Discussing Marriage and Children: Optimal Timing for Relationship Non-negotiables

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, it’s always good to know when it’s a good time to have THAT conversation on relationship non-negotiables. We are not qualified relationship experts, nor do we claim to be (dw, we call on a couple in this article!) but we want to set you up with some of our guidance to hopefully make you feel a little more confident about having that chat with your partner.

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relationship non negotiables

Evaluate your own situation

Before you launch the conversation with your partner about marriage or kids, it’s good to evaluate where you’re at with the topics. Some people have always known that they definitely want kids, or that they definitely don’t. Others may be on the fence, or have just had a change of heart. Either way, whatever your situation, it’s best to take a step back and figure out your own answer. If your partner brings the topic up and you don’t have a definite answer – honesty is the best policy.

Be upfront about your uncertainty or mixed feelings – you don’t want to lead them on or away when you needn’t have done. If your partner is looking for someone to settle down sooner rather than later and you’re still not sure, it’s best to let them know as soon as you can, to avoid a deeper heartbreak later down the line.

How soon is too soon?

Honestly, this all depends on you and your partner or date. If you’re on the first date and it comes up, this can go in a few different directions: either your goals align immediately, and you’ve got it out of the way early. Given, you may change your mind later down the line, but, assuming you don’t, you’ve broken that barrier down early, knowing your goals are aligned.

Alternatively, you and your partner may have completely concrete, unchanging, but contrasting opinions when it comes to marriage and kids. Now, having this conversation on the first date, especially a dinner date you can’t really just leave halfway through, could be a bit awkward if it goes wrong. But, it does mean you get out of a potentially-heartbreaking situation early that may not have ended well for either party.

How soon you decide to have that chat may be influenced by how much of a no-go the opposing opinion would be for you. Another option is that neither party are really sure what they want yet, in which case, it can be a little more complicated.

But what if neither of us knows?

If neither of you really knows, try to at least determine if there’s a way you’re leaning. Can you see yourself ever getting married or having kids? Can they? Either way, it’s a difficult situation. A relationship can last years, even, before either party knows what they want for the future, and ultimately this can result in a lot of heartbreak. However, we would recommend going in with an open mind. Relationships are fragile and nothing is ever guaranteed. Importantly, too, and depending on age this will vary, but people change.

It’s not fair to expect our partners to know exactly what they want in the future when it comes to relationships and families. A rough idea is nice, sure, but, particularly the younger you are, the future is so uncertain and circumstances can change. 

You know you both want to get married

Congrats! Your goals are aligned and you share similar views when it comes to getting married. Remember, this doesn’t mean they’re ready to get married right now. Knowing you want to get married is one thing, but knowing that they want to marry you and when may be another.

As the relationship progresses, it’s possible that conversations will pop up which indicate your partner may be ready to have that convo, but try not to overwhelm yourself and your partner with engagement ring photos, wedding plans and honeymoon destinations.

Hypotheticals can be fun, but if your partner isn’t quite in that place yet, it may cause them to feel like you’re rushing them. It’s a balance between finding the right time to show your partner that you’re excited about the prospect of marrying them and not causing them to feel rushed and possibly afraid. Vice versa, if you feel that your partner is showing much more enthusiasm than you are when it comes to marriage, consider whether this is something you could talk to them about. Setting boundaries is important in any aspect of a relationship, and healthy. If you’re feeling rushed, have a chat!


Kids can be a little bit more complicated for a few reasons. For queer relationships, there may be the question of who would be carrying which child/ren, there could be differences in opinion over surrogacy, adoption or IVF. It’s important to have these conversations, but they are delicate. 

Rachel Wright told Insider that partners should have “dealbreaker” chats “as soon as possible – when you know you’d like to date this person consistently.” Wright* also told Insider “”It’s really important to remember that things change all the time and what you want when you first start dating someone is not necessarily what you will want three years from then.” Both of these points are extremely important, and highlight how important it is to have these chats early enough that you avoid too much heartbreak and wasted time, but not so concretely as to rule out the possibility of anything changing. 

*Rachel Wright is a “a New York City-based sex & relationships therapist”, according to Business Insider.

As is stated in “The Bottom Line” on marriage.com “Whether or not you decide to have the conversation immediately or even decide to wait for the discussion, it is important to establish good communication with your partner and make sure that you are on the same page.” The keyword being “communication”. Being back and forth, concrete or unsure of your feelings on either marriage or kids is valid, and your partner could be willing to go through that journey with you but keeping that communication flowing is important. It’s all about finding the balance between not talking too much so as to overwhelm your partner but talking enough to establish whether you’re on the same page. 

P.S. Looking to kickstart your dating life but not sure where to look? See here for why we think Hinge is the best dating app for lesbian and bi women!

Love Team Nonchalant xx

Last Updated on 19th March 2024 by Nonchalant Magazine

Jo Carter
Jo Carter

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