#632: My friend thinks it’s unfair when his dates bring up the possibility of having kids someday.

Ahoy there!

I have a 40-year-old friend who’s very open about his frustrations with internet dating in our geeky friend circle, and recently he went on a date with a 32-year-old woman who, during their date, said that she is looking to have a couple of kids in the future. She didn’t want them straight away, but she’s looking for a relationship that would ideally end up there.

He was appalled by this, and says he feels a) like he was being assessed for fatherhood, and b) that it was unfair that because he doesn’t want to have kids ever, (and I’m sure for other reasons,) she wouldn’t have another date with him – he thinks they’re compatible in other areas, so could have a lot of fun. Most of our friend-group seem to be commiserating with him, but I think he’s out of order. He’s saying that there’s time for her to have a fling with him, but if you’re looking for relationships where (for example) you’re planning to move in together in a year’s time, and start trying for a kid in two, bearing in mind you might not meet someone compatible straight away, you are completely justified in deciding you don’t have time to waste dating guys who definitely will never want children (or any other reason!).

I seem to be in an extreme minority – as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things. I suspect that being the type of guy with a long history of fixating on people and not wanting to change anything about himself, it’s convenient for him to decide she would be the next Only Girl In The World rather than look around for more dates. But he’s being given sympathetic suggestions like he should have said he wasn’t sure about kids, and string her along for a bit, or do that AND try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all, which is despicable to me, or that this woman was some kind of crazy person who was only after his sperm and he had a lucky escape.

Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys? I’m obviously not getting through – and given he only wants to date women in their early 30s (if a woman’s still single over 40, she’s got too much baggage, or something something? I KNOW! Why AM I friends with him?) this is unlikely to be the only time this will happen.

Why AM I Still Friends With Him

Dear Why?

What you have here is an example of “dating” working well. Exactly as it should, in fact. Let me explain:

  • Two people with some things in common like the look of each other. They decide to hang out more.
  • Through the course of hanging out, they find out some things that make them less interested in each other than they were initially, so they part ways after a date or two.
  • This is a happy outcome. That is a successful date. These two people put on clean shirts, got out of the house, and tried. They learned that they have different priorities and should not be together. Now they know. They both had lucky escapes!

The woman in question was smart to bring up the fact that she wants kids. Since he was appalled by that, and does not want kids, and does not want to be assessed as a potential father, now they both have good information on which they can make decisions. I actually want to hug her for just knowing what she wanted, saying it, and then NOT messing about with this dude and setting herself up for disappointment.The friends who are counseling your friend to lie or hedge in order to get into her pants are being shitheads. His argument, that she “has time to have a fling with him” and then find someone to settle down with later, is fucking laughable. How entitled can you be? Not only do they have different plans about having kids, the biggest probability for why it fizzled is that she doesn’t like him that much. It wasn’t some hard choice where she was fighting her flaming desire, it was “Thanks for the nice date, I don’t think we should hang out again,” with a slightly more concrete reason attached than one usually gets. If she wanted a fling, he’d know, and he should stop using the word “unfair” to describe ANYTHING that happened here.

If your friend knows for sure that he doesn’t want kids, he should look for women who also make that clear up front, including women in their 40s, and he should also make that clear in his dating profiles or pretty early on after meeting someone. This means having that discussion a bit earlier into dating than he might otherwise think of bringing it up. This means that a lot of potential partners will scroll right past him. This is also a good thing, because the ones who don’t are more likely to share his priorities about this. There are of course lots of women in their 20s and 30s who don’t want kids, know they don’t want kids, and might be great partners for your friend. But as long as he is specifically targeting that age group, The Question of Kids is going to hover over his dating life because those are the years when people make decisions about how that aspect of their lives is going to take shape. Even without statistics about fertility and age (and remember, statistics describe trends, they do not predict what any one person’s outcomes or preferences or needs will be), the decision about “Do We Make New People, Together?” is a fucking huge deal. Looking for someone who shares the same goals and timeline you do about that isn’t even a little bit silly. Wanting what you want is not wrong! Lying about what you want to get into someone’s pants/bed/life IS wrong. Some people look at dating as a fun way to meet people and pass the time. Some people are more actively looking for a long-term partnership. Neither kind of person is wrong, no preference is better than another, but you shouldn’t try to coerce one into becoming the other.

FYI, my boyfriend and I talked about kids on very early dates. We were 38-39 when we met, and it was important to suss out where the other person was on this question before getting more involved. A person who wanted to make the babies right away wouldn’t have been right for either of us, and a conversation along the lines of “I am not sure if I ever want to have kids, but if you do, let me know so we can make some decisions about that sooner rather than later, because I’d be open to thinking about it” wasn’t the worst idea in the world. It didn’t “ruin” anything to have that talk.

I don’t really have resources for you. I have a script and a recommendation, though. The next time this friend goes on a disappointing date and talks about it with you, say “It’s a bummer that you didn’t hit it off, but it sounds like you were both honest about what you want out of life and you both got some good information. Maybe next time!” Commiserate with his feelings of disappointment, and then change the subject away from his dating woes, which are likely to continue for some time. A het guy who has shitty double-standards about women and age is going to have a lot of error in his trials, and that’s as it should be until he figures out some things or stumbles across someone who really digs him. She’s not allowed to express an “unfair” preference for someone who is thinking about kids someday, but he targets women 10 years younger because “There must be something wrong with someone who is the exact same age as me who is still the exact same amount of single as me?” That is an ouroboros of NOPE he’s wearing around his neck like an infinity scarf. Standard “read more books by women” advice applies for him. The question is, how invested are you in changing his outlook? He has some work to do, it sounds like, but I’m not sure it’s your work to do.


233 thoughts on “#632: My friend thinks it’s unfair when his dates bring up the possibility of having kids someday.

  1. “Why AM I friends with him?”

    I’m wondering that myself after reading your letter. You’ve heard how he talks about other women (albeit dates and not friends, but it’s still how he talks about women). Using the logic of “how someone talks to you about other people is probably how that person talks to other people about you,” I don’t get the sense he’s a very good person to hang around with.

    And if the people telling him to try to convince his dates that they don’t really want kids are within your friend group, I think you need a new friend group. I realize that’s much easier said than done, but it doesn’t sound like you’re surrounded by people who respect women.

    I’m sorry if that doesn’t contain a lot of information you wanted, but I’m kind of floored by the behavior of your friend and those giving him advice.

    1. My apologies if my response seemed rude. I just got an overwhelming sense of “Get away from him” when you described him. (And the same for the people telling him to try to manipulate the younger woman.) I just… wow, I’m sorry, but at what point do they start trying to convince you that you don’t want what you think you want? It’s that type of feeling. Again, sorry if I was rude, but I got a very strong reaction to your letter.

      1. I don’t think you were rude at all. He sounds whiny and entitled; the group sounds horrific. LW, you can do so much better!

        1. I’m with you guys on this one. It’s HARD to get a whole new friend group, I know; and I’m sure these people have all sorts of fun, interesting things about them which made you choose them as friends in the first place. But hello? Advice to lie, deceive, and manipulate in order to get into someone’s pants? NOT ETHICAL BEHAVIOR. Those friends are behaving unconscionably to recommend it, and if your friend with the younger-women complex follows their advice, he will be behaving unconscionably as well. He’s not behaving great even now, with the entitlement talk — there’s still time for her to have a fling with him and then go find someone? Because everyone’s bucket list includes having a fling with him, right? — or the age double standard. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the way the rest of them are *advising* him to behave.

          When you’ve got friends who are that ethically challenged, LW, one of two things is eventually almost certain to happen. Either they will turn their utter lack of ethics on you, and you’ll find yourself in a sucky situation because they didn’t care whether or not they damaged you; or they will draw you in and try to persuade you to join them in unethical behavior toward someone else. That’s also a sucky situation to be in, because taking a stand against your whole friend group when they reeeeeeally want you to do something with them is a lot of pressure to have to deal with.

          In short, LW: you didn’t ask why you’re still friends with *them*. But may I gently suggest that you do so? Because I’m really worried that, if you stay friends with a bunch of people whose ethics are so warped as to allow them to advise someone to lie their way into somebody’s bed, you will find yourself in a world of hurt because of it sooner or later. And you sound like a nice lady who is NOT ethically challenged, and I really don’t want you to have to deal with that kind of world of hurt. Voice of experience, here: it’s no fun at all.

      2. I’m with you on the bad feels about people who encourage lying and manipulation to sleep with someone.

        1. An odd thought here, what would happen if you said to the dude singly or to the friend group as a whole, “So you are all advocating lying to someone just to get into their bed for sex?” Then just let that statement lie there, like a big ol’ pachyderm in the room and see if hearing it said baldly causes anyone to re-think their mindset. Sometimes hearing it said out loud in a blunt, but not nasty way can really open someone’s eyes. Maybe that will happen, maybe not. If nothing else, maybe you can start having ethics Q&As with your friends group to see if it’s time to look elsewhere.

      3. Totally with you there too. We had a friend who constantly complained about how none of the women who were willing to date him were hot enough or smart enough for him.
        When he wasn’t bitching he was a lot of fun.
        Thankfully he moved overseas and so therefore out of our friendgroup.

        1. Oh, man, I know that guy. Not to mention, it was really insulting to those of us in the friend group who might have been willing to date him. And he’d practically give himself whiplash if he found himself talking to a woman who wasn’t available for some reason, because of course there was no point in talking to a woman he couldn’t date.

    2. I am curious about how one would go about finding a new friend group. I think the suggestion is often a good one when a person has a friend group with values that are different enough from their own that things just aren’t going to work.

      Sometimes it’s because of the group approving things that are Just Not OK, sometimes it’s a more value neutral but aggravating or draining set of differences.

      How does one not only find a new friend group, but also “audition” them to see if they’re more compatible on values and activities? Finding a new friends group takes time and effort, and it would be great to know some ways to check folks in a potential new friends group to see if it’s one that is good to stay with.

      1. Same way one finds new folks to date, basically — go do fun things that you’d do anyway, but without your friends. Meet those people and talk to them, occasionally suggest lunch or coffee, say that fun things they do sound fun and ask if you can tag along, etc. I’ll say, as someone who has moved to new cities and needed new in-person friends, this process usually takes about two years to really germinate into full-on having-friend-group-ness.

        Once, when I was getting to know a large group of people for the first time (who had a shared interest and a mailing list and so forth, which sped up the new-friend-grouping process), one of the women in the group reached out to me and said “Hey, I know you’re New to Us. I was New to Us a few years ago, and I think you’re cool. We can be kind of scary when taken as a whole. Would you like to hang out in smaller groups and maybe get to be friends with me and some other folks?” It was SO AWESOME that she came right out and said that.

      2. I think the answer is not to try to find a friend group all at once. Work on making and strengthening individual friendships. I have a few friend groups, but with the friends I am closest to, we don’t make a group. We happily see each other one on one, or mix with other friends.

    3. > it doesn’t sound like you’re surrounded by people who respect women

      It’s possible that they’re just saying these things because it’s what they think is supportive and not because they’ve really thought it through and believe what they’re saying. Nevertheless, your point stands.

  2. ::Lurker coming out of hiding:: My husband and I are childfree. He told me on our second date that he was not interested in having children; he tells me that he spoke up at that point because he knew he could get serious about me very quickly, and thought it best to end things quickly if it turned out I wanted kids.

    He was honest with me about it from the start, and since I was (and am) on the same page, we’re still together more than a decade later. It’s not really an issue on which there can be a great deal of compromise; it’s not like you can have half a kid! I think the woman in this scenario did the right thing; if she’s looking for a long-term relationship, and wants kids to be a part of that, then honesty about that is a good thing. If she doesn’t want a fling, she gets to not want a fling. The letter writer’s friend’s life is his choice, but the woman in this scenario’s life is her choice. If what the two people involved want doesn’t match up, there’s nothing wrong with saying so and parting ways. It’s not her job to manage his feelings or give him a consolation fuck.

    1. Twinsies! Except I’m not married, but my long-term boyfriend and I also talked kids, or in our case no kids, on the second date because we could both tell this could be serious and we wanted to make sure we were on the same page. I think as more people choose to be child-free, it’s important to bring it up early because as you say – there’s not a lot of middle ground!

    2. Same here! When I met my fiancé, one of the topics we discussed that night was the fact that neither of us really wanted kids at all. And it was such a great thing to hear.

