Dating someone new means you’re also learning a lot about them — the funny memes that make them laugh, their cute quirks, or how they order their favorite noodle dish at a Vietnamese restaurant. At first, your connection may feel distinctly light and effervescent. But once sex enters the picture, conversations around consent, autonomy, and mutual respect can come into play. Eventually, you may find yourself asking questions about where your date stands on important topics like reproductive rights, birth control, and abortion. But how do you know when to bring up abortion with your date?
The Supreme Court officially overturned the 1973 landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade on June 24, effectively restricting or prohibiting the procedure in at least 22 states. Now that abortion is no longer a guaranteed right in many parts of the United States, conversations about sex (and all of its intended outcomes and consequences) are more important than ever.
If the thought of talking about abortion with your new love interest sounds uncomfortable, you’re not alone. Even as a relationship coach, it’s still hard for me to be vulnerable in my own dating life with my partners — and I’m trained to talk about intimacy and sex! Bringing up abortion in the early stages of dating may not be the easiest thing to do, but it’s important to advocate for yourself and know where your date stands — especially if you’ve started sleeping together.
To prepare for all potential scenarios (pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, keeping the baby, adoption) it’s vital to know where your date stands on reproductive rights so that you can feel safe being intimate with them. Plus, it can be comforting to know where they stand in case you have to face pregnancy or abortion together.
When’s The Best Time To Talk To A Date About Abortion?
So, how do you know when to bring up abortion with someone you’re seeing? There’s no set time frame or magic number of dates you should go on beforehand, but according to Kelly Gonsalves, a holistic dating coach and sex educator, it can help to have a meaningful conversation about your value systems and beliefs within the first few dates. If you’ve started having penetrative sex or there’s potential for you or your date to become pregnant, bringing up abortion and reproductive rights sooner rather than later can help you avoid discomfort — and potential conflict — later on.
“The values that matter the most to you are the ones that are the most important to talk about up front,” Gonsalves tells Elite Daily. “Think of how important each value or issue is to you, and use that as a gauge or guide for how soon you should be bringing it up. If you would never be OK dating someone who doesn't support reproductive rights, or if you have religious beliefs that strongly shape how you approach the world, those are things to be open about early on.”
If you’ve been dating someone for more than a month and you’d like to continue seeing each other, but you haven’t spoken about the nuances of sex, autonomy, and abortion yet, consider hitting the brakes and bringing up the conversation before the relationship progresses further. You can even weave the topic into an existing conversation about birth control, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or sexual health to make the talk feel more natural.
Of course, bringing up abortion with your date will likely feel heavier than typical witty banter over brunch or happy hour. Take a deep breath, though — having the talk doesn’t have to be super intimidating. There are ways you can bring up abortion organically in conversation so it doesn’t feel like an interrogation; for example, if you’re on a walk together, consider chatting about recent news events or topics like Roe v. Wade. Having an open conversation with your date about reproductive rights can be a natural way to hear their perspective and learn about their beliefs.
Why It’s Important To Talk About Abortion With Your Date
Learning about someone’s thoughts about abortion early on can be a strong signal if your values align. Gonsalves tells Elite Daily, “Views on abortion are often tied to how people think about bodily autonomy, human rights, and freedom, and you'll usually also find beliefs about sexuality, religion, children, motherhood, and even womanhood itself tied up in there, too.”
If you’re intending to keep things on the casual side, Gonsalves says it’s still worth having this conversation with someone new that you’re excited about. “If you’re just intending to hang out with someone casually, consider whether you plan to have sex and whether that sex could result in a pregnancy. If pregnancy is possible, a conversation about abortion (and birth control more broadly) is warranted and important.”
If you can actually see your burgeoning connection going the distance, Gonsalves adds that having tough but necessary conversations can help you set a solid foundation for a long-term partnership. Since abortion is intertwined with so many aspects of our identity, discussing the topic early on can be a meaningful experience.
While you don’t need to agree completely about every issue, Gonsalves highlights the importance of shared values between you and your date. “There will always be some differences to navigate because no two people are perfect clones of each other, and any difference can be handled as long as both people are up to it,” she says. “It's just up to each of us individually to decide which differences are workable (for you personally) and which aren't.”
What To Do If They Disagree
If you discuss abortion with your date and their values clash drastically with your own, the truth is, you may feel disappointed. But first, it’s important to be proud of yourself for confronting such a personal conversation head-on. Avoiding touchy subjects because you’re afraid of ruining a great date or a new, budding relationship won’t do anything but kick the can down the road.
It’s up to you to think about what their particular values mean to your connection and if you want to continue pursuing it or cut it off. If you’re trying to start a long-term relationship, consider what’s really important to you and the non-negotiables you need to feel safe in a relationship. If you still want to be together, it’ll likely require several more conversations around sex, pregnancy, family, and even politics so you can feel comfortable about what’s next for you and your date.
