Abstaining from parenthood does not make you a screwed up, selfish, or damaged person.
Being a woman who does not want to become a mother is still a bit of a cultural anomaly in 2017.
Granted, our society in these ever-modernizing times is showing increased signs of acceptance of these women. But there’s a lot of work to be done: The pressure is still abundant for women to behave maternally. Those who do not, are largely considered abnormal outliers.
Those who don’t want kids, often still want partners. So how does being outside of that group affect dating? If you’re a woman who doesn’t want children, sustaining a romantic relationship is somewhat of a demonstrable art.
No kids doesn’t mean no wedding.
If children are not on the table, why even bother with getting married?
“Ultimately, I loved the idea of a lifelong partner, and solidifying that relationship,” says my 28-year-old, resident married friend (RMF). “Marriage is the ultimate commitment, and even though I was with my husband for almost six years by the time we got married, I knew marriage would officially seal the deal.”
There are many reasons to get married, even if you’re not planning to have kids. Tax breaks afforded to married couples, benefits, and of course making your commitment to each other official.
Plus, just because you don’t want to have a baby doesn’t mean you don’t want to have a wedding: a huge, festive party that is all about you. Being a bride and having a celebration about how in love you are is fabulous.
You most definitely don’t have to be a mom to be worthy of happiness.
Not wanting children is completely at odds with how girls are raised.
From the time we’re little girls, we’re given baby dolls and told to aspire to be moms one day. But these teachings don’t take into account (or even acknowledge) that this may not be the path for every female.
“I’ve never really had that maternal instinct,” says my RMF. “I don’t usually think babies are cute, have no desire to hold them, and the thought of physically giving birth and having to rear a child has always sounded awful to me. It’s not that I hate kids — other people’s children are perfectly fine — I’ve just never felt that desire to have any of my own.”
Some women just don’t want to be mothers. It seems like a novel notion to many, but it isn’t a decision that should be met with such surprise. Some women would rather focus on another aspect of their lives rather than kids.
Women who don’t want children have to be ready for a lot of the same questions.
In a society where people default to thinking you’re jumping for joy over the prospect of motherhood, talking about your uncommon attitude can become rather cumbersome.
“I used to casually bring up not wanting kids,” says Gina, 36. “Everyone always wants to know why, or they ask what’s wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with me! This is just my choice. I don’t really bring it up anymore because it’s so f**king annoying.”
In relationships, openness and honesty are key when it comes to not wanting babies.
For many people, the prospect of having kids is non-negotiable. If you want to have children, agreeing not to have them for the sake of your partner can create lots of resentment down the road. And if you’re a woman who wishes to forgo motherhood, you need to find someone on the same page. The trick is being open and confident about your decision and not apologizing for it.
“I told a guy I was dating that I didn’t want children,” Gina says. “We’d probably been together three months or so. He didn’t take it seriously. He actually said, ‘Talk to me in a few years.’ After another month (give or take) went by, we talked about it again. I told him that I was really serious about not being a mom and he said he was very serious about being a father one day. It didn’t end the relationship right away, but I knew it was over after that conversation.”
If you’re dating someone and you find out they want children, and you don’t, it’s a huge indicator that this relationship is not going to work. Instead of seeing it as a dealbreaker, try to envision it as a make-or-breaker. Figuring this out at the beginning of a partnership will relieve you of MUCH unwanted stress down the line.
Finding a partner who doesn’t want children can be a challenge.
Sure, there are plenty of people out there who don’t want to be parents. But when finding love is already such a pain in the ass, finding someone who is both great AND wants to be kid-free is especially difficult.
“I remember I was seeing this guy who was obsessed with his nieces and nephews,” my RMF says. “He would always give me updates on what they were doing, their milestones, and show me pics. I had to try really hard to feign interest; I just legitimately couldn’t get excited about what he was talking about.”
The man my RMF ended up marrying also loved kids — but like my friend, he didn’t want any of his own. “When we first started dating,” she says, “I assumed he would eventually want kids because he’s so good with them (and I clearly am not). I figured this would eventually come up and be a deal breaker. [But] our feelings on it had been clear, individually, before we even got together. The fact that we both feel that way and ended up being together is just icing on the cake.”
Abstaining from parenthood does not make you a screwed up, selfish, or damaged person. Choosing not to have kids is a choice, just like everything else in life. The person you will be happiest with is someone whose perspectives on issues like parenthood are in agreement with your own.
“When we talk about our future, it involves traveling and professional goals — not having kids and raising a family,” says my RMF. “Is that selfish? You’re damn right. Another reason why we shouldn’t be having kids.”
Gigi Engle is a writer, feminist activist and dick whisperer living in New York City. She is the sex and relationships writer for Thrillist and formerly Elite Daily. A former party girl she now enjoys reading, traveling and writing dirty, sexy things on the internet. Gigi is represented by DeFiore literary agency.
This originally appeared on Ravishly. For more, check out On Defending My Right To Not Want What You Want, When None Of Your Feminist Friends Want Kids, and 10 Actual Things I’ve Heard Because I’m Almost 30 And Don’t Have Kids