      On the flip side, a good (dude) friend of mine REALLY wants kids, and finding a lady who wanted kids was important to him…and frustrating, because a lot of people around our age with our political beliefs were unsure at best, and he didn’t want to have to “convince” anyone or hedge his bets. But eventually he found a cool lady who wants kids someday in the near future…and they just got married.

      So it is one of those Big Important Things. It was one of the defining arguments in my relationship with my bad ex.

      And the friend in this letter seems all sorts of screwed-up.

    3. Me and my hubby of 15 yrs are also childfree. The subject came up right at the time we first slipped between the sheets: I wanted him to know that if there were some kind of birth-control failure, I wouldn’t be having a baby. It just seemed to me to be an important thing to discuss at that moment.

      If it turned out he had felt strongly that an accidental pregnancy should continue, we probably would have gone our separate ways at that time, because that to me is a really important decision.

    4. I have a fair number of single friends in their mid-30s who are currently navigating the dating scene.The woman from the date sounds like a fair number of my female friends, and I absolutely think she’s in the right. My friends talk about having the kid talk early–like, first or second date early, because none of us are getting any younger, and kids are a dealbreaker (or maker–no pun intended) for a great many people. Long term relationships take time to develop, so wasting time on flings and one-offs that aren’t going anywhere doesn’t actually sound like a good use of anyone’s time. Yeah, you get laid, but so what?

      My husband and I are friends with a couple who disagreed fundamentally on having children. They broke up several times because of that fact over the span of nearly three years until he ultimately changed his mind (and undid a vasectomy) because he wanted to be with her more than he wanted to be childless. They are now the parents of a lovely baby girl and, by all accounts, are very happy and made the right decision. That said, that decision didn’t come easily, and they both walked away at certain points because they knew what they wanted and thought they couldn’t have it together.

      I tell that story as the exception that proves the rule–it’s better to be upfront with what you want, and move on if you aren’t going to get it from the person you are with. Especially if it’s a first date, and that guy’s kind of a tool.

      1. I grew up in the home of another exception that proves the rule: my mom wanted kids when my parents got married, my dad didn’t, but she knew that he was the one she was supposed to marry, so she just took a chance…and about 7 years later, he changed his mind.
        …and now because of that I am constantly told that I will change my mind.

        1. It is, and certainly was back then, a lot easier for the *man* to change his mind. There is still a massive cultural paradigm in which he doesn’t have to be *that* involved. He wasn’t carrying the fetus, and probably wasn’t putting his career on hold.

    5. “The letter writer’s friend’s life is his choice, but the woman in this scenario’s life is her choice”
      You know, from the reading, I think this is what EVERYONE but the LW missed. That she, as a woman, has her own agency in her life. If she knows what she wants, she has the right to go for it, just like LWs friend has the right to go after what he wants.

  3. Ourobouros of nope leads me to rereading Eddison (whom I love to hate)

    Meanwhile LW, your friend is acting like an entitled jerk. Those of his friends who suggest lying are acting like creepy entitled jerks.


  4. So I was upfront from the age of SIXTEEN that I didn’t want kids. My high school boyfriend was cool with it.

    He changed his mind when I was twenty-nine. There was one long moment when I thought “Is it worth doing this thing I have always loathed the thought of doing, to save my marriage?” and then this fist reached up from my gut and seized my vocal cords and I heard myself say “Yeah, can’t help you with that.”

    We divorced a year later.

    I don’t blame him for having wasted my time, because hey, people change, thirteen years is a long time, and there was a lot of other shit wrong with that relationship. But this is a big mega-dealbreaker of a question. No shame attaches to anyone who wants or doesn’t want kids, but you DO NOT mess around lying about it, and the people who advised that are desperately, deeply, horrifically wrong. Like “you better be giving a whole lot of money to charity and nursing injured baby bunny rabbits back to health, because otherwise I’m gonna be convinced that you’re an unrepentantly awful human being” kinda wrong.

    Presumably they have sterling qualities because they’re your friends, but seriously, that’s pretty crappy behavior.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. You can have any opinion you want on having kids, but you owe it to any romantic partners to be as honest as you can be on the topic.

    2. Oh goodness, I absolutely LOVE this: ” this fist reached up from my gut and seized my vocal cords and I heard myself say “Yeah, can’t help you with that.”

      Now THAT is how to make decisions. My hats off to you!!!

    3. this fist reached up from my gut and seized my vocal cords and I heard myself say “Yeah, can’t help you with that.”

      BEAUTIFUL! I LOVE THIS. I can’t think of ANY better way to make decisions!

  5. This dude sounds like a real piece of work. If his date realized that he wasn’t a long-term dating prospect but was still REALLY into him, then she could have chosen that “fling” anyway – the fact that she didn’t makes it pretty clear that she wouldn’t have wanted one regardless of his feelings about children.
    It is not “unfair” that an adult human has the autonomy to make her own choices about her dating life.

    1. Oh my god, YES! The framing of other adult humans making their own autonomous choices about their dating life as “unfair” (typically but not always by dudes talking about ladies) makes me want to scream. There is nothing unfair about other people having autonomy. That is the exact opposite of unfair.

  6. This isn’t even about seriousness or kids. This woman doesn’t want to date your friend, and his reaction is to whine and consider lying about who he is rather than move on. The sense of entitlement is astounding.

  7. Holy crap. So, your friend, and your friend group are not respectful of women. And you’re worried about how you can convey to your friend that he might be wrong about what he thinks is fair?

    Good God Almighty. There is so much wrong here, wow. Your friend, and your friend group, have a stunning sense of entitlement to think it’s perfectly acceptable to lie, string someone along, and “have a fling” to get their jollies, and lead some perfectly nice woman who knows what she wants into thinking that he wants the same things, only to find out when she starts to get comfortable and wants to have the “Let’s Talk About Where This Relationship Is Actually Going” discussion that he is a lying liar who lies, and thinks that it’s unfair that someone else gets to define things on her terms.

    If I were you, I would find new friends. I think these people are representative of some of the worst personality traits out there – entitlement, disrespect, and unwillingness to do self-examination.

  8. LW: I think your original question (“Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys?”) is well-intended, but won’t get you the results you’re hoping for.

    It does sound like your friend feels a little entitled when it comes to interactions with the opposite sex, and sadly there’s no script that will magically change them.

    Right now, your friend probably views dating as a progression towards sex and relationships: “Find a woman, date her multiple times, sex her, establish value as relationship partner, settle into routine of regular sexing.” So when a date doesn’t end in sex or the potential for future dates and/or sex, he’s unhappy.

    The best thing you can do to help is alter his views on the activity of dating itself. Not who he dates, but what it means to go on a date.

    Dating means you get to be a tourist in your own city. Are there restaurants you’ve always wanted to try? Take a date to them! Roller derby? Ice hockey? Jazz club? Chinese Gardens? Every city has neat, fun, weird places to go and things to do, but they’re a lot more fun to do with someone else than by yourself. So one thing you can tell your friend is that dating is a great excuse to try new things.

    The other part of dating is about finding out what is and isn’t important to you in a partner. At the end of a date, take inventory. What things did you like about that person? What things did you want to talk about more, or learn more about? Your friend will never know what’s going on inside someone else’s head, but they can definitely know what did & didn’t work for them.

    When you talk about this, the best spin is to suggest dating as something that’s he’s doing for himself. He’s trying things he always wanted to try, checking out things that were always around but that he never prioritized before. He’s learning about his likes & dislikes, by way of having another person to try things out on. It may sound a little horrifying to put it way, but to a entitled 40-ish man, making it “all about him” will appeal to him a lot more than talking about introspection and self-discovery. And if he adopts that perspective, it also makes “achieving sex with a woman” less of an objective to be aimed for, and more of a by-product of a good date.

  9. Ugh. So:

    1) A woman who’s honest and upfront about what she wants from a relationship and from her life is an exploitative, userish wench.
    2) A man who *lies* to said woman or tries to pressure her to abandon her goals in order to sleep with her, knowing he is wasting her time, is a perfectly fine person.

    Most dating sites ask you if you want kids! It is not hard to find people who quite openly do not! The ONLY reason I can very half-heartedly tolerate men being ONLY willing to date younger women is the desire for biological children, when a man DOESN’T have that there’s nothing but unapologetic sexism left.

    Ugh, ugh, ugh.

    1. Also, it’s okay to feel bad that a promising date went nowhere and want some validation from friends, but that validation shouldn’t be ‘maybe you should lie next time.’

  10. 100% support you LW.

    The fact that your friend can’t even begin to understand that some people take relationships seriously enough to ask a (totally reasonable) question like, “Kids – your thoughts?” displays his serious lack of maturity and common sense. Probably part of the reason he’s still single.

    As for the question of: “How do I change his mind?” i.e. “How do I force someone to not be an immature jerk?” Save yourself and don’t even try.

    1. Yeah. Can’t help thinking that “single women over 40 have too much baggage” translates as “women over 40 won’t put up with my immature bullshit. Except it looks like women in their early thirties also won’t put up with his bullshit. Bad luck, mate!

      1. I feel the need of some way to notify the 20-something ladies in his area that here comes another one and they should read The Toast now …

        1. All of my LOLs to Mary and Marna!

          An acquaintance resembles these remarks. He complained about a date with a ‘flaky girl’, after further probing she turned out to be a justifiably angry woman. Anyone over 25 is already too old for his BS.
          He seems genuinely puzzled about this, and wants a deeper connection. If women would just stop being so crazy, and learn to let him, in his maturity and wisdom, love them in the way that is best for them.

      2. That’s usually been my experience. I’m 29 (and I look younger) and I still get these guys hitting on me when I don’t wear a ring. “I know I’m twice your age, but I find that younger women have such a fresh outlook!” “Women in their forties are so cynical and suspicious!”

        And yeah, it all pretty much translates into “I’m an immature asswhipe and I hope you’re inexperienced enough that you can’t tell.”

  11. “…as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things.”
    Anyone who tells or implies to someone that somehow being a) gay, b) female gendered or c) 40 makes them socially blind or unqualified to talk about relationships is a very silly person. Excuse me while I build an effigy of said person and give it the biggest damn side-eye ever in the history of side-eyes.

    1. Indeed. LGBT people have to have the “Kids? No Kids?” talk with potential long-term partners. Sometimes they get to have bonus talks like “Biological or Adopted?” and “Would you be willing to act as your former gender for baby-making purposes?”

      1. Preach. As a trans guy in a relationship with another trans guy, THESE THINGS DO, IN FACT, COME UP.

      2. My cousins long term relationship with her girlfriend disintegrated over the kids question.

      3. “Would you be willing to act as your former gender for baby-making purposes?”

        yeeeeeeeeesssssssssss forever

      4. This needs to be said. The whole “I am in my 30s it is becoming decision time in the next while on this topic” thing is a thing for everyone who can potentially carry a kid, even if they don’t identify as female. It is even a thing for partners with 0 uteruses though maybe the timeline is a little different on decision time.

        1. UGH, sorry everyone. I wrote a comment and then deleted it and then when I tried to reply to something else it ended up in the wrong place. Please disregard, or Captain, if you see this, pls go ahead and delete if you have time.

          Sorry and thank you!

    2. I will help build a billboard of side eye over the wasteland that is this said person’s effigy.

      LW, it may be time to branch out and look for new friends. You have not mentioned anything that would convince me that these people would bother read any resources you gave them. If you want to try anyway then I applaud you, you have far more energy than I do these days. Now, I don’t have a large friend group but I have a few lady-bros and we all rant together about people like this. It is so refreshing to not have to defend basic things in feminism every darn day. LW, you sound so awesome. You deserve awesome, supportive friendships with people who don’t lie to dates or place unfair blame on unsuited dates for their sadpanda feels.

  12. LW, I think this is a great opportunity for you to NOPE out of any pity-party conversations that come up. Don’t waste your energy on it (you’ve tried!), and your refusal to engage will also send the message that you’re not going to reinforce his ways of thinking. Double win.

    Talk about whatever it is that your friends group would usually talk about. Failing that, the reliable fallbacks of “What are you planning to do next weekend?”, “How about that local sports team? We are starting a new season of sportsing!” and of course, the weather.

  13. Yeeeeah, I would give this dude the African violet in this situation. Especially if his behavior here is representative of his behavior with his friends generally.

