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Mr. Swipe Right I'm a woman who's both loving and seriously hating Tinder. Guys on this app mostly want to hook up, and even those who say they want a relationship are flaky, often disappearing after a single date. Sure, this sometimes happens with guys I meet in …Read more. Mr. Throng I'm a 35-year-old woman, and I've been involved with a guy around my age for almost two years. It's been "open." Well, that is, he's had the freedom to sleep with other people. I haven't wanted to. I finally realized that I am not happy with this …Read more. Ben Hurry I'm a woman in my 40s, and I've been happily married for 22 years. Unfortunately, my husband and I have never been very compatible sexually. I had read so much Cosmo in college that I believed sex was something we could work on. Well, he is quick in …Read more. Shove Hurts I've spent hundreds of dollars on a relationship coach, who instructed me to cut off all sex and even all contact with the guy I was dating until he agreed to marry me. I knew he loved me and wanted to marry me; I just wanted him to do it faster. …Read more.
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The Spinster Cycle


I'm a 32-year-old woman with a Ph.D. I'm beyond happy with my career path, but I'm not meeting men I'm impressed with or inspired to see again. A girlfriend sent me a New York Times op-ed by a historian named Stephanie Coontz, who said that highly educated women can find a man if they drop "the cultural ideal of hypergamy — that women must marry up." Coontz advises women to "reject the idea that the ideal man is taller, richer, more knowledgeable, more renowned or more powerful." She claims a woman's marital happiness is predicted not by how much she looks up to her husband, "but how sensitive he is to her emotional cues and how willing he is to share the housework and child-care. And those traits are often easier to find in a low-key guy than a powerhouse." She then adds, "I'm not arguing that women ought to 'settle.'" Really? Sounds that way to me. — Dismayed

Yes, you can have it all — a high-powered education, a high-powered career, and the perfect high-powered man to go with. Of course, it helps if you're willing to relax your standards a little, like by widening your pool of acceptable male partners to include the recently deceased.

I respect Stephanie Coontz as a historian, but as a forecaster of economic and romantic possibilities for women, I have to give her a thumbs-down. Coontz claims that "for a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated." Actually, as doctorate holders "Occupying" sleeping bags outside city halls will tell you, that depends on what you're becoming highly educated in. Ph.D. in financial engineering? Hedge fund, here you come. Ph.D. in Tibetan gender studies? You'll be lucky to be teaching the merits of pulverized lavender in the body oils section of the food co-op.

Coontz is wrong again in deeming hypergamy — women's preference for men of a higher socio-economic status — a cultural construct. The preference for the alpha male is biological, an evolutionary adaptation that exists in women across cultures — and species. (Do we really think the lady peacock wants the alpha male peacock because she's been watching way too much "Desperate Housewives"?)

Some feminist academics claim that women only want big bucks/high status men because they lack those things themselves. But, a number of studies by evolutionary psychologists have found that women with big bucks and big jobs want men with bigger bucks and bigger jobs. Even women who are feminists. Dr. Bruce J. Ellis writes in "The Adapted Mind" that when 15 feminist leaders described their ideal man, they repeatedly used words like "very rich," "brilliant," and "genius" (and they didn't mean "genius with a baby wipe!").

So, if you've become the man you would've married in the '50s, don't be surprised if your mating pool starts to seem about the size of the one that comes with Barbie's Dream House.

Biology is neither fair nor kind. What those pushing feel-good sociology don't want to believe or tell you is that you increase your options by being hot — or hotting yourself up the best you can. Obviously, looks aren't all that matter, but while your female genes are urging you to blow past the hot pool boy to get to the moderately attractive captain of industry, men evolved to prioritize looks in women, so powerful men will date powerfully beautiful waitresses and baristas. As evolutionary psychologist Dr. David Buss writes, "Women's physical attractiveness is the best known predictor of the occupational status of the man she marries and the best known predictor of hypergamy."

