Posted by: sarahmeyers | July 5, 2008

Hooking Up

Why does it take women longer to find the right guy? Today society is gravitating toward living in cities. Technology let’s us connect no matter where we are. Social networking gets you more dates and invited to more social gatherings. For women having a career in an urban environment where we are constantly around technology it’s hard to settle down and get married. I believe living in urban environments, active social networking, engaging in increased dating partners and women’s careers are contributing factors to the delayed age at first marriage.

Decline in age at first marriage means people are waiting longer before they get married. According to the US census report cohorts of people born in 1935-1939 and 1975-1979 are waiting until they are older to get married. Age at first marriage has changed so that men and women wait longer to get married, however, more people are getting married. It would be interesting to predict what the age at first marriage will be in 10 years. Careers are thriving for woman now more than ever before. It makes sense that these days women wait to get married as apposed to 50 years ago when women would marry young. There are a lot of responsibilities that come with marriage. Career focused and driven women are more likely to wait.

Today there’s a tendency for people to live in cities and get married later on in their 30’s. Most people say that raising kids in an urban city is a bad idea. Thus, people who live in Manhattan take longer to start a family. The city life is so fun that it’s hard to leave it. It’s also more expensive to live in cities with kids. The cost of space goes up and kids need more space to grow up in. Our nation’s natural resource crisis has caused more people to move into cities to share resources like public transportation. It makes more people get married and not have kids or raise their kids in a cramped urban environment.

The longer you date the less chance you have to get married. Dating websites help people hook up. Technology makes real life interactions easier to coordinate and makes you more social. Social networks like Facebook help people stay in touch and find out about local events their friends are going to. Social networking probably contributes to the delay of marriage. It’s easy to speed date online, find people with similar interests and meet up with random people from social networks in real life.

A successful career driven woman can make it on her own without a man to support her. Thus, successful women have a greater tendency to stay single longer if not their whole life. Many men and women are more focused on their careers than their love life and often they prefer to have short term commitments, date around and be hyper social. They hold on to the fun single life for longer and often decide to never marry. There are fewer rewards career driven women will get from marriage.

I don’t think there is a problem with delay of age at first marriage in recent times. If there are any problems in this area it’s women getting pregnant, having children and raising them as a single mom in their teen and early twenty years. If you are planning on having kids it’s probably best to wait until you have the resources to start a family. It’s possible to have a career, embrace technology, be social and get married. Do you think that is what we want? What do you think women want in a man? Are there fewer options or do you think it’s our urban lifestyle that makes finding the right man so difficult?

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Responses

  1. It is an inevitable side-effect of our modern society that we approach these life thresholds differently. The trends of education, medicine, and relationships all show that we age slower than in previous generations. We have altered the dynamics of time.

    We’ve heard that “26 is the new 21″. We take longer to finish our educations, to leave our parents’ houses, to adventure out on our own and to tick all the boxes that constitute traditional adulthood. Therefore it is not surprising that we get married and have children later in life.

    To a degree, it’s just mathematics. If we stay in school until 24, getting a master’s or whatever, then head into our first [real] job at 25, and get our first [real] apartment at 27, our chances to date and meet our potential spouses occur later and later. Combined with 21st century pickiness and our opposition to compromise, this means we are likely to be single, and irritated, much later than we would have planned.

    Trouble is, our biology lacks a bit behind our ambitions. While many in New York and San Francisco may decide that 35 is a good age to start a family, physiology tells us that we’re already ten years behind schedule. At this moment, it seems that price we pay for living in the cities and enjoying a cosmopolitan lifestyle is the risk of missing our opportunities to start a family while we still have the last traces of youth.

    One reason for this could be the new independence of women. Even our mothers, who entered the workforce in the early 1970s, knew that they would soon leave to start a family. That implied fate is no longer stuck to today’s women; it is a choice. And considering that women have just as much career opportunities as men, they’re completely independent of men. Why bother getting married when a woman can provide for herself?

    And the economy is different than in generations past. The real cost of living these days is higher than ever and that means that virtually every family will need two incomes. Therefore everyone needs to work, at least for a little while, before they can earn the capital needed to get married or start a family. Putting things on hold means means just that. We may have altered the dynamics of time, but we haven’t mastered it yet.