  14. If this was a Zen parable, you would ask him “Why are you being unfair by ignoring the 40-to-50-year-old women who might enjoy a fling with you?” But since this is the real world, saying that would probably just lead him to call you names, or at best sputter “But that’s different!” and never think about what makes it different. (I suspect the difference is only in point of view: that he wants to be the hero of both his own life story, which is reasonable, and the stories of the women he dates, which isn’t.)

  15. I wonder if the LW lives in an isolated geographic area. Sometimes when you do that you have to live with shitty friends (and these people ARE shitty, LW, so so shitty) if one wants to have any friends at all. I don’t blame her for not cutting ties as long as she fights against the shittiness. I’m not sure there’s much you can do here other than tell him he’s an ass and change the subject. He has too many other friends justifying his disgusting behavior to want to change his behavior.

    1. I feel like I know so many people like the ones LW has described — and I live in a fairly large mid-western city. It’s been prompting me to think a lot about entitlement and (lack of) empathy lately.

      “It is not “unfair” that an adult human has the autonomy to make her own choices about her dating life.”


    2. > I don’t blame her for not cutting ties as long as she fights against the shittiness.

      It sounds like you think LW can somehow earn the right to be friends with these people by her efforts to change them? (I think that is a bad idea).

      (Sorry if this turns into a double-post.)

  16. I totes assessed my husband “for fatherhood” while dating, and, in particular, while living together. Because I needed to know if he was someone I could possibly coparent with. I had, and still have, concerns (holy batman does he freak out when I get a minor injury! Freaking out when kids get mildly injured only makes the kid more upset), but I decided that I thought we could work things out and he agreed to some of my non-negotiable parenting plans (For example: I am a light sleeper. I WILL NOT tolerate a child sleeping in my bed indefinitely. He was raised sleeping in his parents bed until age 5 and it took him a LONG time to understand why I didn’t view that as acceptable–unless the kid has special needs of some sort. Getting a pet together helped him see how much a small creature in the bed disrupts *my* sleep and not his–he is a deep sleeper. The cat has learned that the only way to rouse him from sleep is to lay on his face and SUFFOCATE HIM. He will not lose sleep with a child in bed. I will.).

    LW, I think that pointing out to this friend that some people are dating to find someone to be their co-parent of tiny humans *and that is okay* is a good plan. And then find some cool activities in your city to find some new cool friends.

    1. Yeah, I don’t know why assessing dating partners is supposed to be a bad thing. Isn’t that partly what the date is about? Checking out the person in various ways to see if they’re compatible with you? I mean, the guy is pre-assessing his dating partners (anyone over 40 has too much baggage?) but no one is allowed to assess him at all? So much wrong with that.
      I assessed the hell out of my husband. I assessed him pre-dating, I assessed him while dating, I assessed him once we were married. It’s inevitable. As people keep changing, as new things come up, we keep assessing. It’s like, Oh I’d like to go back to school for 3 years, now I’ll take a couple weeks to considering how this might work with the husband before I bring it up. Even just assessing whether or not today is a good day to bring up limiting our grocery bill more than usual, or if today’s crappy day at work makes it not the best choice.

  17. I don’t think there’s a way for you to make your friend a better person by doing the work for him. Sadly, things just don’t work that way. But I think you can call out shitty behaviours, and maybe try to invoke the power of awkwardness to drive them home. Like, it’s really shitty to lie to someone about having kids/having similar life goals/having compatible long-term plans. Call that out. Look relaxed and calm, but also assertive about it. Don’t let yourself be written off by “You don’t understand” because, actually, you do understand. Maybe your friend’s opinions should be written off because apparently THEY don’t understand that lying is bad, and harmful, and disrespectful, and a really shitty foundation for any romantic interactions.

  18. You just can’t win with dudes like this. It’s either:

    Option 1: Woman brings the kids topic up in the first date and discards date due to incompatibility = she’s a time-wasting bitch who won’t put out….


    Option 2 : Woman brings kids up when they’ve been dating for a bit and are getting serious = she’s a ‘spermjacker’ who was biding her time to eventually take all his money for child support.

    1. Any option that is not the woman having exactly the kind of sex the dude wants, exactly when he wants it, and with only the consequences the dude dictates, is a non-starter for him.

    2. Indeed. An entitled attitude means never having to say that sometimes unfavorable things happen without ill intent on anyone’s part. Entitled people are never that unimportant in the greater scheme of things!

      1. The really entitled attitude is what made my shoulders go up around my ears. Like she *owed* it to him to have a fling with him all because she’d gone on a single date. “There is time” for her to sleep with him before she gets down to baby making implies that her ticking biological clock is the only valid reason for not having fun with him (and he doesn’t think it’s valid!). The fact that she doesn’t want to spend time with him and that she has the right to not want to spend time with him, for whatever reason, seems to have not entered this dude’s mind.

        That attitude is frankly concerning to me, especially when coupled with being “openly frustrated” about internet dating and being in a geeky circle and targeting younger women to date. Those things in that combination make me very worried about any woman he dates. (I am aware that I’m basing some wild supposition on just a few key phrases in a letter from a friend of his. And yet…..)

    3. Exactly what I was thinking! He’s complaining that she was honest with him? Would he prefer that she lie just to get him to date her?

      1. I wonder if he flipped out because he’s used to things being on his terms and he assumes he would have had the chance to manipulate a woman out of wanting what she wants — apparently the friends know his MO well enough.

      2. Imagine if she had lied to him! Women, so manipulative, always playing games to get what they want, AMIRITE BROS!?

        But also, lord forbid a woman be upfront and unapologetic about what she wants in a relationship – these pushy bitches are so demanding, thinking they can have it all.

        This has been your weekly installment of Women Can’t Win™.

        1. Join us next week for:

          Wearing makeup/flattering clothing/supportive undergarments = Manipulative Liar/Slut/Stuck-up bitch

          Wearing comfortable clothing/no makeup/sports bra = Pathetic/Ugly/Man-hating Cat Lady


          1. Bonus lecture on how that woman waiting for the train immediately shifts from Sexy to Stuck Up the minute she won’t give you her number. It’s MAGIC!

      3. And I think that might be the essence of a perfect, repeat-as-needed script right there. “So let me get this straight: You are upset that she was upfront and honest with you?” “But you’re upset that she was honest.” “What I’m hearing is you’re upset she was honest.” “That brazen hussy, flaunting her forthrightness and honesty at you like that!”

  19. LW, be very clear that what all these people are agreeing on is: “It is ok to lie to and deceive somebody so they will give you the sex and companionship you want from them.”

    1. So my friend “Sharon” spent several years married to a guy who kept saying he wanted kids “just not quite yet”. Finally, approaching 40 and feeling like her time was limited, she put her foot down and asked him for a specific timeline for having kids.

      Then it came out that he really didn’t want any, at all, ever, and was hoping to just stall until it became moot.

      She promptly divorced him and got pregnant via donor sperm. She’s now the very happy mom of a 6 year old boy. He still thinks he was treated unfairly in this situation.

        1. Yeah Sharon! I recently have considered this same option, when it occurred to me that actually I don’t need to be partnered to have a kid, if I really seriously want one I can do it solo.

          But also, boo to guys who do this. I spent more than a decade with a guy who “wanted kids some day” and who didn’t react at all well when at the age of 29 I started trying to set an actual timeline on “someday”. We are no longer together, and I am so glad we never had kids for many very good reasons, but it shits me that guys do this. And it shits me that I didn’t listen more carefully when discussing things that matter to me, and instead listened only with my wishful thinking centres. :-/

      1. HE still thinks HE was treated unfairly in this situation?????????????(infinity question marks of pure incredulity)???????????

        1. Unfortunately, he was really raised where the man’s word is law. Some of it might have been cultural, but I think most of it was specifically his family.

      2. Oh wow. That is a) so horrifically unfair and evil and shitty and deceptive and wrong of him; b) unbelievably callous – did he care about his wife and what she wanted at all?; and c) almost humorously stupid. “Maybe she will just forget about her desire to have kids!” It’s not like you’ve forgotten to pick up milk from the grocery store and you think your spouse might be grumpy at you. It’s a bit of a big. fucking. deal

      3. This dude reminds me of a Dear Prudence column where the couple had been “trying” to have a baby, and the wife finally broke down and said something to her MIL who looked confused and asked when her son had had his vasectomy reversed. Come to find out, he hadn’t. He was just hoping she’d change her mind. Because three years and her preparing to go on fertility drugs didn’t suggest she really, really wanted kids. /eyeroll

  20. I completely agree. Kids (or no kids) is one of those things that you HAVE to be in sync on. More than religion. Religious differences you can work around, but there is NO compromise on children – you either have them or you don’t.

    I am a fan of figuring out sooner rather than later whether a person is right for you. This is one of the things I LIKED about dating as a single mom – do you love / are you open to loving my kids? If not, then this isn’t going to work. Does that mean we can’t have a fling? Well, no, but that’s a separate issue. If we BOTH want a fling but understand that this is going nowhere, awesome. Fling away. But that’s the key – it has to be mutual. And no fair crying and pouting if someone doesn’t give you what you want. Tell me – did you feel the same way about the girl who really wanted to date you but you deemed “too ugly”? Did you care about giving her what she wanted? No? Then why would you assume everyone should just do what you want?

  21. You know, my favorite movie of all time is Labyrinth, because it’s a feminist fairy tale featuring crazy awesome puppets that celebrates imagination and denigrates capitalism. In it, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) has two big out-loud realizations/character growth moments. The first one is that life is not, in fact, fair.The second one is that the Goblin King (David Bowie), who is the stand in for both authority figures and Men (sexual aggressors/objectifiers/objects of her sexual interest) in general – that he has no power over her. Regardless of the fancy dresses, of the fantasy he wants her to fulfill, of his desires, she is the sole arbiter of her own choices.

    Your friend needs to learn and embrace that first lesson again; life isn’t fair. As for the second lesson, he needs to look at the underside of that particular coin. Just as Sarah realizes that no one else has (sexual) power over her, also others (MEN [#NOTALLMEN FINE {UGH MOST OF THE ONES WHO SAY #NOTALLMEN, THO, SERIOUSLY}]) have to realize that they have no (sexual) power over or sexual right to Sarah/women.

    In conclusion, Labyrinth is the best, everyone rewatch immediately, and LW please consider doing a quick fade from this terrifying ‘friend’ group.

        1. Yeah, exactly. Labyrinth is about what you are worth, intrinsically, as a human being, and not about what you have or think you have. Your possessions are junk; conformity is dangerous (the Fireys, omg); your individual personality and dreams are what is valuable.

          That’s a *profoundly* anti-capitalist stance.

    1. I like to quote Marcus Cole from Babylon 5:

      ‘I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?” So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.’

      1. I think there’s a very similar message in a Calvin and Hobbes strip. I read it back in my early teens and it stayed in my head 🙂

    2. Huh, that is absolutely the opposite of my reading of Labyrinth – the way I see it, it’s a movie about the girl character having to “grow up” and accept that she really wants to care for her baby stepbrother. (And give up frivolous sexuality – note that at the very end she puts away the picture of her “bad” birth mother, who is positioned as this frivolous tart, unlike the “good” stepmother with whom the main character is impatient.) To my mind, the goblin world represents non-reproductive and “perverse” sexuality, “selfishness”, non-maternity, etc. Admittedly, both options in the movie are bad – there are no other women characters except the bad mother and the good stepmother (plus the “bad” old woman puppet character at the very end), for instance, and I think it’s key that it’s her baby brother that she doesn’t want to care for. (How would this movie have been different if it was about sisters? I think very – imagine a girl coming to care for her sister, or the Goblin King stealing a girl away to be the next ruler of the goblins. The whole social economy of the movie would be upset if it weren’t about good women caring for non-perverse heterosexual men.)

      I wouldn’t want to live in the goblin kingdom, but I’d be damned if I’d enjoy going back and rejecting my “bad” mother and being an obedient babysitter and darling daughter.

      I do remember, though, that I desperately wanted to be able to dress like Sarah, though.

      1. All I know is, if David Bowie came along and said, “Just let me rule you and I will be your slave,” I might very well say yes.

        1. I know, right? Even as a child I was like “um, yes please”. Never mind the fact that the kid seemed to be having fun with him, where their family seemed kind of cold and passive-aggressive.

          Obviously the goblin king was a horrible manipulator with no empathy, but damn he was hot and way more fun than reality.

  22. Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys?


