I have a friend in her late thirties who has many friends in the same age group. They are single and looking for life partners but finding that the dating world is not as rewarding as they would like it to be.
I have known my friend for several years, and in that time she and her female friends have gone through a lot of ups and downs, relationship-wise. I have talked with her about her own difficulties, and I have occasionally overheard telephone conversations she has had with friends who are enduring emotional crises. It hasn’t been an easy time for any of them.
It is trite to say that times have changed, but dammit, times have REALLY changed. I try to give my friend advice based on my very limited experience of love and romance, but all I can really do is reaffirm that she and her friends are good people deserving of love. In the end, though, I have no real idea of what it is like to be dating these days.
The women I am referring to are intelligent, attractive, well-educated, gainfully employed, and have interests outside of work. And yet, they seem stuck in a merry-go-round of clubs, hookups, and bad dates. The men in their lives do not want to commit to anything permanent, even when they are in longer-term relationships. The women try to make it work but ultimately find themselves breaking up and getting back together repeatedly with partners who will never be what they want them to be.
Something is wrong, here, folks, and I don’t know what to suggest to them. I have considered all the reasons for this situation, including their time spent on their educations, career development, failed marriages, etc. etc. Any of those things may be true in certain circumstances, but none of those explains the seemingly universal inability of single men in that age group to commit to something permanent.
If I could boil it down, I’d say that the women want children and the men don’t. That sounds a bit crass, and maybe it is, but I cannot think of anything else that would explain the problems that so many women are having.
At the same time, some of these lovely people are trying to duck the bullets shot at them by well-meaning family members who wonder why they haven’t settled down, or had babies, or planned a wedding, or tied the knot. That pressure (which may be called teasing) is more than some people can bear, and if you are even hinting at any of that stuff with someone in your life, just stop it. Please. Don’t do it. It serves no useful purpose.
The fact is that previous generations, my own included, have not made marriage appear to be an attractive life choice. Anything, even solitude, seems to many people to be a preferable lifestyle. We older people have created this world, and it’s hard for us to look in that mirror, but I think we must.
A solo world is fine for those whose only interests are career and hobbies, but if their dreams include a family, then they are looking at some bad odds. Their choices may have to include single parenthood, and for that, they will need a support group. With any luck, they will have a girlfriend who can help them out. I hope so because right now the guys aren’t looking as though they are up for it.