Tracking cookies

To make our website even easier and more personal, we use cookies (and similar techniques). With these cookies we and third parties can collect information about you and monitor your internet behavior within (and possibly also outside) our website. If you agree with this, we will place these tracking cookies.

Yes, I give permissionNo thanks
{aantal_resultaten} Resultaten

"We are not in love, we don't have sex, romance, we have a pact". More and more European couples are meeting online just to conceive, have and raise a child


More and more millennials in Europe and America opt for "platonic co-parenting". Journalist and writer Svetlana Kolchik explains why, for many, this option is becoming an alternative to the traditional family.

"I'm not looking for love or a husband, I'm just looking for someone with whom I can have and raise a child," my Hamburg acquaintance, 40-year-old programmer Julie, who moved to Germany ten years ago with her husband from Sochi, says in her personal profile on the dating app Bumble.

Julia was recently divorced and already has an eight-year-old son. After 17 years of marriage, she no longer wants to get married or even be in a permanent relationship. She provides for herself quite well and does not want to, in her words, "sacrifice her freedom". But she really wants a second child - and not from an anonymous sperm donor.

For a start, Julia has registered on several dating sites, but so far her search for the father of the child has been unsuccessful.

"I have hundreds of swipes," she says, "but men click on the photo without reading its description. And once they do, they merge."

The sperm donor option is a last resort: "I would still like to find a daddy for my child who would be genuinely interested in him and who would be involved in his life".

Her request is not so rare these days. With 50% of marriages falling apart in most developed countries and us marrying and getting married much later than the generations before us, romantic love is gradually becoming less of a prerequisite for the family and children project.

It seems that the idea of Have It All at once, the main slogan of the feminist movement at the end of the century, is no longer relevant in the twenty-first century.

Today, this plank of "have it all at once" - love, children, career and ideal relationships - is far from relevant and attainable for everyone.

"Just as in the last 50-70 years, we have separated for ourselves sex and reproduction, so now we may be in the process of separating love and romantic relationships from parenthood," says American family therapist Arlene Lev.

Demand breeds supply. The number of services offering partner matchmaking for so-called "platonic co-parenting" is growing worldwide., and are now popular in the UK, in France and and in Germany.

As her next step Julia decided to turn to the international project Modamily. “A New Way to Family" is the slogan on the website of this service, which has been in existence since 2011.

"People are having children much later in life and the younger generation is becoming increasingly disillusioned with traditional forms of family and is looking for alternatives. That's how our business came about," says Ian Fatovic, the founder of the project, an American.

Since the launch of Modamily, more than 1,000 babies have been born. Now there are approximately 100,000 registered users worldwide - during the pandemic the number of users increased by another 50%. According to the website, LGBTQ+ people make up just 20% of the service's clients, with women in their 20s and 40s and men in their 20s and 50s making up the bulk of the audience.

Registration is free, in which case the app works much like Tinder and other similar services. But there are a number of additional paid services. These include a premium subscription for $30 a month or $119 a year with additional search algorithms, and a "Concierge" service with a $10,000 upfront fee. In this case, the founder of Modamily personally matches clients with "co-parents" and interviews them beforehand.

Many users of this and other similar services do not even engage in sexual intercourse with each other in order to become parents, preferring artificial insemination.

Modamily also has its own database of verified non-anonymous sperm and egg donors.

Englishmen Kate and Oliver, who told their story to The Guardian newspaper not long ago, conceived a child in the "traditional" way. They met through the British internet service The Stork for life, which also offers co-parenting matchmaking services. Prices for their services range from £4,000 to £10,000. Clients are offered to take emotional and psychological compatibility tests (genetic tests can also be taken if they wish) and on the basis of the results they are introduced to potential co-parenting partners.

At the time he contacted the company, Oliver, an entrepreneur, was in his forties. He had recently separated from a woman with whom he had lived for a long time, but they were not having children.

"Many of my friends who have had ordinary marriages and children have ended up in terrible divorces," he laments. Fathers end up hardly ever seeing their children. This is not the case. So I decided not to waste time looking for a wife and just find an adequate woman who also, like me, wanted children."

Oliver was introduced to Kate: tests at the agency showed a 93% compatibility. They went on a few dates and even slept together. No fireworks happened. But the couple found common ground nonetheless.

The tests were not wrong on the whole: they actually shared the same values and, most importantly, similar views on raising children.

"Kate is easy for me," Oliver admits. “She accepts me for who I am”

"Oliver and I got along great," Kate agrees, adding that had she been ten years younger (she was well into her thirties when they met), she would still have continued to look for a prince. But there was "no fat lot to live up to": "I really wanted a child, but my fertility was already, to put it mildly, not at its peak. And Oliver was serious about it."

Four months later, Kate became pregnant. For the entourage they made up a story that they were having an affair. From the outside, Kate and Oliver really did look like a normal couple expecting a baby. Oliver went with Kate for routine check-ups, helped pick out the pram and attended the birth. This legend 'worked' until their baby boy was a year and a half old. Afterwards, Kate and Oliver announced to loved ones that they were separating.

"We both come from very conservative families, which is why it took us so long to play out this farce," Kate justified. "For some reason it's still easier for people to accept even a knocked-up pregnancy than an 'arranged' relationship like ours."

Now their son is four years old. He spends every other weekend and two days a week with his dad. Kate and Oliver are constantly in touch and celebrate birthdays and Christmas together. Some time ago Kate finally met "the love of her life". Oliver also has a woman. Their new partners also have children from a past relationship.

"Oliver and I are still on the same page," Kate boasts. 'We joke and laugh a lot. Every time he takes his son to his place, I call him over for tea. Do you know many divorced couples who have such a great relationship as we do?"

Professor of Cambridge University, director of the Centre for Family Studies and author of the bestseller We Are Family, Susan Golombok was one of the first in the world to explore the quality and longevity of relationships in unions based not on romantic love, but on friendship and its accompanying rational arrangements.

According to her, the lack of "baggage" of romance and corresponding expectations is a less risky and more stable basis for building a family.

As with any relationship, though, no one is safe from pitfalls in such couples either. Co-parenting partners in particular may have boundary issues, financial disagreements, conflicts in the distribution of responsibilities and "spheres of influence" in the family.

And yet, according to consulting psychologist Olga Danilina, unions based primarily on trust and friendship have every chance of becoming one of the most common formats of relationships in decades to come.

"Passionate love is, in a sense, a form of addiction," explains the psychologist. It is doomed to fade away unless you change partners. Friendship is certainly inferior to it in terms of intensity, but it wins in other important parameters: support, reliability and sustainability of communication. It's an opportunity to choose a partner more soberly and consciously. And even if friends drift apart, they stand a better chance of a more civilized divorce.

Earlier this year the news of CNN commentator Van Jones' third child went around the world.

Van Jones
Photo: Getty Images

Jones, a divorced father of two, wanted another child. He decided not to turn to any services but to "make it" with his long-time girlfriend named Naomi, which he has willingly talked about in many interviews:

"We decided to team up and become conscious co-parents. I hope more and more people will turn to this format over time".

By: Svetlana Kolchik


"I chose the path of least resistance - living in two countries". Svetlana Kolchik, editor of Marie Claire Russia, on denying her own emigration

Two mums, two dads and lots of

Two mums, two dads and lots of "bonus" siblings. Svetlana Kolchik on European "patchwork" families