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Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON’T Desire Marriage?

"[Because I don't want a husband or kids], I'm a minority, within a minority, within a minority."—nappyheadedjojoba

Dating

I'm pretty sure that some of y'all are already hip to the woman who is known as nappyheadedjojoba. Me personally, I just started watching her videos a few months ago. She's quirky. She's super eloquent. Her humor is dry yet mad entertaining. In short, I dig her. So, when it came time to sit down and pen this particular piece, I smiled to myself because I already knew that she would serve as the ideal spokesperson, all thanks to a video that she posted last December entitled, "I Don't Want Kids. No, I'm Not Going to 'Change My Mind.'" She breaks her reasons down in seven minutes and one second, so it's worth your time to check it out in its entirety. But for those who simply want the gist, I transcribed some of her main points below:

"Simply because I'm still within my 'childbearing years', whenever I express that I'm not interested in having children, the response is typically like, 'Hmm, you'll probably change your mind' or "Hmm. Are you sure?' And, quite frankly, that response, in my opinion, is extremely dismissive and disrespectful. I'm not 15 years old, I'm not 20 years old; I think I would know by now if I were going to change my mind."
"Equally invasive is the fact that people constantly want to ask 'Why?' when I express that I don't want to have children. And, quite frankly, it isn't anyone's business. I don't owe anyone any explanation as to why I don't want kids. Nonetheless, the answer is pretty simple—I don't want kids because, I don't like them. I simply don't have that maternal urge to reproduce."
"As far as marriage goes, that also is not an aspirational thing for me; never has been. I never fantasized about some huge wedding, a giant white dress, even when I was a little girl…My aspirations in life have always been professional, aside from wanting a house with a yard so I can have a lot of dogs. And, it doesn't make me any less of a woman or any less feminine simply because my top priority isn't 'finding a husband' or starting a family."
Yeah, this part bears repeating: "It doesn't make me any less of a woman or any less feminine simply because my top priority isn't 'finding a husband' or starting a family."

Even as someone who counsels married couples, is a huge fan of that particular relationship dynamic and does want to get married someday, what she said still resonated all throughout my bones. As far as kids go, I made some decisions in my past that I regret; I regret, but I am at total peace about (trust me, my clock is screaming at this point but these days, let it). As far as a husband goes, if the right man comes along, I am all about a small wedding, a long honeymoon and foregoing a diamond ring for a new car or something (just sayin'). So yeah, clearly this means that nappyheadedjojoba and I are not exactly on the same page. But what I can celebrate is how intentional she is when it comes to how she feels about becoming a wife and/or a mom, along with how responsible she's being as it relates to her future, in general. To me, "planned parenting" isn't just about putting on a condom or popping a pill (y'all, I just read something a little crazy about the pill, by the way; you can check it out here).

It's about knowing what you want or don't want and then living your life according to those principles, preferences and personal standards.

If you listen to the video in its entirety, you'll peep that, aside from not wanting to be a mommy, nappyheadedjojoba doesn't really have marriage on her menu either. That doesn't mean she's not open to dating, however. And yeah, I totally get that too. Just because you may not desire to be someone's life partner (or to make that kind of relationship official by signing on the dotted line of a marriage contract), that doesn't mean you don't want—or shouldn't have—companionship.

So, if after reading all of this, you are trying to not exclaim "YES! FINALLY!" while you're at your desk or you're walking in the grocery store, I just wanted to say, "I support you in wanting what you want". I also wanted to share a few quick tips on how to make this point of personal resolve a lot less of a taxing issue for those who might be more like "Huh?" than "OK" about you being all about dating but totally turned off to marriage.

No, You Are Not a Walking Contradiction

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A guy by the name of Jefferson Bethke once said, "Dating with no intent to marry is like going to the grocery store with no money. You either leave unhappy or take something that isn't yours." I'm pretty sure some of y'all have heard of Tony Gaskins. He once said, "If marriage isn't the goal, why are you dating? That's like working a job and saying you don't want benefits or a retirement plan." I get where both of these men are coming from; they are speaking about dating with the intention to marry. But there is a couple that I had a brief chat with a few weeks ago who are both widows (around in their 50s). They've been dating for a few years now. When I asked them if marriage was the goal, both of them looked at me like I cussed them out. "Absolutely not," the woman said laughing. "We love each other, but we've 'been there, done that'. We just like each other's company."

Because I personally think that a lot of people confuse dating and courting (dating is about getting to know someone; courtship is what happens when the intention is to head towards marriage), they tend to be like, "If you don't want to get married, what's the point of dating?" But dang. Folks can't check out a movie, enjoy dinner or mutually decide to hang out without wanting to jump a broom?

