Why don’t I know any single men?

More precisely… why don’t I know any single men who could be fixed up with a well-educated woman in her late 30s? This seems to be a common situation among our friends. We know single women whom we believe would be wonderful companions and mothers, but none of the single men whom they are seeking as partners.

A friend in D.C. says “Single women nearing 40 have spent decades perfecting their adult selves. Men of the same age are still stuck in their teenage personality.”

What is the explanation for this phenomenon? Hillary Clinton and the New York Times keep reminding us how men have grabbed up all of the good stuff (education, high-paying jobs, prestigious positions, etc.) in the U.S., but finding an unpartnered adult male who is in possession of said good stuff seems to be impossible.

[Separately, I’m wondering if the large quantity of involuntarily single-and-childless women shows poor life-planning strategies. These women have advanced education, great job skills, and good careers compared to the American average. Yet they say that they are sad about not having children and also that their primary reason for working is to earn money. Evaluating against those stated objectives, we must observe that their after-tax income is in nearly every case lower than if they’d had sex with a dermatologist or dentist in Massachusetts and collected child support. (Most of these women want two children, which, if properly planned, could easily offer a tax-free cash yield of $200,000/year via child support (multiply by 23 years in Massachusetts).) See this from the Practical Tips chapter:

In most states, the potential child support profits from a one-night encounter are roughly the same as the profits from a short-term marriage. … “Women who want to make money from the system aren’t getting married anymore,” said one lawyer. “The key is recognizing that it is a lot easier to rent a rich guy for one night, especially if he has had a few drinks, than it is to get a rich guy to agree to marriage.” Another disadvantage of marriage, from a plaintiff’s perspective, is that it prevents what attorneys call “forum shopping.” A plaintiff who is married in Texas is stuck with Texas law and $20,000 per year in child support for a single child. A plaintiff who isn’t married and who has a good understanding of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) may be able to sue a Texas defendant under California, Massachusetts, New York, or Wisconsin law and collect millions of dollars.

From the point of view of having the children that they want prior to the exhaustion of their fertility and from the point of view of financial security, these women would have been better off spending their 18-22-year-old years having sex with married men rather than attending college. That’s not to suggest that 18-year-old child support profiteer is the optimum lifestyle for every American woman, but the fact that it would yield a better outcome measured against their own goals than what the women we know have accomplished suggests that they pursued a pretty bad life strategy. Is it the case that the vast majority of women who set out on the high-education, high-achievement path end up with a desirable (to them) partner and children? So we’re just seeing a handful of outliers and therefore the strategy actually has a good expected outcome but with some risk?]

Readers: Looking at the 35-45 age group, and restricting to people who have a college degree, above-median earnings, agreeable personality, and responsible habits, what’s the ratio of single women to single men?

[There is a bug in this installation of WordPress (I’m not the server admin!). Thus the comments displayed below are only the most recent. Here are direct links to the comment pages:

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Related:

  • article on Laura Wasser, a successful California divorce litigator, that ends by explaining that Wasser herself has chosen to have children out of wedlock with multiple fathers and says “I don’t want to get married. I don’t like the idea of entering into that contract.” (Note that a successful divorce litigator in a high-stakes winner-take-all (all = house, kids, cash) jurisdiction such as California or Massachusetts can expect to earn over $1 million per year.)

114 Comments

  1. Marco

    March 23, 2016 @ 1:46 pm

    1

    Since when is sexual nature something that can be manipulated? Men prefer younger women, women prefer high status, successful men.

    One sex dictates what the other will compete in. Women compete in the appearance department. Sorry feminists and harvard theoriticians: men prefer younger and beautiful women. Career, money… we don’t give a single f***.

  2. guy

    March 23, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

    2

    unfortunately, out here, most women in their mid 30s and up are fat. every year after 30 adds pounds, bitterness, and disappointment. none of those are attractive qualities. you can’t expect a single male in their 40s to choose them over younger, slimmer, less angry 20somethings.