    Beyond that, it’s not your obligation to make this dude become an actualized human being. Be a friend and commiserate over date disappointments; as the Captain said in a comment, it’s totally fair to be sad something that you wanted didn’t work out. Be a friend and true to yourself by not egging on or enabling that entitled bullshit. “Dude, it sucks she didn’t want what you want but she wants what she wants and you want what you want. Who wants to be a fake about what they really want?”

    As was said a million times above, chances are she also didn’t much care for him beyond his goals. Maybe she WOULD have had a fling if he hadn’t radiated assholishness over her daring to have desires and goals of her own and assessing him the way he was assessing her. But he’s barely able to hear Truth 101 much less the advanced stuff (Dating 305: Sometimes the side paths are fun to wander with the incompatible if you’re both just being yourself) so don’t even bother. Tell him dude, on to the next one – it’s a waste of everyone’s time to obsess over people who aren’t right. Maybe he’ll just get to being a himself that isn’t a jackhole with enough practice.

    1. > Beyond that, it’s not your obligation to make this dude become an actualized human being.


      More than that, you cannot make this dude become an actualized human being (you have tried it sounds like, and it did not work. Seriously, if the first try doesn’t work, it probably isn’t gonna work ever). If you enjoy him, stay his friend. If you enjoy him except on these topics where he’s immature, set a boundary to not talk about this stuff with you anymore, and if he can follow that boundary, stay his friend.

      If you require actualization of your friends, that is perfectly normal and fine! But, in that case friend-dump him because your needs matter and they won’t be met in a reasonable time frame here.

  23. LW, your friend is being an arse, and the people encouraging him to lie to women are even worse.

    I’m a woman in her 30s who does not ever want children. My partner is a man in his 30s who also does not ever want children. We met when I was 18 and he was 20, way earlier than most people start having the children talk. And we started out as a one night stand.

    And you know what? We still had the Children Y/N conversation during that brief night-time fling that turned into a 3-day fling that turned into over a decade of bliss. Because even in casual flings, Accidents Happen, and the sensible thing to do is make sure you’re both on the same page about things. ESPECIALLY if the page you’re on is a different one to most people – and most people DO tend to want children.

    I’d ask your friend – honestly – when does he think would have been the right time for her to bring it up? After half a dozen dates? After they’ve slept together? After 6 months of dating? After a year when it feels like things might be getting serious? If she’s in her 30s and wants children, there’s a good chance she wants to be on the baby train within 5 years. How much of that precious time should SHE waste on people who she knows are not going to be long-term compatible with her?

    She didn’t do anything rude. She did him a kindness. She did him a courtesy. She laid her cards out on the table for him and didn’t hold back. That is the point of going on a date. One date doesn’t mean you are dating each other. One date is how you find out if either of you WANTS to date the other.

    But regardless… yeah nothing about this guy sounds great or nice or even like the basic minimum standard of Not Being A Shit. I agree with pretty much everyone else. You can do better for friends.

    1. This seems like an excellent conversation to have: “I’d ask your friend – honestly – when does he think would have been the right time for her to bring it up? After half a dozen dates? After they’ve slept together?”

      (… After they’ve slept together once, and the condom broke? It’s amazing how serious a ‘fling’ could become…)

      1. YES. My cousin got knocked up from a one-night stand shortly following her divorce from her first husband who left her because she was told she couldn’t have kids (yeah, classy). The guy was wearing a condom, and the odds were less than zero that she would get pregnant. He told her he wanted nothing to do with a kid, and really, he’d much prefer she have an abortion (yep, really) and “I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU COULDN’T GET PREGNANT?!” So yes, having that conversation is ALWAYS a good one to have.

          1. I don’t think those things are wrong, exactly, so much as Very Dick.

            A big part of that is that the subject of abortions vs not abortions can be a really touchy subject for a lot of women. Quite often, saying “I want you to get an abortion” after the condom broke can be a code phrase for “I have every intention of disappearing without a trace if you keep the baby, so I hope you’re cool being a single mother. I just wanted an orgasm, I didn’t want any of this RESPONSIBILITY bullshit.” It broadcasts that this was a very, very bad person to have sex with when it’s too late to do anything about it. Someone who brings up abortion vs not abortion prior to sexytimes is giving you an out if you have ideological disagreements; someone who brings it up after the fact is often telling you that he thinks you should pay 100% of the costs of sex while he reaps 100% of the benefits.


            I have two boyfriends right now, and very early in the relationships, before we had PIV sex, I had the talk about “If the condom breaks and I get inconveniently pregnant, I expect you to pay a third the cost of an abortion.” (A third from each boyfriend and a third from me, I’m not going to figure out paternity). It scares off some men (like all the men when I was in the Army who told me how angry they were at their ex-wives/girlfriends who killed “his” baby–not *their* baby, as in her and his, but HIS baby) who absolutely, positively could not bear the thought of me getting an abortion. It’s a great deal for other men–they aren’t in the baby-making time of their life and it seems like an excellent idea to them. So, it’s a win-win. If there’s a non-zero chance that someone could resort to violence to force me to carry “his” baby to term (and make no mistake, there are absolutely men who think it’s acceptable to do violence to a woman in the name of saving a fetus), I won’t fuck them.

  24. He’s wasting everybody’s time.

    Even if his reasoning is flawed and skewed to suit his needs alone, there is still as much chance of a person wanting a quick fling with him regardless of his position on children rearing.

    He will get a better quality “fling” by engaging with a person who made a better-informed decision without denying her “agency.”

    I don’t want kids.

    I am always concerned when this question comes up because–we don’t know what the interlocutor wants yet. “I asked you first.”

    Once I hit forty the answer was much easier and I never felt anybody shrink away from me on telling them “Well, I think I would have illustrated the great lengths of preparation for them [kids] by this age, so it’s safe to say, I am happy to be *convinced* they’re a good idea considering the conditions are right. I just can’t *ever* imagine those conditions being right.”

    And it’s true. Honest truth. I would have kids, were conditions to be right. And right here, right now, I cannot ever imagine them being *right.*
    (An entire leap of consciousness is required.)

    LW’s friend is a casual dater wasting the time of people looking for lasting commitment. That’s breaking the social contract, because he is aware that once touchy-touchy stuff and the chemical intoxication of arousal kick in, for some–it’s not so easy to “come to our senses” and end the “fling.”

    1. At least in my experience, guys like this don’t believe that straight women are ever into casual sex or a fling, so they don’t believe that they’ll get better results just being straight up with everyone.

      Of course, it’s frequently true that one might be less interested in casual sex or a fling with an asshole, and assholes generally don’t hide it well, but the asshole would have to accept the premise that they are an asshole.

  25. LW, it occurs to me that you’re asking how to fix this guy’s attitude toward someone else – but it sounds like your own experience with him is equally problematic! Somehow, you have gotten the clear message that you “don’t understand these things” because of totally irrelevant attributes you possess. In short, because you failed to conform with the disturbing and horrible echo chamber, you got silenced – by him, by the group, whatever. Your friends appear to be deep in a pattern of bigoted groupthink (a concept that I think is very worth investigating, if it’s not already intimately familiar to you – the better to see their shenanigans with, my dear!).

  26. So as a woman who doesn’t want kids, and plans to be up front about it on the next OkCupid convo/first date, am I going to have a bunch of guys lying to me so they can sleep with me for a few weeks? Blech. 😦

    1. Sadly, maybe – unintentional contact with assholes that hide it pretty well comes with the territory.

      When I was dating around, I was comfortable with short term dating but wanted a more serious thing eventually. I probably dated at least one person who lied because they assumed they needed to for sex. But, I don’t regret any of the people I slept with and/or casually dated, so if I learned someone had lied I would just feel vaguely sad for them and whatever brain weasels made them think they had to trick me.

    2. In my experience (though I’m a baby-wanting lady) there are lots of cool dudes on OKC who say that they don’t want kids right up front on their profiles. I have gone on dates with some of them to see if we were “short-term dating” compatible (as okc euphemistically puts it), since I wouldn’t mind a fling. Which makes me roll my eyes at LW’s friend even harder. It’s a bummer that some dudes can apparently reach their forties and still not understand that some women will WANT to have sex with them without being conned into it, and they should patiently try to meet those women.

    3. I did this. It worked pretty well. YMMV, but I’m happy to tell you what worked for me.

      1. I took the physical stuff really, really slowly. It’s not for everyone, but it really helped me get perspective about someone before all the hormones kicked in. And I was really upfront about that. Somewhere around my fourth date with my current partner, I said at about 7 o’clock, “Hey, I’d really like you to sleep over so we can cuddle, but I’m not ready to have sex with you.” And that was all well and good.

      2. My spiel – somewhere around a second or third date – was like this: “I’m looking for something more serious. I don’t know you a lot, so obviously I don’t know if I’m looking for something serious with YOU because that would be kind of crazy. So far I like you, so let’s get to know each other.” (At the point where I was sure I was looking for something serious with someone else, I got out.)

      So the good news: many, many dudes, even the ones who are looking for something hugely different and are totally incompatible with you, will respect how up front you are and how much you know what you want. The bad news: some people are kinda scuzzy, and you will have to figure out what kinds of boundaries you need to set to weed them out.

    4. I put it right in my profile, just to avoid confusion, and I’ve found that it seems to indicate that you’re more up for flings, but I haven’t had anyone be dishonest to get to the sexing.

  27. Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand

    Snipped because I think what he’s in need of here is a … broader understanding than you specified.

    Try him on this:

    You have an absolute right to want what you want.
    You have an absolute right to feel what you feel.

    You have no absolute right to do what you like.
    You have no absolute right to get what you want.

    When, err, “if”, he replies with “but what about”, refer him to Statement 1.

    I don’t know why you’re still friends with him but it’s probably time to warn him about your new, no-exceptions, “no douchecanoes” policy. Then enforce it. If he wants to stay your friend, he knows what to do.

    1. “You have an absolute right to want what you want.
      You have an absolute right to feel what you feel.

      You have no absolute right to do what you like.
      You have no absolute right to get what you want.”

      I hereby name you Lady This of Thisington Manor, Duchess of This, Protector of the Realm, Poet Laureate of This and All Outlying Territories.

  28. There is another option. Hold your tongue, but should you ever find yourself in the same room as any women he’s involved with, work something into the conversation about how glad you are that he’s finally limiting himself to the women he meets who are clear about not wanting children.

    It’s the African violet, but with bonus fireworks.

    1. Ooooh. That’s wicked. I don’t know that I’d be able to pull that off, but I love it.

      Though, what if the fireworks happen later, when that dude and his ladyfriend go home? It would be a shame to miss it.

  29. “Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys?”

    Yes. Yes, I do. Point him to a biology book that strictly delineates how women’s fertility and egg quality declines at 35, and how menopause works and what it means. For women who even *might* want a child, the idea that they have to make a decision NOW means they are not going to be able to wait around and have flings. They have to get their stuff together, find a romantic partner willing to help with the child-rearing, and get down to it before their kids end up having nontrivial risks of genetic diseases as well as the ever-present chance that they might straight up not be able to give birth. Ever. This isn’t about “sperm-jacking” at all — this is about a biological desire that has a time limit, and it’s only natural that people who got on the train late will be buckling down and weeding out anyone who isn’t willing to take that ride with them, even if that means throwing out short flings and one night stands and whatnot.

    I am a female who apparently has no biological clock. I don’t like kids, don’t want them, never had the desire at all. No maternal instinct for it. But many women — most, probably — do have all this, and I see it quite often. So if this guy is looking for women in his thirties, he’s going to run into a whole lot of people who have ticking clocks and who will be prioritizing committed, stable relationships in which to satisfy their desire for family. He has his line cast in a pond stocked with folks he really doesn’t want. Maybe some Science (see above paragraph) will knock sense into him about it. Alternatively, have him trawl the internet, because it helps narrow down the pond to something you want.

    Oh yeah, and one more thing. Folks, there is nothing wrong with having preferences. This includes “I want a woman younger than me by 10 years” or whatever. He’s allowed to have that just as much as she’s allowed to want a guy who is into fatherhood. This is running into the same problem with “oh, you won’t date me ’cause I’m fat/skinny/short/tall/etc.” — people know what they want at a given time, and if what this guy is attracted to at this moment is a certain body type, or age range, or height, or whatever…look, the genitals want what the genitals want. You can’t change that, and you really can’t judge it.

    1. Thank you. I’m glad someone made that point again. If his preferences don’t include woman in their 40’s, that’s fine, and they’re better off not having him as a potential partner. Can we focus on the fact that the real problem is that he doesn’t want to be honest with his partners about his preferences?

