So far in my limited dating experience, the two biggest dating dealbreakers for me have been: religious beliefs and kids (either the guy doesn't want kids or he already has them).
I've received a very mixed reaction to my decision not to go out on a second date with a seemingly good guy (and super cute!) due to one simple fact: he has two daughters that live in Texas.
The first thing I should mention is that I love kids (at least the good ones!) and I want to have some of my own. So my reason for not dating a guy with kids has nothing to do with disliking children. In fact, it's the opposite! I think my decision to not date someone with kids is fortified by the fact that I want my own children. My own family. My own husband. Truth be told, I'm not good at sharing! I'm fine with giving, providing, nurturing, but really deep down, I'm not good at sharing. I'll do it, but I have to make an effort to and most likely I'm not truly happy about it. And I don't think it's wrong to be selfish about my husband and his time with me and our family. I do not want my husband's time and attention to have to be divided up between our kids and "his kids." Everything would be divided: weeks, weekends, summer vacations, holidays, birthdays, and the list could go on and on...
It's not just a question of dividing time either! If he has kids, most likely he is paying child support. Considering that I won't be working after I have kids, most likely we'll need every dollar to stay in our own household, not going to support the former wife and kids.
I'm also a firm believer that children need lots of face-to-face time. I'm a quantity over quality-time type person. Of course, the time spent with kids should be as high of a quality as possible, but I don't believe that spending a few "quality" hours on a weekend will make up for not being there every night to just be there to... hug, talk, cook dinner, help with homework, give baths, brush teeth, watch TV, play a game, etc. Sure, it's mundane and not that flashy "quality time," but ultimately, quantity is the less memorable thing that, in reality, is more important.
Here's what I do know: If I was dating someone, I would NOT be satisfied spending "quality time" with him every other weekend. Hell no! Give me quantity any day over that. I want to see him every day and really be with him. That would be the only way to truly get to know him and develop a relationship and I don't believe it's different for the parent-child relationship. It's probably even more exaggerated because kids (for the most part) yearn for their parents, no matter how crappy they are whereas an adult is more likely to make a decision to turn their attention elsewhere if their needs aren't being met. Therefore, I don't think someone with kids should be devoting any of their already limited time to me. Their kids should be their priority. And if their kids are not their priority, then I certainly wouldn't want to make more kids with him.
Ideally, I want an uncomplicated life. I consider myself a pretty lucky person. But I know that life is going to throw curveballs. Here's what I don't want: a crazy ex-wife who makes my life a living hell, kids who resent me for being with their father (and therefore taking time, money and attention away from them), a husband who can't say 'no' because of the guilt he feels for the marriage not working out... this list of irrational fears could go on and on. And I totally understand that these are in no way a "given" or absolute. The only way though to guarantee that those things don't happen is to not marry someone who brings that with them. I want a clean start with the man I love!
I had people say that I could be filtering out someone who is "perfect-perfect" for me simply by eliminating the guys with kids. Perhaps. But I don't believe that there is only one person on this planet for me. I believe there are many people I could be very happy with. So, maybe the guy with kids is "perfect" except for the fact that he has kids. In my ideal world, I take a pass and cross my fingers. However, if I'm ever faced with it, I might have to reconsider at the time.
The bottom line: I don't want to marry someone with kids, but life is fluid and ever-changing. I'm not naive enough to make a hard and fast decision about something like that. But if it came down to it, I think I'd rather date someone who had different religious beliefs, but was willing to go to church with me than date someone who has kids. (I mean, if I was going to have to prioritize the deal breakers!)