Why Successful Women Struggle to Find Love
This past summer, a close friend of mine traveled with a group of her girlfriends to Lake Powell, a popular resort in Arizona. They spent the weekend jet skiing, swimming, and riding a houseboat across the massive lake. My friend’s coterie of female companions included some highly-educated, stellar professionals: a surgeon, an attorney, and a research scientist just to name a few. Almost all of them possessed advanced degrees and had high-paying jobs. They also had something else in common: they all yearned for marriage and family, but had remained single into their thirties.
It turns out this phenomenon is widespread. In fact, it’s a crisis.
Countless high-achieving professional women struggle to find a husband in today’s social scene. I personally know several who want nothing more than to settle down and start a family, but cannot find a suitable partner. After conducting some research, I’ve pieced together the following underlying causes.
Relationships are a market economy
We may not like seeing dating and marriage as a competition, but it’s a fact: single people compete for mates. Everyone wants an ideal mate, but there aren’t enough to go around. Thus men and women have to not only search for an attractive prospect, they have to invest time and energy into being one. That means developing the characteristics and attributes that the other side finds attractive.
Everyone wants to get the best possible partner. That brings me to my first point.
Women do not want to marry down
This is the single biggest reason for why successful women struggle to find a man. Women want to marry a man of similar or higher income and social status. Men, on the other hand, have no qualms with marrying a woman with lower income, social status, or education. Why the disparity? It’s tied to standard of living and opportunity cost.
We live in a society where men are expected to be the primary breadwinners and women are expected to be the caregiver/nurturers. Contrary to feminist notions, these roles are not merely a social construction: they have a basis in biology. Men, for example, don’t have mammary glands. In a marriage, someone’s career will usually suffer in the interests of investing in raising children. Women are much more likely to drop out of the workforce to take care of a home and raise a family. Now, here’s where opportunity cost comes into play: if you are (for example) a female nuclear engineer and you want to have a family, would you want to marry a male auto mechanic? Think of how much your economic well-being would suffer as you drop out of the workforce (or at least take time off) to have and raise your babies. You’d stand lose massive amounts of money and human capital (i.e. your career will suffer from taking a leave of absence) whilst surviving on your husband’s comparatively dismal salary. Now, replace the female nuclear engineer with a female…waitress. Would she be sacrificing that much by marrying and having children with a male auto mechanic? Not really. It’s an attractive prospect for her because her wealth and lifestyle are improving.
Men are acutely aware of women’s desire to “marry up” in the interest of security and standard of living. They have a massive incentive to make more money because it drastically increases their attractiveness. Look at a college campus: the highest-paying majors (e.g. engineering, computer science, accounting) are overwhelmingly filled with male students, while the female-dominated majors (e.g. education, social work, psychology) are the lowest-paid.
Men, of course, do not evaluate potential mates with the same criteria as their female counterparts. Would a successful male lawyer be open to the idea of marrying a sexy young waitress who’s struggling to pay her bills? Of course! The lawyer doesn’t need a woman to support him financially. He wants to have a hot young trophy wife to use as a status symbol and (let’s admit it) sex object. Now, can you imagine a relationship like that working…with the genders reversed? Of course not! No wealthy female lawyer would want to marry an uneducated, financially-insecure man no matter how handsome he was. Some men of modest means will feel too intimidated to even try their luck with a higher-achieving woman: that would be like Internet Explorer asking to be your default browser!
And thus, while high-achieving professional men enjoy wider options than the average men, high-achieving professional women have narrower options. The fact that women are outpacing men in earning college degrees only exacerbates the problem. If an educated woman wants to a marry someone of similar education, the odds are stacked against her. On top of that, these educated women have to compete with less-educated peers who can simply leverage their physical attractiveness to marry high-income, high-status males.
Physical attractiveness diminishes with age
Ouch. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true nonetheless. As I’ve mentioned earlier, men primarily evaluate women based on their looks, and those looks depreciate over time. Sure enough, data analysis from popular dating sites has revealed that men of all ages are most attracted to women in their early twenties. Why is that? It’s tied to evolutionary biology. Our drive to reproduce is written in our genes, and men are genetically programmed to seek after women in prime breeding age. Compared to men, women have a narrow window of fertility, so women’s usefulness in propagating their species dries up as they approach their forties.
I should also note that men often become more attractive to a potential mate as they age simply because they’re better established professionally and financially. If you’re a woman and you want to secure a bright future for you and your offspring, is it wiser to marry a struggling student or a successful professional? The thing is, these two options can be the same man, just ten years apart. A clever woman can skip ahead of her age-group peers by marrying an older high-income, high-status male.
Some readers may misinterpret this article as an endorsement of social darwinism. It isn’t. I’m just presenting data and interpreting it honestly. And I must include one final caveat: mate selection isn’t simply a question of wealth and physical beauty. Personality, common interests, sense of humor, and lifestyle choices hold a massive sway over whether someone will romantically pursue another and whether or not they’ll be compatible in a long-term relationship.
My advice for single people on the hunt is this: evaluate potential mates carefully, but in the end, you should marry the person you love.