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Making contact

Question time

“Would you like to have children? Would that mean you would work less?” Sarah (32) was often asked these questions after one or two emails on Parship - and she found it irritating. We respond with the results of a survey on the subject

Question time

Dear Parship

‘I’ve found that, after a couple of emails and before they’ve even met me, a number of men in their 30s start checking out whether I’m wife material. They ask questions like: “Do you work a lot? … How much? … And do you do you want a family?” I don’t know these men, I don’t even know whether we would like each other – never mind whether I could imagine a relationship with them. I’m not against marriage, but I do think that you should know someone before you walk down the aisle with them! It puts me off and I find it’s not respecting limits - any more than if they were asking my views on the place of sex in a relationship. What do you think?’ Sarah (32), scientific researcher

Dear Sarah

Different people have different ideas of when it’s appropriate to ask a certain kind of question. A straightforward kind of a chap will have a different view from someone who’s thinking is a bit more convoluted. A man who knows that it is time for him to settle down will go straighter to the point than a man who doesn’t. In that sense, there is nothing wrong with asking questions about your goals in life. How you answer is up to you - that was also the view of around 9,000 Parship members questioned in a survey.

• 64% of women and 69% of men have nothing against questions in the first stages of a correspondence which concern plans for marriage or children.

• 16% of women and 13% of men find themselves slightly uncomfortable with these questions: is it really about me or does he/she just want to get married?

• 17% or women and 13% of men respond like you do, Sarah, and are put off.

If you’re looking for a partner online, you’ve got a goal

Perhaps you should ask yourself why these direct questions bother you so much. Do you feel that you’re just being seen as a prospective little wife? It’s not the questions that are saying that, it’s your interpretation of them. It’s unlikely that anyone explicitly said : “I think that a women belongs at home and she should know to bring my slippers.” You also equate the question about plans for the future with premature questions about sex, but the latter would be far more problematic. If you’re looking for a partner online, then you have a goal. Even before someone approaches you, they will have checked out your age, where you live and so on. That doesn’t mean that romance is out of the question - it just comes a little later.

How should you handle it?

Next time one of these tricky questions arises, don’t automatically think that he’s just another typical 30-something male, but take a closer look. Don’t be put off - you could be running away from your future happiness. You don’t have to justify the hours you spend working and you don’t have to start discussing who will look after the kids. Put the ball back in his court: “That’s not really what’s top of my mind at the moment, but in principle I’ve got nothing against marriage. Or: “I get on well with my sister’s kids, and that’s enough for me at the moment. “ Or: “Ask me that again later.” You might find that you really don’t see eye to eye, but things could lead to something you hadn’t expected. Sometimes you just have to be brave enough to accept that someone might turn you down. A person who sets very high standards in some senses puts himself in a position of strength, but he or she might never find out if his or her assumptions were correct.

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