  3. suzanne goode

    March 23, 2016 @ 3:15 pm

    3

    This question has been asked for decades, beginning with a tongue-in-cheek piece in the 1980s claiming that a single woman in her late 30s had a better chance of being struck by a car than being asked for her hand in marriage by a man she deemed adequate, which meant he had to be about 35-40 yo. As other commenters have noted, women seek higher-earning men in order to marry “up”, and are often quite picky as to height and some other features. These demands doubtlessly increase with the woman’s education level & physical attractiveness. I have enjoyed the men’s comments on this blog posting tremendously, and their observations have been borne out by my experience. Tiny Fey did an incredibly funny monologue about “If I were a man,” and I am reminded every time I’m in my gym’s locker room that a winsome 25 yo female is a different commodity than a winsome 35 yo female, even if they both have endearing personalities.

  4. suzanne goode

    March 23, 2016 @ 6:22 pm

  5. suzanne goode

    March 23, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

    5

    was a Newsweek article from the 1980s, and it was being the victim of a terrorist attack versus chance of getting hitched at age 40 for a college-educated female. Turns out NBER’s study was flawed. But doesn’t change the fact that a woman’s marriage prospects at age 40 are simply diminished vis-a-vis her late twenties due to the men in their age cohort having more choices. Here is discussion of the Newsweek article, which apparently was used as material in “Sleepless in Seattle”: http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/terrorist.asp

  6. Goyo

    March 24, 2016 @ 5:12 am

    6

    I’m a relatively successful man in my mid-30s. Top college, lots of travel, cool life experiences, respectable job, six-pack still intact.
    I do not date women older than 26. Every now and then I may make an exception for a 27-28 year old, but they have to be especially cool to be around and awesome in bed. I do not date single moms. Ever. I’m here to care for my own offspring, not someone else’s. I do not date women my age because they’re in a rush (they’ve finally realized the clock is ticking) and their expectations are too high.
    Funny how hard things were for me when I was 19-20, yet every time I ask a woman my age about that time, they’ll go on and on about how awesome it was.
    Women have a golden decade from 15-25. If they waste it and the years after it somewhere on the slut-career spectrum, that’s on them. I’m not here to pick up the tab for their shitty life decisions.
    Of my close friends who are my age, half that have gotten married are now divorced. One was on the verge of suicide afterwards. Several are on their second marriage because they’re gluttons for punishment. Not one of them wouldn’t trade places with me if they were given the chance.
    Men are expendable, women are perishable. You can’t argue with biology. You cannot dictate sexual/romantic attraction. More and more men are waking up; the evidence is all around them, right in front of their eyes. Single men who have their shit together do not want a career woman in her 30s or 40s. Those women had their chance, and squandered their most valuable asset. I’ll take the 23 year old cutie who’s only slept with one or two guys in her life over the 38 year old career grrrrrl with the Masters and the high-powered office job. Every. Single. Time.

  7. EB

    March 24, 2016 @ 9:13 am

    7

    Seriously, you’re advocating for them to trap a high earning male for child support? And you make no inclination that it is wrong, or whether the father will be in the kid’s life. Do you have no shame? What a solipsistic trash article. You, and your self perfected friends, can all die spinsters. You all are not worth children, as the gene pool is better off without you.

  8. not EB

    March 24, 2016 @ 10:03 am

    8

    Wrong for women to spread their legs for child support? Have children for profit? Raise children without a father? You can hold these Bible Thumper ideas but don’t bring them to family law and family courts. At least here in California, working on her back is most likely the best job a woman can get and family court is where she goes to pick up her paycheck. Don’t think it is accidental that the lawyers, judges, psychologists, and accountants also get paid.