There isn't a person on the planet who doesn't have to settle. (Maybe Brad Pitt farts in bed.) Want kids? You're more likely to find yourself a husband to have them with if you do as Coontz suggests — go for a man who's shorter, poorer, and not that intellectually exciting but who's emotionally present and willing to be appointed vice president of diaper rash. Problem solved — if you can keep from seething with contempt for his lack of ambition and intellect. A lack of respect for one's spouse is definitely not the ground happy marriages are built on. That's why settling is most wisely discussed not as some blanket policy for women, but in terms of what an individual woman wants and what she's willing and able to give up to get it. Realistically assessing that for yourself is how you find your happiest medium — between possibly being in a panic to find a sperm donor at 42 and trying to make it work now with some guy who watches the soaps after dusting a few surfaces and drinking a few too many glasses of blush wine.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email ( Alkon is the author of "I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle To Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society."



It's Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio! "Nerd your way to a better life," with the best brains in science solving your love, dating, sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday -- -- 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. The call-in number during the show is 347-326-9761. This week, therapist Michele Weiner Davis on the “sex-starved” relationship, with great advice on how to bring the sex back and manage mismatched libidos.


27 Comments | Post Comment
If ‘Dismayed' had written to me for advice, I would pretty much have told her to listen to her friend and Stephanie Coontz and ignore Amy Alkon. Since when is it advisable for a woman to dismiss a man because he isn't “taller, richer, more knowledgeable, more renowned or more powerful” (and let's not forget ‘older'; that's usually included in with the other adjectives)? I guess a woman can only have a sizeable number of ‘suitable' men to choose from if she's a petite 19-year-old with a high-school education working at a convenience store.

I'm not going to get into Amy's usual linking of all male-female behavior to the theory of evolution (and yes, it is a theory, not a proven fact). We're human beings, not animals. Sure, there will always be shallow men who want hot women, and shallow women who want rich men. However, even if you can beat out the competition to actually get such a person, that person can be poor spouse material. Human beings are likely to value things such as common interests and beliefs, maturity, generosity and the ability to give and receive affection; things that Mr. Moneybags and Ms. Hot Body don't necessarily have.

Any woman like Dismayed, who thinks a man isn't good enough for her unless he's better than her (not as good, not almost as good, better) is setting herself up for a big disappointment, and probably ignoring some really good men. The fact that a man isn't in the top one percent as far as earning power does not mean that he's a slacker. A man can earn a modest salary and still be a hard worker and good provider. Sure, no woman wants an overgrown adolescent who sits on his butt all day playing computer games. But laziness and apathy aren't attractive qualities for anyone. I can't imagine a man wanting to marry a woman with those traits, either. And nothing says that a man can't work hard at his job and still be devoted to his family. ‘Vice president of diaper rash'? Give me a break.

If a woman can ignore a man who is a hard worker and devoted to family simply because he isn't ‘more successful' than her, she has a problem. I think such women are still somewhat stuck in the past, in which it was unthinkable for a woman to appear ‘better' than a man. It's too bad Amy had to refer to such misjudgment as biological. But Amy is Amy, and she still has her notions that our mating habits reflect those of the animal kingdom. Too bad.
Comment: #1
Posted by: JMG
Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:59 AM
At the end of the day, you have to figure out what's important to you and go for it. I strongly advise focusing on character qualities (ambition) verses transient qualities (rich). It's easy for a rich man to go broke. It's not easy to teach someone ambition.

There's a line between settling and being realistic. It is easier to find someone who is ambitious or a family man, but, it's not as easy to find an ambitious family man. You need to ask yourself which is the more important quality to you, or if you want to hold out for both. Only you can answer that question.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Shannon
Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:19 PM
You know, Carolyn Hax, a few months ago, had a really excellent example of one couple's fluctuations in earning power. IIRC, it involved a teacher who married a police officer, well aware that her earning potential outstripped his. He ended up unable to continue work, and was on disability for several years, during which time she was the breadwinner. But then he used his time away from work to invent something and made scads of money. The lesson being: earning power is a difficult thing to predict, and it's likely to ebb and flow over the course of a lifetime with someone, as companies go bankrupt, get bought out, reinvent themselve, face SEC scrutiny, etc.

Were Amy's theory true, it would mean there would be no farmers wed for sure.

