious enough (that's not within first 6 dates or probably not even first 6 months), you can have serious talks about those issues and if you'll both want the relationship to work out, one of you will just agree "ok, let's do it your way, you are worth it".

  • 28
    I think the benefit from making it clear as soon as possible is that you don't waste time getting emotionally invested in someone you can't have a future with.
    – Jess K.
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:27
  • 15
    @LinuxBlanket Having children is sort of a life milestone. Which house you live in isn't. Style of cooking isn't. I don't see anything listed there that's comparable to a "life milestone". the only way this really gets overcome is if OP does change their mind down the road or maybe compromises, but that's an unfair assumption to make when they are blatantly saying they won't.
    – Jess K.
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:42
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    @LinuxBlanket Although I do think immediately announcing all the things you don't want comes off as a bit aggressive, I was just saying I can see why the OP does it.
    – Jess K.
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:43
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    You aren't actually answering the OP's question. She is dating to find someone to spend her life with. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:05
  • 4
    @BrentHackers maybe. In my experience the intangible things and overall experience matter more than factual stuff that can be said in a simple sentence.
    – Džuris
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:06

Having read many of these responses, including "not short flings" and "date 7 when sex comes up", and my suggestion would be a bit of a reversal.

Instead of telling people what you don't want, wait a few dates, to see if the relationship means anything at all. I don't know your personality or culture, but from American culture relationships typically progress to kissing at least one date before progressing to intercourse, so perhaps wait to see if that feels compatible.

Then talk about what you DO want: A mate that will never want to have children, is fine growing old without them. Be honest but vague (as you were with us); just that, although you are capable of pregnancy, various issues make you fearful of the outcome and you never will get pregnant (and perhaps will terminate if that happens by accident) and you will not adopt.

So you are looking for a mate of like mind. Now that you know after a few dates the relationship between you could go further, you want to clarify some issues before you get your hopes up, and before the relationship becomes a more serious affair.

Warn them, kindly, that if they swear they do not want kids, then later change their mind, that ends the relationship, married or not: Because in your mind and about something this important to you, lying now would be a transgression you cannot forgive.

Added by request of comment: Why this approach is a good idea.

(I will note that I gave my own daughter all of this same advice at 17.)

1) Why wait a few dates? One is psychological (for your date). Think of the date as analogous to a mutual sales process, even though what you intend to exchange is not cash, you are exploring the value of a trade of mutual affection. (And this is just an analogy, I am not suggesting either side is prostituting themselves!)

In sales, we are taught to invest time with a prospect before we start springing the prices and contracts upon them. If you do that too early, they balk, because (a) they have invested very little time or attention so far and have little to lose, (b) they know almost nothing about the product other than what it looks like, so they have no "features" in mind that they covet, and (c) in their mind, knowing nothing, outside of appearance the product is nothing special and perfectly average, and there are likely other products with appearance that appeals to them too: Thus if the price is rather high or the contract has unexpected demands, those extra costs appear onerous and they say "thanks, but no thanks, I'm still looking."

This is basic human psychology you should recognize from being sold anything.

Applied to romance (for either men or women), a contract requirement of "no children ever" is a higher price for a suitor to pay. But there is a segment of the suitor population for whom this extra price in the relationship would be tolerable, because their goal is not to find a womb for their children, but to end their loneliness and a shallow existence, to find mutual love and companionship, have a regular sex life that isn't a series of couplings with virtual strangers, and feel secure in a life partnership that won't stumble and fall or suffer alone when misfortunes strike. Be they financial, health, or the loss of friends or family.

However, you have a better chance of finding a suitor that will PAY this price AFTER they have been exposed to the unique features of what they gain: Your personality, humor, politics, the movies or TV shows you like, the books you like, the sports you like to watch or participate in, and what your quirks are: Are you messy? Neat? Meticulous? Do you live on a tight schedule or not? Are you aggressive in asserting what you want, or avoid confrontation?

Note that there are no right answers to any of that, different suitors may like different sides of the same coin in every instance, or be at different points on the scale. Further, you are evaluating their "product" (their personality) on all the same criteria.

