Thursday, November 5, 2009

Meeting CF Folks

Today I thought I would pose a question to all of you: how do you meet other childfree folks? I don't know about you, but my experience has been that most of the childfree people I connect with are on-line, through sites like this, or discussion boards or other places where I am not likely to meet them in person.

In "real life" I know very few people who define themselves as "childfree". I know people who don't have kids, but in some cases I think they hold that distinction by circumstance, not by any deliberate decision.

I have been very proactive in trying to foster childfree friendships. I once even ran a childfree social group through Meetup.com. While this was a great idea in principle, and Meetup.com's web site is very well organized, easy to use and attracts plenty of members, I came to discover that most people who sign up for social groups on-line are all talk and no action. They sign up in droves, but very, very few actually turn out for gatherings or make any meaningful effort at getting to know others. With over 120 members and an vast assortment of events for members to choose from, I was lucky if 3 or 4 people turned out at any given event.

This surprised me. I had this idea in my mind that childfree people would not only have plenty of free time to invest in social relationships, but given their marginalized status in our baby-crazed society, would be STARVED to meet like-minded folks who could spend an evening talking about something other than diapers and school systems.

How about you? Do you have many childfree friends? Do you meet many childfree people? How do you do it?

Also, for our single readers who are looking for a childfree soulmate, how does one find one? (I am sure many would love your tips if you've had success in this area). I was lucky to find mine by chance, but I know it's not that easy for many.

Please share by posting a comment.

23 comments:

The Frazzled Student said...

I love your blog!

My husband and I do have a couple--our best friends--that are child free. But, that's because they're gay and haven't yet reached a definitive decision on whether or not they want children someday.

I'm at a loss for how to make childfree friends as well, so will be keeping an eye on the comments here for ideas.

As far as meeting my childfree mate, I met him on craigslist. I had dated childfree men prior to him though. One tip I can give is to start the children discussion with a possible life mate early in the dating process. If you've met online, ask about whether the person has children in the first couple emails. Hopefully, that will draw out some kind of response besides yes or no.

Keep adding to the discussion as you begin dating. If you find out the person has kids or wants them, you know it's time to move on.

Hi! I'm Erin said...

I run a childfree meetup site, too, and I have the exact same issue you run into. Lots of people signing up, no one participating. I have met a few people through the group that I hang out with outside the group, but no one I've really, seriously clicked with.

djmist said...

While sites like this one are great for talking to like-minded people, I would never focus on specific characteristics to define a person/group that I wanted to socialize with. Perhaps this explains why many people don't turn out to events, yet are more than happy to discuss ideologies online. The thing is, I think it's likely that I would like/dislike the same percentage of childfree people as I like/dislike within the general population as a whole. I'm likely to find something I have in common with most people. If it's not childfreedom then maybe it's sports or cooking or books or, yes, even kids. If an individual can't stop talking about their kids then they really aren't that interesting as a person - the same as someone who can only discuss sports. I know some childfree people feel marginalized but it shouldn't lead us to be insular as a individuals. As for finding a childfree mate, I'm interested to see what others have to say on that one because my wife and I sort of evolved into it after we were married - luck?

Chris said...

Too funny! I ran a CF meetup group for a year, same problem. A member took it over and ran it for a few months then folded it, again with the same problem.
This is extremely discouraging.
My wife and I are also looking for ways to find CF couples to hang with, without much luck.

I think you just have to try and expand your circle, and hope that you meet at least a few CF people.

The one tip I am thinking is try to find activities and classes during the week that aren't "cheap."
Example: Martial arts classes that run during the week. I've met some people and only our sensai has kids.

Childfreeeee said...

Frazzled student, I share your opinion that it's best to bring up the kids issue very early on in a dating relationship. It needs to be gotten out of the way early, before any serious emotional attachments begin. I truly believe that a relationship in which 2 people do not agree on children is doomed.

Erin, we also met some nice people in my CF group but I wouldn't say we really clicked with more than a couple of them in any significant way. As djmist said, just because someone is childfree doesn't mean you will automatically be compatible with them.