      1. Yes, I agree about the major issue here being that the guy is not honest with his dates. This is an issue I have come across where dudes have wanted a casual thing (y’know, like its all booty calls and last minute “I’m suddenly free, can I come over for sexytimes and oh, no you can’t stay over at my place ever, and Help Me Process My Feelings About My Ex) but have not or will not specify this. I bet there are women out there who want that so why not be open and honest about it, and find someone who is matched to what you want? FFS.

    2. All of the above, but let’s remember to be careful with our biological determinism – the “biological clock” is not actually a Scientific bit of wiring that goes “tick” when there’s babies, causing old uterus-owners to explode into irrationality, while logical non-uterus-havers or young people look on in contempt.

      Instead, the intersection of security, prosperity and emotionally mature partners (usually attained in one’s thirties) can trigger people of all genders to switch from “we cannot bring a baby into this” to ” we could totally have a kid now! If we want to create and carry one, and possibly leave open the option of having multiple children, it would be easier now to move quickly.”

      Don’t worry about missing some fundamental piece of evo-psych wiring that doesn’t exist. The biological clock idea is mostly used to laugh at women’s reproductive choices anyway.

      1. This. Fertility declining is a thing. Having or not having some big drive to have kids that kicks in with certain timing is a lot less of a thing and is a concept that gets exploited in sexist ways.

    3. look, the genitals want what the genitals want.

      Sure. But sometimes the brain deploys bullshit rationalizations.

      LW’s friend isn’t saying that he’s only sexually attracted to women in their early 30s, he’s saying:

      if a woman’s still single over 40, she’s got too much baggage, or something something

      Now, it might well be that it’s actually the case that he’s not sexually attracted to women over their early 30s, and has come up with this stuff because he feels the need to justify it somehow.

      But justifying it this way still perpetuating a nonsensical double standard, where (to quote the Captain) “There must be something wrong with someone who is the exact same age as me who is still the exact same amount of single as me”.

      And it might be that this cultural trope (that single women in their 40s are craaaazy neurotic spinsters) is getting in the way of his looking at potential partners who are the same age as him, and that if he ditched it, he might find he is attracted to some women in their 40s. Which might make his dating life considerably easier in terms of having a wider range of possible partners.

      1. Yeah, exactly. Sure, the genitals want what the genitals want — but what the genitals want, or at least what the person whose genitals they are reports that they want, can be influenced by toxic societal ideas about the worth and attractiveness of various categories of people, and if you find that what your genitals want seems to be lining up really well with what those societal messages say they’re supposed to want, then maybe it’s worth examining that a little further.

    4. Point him to a biology book that strictly delineates how women’s fertility and egg quality declines at 35

      I know this is off-topic, but the evidence for this is reaaaallly weak. Most women’s fertility declines between 25 and 45, sure, but there are a whole bunch of different patterns that can result in an average age of 35 as “the point” of decline, and it’s very difficult to conclude from evidence about broader populations that any particular individual will experience a decline at 35.

      1. This article blew my mind in terms of the source of the data being used by every news story that tries to scare women about their fertility. Unfortunately, it seems to have spawned a load of “that’s all well and good but you should still be REALLY SCARED if you want to have a kid and you’re over 30/35” and not a lot of actual attention.

        1. I’ve seen some studies based on other data, but as far as I can tell they all come down to:

          There’s a significant decline in fertility at 35 and and even bigger one at 40 if we use groupings based on women aged 25-29, women aged 30-34, women aged 35-39 and women aged 40+, which, well, yes.

          Or, the evidence shows that there’s a decline at 35, but we don’t know whether that’s:

          most women’s fertility declines slowly between 25-45, and 35 is just the average between those two points
          most women’s fertility declines sharply at some point between 25-45, but for any individual woman it can be anywhere between those two points, and 35 is just the average for the population
          most women’s fertility declines sharply at 35.

          It’s nearly always presented as the last one of those three, but I’ve never seen anyone manage to come up with the evidence that shows that’s the case, as opposed to either of the other two. (It turns out that standard deviation is actually quite important!) Which means *really* different things in terms of how any individual woman should make her choices. And that’s if we are lucky enough to actually get to make informed choices, rather than being dependent on things which are out of our control like what our partners think, job stability, housing stability, health, lying liars who lie about whether or not they want to have kids…

          1. And none of that holds true in any particular case. I used to know someone whose parents were my grandparents’ age, because after a lifetime of thinking herself barren, his mother suddenly popped out two children in her 40s due to a last surge of hormones prior to menopause. My grandmother had my uncle in her 40s, again, another last-minute kid. Another friend of mine is the youngest of 10 children, born when his mom was in her 40s. Women having children later in life used to be a thing that happened with regularity in the days when people couldn’t control their fertility as well as they do now.

          2. We also have the issue of the two definitions of significance, which get used interchangeably: one of the studies showed a (statistically) significant decline of (I think) 6% from age x to age y, which is very different from a (numerically) significant decline (40%, for example)

    5. The problem isn’t that he is interested in women in their 30s per se, it’s his ridiculous double standard rationalization of “they have too much baggage” instead of just owning up to his preference.

      1. Speaking as a woman in her 40s, I’d say this guy has too much baggage for me to take on. And I already have kids and I’m not looking for more.

        1. Speaking as a childless woman in her 40s, I agree! I try not to date jerks. It makes life so much nicer.

    6. “the genitals want what the genitals want. You can’t change that, and you really can’t judge it.”

      Hmmmm, actually, I can judge it. And I do. I judge men who exclusively want to date younger women, and I reject your rule saying I can’t do that.

      I think wanting to date only younger people is often about things other than just pantsfeelings, like having more social/cultural/financial power so you can be the one in charge in the relationship. And I think that’s gross, and I judge it.

      1. Yep. The biggest red-flag preference that I will judge is things like what this asshole is doing: having strict standards for oneself, but freaking out when the other person also has them. There was a guy I was friends with in undergrad who pretty much only pursued girls who were under 5’4 (he was 6’0) and undeniably gorgeous (but sometimes he didn’t know them well at all, so their interests would be totally off and he was frequently rejected). After college, he tried online dating…and proceeded to whine on Facebook that all the girls he was interested in only wanted to date super-rich dudes. So…shallow standards are good for the gander but not for the goose?

        1. Good point. It’s ok for him to have preferences- but hers are bad, wrong and mean. Sorry, dude, it doesn’t work that way!

      2. There is also the media’s grotesqueness about older women, leading inexperienced & shallow men to imagine that once we hit 40, we are some kind of sagging crones, when they simply have no experience of the reality. (Ahem, the awesome reality of sexy women in our 40s…) The genitals don’t know what they’re missing.

      3. Hell, I judge anyone who has a hard and fast “only date” or “never date” rule (for physical traits). Rejecting someone solely because their 1 inch shorter or six months older or several shades darker than the rule you set for yourself is dumb and shallow.

      4. It’s not just about power, it’s also about flaunting your younger girlfriend as a status symbol around other men.

    7. Actually, I will judge the hell out of anyone who refuses to consider people their own age but expect people significantly younger than them to date them. It’s a gross double-standard and it’s based on bullshit stereotypes about aging and women.

      I mean *why* do they prefer younger women? Attractiveness? Well, a woman their own age can be just as attractive. Baggage? Everyone has it, including youth-fetishizing middle-aged dudes. Energy/outlook? Again, they’re assuming that women their own age don’t have energy or the outlook they are looking for, and that much younger women do. If they want someone who’s attractive, who’s got a certain energy level or outlook, etc. they can look for those specific things instead of limiting their criteria to age. All of the assumptions they are making about women their own age can be made about them. Yes, in this case, I do think they need to get the fuck over themselves.

  30. After my now-husband and I had had 1 date and 3 sleepovers, he said, “I’m not really into dating around. If we’re going to be together, I want to be monogamous.”

    I didn’t know at that point if I was interested in a monogamous relationship, so even though I was 25 and not in a hurry, I decided to just lay it on the table in a way I had never done before.

    “OK. I want to have a baby at 29—with you or with someone else. So if you don’t want to have a baby in 4 years, please let me go as soon as possible. What do you think?”

    He said, “Uh, ok, I guess.”

    So he was “OK, I guess” on having a baby in 4 years, and I was “OK, I guess” on monogamy.

    When I told my friends this story, they were pretty shocked. “You told him you want kids?! You told him WHEN you want kids?! But you’ve just started dating! That’s not a thing 25-year-olds do! WHAT?!”

    So I gave monogamy a try, and it mostly worked, and we gave 99% monogamy a try (monogamy with some rare soft swinging) and it was awesome. He gave the idea of having a baby in 4 years a try, and found out that it (over the course of a year) came to feel like a really good idea. The baby wound up fitting into our lives 1 year later than I had initially planned, but now we have an 11-month-old and HOLY SHIT is it hard and was I naïve but it’s also amazing and wonderful. And right now I’m on a month-long business trip, so he’s doing the single-parent thing for a month, and doing a bang-up job of it.

    Laying it all on the table was the best decision ever. Even though we weren’t sure yet in the beginning if our goals were compatible or not, knowing from the start where our relationship would be going if we remained together was exactly what we needed.

      1. It was partly because that was when I was planning to graduate grad school, and partly because I felt like I had a few more years of partying to do, but not MANY more years, so 29 just seemed like when I would be ready. Also, I’m not a risk taker (at ALL). Fertility doesn’t continue at the same level until menopause–it gradually decreases over time after the mid-twenties. I had always known that I needed to be a mother, so I wanted to be very, very sure that I didn’t let age take any significant part of my fertility before I had a baby. I knew it would be tough to schedule a baby into my career, and the better your fertility (plus charting your ovulation cycle if you really need to try to have a baby within a limited window), the more likely you are to be able to say “I will have a baby at THIS time”.

  31. I’ve run into this kind of 40yo dude a lot on online dating, and he and his ilk are a huge reason why I date younger men. LW, you’re not ignorant about this topic. You sound like a sensible person who has landed in a group of people who have the dating side of the geek social fallacies in spades and is now doing the dance of “Am I crazy? Am *I* crazy?” (cf. Bujold’s Ekaterin for quote) because they all agree that it’s fair for him to lie and cheat and steal his way to a temporary bang and you’re the only one who isn’t advocating dickish behaviour.

    It’s not even that dating is high stakes for women or whatever. It’s that dating is high stakes, *period*, if you are looking for more than just a casual bang. Some people will *also* casual-bang people, but this dude sounds like he is pretty much talking himself out of the running for anything, starting with a second date, with a talent that borders on genius.

    I’d say, let him stew. Enjoy knowing that he is too much of a jerk to ever jerk his way into jerking up some poor woman’s life temporarily, and practice your tiny, pleased smile.

    1. Jesus, right? I have dated three or four of this particular guy and am so *over* the attitude that what he wants is much more important than him listening to what I want. Bring on the 28-year-olds! (Who have their own issues, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them.)

      1. Yeah, exactly. The 25-to-29 set definitely have their own challenges as romantic partners but they also have a lot of great things going for them, like not thinking they’re a hot commodity because they meet the lowest possible standards for being considered an independent adult.

  32. Oh, and LW–I don’t usually expand on this, but I guess it’s kinda germane, so if everyone will bear with the second comment… My late husband lied to me about wanting kids. We’d been together about 3 years, maybe, when I realized I wanted to have a baby. I brought it up when I realized it was a feel I was feeling, and I said “not right away, but in about four years, I think I’d like to have a baby. What do you think?” And he said “Well, I never really wanted kids, but being with you has changed a lot of things and I would definitely consider it, let’s talk about it more over the next couple of years.”

    Over the next year or so, he told me that he was definitely on board with Plan Baby, but that the timeline I’d originally proposed was the way to go, because we needed some time to prepare living-situation wise and financially. And I said okay, very happily, and thought it was settled.

    A few years after that, he had a major health crisis. When we’d gotten through the immediate crisis, I asked him very seriously to be straight with me whether he wanted a child or not, because I needed to be able to make an informed choice about how important it was to me to have a baby. And he lied.

    I’m 39. He’s been dead for 5 years. I am pretty much okay with not ever having a kid. I am NOT okay with having the ability to make an informed choice about staying in the relationship taken away from me by someone who looked me in the eye and lied to me. This is what your dude friend wants to do? And what your other friends say is okay? Because I’ve lived it, and it is NOT okay. I don’t talk about it very often, it’s so not okay. Anyway. Again, sorry everybody for the double comment.

