A thought-provoking survey released by Match.com makes the controversial claim that a woman's concept of Mr. Right changes as she ages.  They found that the qualities women desire most from their men can be catagorized by age ranges. The survey showed that in the age range 18-24, women want a partner who is compatible with their friends and  that their friends would approve of the partner. In the age range 25-34 the survey discovered that women sought the values of physical attractiveness, sexual compatibility and ambition in their Prince Charming. In the older 35-44 age range women told the researchers that they wanted an older man who is well mannered, established, stable and successful. In the middle age range of 45-54 women were looking  for a man who made them feel secure. And in the 55 and over age range women were the most selective, valuing intelligence, sense of humor, personality and sexual compatibility. By "sexual compatibility" the women were referring to the frequency of sexual relations.

The  most fascinating thing about the survey was how on first blush, the values of the youngest group seemed  codependent but actually are quite healthy.  In the 18-24 year old range, women were wisely getting feedback from those who know and love them best and making sure the new beau will fit in before committing to a relationship. Women are wise to make their close personal female friendships a priority.  Relationships with other women enable them to express feelings and share common interests that have always been an important part of their lives.By nurturing friendships throughout the development of a new romance, women  retain trusted confidants  with whom to share their ups and downs and gain valuable feedback from a distictly female point of view.

Historian Ellen K. Rothman noted  that even engaged couples in the 1800s remained socially active with both their male and female friends. If a new boyfriend couldn't abide the friends and relations, it was considered proof of incompatibility and the relationship would end.  Early Americans knew that friends were a mirror of the true self.

The idea  of remaining socially active was  to maintain balance in one's life, keeping your same sex friendships even as one moved to marriage. There never was this artificial isolation leading to a honeymoon. In fact, the honeymoon, which developed in the 1830s and eventually became an American wedding tradition, was originally a bridal trip that included friends and close relatives. Today's honeymoon, where the couple rushes off to a secret, exotic locale isloated from friends and family, is a mutation of the original healthy community celebration of marriage.

The 18-24 year old women have the right idea. We need to encourage young men to also keep their male friendships intact as they develop a romance.

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