I, too, would tell LW to choose her priorities carefully. That workaholic hedge fund manager could be broke or in prison tomorrow; he almost certainly won't be home for dinner tonight or be willing to stay home with a sick kid when you have an important presentation at work. Personally, I wanted someone who'd be fine handling a baby wipe or taking the kids camping, or chaperoning the occasional field trip. I outearn him at the moment, but that certainly doesn't mean I don't respect him -- on the contrary, I think he's an exemplary husband and father.
Comment: #3
Posted by: hedgehog
Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:58 PM
I'm sorry, but I must respectfully disagree with you about the theory of evolution. It's a common misconception that a theory in science is how we normally think of it - just a guess. However, a scientific theory, such as the theory of evolution, is very different. To quote the United States National Academy of Sciences,

"The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics). One of the most useful properties of scientific theories is that they can be used to make predictions about natural events or phenomena that have not yet been observed."

According to this definition, a scientific theory, like evolution, must be well supported by evidence. It's not just a guess, or a political tool used to make money.

*steps off soapbox*
Comment: #4
Posted by: Kestrel
Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:42 PM
LW1: Theories are as stupid as labels. They don't take into effect that people are individuals. Sure they act like dumb animals a lot and tend to herd but that doesn't make them animals. I don't think your problem is that you can't meet men who impress you - I think you can't meet men who want to impress you or see you again. You may think a PHD is all that but its not sexy and its not chemisty. I've got to also point out how incredibly stupid and short sighted it is to think that a man who wants to take care of you and be your partner in life is somehow settling. Settling for what? A happy life?
Comment: #5
Posted by: Diana
Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:13 PM
Hedgehog, I remember that Carolyn Hax letter also. The retired police officer became a financial adviser, not an inventor. I'll bet he has lots of clients, too: if I had enough money to need a financial adviser, I would trust a retired cop any day over someone who's never seen the criminal justice system from the inside out.
Kestrel, kudos to your defense of scientific theory. I cringe when I think of what Americans must look like to citizens of other countries. Arguing over evolution, climate change, and now contraception? Refusing to adopt the metric system? Why do we CHOOSE to be stupid?
Comment: #6
Posted by: Kimiko
Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:32 PM
"trying to make it work now with some guy who watches the soaps after dusting a few surfaces and drinking a few too many glasses of blush wine."
As a full time mom, am I the only one that funds this insulting? When I get sick my house falls apart. I spend my days cleaning and keeping our 3year old happy and teaching her preschool preparation (she could join kindergarten in the fall if they'd let her). Plus helping my husband with his business. I never watch soaps (more like sprout) and I don't spend my days snorking down wine. Why is it assumed that because an adult stays at home and keeps that home going she or he is lazy!
I've known several stay at home dads and they did just as much as any mom does. This LW needs to look at her priorities. A good man is not measured by his title, paycheck, or level of education. Look at the man as a whole.
Comment: #7
Posted by: MT
Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:08 AM
LOL Brad Pitt probably farts a lot in bed. It is well known that he also has very bad breath and body odor. But, damn, he's gorgeous!
Comment: #8
Posted by: Claudia
Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:45 AM
No, the woman is not arguing that you should "settle". She's arguing you should re-align your priorities and adjust your criteria of selection accordingly. If you do not have the maturity to do this, then anything below your uber-ideal of a flawless prince charming will indeed represent "settling".

This being stated...
I personally wouldn't mind a man shorter than me, or poorer than me, if he's suitable in every other way, if I could find one who doesn't bitterly resent it. The same goes for age: I don't care if the man is older or younger as long as we'd be compatible, but it would seem that the men do mind plenty from the moment I'm the one who's older. It goes both ways.

And Brad Pitt may or may not fart in bed, but he has jungle breath and BO, and he's reputed abusive. And that's another thing - the "superior" men I've seen so far tend to be nuttier than a fruitcake. Sigh.

Gorgeous? Not if he's unwashed. You wanna put THAT in your mouth? Bleah. My apologies for those who read this while they're eating!

Comment: #9
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:52 AM
"My apologies for those who read this while they're eating!" Ummm.... I was eating my lunch and I am a man so that is double bleah! for me.