There are a couple of reasons I still like to pursue making childfree friends. First of all, the obvious advantage of not having to working your social life around child responsibilities. Childfree people don't have to get babysitters. They can stay out late. They can plan things spur of the moment. They can go away for a whole weekend without a big to-do. They can travel to locations that aren't kid friendly. They can stay up late. They can drink too much once in awhile (not that that's important, but you know what I mean).

The second thing is, it's nice to associate with people who GET our lifestyle. It's nice to hang with people whose life isn't centered around kids and childrearing and who embrace the childfree lifestyle and philosophy. It's nice to talk to people who keep current on events, take courses, have hobbies and interests to talk about. I am not saying that no parents can do this, but a significant part of most parents' lives is sacrificed when they have kids, so in a general way, I find parents to be less interesting to hang out with. (Of course, there are always exceptions).

Chris, I like your idea about finding classes and activities that aren't cheap as this will scare most parents away. Problem is, right now in the current economy, I can't afford things that aren't cheap! :(

Sarah said...

I know how you feel. My new husband and I are in our early thirties and have a lot of friends but they all either have kids or will be having kids soon. It makes me wonder who we will hang out with once all our friends have children. Not that they can never hang out but they can't be spontaneous, stay out late or do many activities without their children. I think kids are fine but I don't generally want to hang out with them. Our friends are great but I wish we had some childfree friends who would have the freedom to hang out whenever they want. There is a childfree meet up group where I am but it has 2 members and I get the impression, as you have, that a lot of people in meet up groups never show up to functions.

Erin said...

I, too, find CF couples / singles to be more interesting and stimulating (presumably, because they do keep up with current events, read interesting books, enjoy road trips, etc. and generally can have adult conversations); however, I don’t want to limit my circle of friends solely to those who are CF. It would possibly exclude people whose company I enjoy because we share common hobbies or interests. I have different circles of friends / acquaintances: wine club, book club, sports, but the best group is a long-time group of wonderful and fun BFFs. We’ve done everything together – travel, holidays, birthdays, pot-luck dinners, poker parties, movie nights, etc. I am very blessed! Of course, they’re mostly all CF which allows them the time to get together.

My closest CF friends are those who choose to invest the time and desire in developing and maintaining relationships. Once people have children their focus changes (as it should) and friends get dropped down a couple of rungs and sometimes completely dismissed. Like the author of this blog, I, too, have lost friends over the years because we just don’t seem to have anything in common anymore. It’s probably my fault b/c I don’t want to listen ad naseum to stories of diapers, daycare dilemmas, and spit-up; my co-workers have long since stopped talking about their kids because I just don’t respond to this drivel. I have friends who have children and I am thankful that they’re not the kind of parents who drone on about their kids. I do enjoy hearing a tidbit now and then about their kids, but we’re friends for other reasons.

Don’t automatically discard potential friends who have adult children. These folks are done with the daily parenting and finally have time to pursue their own interests. For someone in their 40s, I’m finding it easier to connect with people in this demographic. I simply suggest broadening your circle of friends by participating in activities you enjoy (volunteering, arts & theater events, cooking classes, sports leagues, lectures, etc.) and finding new friends with whom you share something in common irrespective of whether they have children. There are many wonderful people who do have the time and interest in making a new friend.

As far as dating goes – FrazzledStudent’s suggestion of asking “do you have kids?” is perfectly acceptable. However, asking someone on the first date “do you want to have kids?” is not. I was asked that once and found it quite odd. For people who very much want children but are unable to, this question can be very intrusive, rude and upsetting. My online dating profile clearly stated that I was interested only in men who either have no children or whose children were grown and out of the house (read: I’m not interesting in parenting, raising, disciplining or financially supporting YOUR children).

Michi said...

The whole "tons of people sign up but few actually ever show up" syndrome isn't just with CF meet-up groups. I'm part of several different groups on MeetUp.com and it happens a lot. I don't know why that happens, but maybe people just join those groups more to see that they're not alone, rather than actually meeting people?