“It's possible for partners to disagree about some issues and still be able to maintain a happy, healthy, relationship (whether you’re casually dating or in a relationship),” Gonsalves says. “That said, abortion is a particularly important issue for a (new) couple to discuss if there's a possibility of pregnancy when the two of you have sex. Consider how you'd handle an unintended pregnancy if it were to happen.”
At the end of the day, if you’re the one at risk of pregnancy, the final decision is yours. It’s your body.
Should You Share Your Past History With Abortions?
When it comes to sharing your personal history with a date, there are no hard and fast rules here — only you know what’s best for you. You’re allowed to keep certain parts of your life private with new people you’re dating, especially when you’re in the process of establishing trust.
“If you feel close enough to this person and your relationship is becoming more intimate, sharing the story of your abortion can be one of many ways of letting this person get to know you more fully,” Gonsalves says.
However, when discussing a sensitive topic like abortion, you’re still in charge of your own narrative. While some people are very comfortable talking about their abortions with basically anybody, others prefer to keep that experience to themselves. “You get to decide how, when, and whether to share your personal history with a new person you're just starting to get to know,” Gonsalves adds.
Discussing Abortion Is More Common Than You Think
According to Planned Parenthood, 3 in 10 women in America will have an abortion by the time they’re 45. There’s nothing shameful about receiving medical care, and it seems like more and more people are comfortable acknowledging that on dating apps. Michael Kaye, OkCupid’s global communications manager, tells Elite Daily the company has seen a 77% increase in mentions of “pro-choice” and “reproductive rights” on the platform in April 2022 compared to the year prior.
Kaye says, “More than 7 in 10 people on OkCupid added our I'm Pro-Choice badge to their profile demonstrating their support of reproductive rights. 430,000 users currently have the [Pro-Choice] badge displayed and 2 million of our daters are publicly against the government defunding Planned Parenthood.” These numbers indicate just how much people are willing to discuss reproductive rights with potential partners.
“How someone feels about Black Lives Matter, climate change, marriage equality, and reproductive rights factors into how compatible you are with them,” Kaye says. And it’s clearly working — a 2022 analysis of OkCupid users has shown that people who added the “I’m Pro-Choice” badge to their profiles are receiving 8% more matches and 13% more likes. It appears that the days of polite first-date conversation are now firmly long gone.
Honesty Is Important, Even When It’s Hard
Practicing radical honesty by talking openly with your date about your needs, values, and desires can be scary, but it’s worth it. Like a muscle, the more you flex the skills of open communication — even when it’s difficult — the better you get at navigating challenging conversations and conflict. Plus, if someone isn’t able to have these conversations with you now, then it may be worth considering if you’d like to be intimate with them at all.
If you’re not sure how to jumpstart the talk, here are a few conversation-starters to try:
- Hey! There’s something I’d like to talk to you about, and it’s pretty personal. Do you have a few minutes?
- I was just watching the news and saw that [insert current event here]. What are your thoughts?
- I really like you and I’d love to keep seeing you, but I want to make sure we’re on the same page about certain things. Can we talk about sex?
- I’ve been thinking more about dating and sex ever since Roe was overturned. I would love to chat with you about some of this stuff if you’re down?
- This might be awkward, but since we may sleep together soon, I’m hoping to bring something up. For me, it’s important to know a few things before we go there. Can we chat about where we stand on abortion?
- I’ll be frank: I want to have sex with you but I’m nervous about a potential unwanted pregnancy. It’s important we both feel good about moving forward with everything. Would you be open to a conversation?
But What If The Conversation Gets Awkward?
When dating someone new, take note if you feel uncomfortable speaking to them about the subjects that matter to you. You might even consider the abortion conversation as a measure of compatibility — you want to be sure you’re entering the right commitments and that you feel good talking to your date about vulnerable topics.
Gonsalves says that having tough conversations like this can be game-changers for new romantic connections — from casual to long-term and everything in between. “If you can't have a serious, open conversation with this person without worrying that they'll get upset or lose interest in you, that speaks to how close and safe you really feel with them,” she says.
Regardless of how you choose to bring up abortion with your date, remember: Abortion is a deeply personal and difficult topic to discuss. The point of the conversation isn’t necessarily about changing your date’s beliefs — the talk is about feeling comfortable enough to deepen your connection through sex if that’s what you’re looking for, especially in a post-Roe world where fundamental reproductive rights are being stripped away.
Ultimately, you’re in charge of your own body and future. While your right to abortion may have been stripped away, knowledge is power, and having a conversation with your date about it is worth it.
Michael Kaye, global communications manager at OkCupid
Kelly Gonsalves, holistic dating coach and sex educator