Humans are made for companionship. Not everyone wants it to remain strictly on a platonic level. That doesn't mean they want to become spouses, though. If you like to date because you enjoy meeting new people and making connections, there is nothing wrong with that and there is nothing wrong with you.

But because it can be perceived by some as leaning on the side of being counter-cultural, let's move on to the next point.

Be As Upfront As Possible, Right Out of the Gate

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A writer by the name of Donna Lynn Hope once said, "I don't make people comfortable; that's what couches are for." I like what she said because a lot of people are totally uncomfortable with someone's truth and boundaries. But you know what? If someone in your world is trying to impose how they choose to live their life on you, that says more about them than anything. So, don't be hesitant, apologetic or yes, uncomfortable about not wanting to get married. You not wanting to is a complete thought. Any more of an explanation that you provide is privileged information. And I'm telling you, life is teaching me more and more that when folks don't accept your initial statement on something, they are already showing signs of disrespecting your boundaries, whether they realize it or not.

That said, as far as your family members and friends go, if they are constantly bringing up marriage to you, be direct—"Y'all, I do not want to get married." When they start to look at you like you are crazy or like you are a stray puppy in need of a home, follow that up with, "It's by choice, not by circumstance." When the "but, but, buts" follow, it's OK to say, "You have your life and I have mine. This is how I choose to live mine." Then kindly direct them to "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'". Hmph. Although there's no time to get into all of this today, I will say that some people can't fathom folks who choose to never marry because it was never modeled to them how dope that way of life can also be. Oh, and if any of these people are church-goin' ones, kindly remind them that two of the most influential people in the Bible were single—Christ and Paul. BAM!

As far as the dating world goes, something else that nappyheadedjojoba mentions is how, when she's dating online and sees that a man is looking for a future mother for his future children, she is quick to "swipe left". Good for her. You should do the same thing. And if you do make a connection with someone and it gets to first-date-status, feel free to bring up that marriage isn't something that you desire. And, as far as you can see, it's not up for negotiation. No sense in you and "him" getting all attached, only to realize that you both want totally different things.

Oh, and simply because I feel led to say this—make sure these guys out here don't assume that just because you don't want to be their wife that you want to be some casual play toy. There are a lot of possibilities in between "Nice to meet you" and "Will you marry me?" Standards don't only apply to women who are looking for a husband.

Some men think otherwise. If you feel like a guy that you just started seeing is one of them, school them as soon as possible.

Know What It Is That You Do Want. And Pursue That.

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There are a few people I know who don't want to get married but do like to date. Something that a couple of them admit that they need to work on is figuring out exactly what it is that they do want from their potentially-more-than-platonic relationships. You don't want to be a wife, but what do you desire? A casual dating companion? A boyfriend? Something somewhere in between that? Something a little more than both?

It's going to be hard for you to find someone who complements your lifestyle if you're not sure what kind of non-marital situation you prefer to be in. The sooner you know, the easier it will be to articulate that to your prospects.

And girl, don't worry—whatever it is, there are more than two handfuls of men (probably per county) who will have no problem with it. Because I'm sure that it is no newsflash that a lot of men don't want to get married either.

Dating with no desire for marriage, really only becomes problematic when the two people who are seeing each other desire something totally different. But again, even though I adore the concept and purpose of marriage, I don't think that individuals who don't want it should be "punished" by not being able to have more than just their homies to go out and spend time with. As long as two people are on the same page, it can still be a beautiful story.

To me, "cheers" to you for knowing what kind of relationship you want—and don't want; a lot of people can't say they are as clear as you are. And, don't feel you the least bit guilty for wanting something that doesn't result in walking down an aisle.

The way I see it, it's better to date without marriage in mind than to do something you don't want to do and end up in divorce court someday. Again, I counsel couples. Several people I work with realized on the backend that the reason why their marriage blew up is because they were better built for the single life. A lot of pain could've been spared if they knew about themselves what you already know—that marriage isn't for everyone, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Refuse to let anyone "single shame" you for not wanting what they expect of you (humans can be a real trip, can't they?). Be direct about your position. Shoot them the hyperlink to nappyheadedjojoba's video. And continue to go on about your life. Some people don't get the concept of "dating not to marry" because they've never seen it done and/or done well before. How about you be the one to show them?

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Here Are The Dating Trends That You Need To Avoid At All Costs

Are You Wasting Your Time With "Expiration Dating"?

5 Things That Are OK To Require On A First Date

This Is What You Can Get Out Of A BAD Date

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