    1. This is story made me want to send lots of hugs and empathy your way. I’m sorry all of this happened to you. ❤

      1. Water under the bridge. But thank you. I was really hesitant to say it out where people could see, but yes, there are people who do this kind of thing, and it wreaks havoc on the lives of their partners. I’m not saying my life would be better, or even necessarily any different–I honestly don’t know what I would have chosen–but not having to look back on a third of my life as wasted in someone else’s lie would probably have been nice.

    2. [tangent alert!]

      Someone I know (she must be in her 70’s by now), before she got married, asked her fiance whether he was willing to have children, because she did want them. He said yes. They got married. He changed his mind. (This is how my ex told it to me, at least.)

      My reaction when I heard this was basically DTMFA. However, she stayed with him, and by the time I knew her, it was too late for her to have kids. I heard this something like 20 years ago, and it still makes me sad and angry on her behalf. Maybe because I knew I did want kids and if my fiancee had done this to me, I would have gone ballistic. (I didn’t have the usual bio clock to worry about, but I wasn’t getting any younger, either. And, yes we have kids.)

  33. LW, your friend sounds like he has a major sense of entitlement (THAT WOMAN DIDN’T OWE YOU SEX BRO) and your friends sound like they’re being assholes. Maybe they’re not assholes all the time; maybe they just said asshole stuff to try to make him feel better. You are the best person to answer that.

    I don’t think you can help your friend. Maybe nudge him in the right direction, or give him honest advice **if he asks you for it**, but you can’t make him stop being a jerk. I would say evaluate your fun times to bullshit ratio with your friends. Do you all have enough fun times that you can deal with bullshit like this, or did it used to be like that but now it’s majority bullshit and not enough fun times? Do you find yourself constantly complaining about this dude and unable to find a single nice thing to say about him? Those last two are maybe signs to go out and meet more people.

  34. What the hell is it with people?

    Besides linking your friend and all your mutual friends to this page? I can’t think of a way to help anybody understand why it’s not appalling for someone to want things they don’t and say up front what they are. His attitude is beyond entitlement. It’s as if he doesn’t get that people can have thoughts and feelings that operate independently from his.

    Actually, hmm. Okay. I can’t think of a way YOU or I could make him understand, but maybe he’d listen if he heard it from another dude. Maybe suggest that he write in to Dr. Nerdlove. I haven’t read much of Dr. Nerdlove’s stuff, but he recently delivered a most excellent smackdown to a Darth type.

    1. Man. LW this guy sounds like an asshole and so do your friends. No one seems to have picked up on the fact that the advice he was also given by these people was to EXPLAIN TO HER THAT SHE DIDN’T ACTUALLY WANT KIDS. Holy fucking fuck, that burns my eyes.

      “That thing you want, well I don’t and here are all the reasons why you are wrong and don’t want it either.”

      This gut should come with a warning. Does not see women as people and so should these friends.

    2. I have read a lot of Dr. Nerdlove’s stuff, and he’s great. Your friend has to be open to change, but if he is–maybe he’s sick enough of getting nowhere that he’s open to trying new things?–then by all means point that site out to him.

    3. Any time a guy accidentally creeps me right the fuck out I send him to Dr. Nerdlove. (Some guys in some online communities do not understand that just because they can figure out how to contact you via a different medium, doesn’t mean they should just go ahead and DO it. YIKES dudes. Yikes.)

      So yeah, highly recommend. It’s like feminism for nerdy guys disguised as dating advice.

      1. The contacting via different medium happened to me twice (somwhat) offline. It’s very … interesting.

    4. EDIT: … why it’s not appalling for someone to want things and say up front what they are. (Sorry, it was late when I wrote that comment. 🙂 )

      With all the added recommendations for Dr. Nerdlove, I’ve gotta start checking out more of his stuff myself.

  35. I’ve noticed that a lot of people have great difficulty with the idea that someone can like different things to them, and that that’s OK rather than a sign of their general crapness. I’d wager some of the (completely awful, despicable) suggestions from your mutual friends are just in solidarity with his disappointment.

    I wish I could convince people that “that’s not to my taste/not for me personally” is often way more appropriate than the usual “terrible person wanted something different from me damn their eyes” (for objectively neutral yet incompatible preferences) but I have yet to work out the magic phrase.

    If you want to confront this particular issue of lying in relationships, I suppose you could ask how he would feel about a woman who claimed to not want kids when she did in order to get him hooked and then try to brow beat him into it later, but I don’t know if you could get through the shield of stupid double standard prejudice.

    I must say I’m quite confrontational about this stuff these days – I would probably just badly say something along the lines that lying to get into someone’s pants is pretty inappropriate – but you have to be willing to lose friends if you go down that road. :-/

    1. *baldly, not badly. Autocorrect…

      It’s super easy to be conciliatory and give the impression that you’re having a nice friendly debate, especially as a woman while discussing treatment of women with men who think it’s OK to lie to women as long as it’s to get sex… But it’s also possible to show your disgust at these things and refuse to soften it or otherwise smooth things over.

  36. Oh sure, why not lie to the woman, string her along for a couple of years so he can get his jollies? It’s not like fertility comes with an expiry date or anything, wanker!

    When my ex and I first got together, I was pretty clear I didn’t want my kid to be an only child. Ex said he’d not been that bothered about having kids in the past but he was coming round to the idea. I was mid-30s so time was already ticking. 3 years and a load of “not just yet but maybe soon” talk later, we were at a kiddie party and I was watching a friend’s baby doing that stomach-wriggle thing. Ex said “You really want one, don’t you?” Yes, I said. “Well I don’t,” he replied, as casually as if I’d asked him if he fancied pizza for dinner. When things went (even more) tits up a few months later, what hurt most was I’d wasted my last chance.

    1. Oh Rowan. That’s… just upsetting. What a selfish thoughtless wanker your ex was. A similar thing happened to me. My ex was some years younger and whenever I brought the issue of babies up he was all oh we have plenty of time!! Loads of women have babies after 40. And when I tried to explain that no, that’s much harder and also genetic defects he just repeated the mantra, no loads of women have babies after 40, stop worrying.

      1. Yeah, my ex was selfish in many ways, not just that. As for yours – he’s a nob. It’s harder to get pregnant and WAY harder to stay pregnant after 40. Chances of 1st trimester miscarriage are around 50% at 41. Plus, like you said, genetric defects and it takes a bigger toll on your body. Men get really laid back about it cos they can carry on fathering kids FOREVER and it’s not them that have to carry the baby.

        1. Well no, they can’t. Male fertility also declines at 40, and it’s likely it also contributes to genetic defects in babies planned in couples that age. It’s just far less publicised because of sexism.

      2. Dudes like that just never seem to understand that when a woman gets pregnant, she gets scrutinized about EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING about that pregnancy. When there’s a birth defect or a miscarriage, the question is very often not “what went wrong?” but “what did SHE do wrong?”

        So if a woman older than 40 gets pregnant and something happens, not only will she have to deal with the grief of losing a child or the financial/emotional expense of raising a special needs child, but she’ll ALSO get the third degree about “well why didn’t you get pregnant earlier??”

    2. I was fully prepared for the “you will need to make the decision about whether or not you want children” experience. What I wasn’t prepared for was the “you may not get to make the decision about whether or not you want children” experience. It’s a whole ‘nother emotional thing that I am currently sussing my feelings towards.

    3. This is honestly something that worries me a lot about dating in my early 30s. My bf says he wants kids, and I believe and trust him, but it would be fucking devastating if a couple of years passed and suddenly he didn’t want to anymore. It’s hard not to assume I’d be on my last chance, as you said, and get really paranoid.

      And I’m not even terribly picky about bio vs adopted! I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if someone had a strong desire to experience biological parenthood. (Obviously sometimes that’s not in the cards, but to have the option removed because of someone else’s lying is just shitty.)

      1. I actually believe that in many cases it’s less of outright lying than it is “yeah, I want kids someday” in the same way it might be “yeah, I want to write a novel someday.” It’s a real emotion, but it’s an emotion that isn’t backed up by planning. And it’s not a strong enough emotion to propel planning, which is where you come to the crossroads two years into a relationship and start saying “but I thought you wanted kids!”

        1. Some people, yes. My ex – I think it was a case of “I’m having fun and I don’t want to have a Serious Conversation so I’ll just keep fobbing her off”. Cos he’s a prick.

      2. I’d never been particularly fussed one way or another. But when I hit 30, it was like someone flicked a switch in my ovaries and I suddenly noticed every baby in the world. I had my son at 33 (which is considered old for a first baby) but I still want another one.

        1. Isn’t living in a body weird? I had my twins at 33, and while I’d never been much of a baby person before, since then I’ve been fascinated by other people’s babies. I can’t stand to watch TV shows or movies anymore in which anyone harms a child — not that I liked those kinds of shows before, but now I find them unbearable. When the kids turned 3, for about five minutes I thought to myself, “I could have another,” before my rational mind slapped me down and was like, “That’s the hormones talking.”

  37. There is a lot that irks me about This Dude. I feel like one of the higher level irks I’m irking on about is that at 32, if you’re single and dating and hoping for a family one day, hearing “OH YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO JUST SCREW AROUND WITH ME FOR A BIT THEN CARRY ON WITH THAT WHOLE FULFILLING DREAM YOU HAVE OR WHATEVER,” smacks of someone trying to micromanage and control a woman’s fertility? Like, hey dude. There is a LOT of pressure in the medical community for women to make some pretty firm decisions and life plans to begin any and all pregnancies before 35. Given that any pregnancy takes you know, upwards of 9.5 months from conception to live birth, if she shares that goal, OR JUST FREAKING WANTS TO, has a history of fertility problems in her family, or simply feels that medical pressure as an impetus to hurry things along, she actually might /not/ have time for a fling with you.
    Now, some of the medical pressure is just as crazy-making and brainwash-y as Random Dude Tryna Get In A Lady’s Pants By Maybe Lying. Plenty of women elect to have multiple children after age 35 and do so without incident or issue. But like, how dare he presume to know what she does or doesn’t have ‘time for’.

  38. I just wanted to add that you’re smart and sensible, and your friend group – just whoa!

    People aren’t required to date people they don’t want to date. Period. Your friend and friend group need to bathe in a lake of slime because – well because I want them to. Surely that’s reason enough to do something they’d rather avoid!

  39. I know someone who approaches dating in a similarly infuriating way, and I have to wonder how much of what you’re seeing from your friend group is a missing-stair sort of deal, where everybody knows the guy has some wrong ideas, but they don’t really want to listen to any more of his entitled whining and they figure that nodding and smiling while he vents is the fastest way to switch topics.

  40. I’m going to forgo my opinion on the date itself because I think that question has already been answered very well by everyone above thread. I’d really like to point out, LW, that you seem like a very thoughtful person who clearly felt compelled to write in for the “it’s not me, right? these people are crazy and I’m not on the wrong track” consensus. Well, I hope you see that yes YES – you are not crazy and clearly there’s a bizarre dynamic with this group of friends. I’m not usually one to criticize one’s choice of friendships, but I’d really like to ask you to take a step back and weigh the benefits you’re actually receiving from this group. It seems like they’re forcing you to second-guess some pretty basic tenets of how you believe relationships should work and how people should act in general.

  41. I hate to be flip about this, but it seems like the best way you could help your friend is to tattoo “Nope, no kids for me” and also “P.S. – I may lie to you about that because I feel entitled to getting into your pants, so please believe the tattoo above regardless of what I say” somewhere prominent on his body while he’s sleeping.

    (I have a couple of close friends going through fertility-related heartbreak at the moment, both of whom are in this position because of YEARS wasted on immature dillweeds like LW’s friend who lied and did the “maybe, one day” dance around the kids convo until both ladies hit 33/34, realized there would be no babies with Mr. Dillweed, and broke up, so I don’t have a lot of tolerance for these shenanigans at the moment.)

    LW, your evaluation of things is spot-on. Don’t let Dillweed or his friends talk you out of your own convictions – I know it can be weird to be the only person in a group feeling a particular way, and it can make you feel like maybe you’re wrong or misguided, but sometimes, you really *are* the only person who is right in the group. This is one of those times.