I agree with djmist and Erin. Having friends who are CF does have definite advantages - spontaneity, ability to stay out later, possibly less financial constraints, etc., but I've found that someone being CF doesn't preclude their automatically being someone I'd like to take the time to get to know and hang out with. I tend to get along with and enjoy being around people who are open-minded, curious and well-rounded. I just count myself lucky that a lot of the parental unit friends I have fall into that category - I don't get to see them as often as I'd like, but they haven't retreated into the subterranean cave of parenthood and make an effort to remain up-to-date on events, trends, etc. Which gives me hope for their kids, since I think well-rounded adults tend to turn out well-rounded kids. Plus I tend to think that CFers help their parental friends by keeping them connected to the world outside of parenthood.

I know a lot of CFers dread the "So why don't you want to have kids??" questions - and for good reason, since they often end up with being bingoed repeatedly, so I can certainly see the appeal of regularly meeting people who won't put you through that minefield. I don't really mind answering a certain amount of questions & having interesting discussions with people when they find I have no desire to have kids, and I usually find out pretty quickly who's curious but ultimately non-judgmental about it and who's going to start lecturing me on why I should have kids and disregard personal boundaries. The former are more likely to become friends (or at least friendly acquaintances) while the latter end up targets for verbal evisceration.

By that same token, I don't mind having friends who are parents so long as they're not the "my world revolves only around my kids" kind of parents. Their kids are an important part of their lives and I do enjoy hearing about how they're growing up - just not all the time (and sometimes it's fascinating hearing how "the other side" lives, if for no other reason than reminding me why I don't want kids).

It pretty much works as long as there's a good amount of quid pro quo and mutual respect. I wouldn't expect my friends to enjoy my prattling on endlessly about the how badly the 3rd X-Men movie screwed up the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix story or how Batman could kick Superman's ass or the differences/similarities between Star Trek universes(unless, you know, they're just as geeked out over that kind of stuff as I am).

I know everyone's level of tolerance for these things is different, but I do think we do ourselves a disservice by assuming it's a foregone conclusion that friendships with non-CFers will turn sour or won't be as fulfilling.

L4UR4 said...

My husband and I just recently signed up for one of the "No Kidding!" chapters in our city. We've only lived here a year or so, and we really don't have any acquaintances outside of work yet.

The group is free, which is nice, and it seems like the group is fairly active. Everyone that signs up has to make an introductory post in the forum (to show they're really interested and not just lurking).

There is usually at least two activities per month, most of the time there are more. There's also a good variety in the events. Sometimes it's drinks, sometimes a museum, maybe a book exchange. And there's a monthly happy hour, especially designed for meeting new members.

I don't know if I will become true "friends" with anyone in the group, but it's nice to have options for going out.

Serafina Pekala said...

My husband and I met via eHarmony. For all the recent criticism, eHarmony was a wonderful experience for me. It gave me many options on a number of important issues such as religion, geographic location, alcohol consumption, and yes, even kids. For me, I did not want someone who wanted kids, had small children or even grown children for that matter. And eHarmony allowed me to have those options in terms of the people I was matched with. There was only 1 person who slipped through the childfree net but I caught on pretty quickly and did not waste much time on that match. But there were plenty of other really great guys out there who (at least by the initial looks of things) did not want children. My husband and I met really quickly, I joined on Sunday and saw his profile on Thursday: four days! We are certainly in the minority as far as the time it took us to be matched, but it worked out wonderfully! :D

Meeting other childfree couples is another story entirely. We've just moved to a new city (well, technically I moved back to where I finished HS) and I only have one couple who are CF and a delight to hang out with. I have yet to reconnect with some old friends but I haven't really been able to connect with any new CF'ers. I wanted to check out local CF meetup groups but just haven't got around to it. Yes, I've been lazy! LOL! Also, I'm in my late 20's and one CF group that I came across, had a youngest member who was in their mid-30's. I do have a good number of friends who are older than me but I was hoping to find a few who were a bit closer to my age as well.

However, I do understand what some of the previous commenters have said about finding people with similar interests and not just CFdom. I'm also looking forward to reading more comments about meeting new CF folks. Great post as usual! :)

Childfreeeee said...

As always, lots of great comments!

I just realized that I have a "childfree friend" story that I can share with you.

