Men’s Corner: When She Doesn’t Want Kids


What would you do if after several years dating you discovered that the love of your life isn’t interested in children — especially when you see a future as a family man? If she’s more than content remaining a childless couple and not continuing the gene pool, what options do you have? Do you stick with it and hope she changes her mind — or break things off? We look at the choices men should contemplate if dealing with this important dilemma.

How Soon Should You Discuss Kids?

Some psychologists have suggested discussing the issue of reproduction early on in a relationship. In one book, the writer even advises raising the subject after just three dates. Dr. Helen Nightingale, clinical psychologist and therapist in London, stresses that the subject is “one of the most important life issues you’re ever going to face” and emphasizes the need for a guy to do some serious thinking about what he wants in life.

“Choosing whether you want to breed is probably one of the most serious life issues you will ever deal with,” says Dr. Nightingale. “If marriage is in the cards but it’s suddenly going to be no kids — and you’re taken aback by that — then you obviously haven’t asked the right questions in terms of entering into a relationship.”

Dexter, 37, is facing such a scenario now. “I’ve been with my girlfriend Tamsin for eight years. She’s a year older and I feel the biological clock is ticking away. At the moment she’s keen on marriage, but not on the idea of having kids. I’m just hoping that she’ll come round to the idea. I love her but want a family as well.”


Dr. Petra Boynton, social psychiatrist at University College London, believes that a guy should tread carefully when airing his feelings from the start. “It could be quite off-putting to bring up the issue so soon. Because whether you’re saying you want them or you never want to have them, it’s saying to the person that you’re dating that you’re thinking about this in relation to them. And that could scare them off.”

Dr. Boynton certainly doesn’t agree about having a set time to bring the issue up. “If you’re saying on Date No. 3 that you never want to have kids, well, that’s as full-on as saying that you would love to have kids.”

Listen To Your Partner


So imagine you’ve been dating for months and the situation gets serious. The subject of children comes up over a drink, and she says she has no intention of having kids. What are the options that won’t necessarily mean finishing the relationship? Dr. Boynton believes in talking honestly about the situation and the future together.

“I think your first thing to find out is what they’re actually saying. Is it that they don’t want children right now or is it that they don’t want kids until a particular situation, i.e. marriage? Or is it that they can’t actually have children? Or finally is it a no, not ever? So there are all kinds of scenarios, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship. But it’s important to listen to what’s being said, and not jump to conclusions or presume things for the future.”

Martin is in his late 30s and has been dating a 35-year-old divorcee for eight months. “If she was enthusiastic about having children I’d propose to her now,” says Martin. “But there is no indication that she wants a family. I have to consider whether I should continue with the relationship before we get too involved. I want kids by the time I’m 40. I hate the idea of being an ‘old dad,’ but we’ll stick in there for a while…”

Practical Decisions

Dr. Boynton believes it can be a risky strategy for couples to stay together in the hope — for him at least — that a partner will come round. “If it’s a case of your partner saying, ‘No, not ever,’ then your options are to hang around and see, because people do change their minds. But then be brave enough to ask if they think it’s just a temporary relationship.”

Jake, 32, had been with his partner for a couple of years when the discussion about children came up. His girlfriend, who travels abroad a great deal due to her job, told him that under no uncertain terms was she “going to ruin her figure for a kid.”

“She’s everything I want — sexy, good fun, like-minded soul mate,” asserts Jake, “But she doesn’t have a maternal bone in her body. I think in hindsight we may have stayed together too long because we both know we want different things in life — but I just can’t bear to give her up.”


Another avenue to explore is counseling for couples who love each other but have found themselves in a crisis over such matters. Doing therapy together is helpful to come to terms with realities. Dr. Boynton believes it’s one of the best ways to see a clear path. “The therapist can help broker the conversation and get both partners to understand what it is they really are saying. If it is a case that it looks like you’re going to break up, then counseling can help you do that less painfully. It’s important to make a choice based on your decision, whatever that may be — a future together without kids, or splitting up.”


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