When women lament their single status or worry about the trends which point to ever fewer desirable men available in the dating pool, they are often imagined to be too picky - otherwise they are probably fat or "high maintenance," whatever that means. (Does that mean I am over hanging out in dive bars drinking dollar beers being hit on by unemployed guys who use pick up lines like "wussup?" Or that I now own more heels than flip flops and like to eat out and travel? Well damn, then color me high maintenance I guess).
In my last post I touched on some gender-based financial issues such as that nearly half of all working wives bring home more bacon than their husbands, and that single women under 33 are out-earning their male counterparts.
These factors and others are affecting the courtship and marriage dance in complicated ways. The end result though is that more women are staying single and those who do marry are doing it later and later. With both sexes earning plenty of money and remaining unattached - while crafting their own fun instant gratification lifestyles - well into their 20s and 30s, there is less pressure to wed all around.
Living Almost Large had some very interesting comments to my last post (linked above). I decided to put my response here because it got much too long:
I definitely agree that many women are too picky, and/or too shallow in their preferences when it comes to men. And it does get harder the longer you're single as you develop an identity, a lifestyle, a career, and all kind of other preferences. It seems much easier to couple up young and build/create a life together; merging complicated lives as older individuals is hard, even if the love IS there.
And you're right - most successful men want to feel successful and they work hard enough at their jobs to try to manage a complicated relationship after hours. So many of them DO prefer to date younger, more "flexible" women who are eager to be at their beck and call rather than dealing with an intelligent professional equal who - gasp! - might have an opinion or a desire or two of their own. That doesn't help matters either for those of us who weren't lucky enough to snag one of these guys when we were all young and stupid.
But that successful woman - the one with a career and retirement savings and even with designer clothes - might actually not be a demanding "high maintenance" bitch. She might even be shy or wounded. Or maybe she is content or preoccupied and not trying to land a man thank-you-very-much.
As for me, sure I have preferences: who wouldn't want a guy who earns as much as she does and has similar tastes and education? But honestly the only thing I'm looking for right now is chemistry. I have money, a home, a career, friends, a social calendar. I don't need a guy to give me any of those things. Attraction always mattered most to me, almost to a fault. I dated a hippie musician with zero ambition and a controlling drug addict before I figured out that maybe I should care about a little bit more about other things than passion. And then I loved a great guy who I thought I'd marry but the timing didn't work out on that one. After that I started focusing on everything else but finding love - career, rental properties, this blog, getting my CFP, even my dogs.
I'm not ridiculously picky, but I am busy and opinionated and...well, tired of trying to land a man - or at least of feeling like that SHOULD be the #1 thing on my to do list. In the last couple of years I've dated smart guys, rich guys, good looking guys, and even a couple that were all three, but I just wasn't into it. Sure I could have gone with the flow and batted my eyes and turned some of those into long term relationships. But I don't NEED to - I don't need security or companionship or children. I don't know if I'm bitter and jaded or if I have too many way-too-honest guy friends to trust a man or if I'm not meeting the right men or if I get enough chit chat with people I barely know over restaurant meals in my job...but if the chemistry isn't there and I don't really care whether he calls again, then I'd rather just continue to be single, make my money, travel with my girlfriends, and watch movies with my dogs. Life's too short to fake a connection just because I should be trying to get married at my age.
The problem is that when I'm 35 or so and still doing all this, alone, I worry I'm going to regret having wasted my 20s not finding a husband. And then I probably will want to or have to settle for somebody who I respect but don't adore. And I hate that I already have to dread getting "old" when I truly don't give a damn.