LW-being 32-year-old woman with a Ph.D., there is no doubt that she is very intelligent, makes decent cash and wants (expects) a man to be better than her. The reality is that more likely than not, to have the desire and goal to get that Ph.D., she is not nearly as attractive as she thinks she is. Expecting a very succesful man is pretty unrealistic since those same men are only a small percentage that have thier eyes on the little HOTTIES that will admire and worship them for thier status.

Comment: #10
Posted by: Socal
Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:28 AM
"My apologies for those who read this while they're eating!" Ummm.... I was eating my lunch and I am a man so that is double bleah! for me.

LW-being 32-year-old woman with a Ph.D., there is no doubt that she is very intelligent, makes decent cash and wants (expects) a man to be better than her. The reality is that more likely than not, to have the desire and goal to get that Ph.D., she is not nearly as attractive as she thinks she is. Expecting a very succesful man is pretty unrealistic since those same men are only a small percentage that have thier eyes on the little HOTTIES that will admire and worship them for thier status.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Socal
Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:29 AM
Re: Lise Brouillette
Good news you evidently haven' heard: quite a lot of men these days PREFER older women! I married one :)

More good news: OW/YM relationships are NOT necessarily all about sex from her side and all about money and power from his side. At least the relationships that last, aren't.

(What will it take for this culture to throw out all those outdated notions of "age appropriate"? As my late mother used to say, a five-year difference is a world apart and hence usually unworkable when it's between 15 and 19, but a fifteen-year difference is "not that much" when both partners are adult -- say, 35 and 50.)

Comment: #12
Posted by: Spikeygrrl
Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:51 PM
I think we need to really quantify what it means for someone to be "better". In LW's case, she seems to equate education and income with a man being better then her but the reality is that people bring different things to the table and as long as they respect and compliment each other it's not a problem. I have a BS in physics and have wonderful conversations with people that have high school diplomas; that doesn't mean I can talk quantum physics with all of them but there are lots of other things to talk about. I've also said before that quantum physics is of no use if you can't jump your car when the battery's dead or fix your toilet if it breaks. I've also met highly educated people that weren't particularly smart; they were able to get the degree but have lmited intellectual thinking ability; my dad is a 9th grade drop out and is one of the smartest people I know, while my uncle has a PhD from an online university and he's a complete moron (who ironically thinks he's smarter then everyone else, ha ha ha). My ex husband was a mechanic with a high school education and he brought plenty to the table; we had problems (thus the ex part) but the fact that he was technically less educated was never one of them. He brought lots of things to the table that I didn't; if he didn't think women in general were beneath him he might not be an ex. LW doesn't need to settle for someone she finds boring and unstimulating but I would suggest she not necessarily make education or even income a prerequisite for getting to know someone. Beyond finding them interesting and appealing they just need to bring enough to the table to make them a real partner.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Kim
Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:50 PM
Ok, all this evolution talk doesn't mean diddly squat. Attraction happens all the time, in varying levels, sometimes with the "right" person and sometimes with the "wrong" ones, and nobody has ever been able to explain why. When you meet the right one you "click" with, it doesn't matter what their job is or how educated, knowledgeable, or renowned they are. All you know is that they are right for you. Heck, it might even turn out to be someone of the same gender. Some people you look at and say "not gonna happen", some you could say "well, possibly, once I get to know them better", some you can say "heck yea, they're tons of fun in bed or as great friends but no way could I ever marry them", and others you look at and see kids and grandchildren.

So stop trying to break everything down into a romance algorithm. Just be yourself and keep meeting people, and eventually you will meet a man (or woman!) whom you know will be the right one.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Paul W
Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:13 PM
Hmm, I see a bunch of arguments about how women ought to not reject less economically powerful men, but has anyone considered whether men are even attracted to women who earn more? There might be something equally biological happening on the male end of the interaction.

It would be interesting to see a study that measured whether a woman's income affected a man's perception of her attractiveness, or whether it was a deterrent to dating. Considering how many marriages go south when a woman starts out-earning her husband, there might be.

