If you want to bail out of a date that's heading toward Disasterville or Dullsville, and you don't want to mention that nasty rash you can't get rid of, the best approach is to raise the baby subject.
According to antiquated, yet persistent, dating etiquette, nothing says 'Bill please!' faster than the talk of the pitter-patter of tiny feet.
That is, unless you met your date on Danish dating site www.babyklaw.ne (baby-ready-dot-now).
The site's creator, French actor, playwright and engineer Emmanuel Limal, came up with the idea after seeing a woman on another dating site apologise for writing that she wanted to have a baby in her profile.
"I think much of it is due to the fact that we're always having to sell ourselves," Limal said.
"They think: 'If I don't mention that I want children, I'll attract more people.' But the truth is you attract the wrong types."
On a sidenote, I suspect that Limal, who is planning to launch the dating site in other countries, has no problem finding women with whom to make babies. The man is after all an actor, playwright, engineer and now an entrepreneur. And he's French! Talk about an overachiever.
Since launching last week, Baby-Ready has received around 50 new members per hour.
If the site achieves nothing else, it has succeeded in dispelling the myth that only women suffer from baby hunger. Just over half of the members are men.
Men are rarely accused of 'shopping for ovaries' the way women are slammed for 'shopping for sperm', but as these statistics attest, men want babies too.
"One man wrote to me saying he thought it was fantastic that I'd had this idea. He said it was such a relief to be able to see who wants to have children," said Limal.
The one drawback with a site like Baby Ready is that it may bring together people who have baby hunger in common - and nothing else. That might not be much of a problem normally, but throw the deafening effect of ticking biological clocks into the mix, and it could be a recipe for disaster.
Then again, with so many people joining the site, there's a good chance that people will find a match who is compatible for both parenthood and life.
The site is also a breath of fresh air to the crippling dating rituals where people feel they have to lie to each other and then strategise with their friends as to when and how to raise the baby subject. After all, subterfuge and manipulation aren't exactly good foundations for a relationship with someone you hope to raise a family with.
While other dating websites, such as Find Someone, have check boxes to indicate preferences for children, there is still an underlying perception that being forthright about the baby subject will limit your options of potential suitors.
Internet dating, which in some respects has revolutionised the dating process, has, up till now, failed to challenge the antiquated taboo about full and open disclosure about people's baby desires.
Online profiles of both men and women are filled with claims about fun-loving, care-free, spontaneous personality traits. But the make-or-break subject of breeding intentions is conspicuously absent from profiles or at best mentioned in the vaguest of terms.
Dancing naked in the rain (as if nobody's watching, of course) while sipping red wine as the sun sets during a long walk on a beach is arguably a less solid foundation for a long-term relationship than being on the same page about kids.
Being coy about children is a bizarre and counter-productive custom. After all, having kids is not something that you can compromise on. We've all heard the stories of long-term relationships ending in heartbreak because one wanted children and the other didn't.
The baby subject should be a mandatory agenda item on every first date. What's the point of having date number two if there is a fundamental disagreement on if and when the condoms should come off?
But until it becomes more socially acceptable to speak openly about baby desires on dates, dating sites like Baby Now are a great way to allow both men and women to be honest with each other.
Kasey Edwards is the best-selling author of four books 30-Something and Over It, 30-Something and The Clock is Ticking, OMG! That's Not My Husband, and OMG! That's Not My Child.
- Daily Life
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