  9. Work That Pussy!

    March 24, 2016 @ 10:23 am

    9

    Child support plaintiffs say they care about their kids like fat guys say they want to hit the gym and lose weight. It may actually be in the back of their mind but first another dozen donuts from the drive-thru…

  10. suzanne goode

    March 24, 2016 @ 12:24 pm

    10

    Most women aren’t this way, granted. They actually value having a man to play the role of father, companion, sexual partner, amateur plumber & handyman (I really don’t mind doing laundry or dishes, but you would not want me trying to change a flapper on a leaking toilet as I would fail, and have to hire someone). However, if you were to look at the reality with NBA players on down to average gainfully employed men, sadly many women seem to treat the guy as a baby-maker, then don’t like all aspects of his personality or whatever, and decide they’re better off on their own. Narcissistic on the part of the women, and the ones I know who’ve been divorced for 10+ years by-and-large have fared all right, but rarely have found another long-term male partner. Their ex-husbands, should they so desire, have little problem finding another wife, almost always significantly younger than their first wives. An endocrinologist I know told me she was divorcing her charming, handsome pediatric oncologist husband (they’re about the same age as they met in medical school; have one child) — this is the guy you want if your child is diagnosed with cancer — witty, compassionate, Mensa-type smart as is his 14 yo. M.D. Mother offered this explanation as to why she was divorcing him, even though she admitted she truly loved him as a person: He was cheating on her constantly (mostly with young nurses at the hospital). “Why?” I asked. “Because he can.” (Her words.) I will just put it out there. When has the world ever been fair?

  11. Susie LA

    March 24, 2016 @ 4:51 pm

    11

    My neighbor used to be a family court judge. She said “Child support is the government’s way of seeing how many women will work as whores if you give them a paycheck and a job title of single mom.”

  12. Mary Jo

    March 30, 2016 @ 12:44 am

    12

    Sure men like young women. Duh. Women like young men too. A 55 year old man wants to get young women but he can’t unless he’s rich. So young women may have sex with him but secretly hate him. All these men who think that they are sexually attractive to females forever are delusional. Men have an expiration date as well. No 25 year old woman will willingly have sex with an 80 year old. Not gonna happen dude. Sorry. Young women are attracted to young, virile males because they produce healthy offspring. All these women who have children with older men compromise the health of their offsrping. In the wild, healthy young males get to have all the females. Old bucks are driven out. That’s life.

  13. Suzanne Goode

    March 30, 2016 @ 8:11 am

    13

    but ageism remains, in the sense the typical 50 yo divorcee in my ‘hood finds herself dating men 10-15 yrs older than herself, whereas the 50 yo widowers and divorced guys (assuming they have any financial means) seem to attract significantly younger women without issue. I didn’t think fertility became that huge an issue (although some autism studies might suggest otherwise) with men until they’re in their 60s. Fortunately, the last time Mick Jagger sired a child (now about 15 yo), he was in his mid-50s. And the 28 yo ballerina of 2015 did not wind up preggers.

    When I was in my 40s and whining to our family physician that I felt my YMCA friends from the locker room were aging more rapidly in terms of outward appearance than our spouses, his reply was interesting. (This was former radio show host Dr. Gabe Mirkin, an astute & highly intelligent internist). Mirkin said, “I know both you and your husband. You’re both aging at the same normal rate. Your feelings emanate from constant bombardment by the media of images of older men & younger women.” So when watching “Up in the Air” a few weeks later which pairs a much older George Clooney with a much younger love interest (Mira Sorvino), as well as with an even younger whippersnapper assistant (Anna Kendrick). Dr. Mirkin’s explanation was validated.

    I feel for women in their late 30s & older, as the odds aren’t in their favor when competing against women in their late 20s, early 30s and their own age cohort. But as an economist, the concept of opportunity cost is pretty salient here. When I was in my twenties & early thirties, I had 3 children, rather than climbing the corporate ladder or attending B-school. One of the commenters mentioned the “Oops” baby — guilty as charged, as also got pregnant with a baby at age 39 who’s now a healthy young teenager. In my well-educated, affluent area, a middle school substitute math teacher once asked the classroom of my oldest son, who was born when I was 25, to put their mother’s ages on the blackboard in order to learn mean/median/mode. My then 12 yo son said I was a total out-lier by about 10 years below the median.

  14. Suzanne Goode

    March 30, 2016 @ 8:14 am

    14

    re: mother’s age — maybe more like 15 yrs below the median

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