The lies we are told, and often believe, about women and love are rarely disputed.
Most women want a relationship.
Most women want to be married.
Most women want a tall, rich husband, who will take care of them for the rest of their lives.
Most women want a romantic partner, who will send them flowers, profess their love on Instagram, renounce all other women for her, and buy her expensive jewelry.
For decades, the image of a wide-eyed woman, with a grin from ear to ear, reveling in surprise and delight, as her male partner reveals a small velvet box from Jared’s, or Kay Jewelers, was accepted as reality, instead of advertisement.
We make assumptions about what we think women want, and what they are after, yet life paints a very different picture. If women were so adamantly pursuing these stereotypical outcomes then why is it that most women don’t have them? For centuries, women have been described as seeking the most idyllic of marital circumstances, but we know by the divorce rate, the reports of domestic violence, and the percentage of women diagnosed with depression (more on that later), that these dreams are more often than not deferred.
Women will not have the fairytale that has been both designed and denied by men.
What’s worst, we live in a world where the upside for dating, and marriage isn’t very enticing to women. In many cultures like Japan, for example, it is oppressive – resulting in many women opting out of marriage completely.
What women want, is to be feel the respect and adoration that comes with being a man’s choice. If it were just a rebellion against marriage as an institution, research would reveal an increase of unwed cohabitation, which we haven’t seen, even in the LGBTQ community.
What’s actually happening is that men have defaulted on society’s expectation to choose a wife, and the responsibility that it entails. Superficially we believe that without men making the choice to marry, women can make it – all things being equal. Unfortunately, things are not equal. Dating is much harder for women especially when men aren’t playing the traditional part of suitor, pursuer, or hunter, that has been expected for decades.
Women Are More Likely to Be Depressed
Millions of women are subject to abuse, or oppressive conditions. For the single successful woman, who is satisfied with her career, college educated, and living a mostly fulfilled life, her road to success is more likely to include more trauma than their male counterparts.
According to the Mayo Clinic, this is due to life circumstances and culture. The higher rate of depression in women isn’t just biology. Life circumstances and cultural stressors play a role, too. Although these stressors also occur in men, it’s usually at a lower rate. Factors that may increase the risk of depression in women include:
Unequal power and status.
Women are much more likely than men to live in poverty, causing concerns such as uncertainty about the future and decreased access to community and health care resources. These issues can cause feelings of negativity, low self-esteem and lack of control over life.
Often women work outside the home and still handle home responsibilities. Many women deal with the challenges of single parenthood, such as working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Also, women may be caring for their children while also caring for sick or older family members.
Sexual or physical abuse.
Women who were emotionally, physically or sexually abused as children or adults are more likely to experience depression at some point in their lives than those who weren’t abused. Women are more likely than men to experience sexual abuse.
These unequal exposures to trauma can cause women to be more guarded and insecure. Women face the constant reminder of their gender power imbalance in their work, advertising, music and relationships.
Women Do More Emotional Labor
Traditional gender roles aside, men and women who split the check are not equal. Paying half for the date is just the beginning. In dating a man’s emotional maturity is less likely to match that of his date. Women are more likely to pick up the slack of emotional labor in a relationship. Women are often the ones who initiate conversations, express their emotions, show their love and invest in the health of the relationship.
While men assume actions such as, ‘making the first move’ translate to equality they conveniently ignore the fact that they don’t equally provide the maturity necessary to sustain relationship health. They are not the gender to be honest about “what they are looking for”. They are not the gender to be consistent in communication, or open about their feelings. They are not the gender to be supportive, and communicate their standards in a relationships.
One writer for QZ.com explains it this way: Getting most men to understand and genuinely appreciate emotional labor is often a Sisyphean task, precisely because to them—much like micro-aggressions to white people—this work is invisible. If you don’t do it, or feel pressured to do it, why should you care?
Emotional labor are emotive tasks in the form of “caring, negotiating, empathizing, smoothing things over, and working behind the scenes to enable cooperation”, that are required components of romantic relationships yet mostly done by women. They are often invisible and uncompensated.
If a man doesn’t call you back when he said he would. Lies to you about his whereabouts because technically you’re not “his girlfriend”. Consistently avoids making plans, or exhibits any behavior that is considered disrespectful, a woman has two choices – leave him or deal with it.
The truth is, women can’t really just leave a man because the marriage market of eligible bachelors has dwindled to devastating lows.
Women Have Less Options Than Men
Women outnumber men, everyone knows that right? Outside of male dominated cities like Denver, or San Francisco – the numbers of single women are far too high for every woman who wanted to get married to actually be married. Unless she married a man who was married before. But the reality is far more depressing than the raw numbers. The pool of eligible bachelors, known as the ‘marriage market’ has dwindled to abysmal lows.
This includes basic attributes such as:
One recently released study explained that unmarried women currently face “demographic shortages of marital partners in the U.S. marriage market.”
When you include the nice to haves such as: no criminal record, no children, never married, college educated and drug and disease free, the pool diminishes even further.
The most revealing data comes from University of Zurich economist David Dorn. In a 2017 paper with an ominous title (“When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Men”), Dorn and his colleagues crunched the numbers from 1990 to 2014. They found that employability and marriageability are deeply intertwined.
In 1990, 21.8 percent of employed men and 12.9 percent of employed women worked in manufacturing. By 2007, it had shrunk to 14.1 and 6.8 percent. These blue-collar gigs were and are special: they pay more than comparable jobs at that education level in the service sector, and they deliver way more than just a paycheck. The jobs are often dangerous and physically demanding, giving a sense of solidarity with coworkers.
Not coincidentally, these jobs are also incredibly male-dominated—becoming even more so between 1990 and 2010. But since 1980, a full third of all manufacturing jobs—5 million since 2000—have evaporated, making guys less appealing as husbands.
Dorn and his colleagues found that when towns and counties lose manufacturing jobs, fertility and marriage rates among young adults go down, too. Unmarried births and the share of children living in single-parent homes go up.
This leaves women at a disadvantage in who they can meet, and marry. Allowing for men to create lower than desired standards and dating conditions. Understanding these factors can lead to making different choices for women, and redefine their approach to dating.
The good news, and yes there is some, is that there is an opportunity to create a new standard for love and marriage. One that is reliant on partnership and autonomy. This shift has to come from women who currently face the brunt of the emotional work in dating. For women who are interested in marriage, their best solution is to forego dating altogether and focus on attracting marriage minded men. This requires a dedication to creating a new narrative, one that doesn’t include a prince or flowers.
Millions of people get married every year, all you have to do is decide to be one of them. Once you decide, you will find it less necessary to just “date.” This doesn’t make dating bad, but approach it as independent of getting married.