This chapter explores an aspect of voluntary childlessness that has been neglected in previous research; how voluntarily childless (i.e. childfree) women engage in partnership formation processes and how they perceive that these processes become influenced by their voluntarily childless status. Drawing on interviews with 21 voluntarily childless, heterosexual, Swedish women, this chapter highlights how their childfree decision(s) impacted their partnering behaviour, their chances to form an intimate relationship and their preferences concerning partners and partnerships. The results show some of the challenges these women faced as they engaged in partnership formation processes concerning; for example, constraints in partner availability and potentially conflicting preferences regards autonomy, reproduction and intimacy. In addition, partnership formation was complicated due to a lack of communication, misunderstandings and disbelief in their childfree choices. The analysis illustrates that it was of utmost importance to these women that their intimacy goals were respected and protected during these processes but that some of them were also willing to negotiate their partner ideal. Nevertheless, this chapter ends with a discussion of relationship dissolution due to ambivalence concerning childfree choices and intimacy goals both on behalf of the childfree woman and her partner.
The author wishes to thank the voluntarily childless women and men who made this research possible by their participation. The research was supported by a financial grant from Forte: The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare. Reviewer comments on an earlier version of the text are gratefully acknowledged.
Peterson, H. (2018), "Finding ‘Mr Right’? Childfree Women’s Partner Preferences", Sappleton, N. (Ed.) Voluntary and Involuntary Childlessness (Emerald Studies in Reproduction, Culture and Society), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 237-259. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78754-361-420181011Download as .RIS
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