I say wait until the first kiss because by then, you should know whether this is a guy you want, and whether you are a girl he wants as more than a sexual conquest. In other words, don't try the kiss if you aren't already happy spending time with him. I should add in particular, spending time on free or very low expense excursions: Cooking together, watching television together, playing games of some sort. Because men will spend five times more than they can continue to afford wooing a women, so if what you enjoy is meals in a restaurant that cost half a week's pay, that doesn't count. Expensive dates will not continue indefinitely and likely won't last half a year.

Your exploration is for the long haul. So if (like my spouse and I) you both enjoy local amateur stage plays for beginning actors, and the tickets are less than an hour's wages, that is fine. If you both enjoy watching murder mysteries on television, fine. If what melted your heart was the vacation that cost him a month's pay, put it aside and concentrate on things that will plausibly be a regular part of your life.

Again, I told my own daughter all of this: If you date with the intent of revealing the real you and discovering the real him, then before the first kiss you should have rejected him (for any reason you discover along the way, whether it relates to kids, drugs, alcohol or bigotry), or accepted him for his personality and know he is interested in you for your personality. Your kissing and any other pre-intercourse physical interactions are, besides having fun, also a discovery and time to talk about more intimate details of sexual compatibility, likes and dislikes, and sexual history. (As I advised my daughter, one does not have to be naked to bring this topic up, and if you cannot bring yourself to do it, it is probably too early in your relationship to be physically engaged at all.)

For you, if both non-sexual and sexual compatibility seem likely, this is also the time to bring up the intimate detail of not having children, before intercourse begins. Perhaps not while you are kissing, but in a frank conversation in a different and perhaps more neutral and less emotionally charged setting. He knows enough about you to decide if the price of "no kids" matters to him or is something he is willing to sacrifice. You know enough about him to probably predict his answer, even before the first kiss, and know if you want him as a partner.

All of this is made possible by the fact that you do not want short flings and you require several dates (7) before "sex comes up." I agree with that more guarded approach. My suggestion is use that time for a more planned approach to discovering what you need to know. I firmly believe the reason we can reason is to better our long term emotional lives, and you should have no qualms in being analytic and thorough in discovering whether a guy is a short term infatuation or a life partner.

2) Why tell him what you want: What YOU want in a mate is not really arguable by him, and psychologically doesn't sound like a demand for sacrifice or an ultimatum to comply. It sounds like a quality he either has or does not. It is less offensive. In sales, saying "We can only entertain offers from owners of established businesses", it sounds less rude and haughty than saying "Establish your business and get back to us." Yes, they are basically equivalent statements. But how you phrase it can soften it while still delivering the same information. In a way, this is a form of "It's not your fault, it's mine." (Without calling it a 'fault'.) It is truly a part of your personality that your suitor needs to know, a quality you require before you leave the border of "friends" and enter the land of "lovers".

3) Why warn them. This is to raise the stakes and be honest with them and not waste their time. You don't want to hurt them, and you don't want them to hurt you. Intercourse is far more intimate (for most) than kissing or other pre-intercourse sexual activity, there is a reason most of us consider it the consummation of a romantic relationship, or most of us have some ordered list of increasing weight of physical engagement before any form of actual intercourse. Thus breaking a relationship after intercourse is far more hurtful than breaking a relationship before it.

The warning, preferably while NOT in the heat of passion and without intercourse imminent within the hour, is to give them pause, and carefully and rationally consider whether they should be honest with their friend (you) or lie to your face to get laid. Based on your earlier dates and compatibility, I hope you have already discovered and believe their latter option (lying) is highly unlikely, so you will get the truth, and recognize it, instead of a deception. Getting the truth at this point is far more likely if you are fond friends than if you are strangers. The stakes matter, you feel like they care about your feelings, you feel like they value you for more than just your appearance or sexual attributes.

Those are the benefits of this approach. My last piece of advice would be to sustain an element of doubt in your mind, as long as there remain unanswered questions. There is nothing wrong with feeling infatuated or excited or even lustful, but always remember you are in a discovery in progress. Don't fall in love until you feel sure you will not fall alone.


As per your final question, well, basically, you have already answered yourself:

I always make it a case to mention to people before starting to date them that I don't want children and that I don't want them to hope/expect me to change my mind.

As far as I can read, you tell it right away, up front, straightforwardly: this is nothing that they can be "misguided" with and, therefore, nothing else needs to be added.

