That is why, especially early in a relationship, Felicity believes you shouldn’t shy away from these conversations. “I’d rather find out early that we are not compatible,” she explains. Felicity says that sometimes when she tells men she doesn’t want children, they assume she means now. “The first time I told someone ‘never,’ it really caused them to look at me differently, a combination of suspicion, sadness, and defensiveness. I was suddenly other.”
Jerra says that is one reason why she didn’t disclose her decision to not have children in past relationships. “I’d been conditioned to believe that I would chase men away if I told them I didn’t want children up front,” she says. “By withholding this information, I realize now that it only made things worse.” Now she is very transparent, though she doesn’t feel it’s necessary to discuss on the first date. “It’s not something I’ll bring up on my own, but I am transparent and honest about wanting to remain child-free.”
“I remember a brief silence and him saying, ‘But you’ve always wanted kids. We’ve always talked about having them.’”
There are also communities, especially online, for child-free women who are navigating the dating field to help remind them that their feelings are valid, such as We Are Childfree and The Not Mom. Karen Malone Wright, founder of The Not Mom, recommends that child-free women disclose their decision on the first or second date, and no later than the third. “Don’t wait until one or both of you are emotionally committed to have this critical conversation,” she explains. Also, she adds, don’t assume that a potential love interest who is also child-free is automatically The One. “It’s risky to assume that just because a person says they agree with your child-free choice that he or she is being honest with you and with himself or herself. As in any relationship, get to really know the other person before committing your heart, your time, and your life.”
Though those risks are there, that shouldn’t discourage anyone from pursuing romantic love while staying true to themselves. When Jennifer realized she didn’t want kids, it was a week into her engagement. “When I was sure it wasn’t just a passing thought, I brought up to my fiancé that I was having doubts about wanting children,” she says. “He was surprised and taken aback by my admission. I remember a brief silence and him saying, ‘But you’ve always …….