It's a big picture question. Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Q: Hi Meredith,
I am your typical 20something post college grad living in the city. I have had my share of hilarious to horrible dating stories and am currently seeing a really great guy who is very different from a lot of men I have met my age. Specifically, he is well-educated, career-driven, and knows how to be chivalrous and treat me with respect.
So you may wonder, why am I writing? I want to hear your input on a disturbing trend that has recently been in the news. Over the past several months I have read countless articles on the "male crisis" that is currently happening to 20something guys. Men today are less likely to graduate high school, enroll in college, and pursue employment post graduation. They are more likely to be living at home and are less interested in reaching "traditional" adult landmarks such as settling down, getting married, and having children.
As a result, there are more women successfully educated and employed than ever before! Although this is a great achievement in gender equality, it is creating a major disadvantage for single women looking to pursue monogamous heterosexual relationships. With successful, well-rounded, educated men becoming an increasingly rare commodity, they now hold the power in the dating world. This leads many women to compromise their standards a great deal just to, at best, secure a male partner who will most likely not meet them intellectually, professionally, and emotionally.
I have been through this cycle personally and watch many of my friends continue to be let down or treated so poorly all in the name of young men thinking they can do better without having to try very hard at all. As a relationship expert, what is your advice for women of our generation who are wishing to find someone to date but do not wish to buy into the male sexual power-plays that currently dominate the dating world?
Your opinion is greatly valued!
– All The Single Ladies, Boston
A: Even if these studies and stories accurately represent what's going on in the world, I'm not convinced that women are at any more of a disadvantage than they used to be. Keep in mind that before this trend of female empowerment, single women had to partner up to ensure that they were supported financially -- or because they believed they had to find a spouse before they lost their market value at 30.
I'm not sure I can make a generalization about dating that applies to an entire twentysomething gender without paying attention to other factors like race, geography, income, and education, but I will say this: Women have always had a tough time finding good men. That's why there are sitcoms and punch-lines about it.
Still, this world we live in -- the one that supposedly emasculates heterosexual men until they're unwilling to grow up -- is preferable (at least to me) than the one that deems me a spinster at 28 or makes it difficult for me to have a job and live by myself.
And while I do know many smart, attractive, mature women in their 20s who tell me they can't find a guy worthy of their attention, I also know (in my immediate circle) of a 36-year-old woman happily dating a 26-year-old man who's sometimes more mature than she is, two thirtysomethings who have been together for almost a decade, and a 32-year-old woman who started dating someone nice after buying her own condo and installing sweet kitchen tile herself. And then there's yours truly, a 33-year-old unmarried advice columnist/former women's studies student who gets to be validated every day by thousands of readers, many of whom are ridiculously smart, cute, and witty men in their 20s.
I think my point is (and sorry for the ramble), we're all supposed to be looking for partners who respect us and share some of our life goals. And I'm not sure that as a woman that's any more or less difficult than it used to be. Finding a good match is a challenge for anyone, male or female, gay or straight, 20s or 30s, independent or codependent, emasculated or … masculated (you know what I mean). I truly believe that we're all in the same boat.
I hope that's reassuring. Sort of.
Readers? Do you buy into these stories about men? Is this a twenty-something issue? Is it an issue at all? Am I being too optimistic? Is the LW right about men having power because of these statistics? Thoughts? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.