Dear Prudence

Help! I Refuse to Date Single Moms. Does That Make Me a Shallow Jerk?

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

Photo illustration of a woman with a child crossed out next to a man facing away.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Hannah Busing on Unsplash and michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Daniel Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. Matchmaking: A recent career shift and a divorce have me moving back to my home city where both my sisters live. My divorce was amicable; we realized we married too young and were too different. I still talk to her. My sisters keep trying to set me up with friends. I wouldn’t mind this, except all the women are single mothers. I am looking for a serious relationship, but I have no desire to play Papa or have a part-time partner. I have never been a kid person, no matter how much I love my nephews. I had a vasectomy years ago because my ex and I agreed to no kids.

I guess I put my foot in my mouth, and my older sister, who is a divorced single mom, got very upset with me. She called me shallow, stupid, and “exactly what was wrong with the American male.” My other sister told me she was disappointed in me. I am pretty annoyed—I don’t think my dating criteria is any worse than an atheist not wanting to date someone deeply religious. It is not about judgment, just incompatible lifestyles. It isn’t like I am fetishizing another race or going after barely legal coeds. I just want an attractive, single woman whom I can enjoy my life with. What do I say to my sisters?

A: “I love you both so much, and it’s been really kind of you to try to set me up on dates. But it’s clearly not working out. I don’t want children, and I’d rather be single than date someone else with children when I know I can’t be a co-parent in the long run. I think you know how much I love my nephews, what great mothers I think you both are, and how happy I am to spend time with the kids as an uncle and a babysitter—I certainly hope you know that, because it’s true. But I also hope you can respect my decision not to be a parent myself and know that it’s not a reflection on your identities as parents—nor does it make me shallow or stupid just because I know my own mind and what I’m looking for in a relationship. From now on, I’ll look for my own dates.”