    (but the real reason we aren’t all married is because we are pickier than ever before. We don’t simply want to find a spouse, we want the perfect partner — the soulmate. This inability to settle means that us city-dwellers, for all our virtues, will be the loneliest generation ever.)

  2. Maybe if social-networking websites had been around twenty years ago, I’d be married with kids by now. Hasn’t helped me much now or ten years ago. :-(

  3. Being in an urban area, having the ability to social network and having money should all help to contribute TO finding the guy. However, what’s happened is women are now becoming more selective in who they want, just as men often were.

    Think of it like this. You are a modern successful woman who is now seeing more, more and more men and various places and in various ways. You can interact face-to-face, view their live broadcasts, read their blogs, see their photostreams. You are getting a lot of info about them that wasn’t available even a year ago.

    In addition, other women are connecting in the same way at that same level. More women becoming tech savvy means more competition.

    Finally it’s in the priorities. Does having a guy really REALLY matter to you? Or do you think it would just be nice? When you put something at the top of your priority list, the time and energy you give to it suggests you’ll have better success at it, which is why people who are focused on career often don’t connect with who they want to meet for a while.

    Really though, what are you looking for? What are the qualities in a guy you want to find?

    May I suggest The List®? It’s my little concept of what would help you out. have a look.

    http://penpusher.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/all-about-the-list%C2%AE/

  4. Ok so I’m still publishing as Sarah Meyers here, though I just have to change some settings to get it all to Austin. I really appreciate your comments. I will read them all soon and respond to everyone.

  5. I disagree with the entire premise of, “Why does it take women longer to find the right guy?”

    Having lived in huge cities, I tend to think that the real question is, “Why does it take so long for women to realize that the right guys are all over the place?”

    There is a tendency among both men and women in huge metropolitan areas to always be chasing the next thing, rather than being happy with what is in front of them. That’s not to say that people don’t fall in love and get married, it just means that statistically they are putting it off longer than in other areas of the country. And not necessarily for the ‘right’ reasons, and not necessarily doing ‘better’ in the end for the wait.

    I also disagree with the statement, “The longer you date the less chance you have to get married. ” That’s simply not true; most people who make it to adulthood get married before they die. It’s also true that most people have children. Getting married and having kids is the easiest thing to do, one could argue: Everybody does it – criminals, drug dealers, hedge-fund millionaires, poor farmers, the deformed, and last but not least the perfectly average.

    Finally, a good deal of this is simply a New York-centric viewpoint, a disease that pervades most every upwardly mobile professional living there or nearby. Having spent time in Manhattan but also DC, LA, and Massachusetts, really I can say that no one cares what people in New York think, except for people who wish they were there (AKA: Sex and the City fans). Prescott tends to have it right, but that’s my two cents.

  6. Hi Sarah,

    If we mapped the criteria of ‘right guy’ versus ‘time to find them’ over time it could be that the time hasn’t increased, but the criteria has.

    Certainly media and changing societal roles and expectations have changed peoples’ perspectives on what they expect out of marriage – which has raised the bar on potential mates.

    Also with it so easy to form many weak connections via social media, perhaps the core of need in people to form strong connections is being met. Hence less psychological pressure to marry (except from one’s mother).

    Anyhow – good luck to anyone attempting to find that perfect partner.

  7. Hello Sarah. Welcome to the real world. Replace the word “women” with “person” and you have put the nail in the coffin!

  8. [...] crunch meet up and we ran into life caster Sarah Myers Austin, or is it Sarah Austin Myers, no Sarah Myers; wait I think its just Sarah Austin now.. Whew?!?!? Hey, it was all in good [...]

  9. Sarah,

    Why the name change?

  10. Possibly the issue is that we have lost some of the good parts of the more “traditional mating” practices of our past. This particularly apparent in more “progressive” western cultures.

    Relationships based on higher purposes or ideals rather than focused on one’s self and our fulfillment alone.

    Instead often we pair up early and often and go through all of the marriage parts except for the license and the ring. We start having sex quickly and that creates a somewhat natural biologically, but also a perhaps somewhat anti-productive bond that gets us into a rut of repetitive serial monogamy or one partner after the other.

    Can you have it all? Probably not. Earth is not meant to be heaven and a relationship is not meant to be a Nirvana, but we are old hands at relationships at its the best alternative we have to the unthinkable which is isolation.