    1. Not trying to defend this guy at *all* but to be fair I’m sure there are people of both sexes who are unsure about kids and then finally decide “no” and they’re not lying or doing it on purpose to screw the other person, but they really don’t know at first And it sucks if you’re the other person who was waiting for them to decide, but I’m thinking if it’s important to you, you find someone who’s completely behind wanting to have kids at the start.

      1. Apologies if this wasn’t clear from my post, but in my friends’ particular situations, it came out (both times) that “maybe, one day” was definitely not at any point in the relationship the truth – same as LW’s friend (who, it sounds like, has been very, very clear on not wanting kids). Sure, there are people who are unsure and then land on no, and sure, there are people who start at yes (or no) and change their minds over time, but for the particular folks I’m thinking of, this was never actually the case – their SOs just lied because the relationship was comfortable and they didn’t want to give up the perceived perks of the relationship.

      2. Ah, but saying you’re unsure is difference than feeling unsure but saying you want kids. In the latter case, you’re not being truthful. And I must say, if I was unsure but it seemed like my partner wasn’t hearing me, I’d probably want to have a longer conversation about it and make sure they weren’t just having some wishful thinking.

      3. “I’m thinking if it’s important to you, you find someone who’s completely behind wanting to have kids at the start.”

        True, but it applies to both partners.
        If someone is ambivalent about kids, it’s on them to either only date ambivalent people, or if they are profoundly attracted to someone who is definitive, to accept going along with their desire for kids/no kids as the price of admission for that relationship.

        Stringing along someone who is definitive for years by implying you are cool with their decision, then “Surprise! Baby/No Baby!” is seriously not okay.

        Between Darth Ex and Spouse I was in love with someone who already had kids, and was direct about not wanting anymore.
        I had fertility issues, and didn’t know at the time if kids were possible.
        We were amazing together, but part of my attraction to them was that they were such a great parent. And being unsure about trying to get pregnant wasn’t the same as being ready to let go of the possibility.

        I’m 99% sure that if we had had a birth control ‘accident’ they would have taken it in stride, 80% sure that after years of being a loving step to their children that they would have given in to my desire for a child to keep the peace, and 100% sure they would have shown the same love to our child as their others.
        And yes, I thought about it hard before breaking things off.

        Which is why Spouse and I had the “Kids/No kids?” talk before we were intimate, and agreed that we both leaned towards kids, but wouldn’t be devastated if no kids happened because fertility issues.

        1. “Stringing along someone who is definitive for years by implying you are cool with their decision, then “Surprise! Baby/No Baby!” is seriously not okay.”

          Agreed! I’m about to enter my 30s, with lots of friends in the early to mid-30s age bracket, and I’m seeing so much of this happening right now that it’s scary. I don’t know if it’s my particular friend-group, or my particular geographic location, or what, but there’s been a string of explosive breakups over babies where one partner was basically saying some version of “sure, sure, that baby plan sounds fine” for YEARS, and, confronted with the approaching baby-related deadline (either that babies are to start being made, or that the fertility window is closing and there will in fact be no babies), totally reverse course and bust out some version of “I never wanted that baby plan, ever, I just said it because I didn’t want to lose you.” It’s becoming my worst nightmare, and I just don’t get how people let things get that far.

        2. I’m with you on this one. I’m on the ambivalent (would prefer no kids) side of the house. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is on the ambivalent (would prefer kids) side of the house. And I feel like the world’s most serious jerkbag.

          I dread having kids. I dread having to sacrifice my career for children. I know I’m not required to do this, but I’m still afraid it’s going to happen. I dread spending ten years in school to get a doctorate in a field I love and then people only caring that I’m a mommy. I dread how much kids NEED when there are days I’m too exhausted to get out of bed. I dread feeling like a shit mom because I love my job but feeling like a shit role model because I cut back on my career for my kids.

          I keep hoping that one day kids will seem like a good idea, but it’s mostly for selfish reasons. I feel like it’s something I “ought” to do, and I’m afraid that when I get old I’ll need care, and if I don’t have kids, no one who provides it will be invested in me.

          But I still feel like an asshole. I feel like I’m denying my boyfriend something he wants because not having kids is the price of admission. He doesn’t seem to mind paying it, but I still feel terrible.

      4. Yes, this does happen. My cousin’s second husband stated that he wanted children, and then when the time came to actually make that decision realised that he didn’t. It was heartbreaking (and she ended up having no kids because she did miss her chance) but it wasn’t done out of malice. However, had he lied to get into her pants/get her to marry him, then he would be an unconscionable shit and I would gleefully join her in throwing darts at a picture of his face.

      5. Yes, and LWs friends were encouraging Mr Date to just lie and pretend to be enthusiastic about wanting kids when he doesn’t want them.
        I have sympathy for people who are ambivalent – Mr Basketcase and I were BOTH ambivalent. I told him on our honeymoon that actually I was certain I didn’t want kids (we’d had a lot of stress from his sister regarding her kid and our wedding), but we discussed over the next couple of years and now have an 18 month old.
        But thats SUCH a different kettle of fish from pretending to want kids just to get a shag, which is what this example totally reads as.

  42. In the end, the best way for everyone to get what they want is to be honest and up front. We are not in a romantic comedy, when someone tells lies early on in a friendship or relationship, those lies come back to bite them one way or another. Either things start to go really well and they have to pay the piper and everything falls apart, or it is just a LOT of WORK and everything falls apart.

    The question I would ask your friend is this “What are YOU looking to get out of a relationship with a woman?” It’s not kids, is it something long term, short term, just sex?

    It sounds to me like he is looking for some not too serious, reasonably short term, fun. So now ask him “What do you think lying to a woman about wanting to have kids and dating her for a few months would be like? Do you think it would just be fun dates and kinky sex? Because it wouldn’t. You’d be having lots of “Serious conversations” about “Where this is going” and having to constantly re lie to her in order to stay in her life. She’d want to meet your parents, like, immediately. She’d want to talk about whose apartment was better to move in to by the three month mark.”

    In the end, lying is actually going to be a lot of work, it’s going to be a big pain in the ass. Lots of talking and hemming and hawing and possible women crying. Very little make up sex. And that’s if she puts up with him for very long (unlikely.)

    Ultimately it is in your friend’s interest to look for women who want the same things as him. Fairness has nothing to do with it, it is all about self interest. When two people who want the same things find and like each other, it is SO MUCH EASIER than trying to maintain a fiction of who you are and what you want.

    And that’s what I would try to tell him. (Because he’s clearly a selfish entitled jerk.) It’s not about what’s fair, it’s about what’s going to be fun and easy, and fun and easy is dating people who want the same things as you. YES my dear misogynist nerd, that means that you may not get to touch every pair of boobies you would like, but in the long run, the boobies you do touch will be much lower maintenance.

    (Just so we are clear that this is an attempt to relate to him on his level, in a way he is likely to understand and possibly be persuaded by. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s ENTIRELY IN THE WRONG and possibly a total jerk.)

    1. Love this.

      It’s amazing how often self-interest and decency align when you look beyond the short-term.

    2. I couldn’t agree with this more. Ignoring the problematic motivations for what he’s doing, what he’s doing (lying to women he wants to date) is not in his own interest. It makes everyone happier when people are upfront about what they want and find people who want the same things.

  43. I am guessing that this dude really doesn’t want to be ‘assessed’ for any purpose. He’s determined that he should do the choosing. This wise lady’s rejection of him brought about a ‘NO FAIR!’ that would have come out if she didn’t like him because he was too tall or had bad taste in music or any of the reasons people do not want to date other people. We’re seeing a special sexist edition of this precious snowflake’s belief that he gets to go through a roster (or shall we say notebooks full?) of ladies until he can ascertain the ones deserving of his penis. Female agency, what’s that?

    I get this pretty often from dudes OKC or elsewhere expecting me to make a special exception because they are so very special And when I protest that I do not want to, for example, have sex with a 21 year old as a 39 year old interested in dating, I get…’But don’t you like fun?’

    1. “He’s determined that he should do the choosing.”
      Right. And they act like the bag of apples that they put in the grocery cart just up and climbed out, or the Pokemon decided it liked some one else better or preferred to be alone and wild. Just not fair, right?

    2. Exactly. The line about being “assessed for fatherhood” made me roll my eyes so hard I thought they’d get stuck. Yes, heaven forfend a woman should want things out of a relationship and accept or decline to start one with someone on that basis!

      1. The dude is 40 fucking years old. He is allowed to have any preferences he likes, but acting like it’s bizarre for women in their 30s to be thinking about Big Future stuff that affects their lives a great deal is not a good look on him.

        1. It’s the part about ‘she has time for a fling’ that exceptionally pissed me off. I’m sure she has time for many things, but having sex because his weiner is lonely obviously wasn’t a compelling one.

      2. Yeah, I’ve found it completely amazing the mental gymnastics that men who feel the universe should reward them All Teh Wimmenz will do to avoid saying the words, “Perhaps she did not want to fuck me.”

        Guys still living/working like college frat boys do not think their lack of motivation is unsexy and a possible indicator of immaturity: bitches be gold diggers (and God, trying to have that conversation with a dude who can’t make that connection is INFURIATING). Women who want an intellectual equal are snobs. Women who want someone they’re attracted to are SHALLOW WHORES…the list goes on. But ultimately, “She did not want to fuck me,” is never, never a thing that registers.

        1. I want someone to gather up all the perfectly worded gems like this and make a needlework sampler. I would give it to my children.

          1. Given that I teach in the southern US and how often I say this shit to my students, it’s truly amazing I still have a job.

          2. Wholeheartedly agree! And honestly, I am little jealous of it. I wish that every time I got rejected, I didn’t automatically do a full body/soul scan to figure out where things went wrong. A lot of my areas of growth have been around recognizing that rejection feels personal, but it is not a statement about self-worth. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little of that overflowing (if somewhat misguided) confidence? Sigh.

        2. Seriously, I really think it’s because so many dudes are raised with the mindset that women just plain don’t want to fuck and are going to have to be wheedled into it somehow. If you don’t think any ladies are straight-up looking to fuck you, it becomes hard to recognize the opposite. (And, yeah, even if they’ve gotten as far as “some ladies want the d” they still can’t get their heads around a subject/object situation in which the lady picks which d).

          1. “I really think it’s because so many dudes are raised with the mindset that women just plain don’t want to fuck and are going to have to be wheedled into it somehow.”

            After chewing this over, I think you’ve summed up why abstinence ‘education’ is so harmful.

            There’s nothing wrong with teaching teens to delay sexual activity until they feel emotionally ready, or encouraging them to wait for a partner who cares about and respects them. Yes, let’s do that!

            But the idea that females are the guardian of their bodies against males raging lust, implies that all sex is non-consensual. Worse, that women submit to being raped for emotional and economic reasons.

            If all sex is rape, and sex is necessary for procreation, then being raped is part of women’s biological destiny, unavoidable, inevitable. The goal for women becomes reaping the greatest reward for submission to rape.
            Under that mindset, opposite-sex relationships are inherently adversarial.

            Rejection of a man’s sexual advances becomes a rejection of who he is and what he has to offer. Not responding to a man’s desire becomes the height of rudeness, and women contort themselves into pretzels trying to reject a man without rejecting him.

            Conflating rape with regret for ‘bad sex’ becomes understandable, in this model, ‘bad sex’ is sex that did not produce the expected emotional, social, or economic reward for the woman. A woman who cries rape is a woman who placed a bad bet.

            The spectre of false rape accusations, theft through forced paternity, theft through coercion into marriage, these things only make sense in a world where women don’t experience sexual pleasure, and have no reason to seek it out for it’s own sake.
            Where men don’t enjoy it either, not really. When men have sex for affirmation of their worth rather than for pleasure, lying, manipulation, and abuse become justifiable defense strategies against women’s control over a man’s identity.

            Forcing LGBT people to engage in ‘traditional’ roles makes sense. If no one is really enjoying sex, then why rock the boat other than selfishness?

            What a nasty, ugly, world to live in.

            Fuck that. Fuck that with all the fucks that ever were.

          2. This is for espritdecorps: I think you just described the Republican Party’s platform regarding family values.

          3. espritdecorps: that is exactly what I see as the problem. Not even necessarily abstinance-only sex ed, as that’s relatively rare here, yet the internalised puritan concept that pre-marital sex is bad/all sex is bad for women, cheating is bad/but that’s just what men do, and rape is bad and they’re all kind of continuations of the same bad leads to the situation we have where there are generally worse consequences for a woman to be raped than a man to rape.