The problem, here, is not how you communicate it: rather, it's whether they are willing to accept it or not. But, unfortunately, that's not an IPS matter, it's just a matter of beliefs, lifestyles, etc. of all those you've met so far. As per that, keep looking. :)


Breaking up right when such comments get made is not the right answer. Rather, such a time is a time to (re-)discuss how serious you are in your resolution and explain that you don't see that changing ever.

Many people (perhaps even most) do change their minds about having kids when they get older (not saying you will). Because of this, many (perhaps even most) people have an expectation that someone who says no to children now will eventually change their minds of their own accord. Thus, despite your vehement resolution, many people will still think you will likely change your mind one day. There is likely nothing you can say in your initial conversation on this subject that will change this, since many have had similar resolutions as you but still ended up having children (again, not saying you will).

Instead, when comments are made by the other party regarding you changing your mind in the future, you should realize this is a common thought many people have as I described above. Instead of breaking up, you should reiterate your firm resolution on this matter and explain that if the current relationship is based at all upon an expectation that you will one day change your mind, then the other party will be sorely disappointed. They may still not believe you (again, because so many people have changed their minds, not saying you will), so you should ask if it were a certainty that you will never change your mind, if they feel the relationship can continue. If they say no, then you can consider breaking up, but if they say yes then I think breaking up shouldn't be the next step. Instead, chalk up their comments to a misunderstanding/mistake on their part and move forward together with your new-found mutual understanding.

  • 2
    It sounds like OP already does something like this: "I often follow that up with a talk asking about how serious they were, they'll admit that they are serious".
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 20:48

My wife and I don't want kids for an ever growing list of reasons. It came up naturally, I think, somewhere around our 4th or 5th date.

She told me her mother was jokingly pestering her about kids already and explained she couldn't stand the thought. I quickly agreed with her and that was it.

What I'm trying to say is it doesn't have to be a big deal. Given your experience, you don't have to pretend to have a pretext for bringing this up. You already got one. You're concerned it won't work out if you both aren't on the same line and that's a genuine concern. Don't create a lie, at best exaggerate the situation a little.

Dating isn't easy, especially when you don't agree with the mainstream. It makes the proverbial fishing pool a lot smaller. But you have to talk about it.

You're doing the right thing by breaking up when it comes out they're hoping you'll change. That's simply not how it works. It is impossible to change the character of another.

Let's put that last sentence in a shiny box so it stands out more:

It is impossible to change the character of another.

Not wanting children isn't a disease. It's not a temporary state of mind. It's part of who you are.

Sure, there are people who simply haven't thought about it yet. But the world roughly divides between people who want kids, people who don't and people who simply haven't thought about it long enough.

A person is responsible for their own happiness. Do no expect your date to know what you want until you've told them. You don't want kids. They do. That's an incompatibility the size of a religious difference.

Stop being disappointed about finding out. Dating is a method of getting to know each other. Finding out whether you're compatible or not. Something which can take days, months or years. Be glad, relieved even, that you find out so quickly. Better to find out before you get seriously attached to each other than when you're 2 years in a relationship already.

Get it on the table. Be blunt if you have to. But don't hesitate to talk about it in whatever way you can get it to table. You know what you want and what you don't want. Don't let anyone distract you from that and share your concerns.


Having various friends who are dating or are married who have no intention of ever having kids I have to say there are two sensible options:

  1. Tell them up front. This gets rid of any worry about it - just make it very plain it isn't a phase that will pass, or that you are waiting till the right time - you just have no children at all in your future plans. This may lead to the relationship stopping there - solved, or it coming up again later at which time you reiterate the point, or possibly your partner being delighted as they don't want kids either.

  2. Wait. Enjoy the time with your partner. You may know they aren't the one, especially if they have mentioned kids, but you may just enoy it as a short term thing. Perfectly possible. But you'll need to ditch them at some point if they don't change.

Either way, you may find the partner does or doesn't want kids. Until you have the conversation you don't know what each other wants.

My personal take - do it as early as possible. Keeps everything transparent.


You have a great story already to help you with this - you've ended dating relationships due to your desire to not have kids. When the issue arises or when you start it, you can add


I don't want children and I've ended a few dating relationships where I really liked the person (if true) because they wanted kids and I did not. I liked them a lot (if true), but this isn't a position I'm willing to change ever.