One of the regular commenters on this blog, CFVixen, is a friend of mine. We "met" a few years ago on a discussion board - not a CF board, but a board that is mostly women talking about all kinds of topics. If I remember correctly, one day someone posted something about motherhood or something and either CFVixen or I posted a comment that revealed we were CF. One of us private messaged the other and over time, we began e-mailing and now we are friends and we're in touch all the time. We live about an 8 hour drive from each other, but we recently got together (with husbands in tow) for a day trip to Manhattan. Meeting someone in person who I had been on-line friends with for so long was really cool - the second I saw her in person, she was exactly as I expected and I was immediately comfortable.

I guess you never know how you will end up making a new friend. There really are many avenues if you allow yourself to think outside the box.

Childfreeeee said...

Serafina - wow what a wonderful story about how you met your husband! I know many people don't have that kind of luck on the dating sites, but I also know many who do. I know some couples who met on Match.com and ended up getting married.

I know Match.com also has an option for stating whether you have or want kids.

Blackie Lagoon said...

I know lots of CF people...I'm an artist. In my experience, people who think outside the box self-select quite often into the CF range because they don't blindly follow scripts and they question everything.

Almost Alright said...

I have a question for people.

Isn't it terribly awkward to bring up childfreedom on a first date or even very early in a relationship?

Maybe it's just b/c I'm at an age where I'm still dating to hang out with someone rather than looking for a "life partner," but I think it would feel a lot like discussing what you want your wedding dress to look like on the first date. Like you would instantly be labelled a stalker-girl or something.

Of course the alternative, I know, is waiting until you're serious about someone, when it's maybe too late and you're already in love which can also be wrenching.

I don't know - is the first date always the best time to bring it up?

Childfreeeee said...

Hi Almost Alright,

I don't know if the first date would be appropriate (I am thinking probably not in most cases), however I wouldn't wait very long. Maybe if things are going well and this seems like a person you are really hitting it off with, it might be good to bring it up by the third date. Sure, it may feel awkward and you can say that up front - something like, "this is a little awkward but since things are going so well with us, there is something I should probably tell you in full disclosure right up front"...and then tell the person.

I think it would be unfair to the person to wait too long and let them get really attached to you (and vice-versa) and then break the news. If they have their heart set on having kids, you are setting them up for heartbreak.

CFVixen said...

Meeting Childfreeeee and her hubby was a wonderful experience for both me and my DH. We had such a great time with them!

Unfortunately, there are very, very few CF couples in our current social circle. I wish there were more! The few that we do know aren't people we share much in common with either. You can certainly be CF and have totally different personalities and interests.

I just wish Childfreee and her DH lived closer! :-)

Cathy said...

Hi! Just found this blog(thank gawd!) Will be following. Going to read some more posts now!

HawkMom said...

I understand what a previous commenter was saying about CF meetups. I would sign up for mommy groups and never show up. When it came down to it, I wanted to have conversation that didn't revolve around diapers and toys. I realized I was using my baby as a social crutch. The same way people use dogs as conversation-openers. Pathetic.

I don't do that anymore, but I am waiting to find a girl friend who I can actually be a woman with. I love being a mother, but I was a woman first. Anyway, sorry to go off on a tangent. You should write to Oprah, or I will. The CF lifestyle needs more publicity and the stigma should be removed. I say Oprah, because she's very influential and people are more likely to do whatever they see on her show. Also, she's CF by choice (except for that baby that died when she was a teen). I'm tired of these arrogant, entitled morons with their defective genes running amok with the babymaking all because "I've always wanted a boy" or "I think it'll be good for me/It'll grow me up". And the smug attitude, "Well, my children are going to grow up to be taxpayers, so I'm helping the economy!" Bitch, please.

I've been reading some forum postings that have me so angry, I can't even see straight. Apparently, the Earth's resources are infinite, overcrowding is some urban myth, and everybody has the right to have as many children as they want because it doesn't affect anyone else. The only order from "God" these people want to obey properly is "be fruitful and multiply", it seems.

I apologize for this tangent, as well.

Childfreeeee said...

