One of the things I regularly find when I’m online dating is a reticence on the part of men “of a certain age” to give a straight answer to the question “Want kids?” I’m well over 40, and having kids is really not on my agenda, so I regularly read the answer to that question on a man’s profile. There are several possible answers to this question on the site I’m currently using – yes, no, not sure, maybe, definitely and someday. The answers I’ve seen are really quite surprising.
Recently, a 47-year-old man messaged me and expressed interest. After reading his profile and seeing that his response to this question was “someday”, I decided to write back. I thanked him for his email and mentioned this response, explaining that I was not interested in having kids, I was looking for a long-term relationship and that we were not a match on that point. He wrote back and said – I swear it happened – that he was definitely NOT looking for a woman who wanted kids, so he changed his answer to “not sure”. Thanks for being so definitive about your interest in having children!
Having griped about this, let me say that there are men out there who are very up front, either passionately desiring kids or definitely not wanting any or any more. I am a little puzzled about why so many can’t commit to an answer. When a man is 25 he may not know if he wants children, but after age 45, one should have a pretty good idea. So I started thinking about the whys and wherefores of the Q&A process for online dating.
Here is my unscientific hypothesis about why men are afraid to commit to a response. Men want to keep their reproductive options open. If you look at the profiles of men who are in their 40s and 50s, you’ll see that many of them have not said no to having (more) kids. You will also notice that many of these men are seeking women significantly younger than they. I believe that either 1) a man wants a younger mate because he wants kids 2) he is hopeful that he’ll get a younger mate and she may want kids or 3) he just hasn’t given this question one second of thought. Allow me to elaborate on the third possibility.
Last year I went on a date with a man who was 57. On our first date, he asked me why I had not had children. Really not a first date question, in my opinion, but I am an open book, so I answered. I mentioned that he had written in his profile that he was not sure about kids and his answer was a little surprising. He wasn’t even aware that was the response he’d given. Even after admitting that he wasn’t aware of his response, he went on to say something like, “I guess the time has probably passed for that”. Even at age 57, he wasn’t really willing to say, “Nah, no kids for me”. Mr. “Definitely not looking for a woman who wants kids” made a similar comment.
So, where am I going with all this? I find that most people tell you exactly what you need to know on a dating profile. In fact, I would argue that people who only put 2 or 3 sentences on the page, are telling you exactly who they are! They are unavailable for or can’t be bothered with the work of dating, which speaks poorly of their ability to be bothered with a relationship. Pay close attention to how your prospects answer any questions that are of high importance to you. If he or she can’t give you a solid answer, then move on! Dating is hard enough without adding that complication to the equation and, frankly, it is an easy out for someone who might start something with you, but has no intention of having a long-term relationship.