That sends a clear message. If someone thinks they can change your mind, I don't think any message is going to get through to them.

On this point:

So far, the record is 6 dates before the date will inevitably say something along the lines of ...

I did miss this - "record" as in the latest date they mention it or the earliest date they mention it? To avoid dating a long period before having this conversation, bring it up as early as it makes sense. Any topic related to children can easily be directed to a conversation about not having kids ever. Same with future, such as "I've always seen myself as ..." Make sure to add that you've ended relationships because of this when people tried to change you or thought that you would change.

  • The record is how long it takes between an agreement that OP not wanting children is not an issue and the partner making a comment that shows that it probably is an issue (no pun intended)
    – mcalex
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 9:32

The only thing I'd possibly tweak about your current approach is that instead of saying:

"... I don't want children and that I don't want them to hope/expect me to change my mind"

I'd maybe try something more like:

"Forgive my forwardness, but I'd like to get this out of the way now: Children are a no-go on my future plans. Are they an important part of yours?"

The reason I think you may be running into trouble and facing trust issues is because it sounds like you might be putting the onus on the other person to decide whether to continue dating or not. In effect, the tone sounds a bit "are you ok with proceeding, knowing this?". Whilst it might feel courteous to do so, to illustrate why this is a bad idea let's look at the options now facing your prospective date. They can either:

  • End things there and then with this super-cute hottie, thus guaranteeing no chance of it ever working out. Ever


  • Give things a go and hope for the best. After all... it could work out!

If they're particularly date-starved and unhappy about it, they'll almost always gun for option B as it's a slim chance vs no chance at all. In other words: It doesn't matter how strongly you make your stance - they will still almost always shoot for the 0.01% chance than 0%.

So the solution here is to acquire the information to make the decision yourself. Don't leave it to them. Share your stance and enquire theirs. In asking how important children are in their future plans, you can largely discern to what extent it's a deal-breaker, if at all. Though some might find this weird, the type of person you're looking for (seeking long-term dating / no kids) will likely appreciate the honesty, open dialogue and getting the possible deal-breakers out of the way early (thus saving everybody's time)

But other than that, I feel what you're doing is fine for your long-term plan, and these frustrations are simply by-products to be toughed out.

Allow me to explain...

  • The problem right now isn't your communication. Your stance isn't being misunderstood, it's being outright ignored. The concept of "I do not want children" is about as complicated as "I do not wish to plunge my hands into bubbling magma in the near future". You can't do much about your dates not factoring this appropriately into their decision to date you, other than what you're doing now: Reaffirming and ending the relationship when it's clear you don't share the same fundamental stance.

  • Now the temptation here is "should I make my stance even stronger / clearer?"... possibly, but I'd advise against it. Anything more than what you're doing now risks coming across hostile / neurotic - even if they agree with you. I saw this a lot on online dating. In a bid to ward off bad messages, some women had very angry profiles with a lot of "don't message me just 'hi' or I'll ignore you, shoot your message into the sun and laugh at you!". It didn't stop them getting bad messages, but it did make people like me go "heck no. That's a can of crazy I'm not touching" - even though I agreed with them. You don't want to risk putting off potential catches by militantly trying to filter out bad ones. Sadly, unsuitable people are an unavoidable part of dating. The best you can do is persevere and be ruthless (as it sounds like you already are)

  • To the final point of your life goals: You make it clear you're shooting long-term, so good on you for sticking to your guns and getting the important questions out of the way early! Kids are possibly the largest decision anyone can make, so if there's a fundamental disconnect, that relationship is doomed. Unless one person changes their stance, it either ends in hellfire or bitter resentment (when one party has to compromise on such a massive life goal). So kudos to you! Whilst you lament your "6 date record", remember that this is you successfully ending relationships with people who are not good long-term prospects... catching it in fewer dates is ideal. I say this from experience. I once messaged a lass and we hit it off really well, but she then messaged to say "I know this is forward, but I noticed your profile says you don't want children. How strong is your stance on this? I ask because I'm looking for long-term dating (cheesy, I know) and children are a big part of my future" - I conceded that my stance was strongly against, so we graciously parted ways. Now some might scoff "that was stupid, they could have enjoyed a few years of dating still!"... maybe... but what happened instead was that I went back to the dating scene and, a few weeks later, messaged a lady who is now my soon-to-be-wife. A lady who happens to share my fundamental views (on marriage/kids etc). But more importantly, a lady I would not have met had I been wasting time short-term dating someone who fundamentally was not a good fit.

