Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Are Women Waiting Too Late to Mate?

When should marriage-minded women start husband hunting?

A provocative column by author Susan Patton in The Wall Street Journal says that today's college age women who eventually want to get married  are making a big mistake by hooking up in college instead of locating Mr. Right. Her theory is that today many women who want marriage and motherhood are deferring those goals. She observes that they are instead devoting their twenties to college, graduate school and career advancement and then begin to hear the biological clock begin to tick and want to have children and/or settle down with their life partner in their 30s. 

The problem, as Ms. Patton sees it, is that women in their thirties find themselves at a disadvantage as far as fading physical beauty when they try to compete against twenty-something year old women at their physical prime for equally well-educated, desireable men. This problem of competition for scarce men was summed up by the  thirty-something successful career woman "Sex and the City" character Samantha who said, "Be damn sure before you get off the Ferris Wheel, because there are twenty-two perky and ruthless women waiting to get on."

The other problem with waiting until way after college to settle down is what Barbara Dafoe Whitehead termed the sexual imbalance of power, where single men "can count on a pool of attractive peer women who are willing to sleep with them, compete over them, take care of them, spend money on them and make no big demands on them." That gets worse once you leave college. Ms. Patton is correct when she notes that in college there are many more "like-minded, age-appropriate single men with whom you already share many things." And she is correct that once you leave the halls of academia, the number of these desirable men drops dramatically in the workplace or when you return to a small town and realize how isolated you have become. 

Her best bit of advice is for educated women who desire marriage and family (but are not ready for it at age 21) to keep in touch after graduation day with the men that they met in college through social media. When you think about it, meeting men in college will give you a much more accurate view of what they are really like than if you met them through a dating service where they can embellish on their resume and hide character defects and  an embarrassing past history. For instance, we recall a very handsome eligible pre-med student who charmed the ladies, but was caught cheating on a Chemistry test. What are the odds he'd cheat on you someday? Or end up some day in jail for cheating on his taxes?We recall another who was a very dashing member of the Crew team and spirit squad but was banned from a sorority for his cavilier treatment of a member. Talk about women's issues! You would never hear about that on E-Harmony or Christian Mingle.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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