Mating sites and the rise of platonic co-parenting

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Finding love on the Internet is a common occurrence today where there are dating apps that cater to all demographics, interests and preferences. Lately, “mating sites,” such as Modaily and CoParents, which match individuals who are seeking a partner to co-parent with, have gained popularity. Sites estimate that they have been responsible for about 1,000 births. These sites match prospective parents together based on common views and values on parenting.

While the majority of users are looking for non-romantic partners to start a family with, some have found love on these sites. While aging is often cited as a reason for joining these sites, there is a growing trend in starting a family without a romantic connection. Some individuals opt for artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or through intercourse when starting families with a platonic partner. 

Advocates of these mating sites believe that parenting through non-romantic relationships creates a more stable environment for starting a family. Shared goals of starting a family and raising children join individuals together. There are several success stories from co-parenting sites that have created happy families and stable children. Each situation is different, as some parents choose to live together over shared custody or may have children from past partners.

Communication and collaboration are especially important for platonic co-parenting, as they lack the usual connection that romantic partners have. Like any other relationship, there can be issues that arise out of a complicated situation. Both parties have to be on the same page about their intentions and romantic interests, or lack thereof. 

Today, the “traditional” family arguably doesn’t exist. Families come in all different shapes and sizes. Mixed families, where parents share custody of children and live under different roofs are common today, given that the divorce rate is 50 percent. Surrogacy and other non-traditional routes of starting families have been prevalent among same-sex couples or those who experience infertility. Attitudes and opinions surrounding how to best raise children have changed – many children are raised in households with single or divorced parents. Proponents of platonic parenting believe that children benefit from having two parents but don’t believe that a romantic connection is necessary for raising stable children.

COVID-19 has changed the way in which people date and seek relationships. Online dating has undergone a resurgence, and “mating sites” have also increased traffic. The pandemic has prompted people to further desire meaningful connections that come from family and solid relationships. Additionally, times of stress create a stronger desire for stability and companionship. COVID-19 has prompted more people to realize that they have a desire for starting a family and seek out this type of relationship.

Although I appreciate many of the elements that this type of parenting creates, such as open communication and focus on shared parenting methods, I have some qualms about it. Although the focus is on stability for children, I find it difficult to reconcile this to the fact that most of these children grow up in separate households – many co-parents don’t live together and may seek relationships outside of the co-parent. Although many divorced or separated parents are able to navigate this issue, I don’t find it ideal as it makes it more difficult for children to spend quality time with both parents and grow up in a stable environment.

I also believe that the children that result from these relationships might potentially lack the experience to learn about romantic relationships from their parents, which is important for development. The stories describing the awkward encounters for the co-parents who chose to become fertile made me cringe and made me wonder how that affected their relationships. Additionally, most articles still focused on heteronormative couples. This raised questions regarding how jealousy may affect co-parents who may have lingering physical or emotional connections to one another. Finally, I would like to see more information on co-parents who have different sexual orientations, since I think this would shift the dynamic most articles describe.

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