Who Is the Ubiquitous “Never Married, No Kids” Guy on Dating Apps?
Men in their mid-30s and up love to boast their childless bachelor status. What are they really trying to tell us?
I have some questions for the Never Married No Kids guy. If you are one, I assume you know it already; after all, you have chosen to explicitly outline your marital and paternal history in your dating-app bio using that exact four-word phrase.
As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of bad things you could write in a dating-app bio. Most of them are bad because they are either offensive or overused to the point of cliché. Sometimes, they are both. “Never married, no kids” is neither. An ostensibly neutral statement, it’s not a bad thing to write in a dating-app bio per se, but it does appear in the profiles of men, typically in their late 30s and up, with enough frequency to pique my curiosity.
At face value, “Never married, no kids” is a simple phrase conveying fairly straightforward information. But who is the Never Married No Kids guy, and what is he really trying to tell his prospective matches by including this statement up front, in the place most people talk about their favorite foods or parade banal platitudes as clever witticisms? Logic would suggest that if a man has never been married and has no kids, that is something that has been true of him for the entirety of his life, so at what point does it become a crucial, defining characteristic of which he feels strangers on the internet should be immediately aware?
Typically when I encounter a Never Married No Kids guy in the dating-app wilds, my first assumption is that he is trying to project a Leonardo DiCaprio, forever bachelor, playboy aesthetic. “Sorry sweetheart, but I’m married to the game”; “Here for a good time, not a long time”; etc.
This however, is the exact opposite of what Scott, 52, tells me he’s trying to signal by including the phrase in his Bumble bio.
“I suppose it is a fine line between eligible bachelor and forever bachelor,” says Scott, when I ask if the line is meant to reflect a commitment to eternal bachelorhood.
I could have gathered this based on the fact that Scott’s use of the “Never married, no kids” line includes a rare qualifier: “Want both.” For Scott, the phrase isn’t a claim to perpetual emotional unavailability, but rather a statement of baggage-free eligibility, one he feels gives him an edge over other men who find themselves in the dating game at his age.
According to Scott, including the phrase in his bio is meant to signal that he’s “not ‘damaged goods’ by being divorced or already having kids,” something he sees as a “package deal” he offers to prospective matches.
This tracks, according to Julie Spira, online dating expert and founder of Cyber-Dating Expert. “Guys who are in their 30s and 40s like to include the fact that they’re ‘baggage-free,’ meaning they won’t have nasty ex or child-custody issues,” she says. “Men consider this an asset in the competitive world of online dating.”
Ian, 49, confirms. “‘No baggage’ is the message,” he tells me, explaining that he only began including the phrase in his dating-app bios about two years ago, when women began regularly asking about his marital history and parental status. Once men reach a certain age, it seems, prospective matches assume the possibility of past marriages and/or current children, and it’s something they’re openly and often immediately curious about.
“It’s one of the first things a girl asks, usually,” says Ian. “Eighty percent of the time it was one of the first questions I was asked.”
“At my age, those are common questions that women ask, so I figured I’d put it out there preemptively,” echoes Alex, 45.
Matt, more than a decade Ian’s junior at 38, says he’s already felt the need to include the “never married, no kids” information up front. Like Scott, he sees his childless bachelor status as a selling point that sets him a cut above his more domestically experienced — or burdened — peers.
“Being in my 30s, so many guys have kids and all this other excessive baggage, which makes them undateable,” he says. “I, on the other hand, am quite dateable.”
According to Spira, Matt may be on to something. “Women are so tired of matching and chatting with guys who want to hook up and aren’t serious about finding a real relationship,” she says. “When a guy posts on his profile, ‘Never married, no kids,’ he’s signaling that he’s a great catch for someone interested in a meaningful relationship that could lead to marriage and having children.”
Unsurprisingly, it seems the state of being unmarried and childless at an advanced age — something society has long seen as an ultimate failure for women — is a badge of honor for men, only serving to make them all the more attractive.
“There’s often a double standard here,” says Spira, who concedes that “never married, no kids” status tends to be “more favorable for single men than for single women.” When a woman advertises this disclaimer, says Spira, men may “wonder why no one wanted to marry her, if she’s a heavy drama person, or if she’s been in a successful long-term relationship. Questioning if someone is relationship material will cross their minds.”
That said, Spira adds that the phrase may eventually start to lose its charm for men as they age as well. “Posting this phrase in your 30s and 40s shows that you’re a great catch,” she says. However, she adds, “Once a guy hits 50, women start to wonder why he hasn’t been married, if he’s a player or just someone who was focusing on his career first before it came time to nest.”
Mark, 52, also says he felt compelled to include the “Never married, no kids” disclosure in his bio as something of a micro-FAQ after matches started asking about his marital history and parental present more frequently.
“Thought I could just address those questions easily,” he explains, though he admits he “never really thought of it as ‘a thing.’ Is it?”
Unlike the others, however, Mark doesn’t necessarily see his bachelor status as a brag, nor does he assume all women are automatically turned off by a man with a past.
“I guess some women want a dad, and some don’t. Some would be happy to be a stepmom, some not so much,” he says. “I just give them info that helps them decide about moving forward.”
With the exception of one guy — a 42-year-old named Andrew who scolded me for having the audacity to pester him about his bio both on 9/11 and in the midst of a pandemic — most of the Never Married No Kids guys I spoke to seemed like relatively normal guys just trying to convey some basic information to inquiring minds, and few of them copped to Leo-levels of forever bachelor swagger. Most, as Spira suggested, are actually looking for a partner, and are trying to wield their no-baggage status to their advantage.
“I don’t really want to be a bachelor forever, and I’m sure I have some baggage — although, not an ex or kids,” says Mark. “I think I was just answering some of the common questions.”
At the end of the day, it seems, the Never Married No Kids guys roaming around the dating-app wasteland just want what we all want: to be seen, understood and accepted. Perhaps there’s a Never Married No Kids guy in all of us, regardless of our marital status or parenthood. Maybe, deep down, we’re all the Never Married No Kids guy: single, childless, fundamentally alone and desperate for human connection.
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