All too often the subject of kids—and knowing if they’re a possibility with a new partner—isn’t handled with much care. It has a sneaky way of becoming a checklist question; a question that is asked early on to determine whether or not someone is worth seeing again. With biological clocks ticking, some women and men are rushing to get an answer before “wasting” one more minute with someone who might not share the same goals. That rush prevents real chemistry from blooming, regardless of the partner’s desire to have children in the future.
So how do you date when you know you want kids?
Describe your approach to family plans, without any pressure for your partner to be a part of it.
What to say: “Family dinners and minivans are probably out there somewhere, but I still have no idea how I’m going to get from point A to point B.”
Here’s why this works: This kind of comment reveals your plans for a family without any expectation for your partner to respond in a certain way. Not only are you able to express yourself authentically, but you are doing so in a way that doesn’t involve deadlines or ultimatums.
Don’t let kid-centric or family-centric conversation be the hot topic.
Here’s why this works: You are more than your desire to have children. With a healthy self-esteem intact, you don’t need a sperm/egg donor to make your life complete; you have yourself and you are complete as is. Even though children are a top priority, you come first. In other words, you are looking for the right person for you before looking for the best parent to a child. When dating is about you, you partner will feel like he or she complements you, and isn’t just being vetted for sperm or egg donor.
Accept where your partner is—and the personal goals he or she has.
Here’s why this works: In the wake of amazing chemistry, we can create a narrative that doesn’t exist. For example, we may think, “We have such a good thing going, of course he will change his mind when we get more serious.” This kind of thinking reveals that we do not accept our partner as he or she is; instead, we are hoping for them to change. This added pressure on our partner will ultimately cause friction and disappointment when his or her mind doesn’t change.
Be patient with those who are unsure, but keep the door open to those who are.
Here’s why this works: Some people aren’t sure about kids in their future for situational reasons. Perhaps they are in the midst of a career transition that is taking up most of their future planning. Maybe they are close to someone who is dealing with the agony of infertility. Maybe they need the right partner first to see kids in the future. Whatever the reason is, there’s no need to eliminate someone who isn’t exactly on your same page right away. With that being said, it’s also wise to keep the door open to those who may be ready to start their family sooner.
You should have a sense of your partner’s feelings about a future family before committing.
Here’s why this works: Dating is your chance to explore the likelihood of a lasting relationship. If you aren’t sure what he or she feels about kids, continue keeping doors open until you have a better sense. Signing onto serious emotional and time investment without a nod to your personal priorities is too much to risk—your time is too valuable.