My point is: You've got luck stacked against you, looking for long-term and no children. So by pure probability you're going to run into several people who do not share this stance. There's little you can do to avoid this, other than making your stance clear and breaking it off when you need to (which it sounds like you're already doing). It's frustrating, but try not to allow bad experiences to muddy your dating. Remind yourself that each person you date is different - so don't let another's ignorance cause you to assume that they will be too. You're making your stance clearly enough and I earnestly believe that someone who shares it will honestly appreciate it. (My partner bringing up the big questions early on scored massive points in my book)

Good luck!


I think you are doing things right, but unfortunately many people think they can change things. They like you, they might agree with you so "to give it a chance", without realising how resolute you are.

How do I stress that having children is not an option when picking a date? You already do, and do it right. The answer you are looking for is, how do I find someone who understand that I really mean what I say? That is harder, because it does not depend on you, unfortunately.

This might not be the answer you are looking for, what I am trying to say, accept you are doing all you should be doing on your side, but that the same way it is hard to find a partner we like, trust, love, etc., you are finding hard to find a partner who is able to accept your wishes, but that is not due to your mistake.

  • 2
    I really appreciate the fact that you're trying to boost my spirits by telling me I'm already doing it right :) Although, other people have beaten you to it. Maybe you can upvote their answer instead? Maybe I should stress it a little more in the question, but I'm also really looking for other ways of handling this, instead of keeping on with what I'm currently doing :)
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 10:20
  • 1
    I did upvote other answers (some were after mine, by the way, not before), and I did understand you are looking for other ways to handle this. But, maybe you should also learn to accept that you cannot change the fact that people are a flux of emotions that can rationally understand what you say, but not emotionally.
    – user11175
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 12:13

I am sorry, I have been one of those friends. My good friend and roommate was dating a wonderful girl who did not want to have kids, while my friend did. We were all pretty young so I told him not to worry about it. People who want kids respect wanting kids as a deep-seated part of you life plan, but see not wanting kids as more of a fashion choice, like a shirt you can put on (and take off).

My friend learned the hard way: that is not the case, at least not for everyone. I don't have any good (quick) ways of getting that idea out of peoples' heads, but ultimately you are going to have to stick with like minded people at any rate.

I encourage you to ask people about kids, and respect their answers. Ultimately I don't think you can come to a solid resolution on this with a person before you've been on a few dates, it's a big topic to tackle before a first date.

There are tells, and the way my friend treated his nieces and nephews was what finally convinced her that it wasn't going to work - he loved kids and was great with them. They finally came to the understanding that they were both dead serious about there position and were not going to change.

So get a feeling for what they want, and respect what they want, but ultimately it will still take time to sort through these things with each person, but as frustrating as losing weeks of time might be it's nothing like losing years.

Good luck.


The only thing I see to stress it more is to talk about some ultimate solutions to not having kids. And by that I mean:

  • Talk about permanent contraception
  • Talk about life fulfillment without kids

Do some research about permanent contraception and think about it. What you should do is to say that you are thinking about permanent contraception since you are decided to not have kids. This will show you mean it really seriously to your date. Be confident about it, otherwise it may seem like you might change mind later. What I am not saying is to have an operation, or to say you are going to do it in near future. Just show that this option is on the table.

Since you do not want to have kids, how will you keep your life fulfilled? You should show clear vision. As a (multiple) parent I can say that having a child brings lot of joy, stress and concern to my life. It keeps me happy and motivated. Child and his future become more important than me. Find things in your future that will have same effect and talk about them.

As to why they might not take you seriously now. You do not state your reasons to not have kids. Except of serious genetic disorder that child might carry with high probabilty there is space to talk it out and overcome it. So it is good to ask about how your date honestly see it (and you probably already do). But still it might come later in relationship as you noted.


In comments you mentioned hysterectomy. By permanent contraception I mean something permanent but reversible like tubal ligation. In the end there is "Never say never" saying, both you and your date might change stance in future even when you now agree on it.

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