You can't have just half a kid.
There are some birth defects that can make that possible, actually. :-P
Tonya, couples haven't changed, and the social contract is still there. The difference is that social and personal responsibility is on the decline. Divorce has always existed (remember Henry the Eighth & his six wives?) as have all the other things you mentioned. But nowadays it's considered much less reprehensible to go against the grain than it was in previous times.
However, that's a separate issue. I have always wanted to have children, and continue to do so, regardless of whether it's stylish or not. So I will just have to keep looking until I find someone who feels the same way. (shrug)
Independent, outgoing, educated, under 6' tall, has to love the outdoors but also like to just chill when it's bad out. These are what I like about women. Dislikes... Overly "redneck" women, any women that thinks she should be on an MTV show. (jersey shore) Or someone that thinks that they are better than some people because they are pretty. That's about it.
The other fellow named Michael (parents must not have been especially creative with names!) makes an excellent point: the thing in a relationship which least admits compromise is the question of having a child. I have been relatively happily married, but for several months my wife and I have been separated and divorce is coming in a few months, all because suddenly she wants to have a child, and I insist to the contrary. We married with the understanding of remaining perpetually childless, and lived that way for many years, until her "biological clock" struck (we're both in our late 30s). I am not ready to form a new relationship, but the experience has placed me in a philosophical mood, to contemplate how people meet and find like-minded partners.
So what would I prefer in a woman? Introspection and a kind of eloquence of self-expression are mandatory. Formal education and an office-wall festooned with diplomas are not important, but it is essential that she is reasonably well-read, or at least desires to become as such, and that she has the perspicacity and the drive to form and to defend her opinions - not about color of curtains or texture of furniture, but about society, politics, philosophy, the arts, human nature, and yes - religion. Atheism would be a definite plus, but a relaxed form of religious adherence would be acceptable, provided that it is not dogmatic and admits critical review. But the core criterion is childlessness and deep preference to remain childless.
Here in the American Midwest, we have a particular kind of conservatism. Women can and do have thriving careers, and with the collapse of the blue-collar economy I gather that female workers are likely more economically successful and secure than their male counterparts. From the economic viewpoint, the feminist revolution has been a success. But from the cultural viewpoint, not so much. Women are still expected to become mothers. And while there may not be an overt nagging pressure such as gossiping neighbors blighting a childless woman's reputation, there is a self-imposed pressure, that a childless woman is "missing out" and a traitor to her higher essence. This is the sort of feeling that is overcoming my soon-to-be-former wife.
Of course there are people "out there", male and female, who share similar world-views (atheism, childlessness,...) - but the combination of rare qualities makes dating and relating quite difficult. Let's look at the numbers. Southwestern Ohio, where I live, has in the combined Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus metro areas maybe 2-3 million people. Some 40% of adults are not married (a rough number). Assuming that this is equally distributed between ages of 18 and 80 (not true, but OK for a first approximation), and that for a 40 year old male, females between say 22 and 45 are "acceptable" dating material, there are some 150000 eligible single women. Now let's assume that 10% of the populace are atheist/agnostic/unaffiliated... now down to 15000 women. And of those, 20% are childless by choice and prefer to remain that way... down to around 3000 women. Viewed pessimistically, that's 0.1% of the general population. Viewed optimistically, that's several concert-halls or movie theaters completely crammed with potentially "eligible" women. Presumably the mirror-image calculation would work for women seeking men.
So there are two sides to the challenge of dating. In proportional terms, nearly every potential dating candidate is a poor candidate. But in absolute numerical terms, the numbers are not so bad. How, then, to facilitate the mechanics of dating?
You raise an interesting point. I continue to be amazed at just how much one's perspective is affected by where they live. For example, in this area of the country, just over one quarter of the populace is atheistic or at least nonreligious. I don't have any firm numbers on the incidence of childless women, but from my own experience, I would guess that about 1 in 3 single women seem to be uninclined towards children. Given that the metro area here is about on the same scale as your own, that equates to roughly 12,000 women who are suitable in terms of religion, age group and attitude. Still a minority, but a considerably larger one.
I'm kind of in the reverse position. I'm stuck in a very liberal area, with a large number of women who don't want kids, and I very much want to meet someone and have children. It almost seems like some sort of cultural exchange is in order. Once your divorce is final, introduce me to your ex, and I'll offer to introduce you to all the women I know that don't like kids.
OK, I'm kidding. Well, sort of, anyway.
Seriously, however, the best way to catch fish is to go where the fish are. If you live in the desert, move to the seashore. And if you want an atheist without kids, I'd suggest a more liberal part of the country. Just a thought. Good luck to you.
Very true. Unfortunately my job is almost ideal for my temperament and for my training. I've been here long enough that I'm in the golden-cage phase of life, in terms of defined-benefit pension (quit now, and bye-bye pension!). The social life was never great here, but when I had a secure marriage, our life as a couple was sufficiently fulfilling to obviate the need for much external socializing, like barbeques or dinner/movies or the symphony orchestra. Now, living the separated/divorced life, suddenly those social outlets matter vastly more. Moving to a more liberal part of the country would improve my social life and my romantic prospects, but would be devastating career-wise. The irony is that this region is economically depressed, so a potential mate would have difficulty finding a job here.
A former supervisor at work was an indefatigable source of sage advice. One of my favorites: "Life is all about choices". Well, yes. We have a choice between the comfortable and familiar, or the new and the risky but tantalizing. My "ex"-wife and I had that discussion often. She wanted to flush the marriage down the toilet because of tantalizing prospects of improving her life with a different spouse, one who would breed more, spend more, and bloviate less. Whereas I would rather have the bird in the hand, so to speak. Choices.... well, maybe once this divorce thing is finalized, I'll reorient my priorities and won't be so risk-averse.
Might I ask - from what region do you hail? Before moving to Ohio, I lived in Los Angeles and the Washington DC metro area. Neither were particularly liberal, despite their reputation.
I understand exactly your position. I've moved around quite a bit during my life, but am now just a little too comfortable to readily pull up stakes, even though living just about anywhere else would probably improve my chances of meeting someone. Owning property, having a good (and enjoyable) job, lots of friends in the area, and so on, makes it hard to contemplate leaving. And also in a similar way, this area is not very conducive to a woman moving here to be with me, as the majority of jobs in the area tend to be in fields that women, by and large, are not much interested in. (The main reason why there are comparatively so few single women here.)
Life is indeed about choices, but that's a bit of a tautological statement. More usefully, a satisfying life is usually a result of learning to make *good* choices.
Originally I'm from the SF bay area, but have also lived in Nevada, Hawaii, Idaho, Colorado, Florida, the Bahamas and Germany. Unfortunately, the places I like the best are usually the ones where it's the most difficult to make a living. (There may be connection there, or maybe not.)
The definition of the term "liberal", much like that of "conservative", varies from place to place and often depending on who you are talking to. Around here, a "liberal atheist" may well not believe in the existence of God, but very likely *does* believe in astrology, Bigfoot, psychic energy, and that Elvis was secretly kidnapped by the CIA from his job at 7-11, and brainwashed into assassinating Michael Jackson. Which just goes to show that you can't depend on labels.