    There are alternatives. Traditional marriage based on faith and family. Female led marriages where there career person is the not the male and she is the head of the family. Open marriages without the pressure of monogamy etc.

    Whatever, I agree that the ideal of the modern high powered urban marriage of the ultimate success couple is a pretty high bar for contentment and largely a myth.

  11. Plethora of choice, lack of disincentives to discourage sex outside of marriage, lack of incentives to promote marriage, US divorce law effectively putting a sword of Damocles over your head unless you get them to sign a pre-nup, global overpopulation & the decline in living standards of the average schmuck since the early ’80’s (in terms of return on one’s investment of hours at work). There’s loads of reasons not to marry, & very few to marry, even less to breed.

  12. SNS as a dating site ….hmmm well true to a degree and at least you know there are real people out there. Another great blog – worth looking on this is
    PRACTISING A PROPER SOCIAL DEMEANOUR:A GUIDE TO FACEBOOK ETIQUETTE NEW RULES FOR SURVIVING THE DIGITALLY CONNECTED WORLD.

    http://properfacebooketiquette.blogspot.com/

  13. I don’t really get this ‘There are fewer rewards career driven women will get from marriage.”. I believe its not true. The fact is – man (read human) is a social animal. You need friends, you need a family. You need someone to trust. You need someone who’ll give you a kick when you’re down.

    Focusing on career is perfectly alright. But progressing in career at the cost of personal life is a strict no.

  14. I believe that there are many more single woman than ever because men who are using dating sites see woman as disposable objects. I have a lot of friends who have tried the dating sites. I think men are using dating sites to “hook up” for the evening rather than anything more.

    Meeting quality people through friends of friends is still the way to go in my opinion.

  15. Hi Sarah!
    I’m a girl living in ex-soviet country. Our country is not so developed as USA but here we have the same problems with guys. I mean, for me for example is hard to find “HIM”, “the one and only”. Maybe the cause of this problem lies in my mind or in my subconsciousness and it is really provoked by the imposed stereotypes? I don’t know…But, I can fall in love, and sometimes I think that I could get marriage with somebody who I liked, but the new problem appears: I stop loving easily…Why? I don’t know, I’m just listening to my heart, and…still am alone(without boyfriend)! I’m not ugly, I have many admirers but I don’t like them! what criterion I follow to find “the one and only’? many and no one…when I fall in love, I just do it, I’m not thinking about tomorrow…and I believe in true love(how stupid it couldn’t sounds)…Women from our country only in recent years became career focused, but problems with guys exist for a long-long time!
    A month ago I visited one Muslim country and I was shocked by their customs! This country is too ex-soviet and I thought it’s not “so Muslim”, but it is… There, if a girl goes to the date she must get marry with that guy! And they don’t have choice! Because, if they would have many boyfriends all people in the city will know about it and will consider her “a bad girl” or simply saying: prostitute! So…they don’t have choice, or marriage or shame! (by the way, nobody will marry her if she had more than one boyfriend!) For me it sounds terrible…but for them…I saw many girls that get married with their boyfriends there (their only boyfriend in whole life!) and they are happy…
    I don’t know maybe really modern life deprives us natural needs? Natural need to create a family, grow up children. I don’t feel myself so “urbanized” but I have problem in my searches of “the one”…
    But maybe it’s a different story?…

  16. I think a person is most desired when they are uncommon and perceived to be just beyond reach.

    It takes time to be amazing.

  17. You know, as a dude, I was totally ready to settle down and marry the moment I got my awesome tech job at the age of 21. I’m 36, single, and I think looking for a woman as successful as me is asking too much. I even flirted with Sarah in front of the Edinburgh Castle a long time ago. That night she rejected me, which is cool. She’s not attracted to me. No problem. I’m not attracted to a lot of women.

    I gave it a long thought.

    I’ll never have the skills or reputation of a Tantek, but I’m still an awesome guy.

    What needs to change?!?!?

    Then it hit me.

    I changed my tack and decided to date Starbucks Barristas:

    http://www.codebelay.com/blog/?p=63

    My life has been great ever since.

  18. [...] younger, sarahmeyers looks at the setting for the hook-up culture and identifies her own – highly urban, [...]

  19. I love you

    I’m actually a geek


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