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
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.