Hi HawkMom

Thanks for your comment. I actually wrote to Oprah before asking her to do a show on the childfree lifestyle (and encouraged my readers to do the same). You can read about this here:
http://childfreedom.blogspot.com/2009/07/oprah-close-but-no-cigar.html
(Read the comments to this blog post for the actual letter I sent). I never received as much as a response from anyone at the Oprah show.

For more light on how Oprah feels about discussing the childfree issue, please see Familyof2’s comment here:
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6155688048560818982&postID=8598112763959721659

This doesn't surprise me at all. It just shows what we already know - that there is still a deep prejudice against people who do not want to have kids. Oprah knows who butters her bread, and it's MOMS. And she knows MOMS would not be able to wrap their heads around her stating she simply does not WANT kids.

HawkMom said...

Oprah knows who butters her bread, and it's MOMS. And she knows MOMS would not be able to wrap their heads around her stating she simply does not WANT kids.

I think this the one thing that always pissed me off about her show. She panders like crazy to moms. Before I had HawkBaby, I would always roll my eyes when she would gush about "The hardest job EVARRRR!" Now that I'm a full-on SAHM, I still do.

This is hard, so don't get me wrong, but she takes naps (and I take that time to have the longest lunch breaks ever). She goes to bed fairly early, so HawkDad and I get alone time every night. Also, we curl up on the couch and watch SpongeBob together. She even likes to "play" (she's 14 months) Rock Band. Kids can be fun. It's not all sacrifice and "you owe me for giving you life!". We get to do really cool stuff together during the day that I wouldn't be able to do if I had a 9 to 5. It's not easy, but it's not the drudgery that a lot of these whiners (and ass-kissers) would like you to believe. I don't need to be stroked for doing my job as a mother. I do it, because I want to and I enjoy giving her the tools she needs to take care of herself one day, as I'm not one of these egoists who gets a charge out of having helpless lives dependent on me. I don't feel entitled to be put on a pedestal. That's my husband's job (hehe), not society's. It's just so condescending!

I remember her saying this on a recent mom show and I about had an aneurysm: "Staying at home and raising children is truly God's work." *Cue heads nodding and applause* They honestly sounded like they were mooing, and I hate to be that towards my fellow moms. Just being honest. It's like a freaking cult sometimes.

I do think her move to cable will switch some things up, though. As many of those SAHMs can't afford it. I'm finding out that big families tend to not have cable. She needs to tap into the money source to stay afloat on non-network TV and maybe get some CF-ers or hipster Gen-Yers with all of that disposable income who can actually afford the gadgets she promotes. Again, sorry for these tangents. I'm a little wound up on this Veteran's Day. : )

nyxmoxie said...

I'm CF and I've spent quite a bit of time on the internet on CF forums all over the web.

The problem is that at certain CF forums they spend so much time complaining about kids and how horrible kids are, that I'm not interested in meeting up those types of people.

Sometimes CF forums can be quite humorous. They sound like parents complaining about kids but without being parents themselves.

The type of people that I want to meet are those that don't want kids, but do other things with their time besides complain. So that's why I usually am not interested in meeting up CF folks from the internet.

I would be more interested if the CF forums out there were more about our various interests in life, but for the most part they turn into a bitchfest about children and the last thing I want to talk about is children.

My bf and I are CF, but we go out, play video games, we work, we talk about politics, we read the news, we have our various hobbies. If CF forums were more diversed then I would be more interested in meeting CFers in real life. But most CF forums are full of kiddie complaints and who wants to be a part of that? The last thing you want in a potential friend is a complainer.

childfreelife said...

I have lots of childfree friends. One reason is that I work in the legal field, and many people who become lawyers tend to be career focused not child centered. Also, if I had a meet up and only two or three people showed up, I would still make the most of it. Those two or three people could turn out to be life long friends if we went to coffee, a movie and played some cards. What a fun idea to have a child free meet up.

Insomniac Chef said...

Met my husband @ a bar. He was undecided about having kids. I introduced him to reason and logic on the subject and now he's as firmly CF as I am.

We have some CF friends but I wish we had more. We met a few online. We like the idea of a CF group but worry about the issues nyxmoxie discussed. We wouldn't want to hang around mean 1 dimensional people. We don't like kids, we find parents annoying, but there are plenty of other things we'd rather talk about.