Hi Evan,

You frequently advise singles to reevaluate their list of deal breakers and to shorten that list where they can to increase their options.

How do you feel about applying that advice to parenting preferences?

I’m interested in dating women in their 30’s through early 40’s. I like children, but I am sure that I don’t want to be a parent. It seems likely that women who list exactly how many children they want on Match.com are pretty set on their preferences too.

I don’t want to date someone, grow attached to her and then feel hurt when the parenthood issue sends us off on our separate ways. The option of least risk would be to filter my searches to only return profiles of women who are sure they don’t want to be parents. My problem with that option is that it also returns a greatly reduced number of profiles.

I know you don’t have a magic wand, so I just have to play the hand I’ve been dealt. I’m willing to take a risk by contacting women who list that they are “not sure” about wanting children. I’m wondering if there are other types of women worth taking a risk on. Maybe women who may have listed a less than accurate preference about having children to not scare people away?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

Steve

Steve,

I’m running your email, not only because you’re a regular commenter, but because it follows last week’s question so neatly.

Steve’s a perfect example of a kind, relationship-oriented guy, who is extremely conscientious about the potential damage of two partners having different long-term goals. Of course, he’s more worried about getting hurt than he is about hurting the woman, but we’ll leave that aside. The point is that he is, as he pointed out, in a position of scarcity. Act with integrity and his pool of dateable women diminishes considerably.

Expecting your partner to share your rare passion cuts your dating pool by 99%.

This brings up a larger point that I’ve wanted to make for a long time:

People who are not “mainstream” have some very tough choices to make in dating. These choices mainly apply to two sets of people:

1) People who are in a minority in their preferences and insist that others share their preferences.

You’re in a minority in your preferences if you were into BDSM, or were an animal activist, or gave half your earnings to the Pentecostal Church.

There’s no judgment against minorities, but we must acknowledge that if you insist that your partner also have your non-mainstream preference, there are going to be far fewer singles from which to choose.

Simple exercise: Ask yourself what percent of people are ALSO (hardcore bikers, jobless backpackers, Buddhists who don’t believe in possessions)? Expecting your partner to share your rare passion cuts your dating pool by 99%.

My advice: find someone who is open to/tolerates your passion. Otherwise, accept the fact that it’s going to be a rare day, indeed, when you find the cute, kind, stable, age-appropriate, emotionally available person who ALSO eats only green foods.

2) People who are in a minority of OTHER people’s preferences.

An Asian man who will only date Caucasian women.

A sixty-year-old widow who will only date men 5-10 years younger.

A Jewish rocker with dreadlocks who wants to be with a Jewish woman.

A man who doesn’t want to have children. Let’s call him Steve.

My advice to you is the same as my advice to anyone who restricts their own choices: open up or quit complaining how hard you’ve made it on yourself.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with these choices, except to point out that they are choices that are self-restricting.

You can probably add other things to this list, including overweight women, older women, short men, and poor men. These are not choices, but they are groups that face longer odds because they don’t fit into many people’s preferences.

So if you’re in one of the above minorities and you’re faced with a frustrating situation, you have a choice: Keep doing what you’re doing, or change. I don’t judge you either way. I just have to point out the obvious:

If you’re only open to dating 5% of the population – you’re going to have a harder time finding love.

So what changes can be made?

An overweight woman could lose weight. The Jewish rocker could cut his hair to appeal to his demographic. The vegan could tolerate a man who eats chicken and eggs. The shorter man could be open to heavier women, the older woman to older men.

The problem is when we refuse to budge and then complain how hard it is to find anyone. It would be like me saying that I want to drive a car, but I’ll only drive a hot pink Lamborghini that I see being driven down my street. Guess I’m not going to be doing too much driving.

I don’t blame you, Steve, for not wanting to have kids. It’s a huge decision, a life-altering decision, and you shouldn’t do it if it makes you feel profoundly uncomfortable. Just know that the only options you have are to date women in their 30’s who state that they don’t want kids, to date women who are in their 40’s who may be cool with the idea of not having kids, or wait for women in their 50’s whose kids are already grown.

Otherwise, buddy, my advice to you is the same as my advice to anyone who restricts their own choices: open up or quit complaining how hard you’ve made it on yourself.

By the way, thanks for putting yourself on the line with this one – a lot of readers can identify with you.

Evan