            (Not that awfulness is unique to male-on-female, but it’s the only one that really has any social script.)

    3. I had a guy message me on OKC despite him have a 40% enemy rating with me. I don’t take OKCs compatibility algorithms too seriously, so I decided to browse through his answers and see what exactly we disagreed on.

      When I told him I had literally ZERO interest in spending precious hours of my life on someone who thinks same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed have kids, he tried to argue me out of it! “Oh, I know we have a lot of different opinions, but that means we could have really interesting conversations!”

      I shot back with “Nope, sorry, certain things – such as the full humanity of LGBTQ folk – are not up for debate with me. That is not a conversation I would enjoy having. Goodbye.”

      He responds: “Oh come on… don’t you like to be challenged sometimes???”

      At which point I proceeded to severely deplete the world’s supply of facepalm.

  44. Delurking to agree on the OkC jailbait problem. It’s actually very dehumanizing, to be expected by random men who are physically attracted to you to not have expectations of your own for them. I think part of the trouble with dating in general is that every generic advice column there is says to not take it too seriously, to not discuss heavy relationship matters right away, and to just look for someone you enjoy spending time with. I admire the LW’s friend’s date for swimming against the current of shitty advice to pretend you have no relationship goals, or that your goals are far more casual than they are, and to get down to brass tacks with this guy. People who should date casually are people who want to date casually, not people unwilling to wait for a partner to be reading from the same page in the book of Where I’m At in My Life. And the LW’s friend never would have been able to “convince her” she didn’t want kids; I think if he’d even tried it, that date would have ended faster than it did.

    1. I had to peel my revulsion face off before I launched into a really long diatribe against this dude. UGH. UGH, DUDE. Check yourself, dude, and try having sex with women who you don’t have to trick into sleeping with you. This behavior is super gross and somewhat tinged with rape culture.

      Anyway, this letter stung a little. Both because I am that woman (basically – I’m single, early 30s, want kids, weeding out the ones who aren’t a good match) and his behavior terrifies me. And also because I have been that dude. I spent my 20s chasing men who didn’t want to date me seriously (for non-child-related reasons), and I just could not take a soft no for an answer. It took years before the light went on and I quit making excuses for these dudes. “He totally has time to date me for real, not just have sex when he’s drunk! I’ll just lie about stuff and trick him until he says he loves me!” This dude is the reverse 40s male version of me in my 20s. Several self-help books did the trick for helping me stop, but that is only because I grew tired of never getting what I wanted, and realized that something about my approach needed to change. Not sure what this dude needs, other than perhaps a hefty pride-quashing dose of “she doesn’t want to fuck you. If she wanted to fuck you, this is what it would look like.”

      Anyway, on a totally different note, if this dude is dead set on continuing his crusade for a fling, I guess you could suggest total honesty? Sometimes dating everyone on earth in a quest for your mate is exhausting, and a meaningless fling with someone you don’t like very much can be somewhat relaxing. That’s what I did earlier this summer, and it worked great. I also continued to date in hopes of finding a partner, and my fling was VERY clear that it was a meaningless fling. Everyone was on the same page, which made it great. But this assumes she does, in fact, want to fuck him. I’m thinking she does not. Otherwise, why wouldn’t she have just suggested the meaningless fling herself? That’s what I did.

      Tl;dr: She doesn’t want to fuck him.

  45. I have a fair number of single friends in their mid-30s who are currently navigating the dating scene.The woman from the date sounds like a fair number of my female friends, and I absolutely think she’s in the right. My friends talk about having the kid talk early–like, first or second date early, because none of us are getting any younger, and kids are a dealbreaker (or maker–no pun intended) for a great many people. Long term relationships take time to develop, so wasting time on flings and one-offs that aren’t going anywhere doesn’t actually sound like a good use of anyone’s time. Yeah, you get laid, but so what?

    My husband and I are friends with a couple who disagreed fundamentally on having children. They broke up several times because of that fact over the span of nearly three years until he ultimately changed his mind (and undid a vasectomy) because he wanted to be with her more than he wanted to be childless. They are now the parents of a lovely baby girl and, by all accounts, are very happy and made the right decision. That said, that decision didn’t come easily, and they both walked away at certain points because they knew what they wanted and thought they couldn’t have it together.

    I tell that story as the exception that proves the rule–it’s better to be upfront with what you want, and move on if you aren’t going to get it from the person you are with. Especially if it’s a first date, and that guy’s kind of a tool.

  46. Excellent points made about the importance of honesty in dating. Plenty of people just have a hard time dealing with rejection, but he does seem to lack self-awareness and yeah, his behaviour is questionable and creepy.

    It’s not really up to you to make him be ethical, although you can certainly use the Captain’s script to call him out next time he starts whining to you about how unfair it is that other people might have priorities that don’t include sleeping with him.

    But aside from his dating life being a red-flag to his shady ethics, are you really just asking if it’s ok to not be friends with this guy any more? Because it’s ok to not be friends with someone you don’t like much.

    “as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things.” – did he actually insinuate that to your face? Because that’s also not very cool of him. You feel like you’re not getting through to him – is that because he’s looking for people to agree with him and not really interested in listening to your opinion? I don’t want to read in too much to the minor details of your letter, but he doesn’t sound too fun to be around.

    Seriously, LW, if you want to cease being friends with this guy, and you think you could comfortably break it off, what’s stopping you? Get him an African Violet if you think you might just be happier without him in your friend group.

  47. Man, your friend, LW. Your friend.

    I’m thinking of so many women I know, and how many of them ended up happy from being up-front with people who were up-front in return. There’s the friend who when her husband proposed — she was nearly 50 — said “Yes, if we can have a house and a baby”. (She was OK with a long-term monogamous non-married relationship, but if he wanted to get married, she was damn well going to have the house and baby she’d always wanted out of a marriage.) There’s the friend who, in the days before internet dating, wrote a web form you had to fill out to apply to date her (she was only interested in vegetarians who wanted a serious relationship; she’s been married more than 10 years to the man she met that way). There’s the woman who was interested in flings during her 20s because she wouldn’t seriously date anyone who DIDN’T want a large family of children, but didn’t want to not date at all.

    And the thing is, their partners are happier, too. Everyone involved got to make decisions about appropriate investments of time & energy & emotion, based on clearly-stated parameters.

    I wonder how your friend would feel if he DID lie to this woman, and then he genuinely fell deeply in love with her, and then down the road had to admit the truth…and she left him?

  48. Your “friend” wants to use women as sex toys. He thinks he has a right to their bodies, and that they have to give him reasons he deems are good enough for him not to do what he likes with their bodies. Your entire “friend” group is like this.

    Oh, then there’s the lovely bit where they dismiss your opinion entirely.

    This has nothing to do with wanting babies or not; it could be anything. Your “friends” think women exist for the sexual gratification of men. You will not change them. And it is not your job to teach these horrible people the staggering notion that women are human beings. So… why ARE you still involved with these people?

    1. You know, it’s amazing how often douchebags playing “the devil’s advocate”-slash-BUTWHATABOUTTEHMENZ are given full attention and anyone dismissing them is an asshole, whereas someone speaking from not-actual-experience (or at least, not experience the group in question deems valid) is dismissed, often because the person doesn’t have a penis/doesn’t want the right gender/isn’t the right age/doesn’t come from the right cultural background. Dudes who argue from the viewpoint of another theoretical dude that OF COURSE they disagree with (but hear me out…) are valid, whereas women who argue from the viewpoint of other women are being irrational.

      1. It’s easy to cast yourself in the role of an objective observer when society deems your particular demographic the default human being.

        1. “It’s easy to cast yourself in the role of an objective observer when society deems your particular demographic the default human being.”

          Wow! May I steal that? That’s must to have in my back pocket when the d-bags thepaintedlady so eloquently described are a-spraying.

  49. I do think this gets us to a broader question: what do you do when dating works correctly and a friend feels rejected and bitter and hard-done-by? I have a friend, for example, who’s a hardcore evidence-gatherer: she collects up all the nice or encouraging things the other person did or said before they stopped going on dates with her as evidence that they were DISHONEST and LED HER ON and OWE HER MORE DATING. I don’t want to feed into this mindset, but when your friend is hurting and feels rejected and miserable and like they’re going to die alone it’s also hard not to just validate validate validate. And frankly not validating validating validating can be destructive to the friendship (I wonder if some of LW’s friends aren’t doing that when this dude gets going – going “yep, she sure was awful” because their buddy is sad and taking someone’s side against your friend is tough. I mean, if your friend gets a speeding ticket, in general most people go “oh, man, that sucks”, they don’t lecture their friend on traffic safety.)

    1. I get what you’re saying, but you can validate her feelings, not her assumptions… her feelings of being hurt and rejected and miserable are valid. Her interpretation of *why* it happened is not. And you can be completely sympathetic without encouraging the mindset that she was duped and lied to. “The dating worked! You found out you were not compatible! It sucks and it hurts, but I love you and you really don’t want to be with a person who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings! Let’s get ice cream!” Yay, right? I’ve had to do that with plenty of friends and I know they want to be heard and have their feelings acknowledged, but I also know that they realize they’ll get a straight answer from me too. Don’t play into martyrdom.

  50. I have a (now former) friend who, as long as I have known her, has never wanted kids. She always had a desperate need to be married by the time she was 25, though.

    So, when her long term relationship ended when she was 24, she frantically started husband searching. She found a guy who was six years older than her who was also chomping at the bit to get married. He also made it clear to her that he wanted kids. She told him that she’d be ready to have kids “five years” after they were married.

    Four years ago they married. She has kept moving that “five years” milepost to cover everything from her getting out of debt to finishing school to waiting until the return of Godot. Her husband (who I do not care for, but do pity in this regard) is not thrilled at the idea of becoming a first time father in his 40’s because she keeps pushing the “five years.” I really think she’s hoping that she waits too long so she can’t have kids. Had she been upfront from the beginning, she may not have been married by the time she was 25, but at the very least she would not have roped someone into a marriage under false pretenses.

  51. I am somewhat offended on your behalf, LW, that your opinion on dating, honesty and having children wouldn’t count because you’re 40 and gay. What the hell difference does that make? I’m straight, in my 30s and a mother – does that make my opinion more valid, for some reason? Your reasoning and urging for honesty certainly sounded valid to me, in my *heterosexual expert opinion*. SMH

  52. Also, for all of us who really wanted kids and didn’t get them, whether partially due to partner fuckwittage or not, I am presently constructing a blankie fort, of considerable size.

    Easy-bake ovens, directly outside, are producing cookies at a great rate, tea is on, and pizza has been ordered.

  53. “Ouroboros of NOPE” is delicious!

    I was dating using OK Cupid, and was 41 and definitely never want kids. I was able to put all that in my profile and I actually got hits specifically because of that element (I was told). Now, his wanting a younger baggage-free lady who knows she doesn’t want kids would have been me, you know, a decade ago, but I think maybe yeah he has the stink of entitlement about him as well. Definitely both parties here are getting the information they need up front. He learns she wants kids, so rules her out. She learns he doesn’t, and rules him out. Also: jackass. One of my dear friends has an awesome girlfriend who doesn’t want kids and he really wants kids, and they are stuck in a permanent détente because they really dig each other but no one is changing anyone’s mind. Cut to: more sadness, and/or someone relenting and resenting. This is better. But LW, please talk to your friend about how a two-way street works.

  54. I’ve been baby-crazy for most of my life, and always knew I wanted to have kids. I asked Mr. Anonymouse to spend the rest of his life with me the day I realized and pointed out that we had stopped talking about ‘if’ we had kids some day, and had started talking about ‘when’. We’d been together two years at that point (in college, so we weren’t planning on kids right away!), and had talked about it more times than I can count.
    Several years later, still together and still no kids for reasons of continuing education, I told the new boyfriend that we were planning on kids in the next few years. Because the new boy was a secondary relationship, I had the luxury of telling him that he didn’t need to be thinking about if he wanted to be a parent with me, but I was clear that if he *didn’t* want to parent with the two of us, he would never be more than a secondary. I can’t imagine not having that conversation fairly early on. Even though I didn’t need him to be the other primary parent. Even though I would have happily continued to see him separately from kids. The relationship didn’t last for other reasons, and the continuing education continues. But all new people have to know what the plan is, and so they can decide what they want to do about it. Even though we don’t need them to agree to parent when the time comes.

Comments are closed.