It does take two to tango. No matter how winsome and outgoing a woman is, if any given man doesn't want to go out with her, that's the end of it. What's she going to do: try to club him over the head and drag him back to her cave?
Comment: #15
Posted by: R.A.
Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:34 PM
Re: Spikeygrrl
Oh, I had heard the good news alright - both the ex-LOML and the one who preceded him were 16 years my junior. The ex-ex didn't mind, the ex minded plenty, but then there was a lot mre he minded about me as well. In my dau, I have had men wuo were much younger, much older, "age-appropriate" or the exact same age. Just like I've had some who were much taller, a little taller or pretty much the same height... this is something that never mattered to me and, obviously, there are men for whom it doesn't matter either.

The point I'm making is that there are people for whom it does matter, so when you are facing one of those "problems", it shrinks the pool of "possibles", because if it's not important to you, it'll be important to some.

"but has anyone considered whether men are even attracted to women who earn more?"
That's exactly the point I was making when I said it goes both ways.

Comment: #16
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:14 PM
Kestrel has beaten me to it, but in confirmation thereof:

Scientists (when they're being precise in their communication) use the word “theory” differently from how laypersons use it. Laypersons think it means the same as “hypothesis”; it does not. Think of it this way: a hypothesis is an embryonic theory; a theory is a grown-up hypothesis. In other words, a theory began life as a hypothesis AND SURVIVED TESTING to the point of being adequately PROVEN. A theory is a concept that has surmounted all legitimate challenges. When new data are discovered, sometimes theories must be refined. In one and a half centuries since the publication of *On the Origin of Species*, Darwin's and Wallace's basic insight has been tinkered with, modified, and modernized. Their version was a Model T whereas the modern version is a Beamer M3. (E.g., Google “punctuated equilibrium”.) But they're both CARS, which are real vehicles that take real people to real places, as opposed to, say, flying carpets, which are only found in fairy tales. In those same 150 years, *every* piece of evidence that has been dug up has only served to confirm and improve, not to overthrow, the original concept.

But scientists have nobody but themselves to blame for the fact that laypersons don't understand this crucial difference between a hypothesis and a theory, since scientists themselves are often careless in their use of the terms. I herewith slap their hands for that.

In short, the “theory” of evolution is precisely as “theoretical” as the “theory” of gravity. If you wish to challenge the theory of evolution, I suggest that you first challenge the theory of gravity; the experiment is far easier. Go up to the roof. Step off. Good luck.


Now, as to LW vs. Amy Alkon:

Amy Alkon, poor dear, was bitten by a radioactive evolutionary psychologist in her youth.

While evolutionary psychology can offer many useful insights, it isn't the only valid paradigm out there that is applicable to human relationships. Yet Amy constantly resorts to it as her default position.

In other words, evolutionary PSYCHOLOGY is, strictly speaking, still a *hypothesis*, not a theory. It still needs a bunch of tweaking to render it provable.

Comment: #17
Posted by: Khlovia
Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:30 AM
Re: Khlovia
"Go up to the roof. Step off. Good luck."

Excellent post, by the way. One of your best.

Comment: #18
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:38 AM
I think its easier and more realistic just to quit analyzing why we want what we want and IF we're WRONG to want this or that person/type. The heart wants what the heart wants, like tends to want like and we CANT force ourselves to love someone we don't. I've found only through stopping looking/analyzing do you let go of bitterness / guilt / negativity.
Comment: #19
Posted by: julie
Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:27 AM
Please forgive me if this appears more than once. This site was giving my browser some difficulties.

I disagree with some of you and agree with Amy.

In GENERAL, women marry equal or someone a "step up" from themselves. There are always exceptions, of course, but this is generally true.

What that "step up" means to any individual woman is the big issue, and that is partially what Amy is stating. One of you wrote that if Amy's theory was true, farmers would never marry. That is wrong on so many levels. First, farmers own lots of land, often have degrees in agriculture, plenty of experience with machinery and livestock, a strong work ethic and an ability to manage financies. Maybe not all farmers are prosperous, but plenty are (if they weren't we wouldn't have food). Hence, it's easy to see a woman marrying that type of man. For that farmer, though, while having a fling with some "hottie" is great, he needs an equally strong woman to help him managing the farm. So there is a situation where virtually two equals partner.

Amy is stating that perhaps the LW has narrowed the list if she still wants to "marry up" due to her presumed intelligence and increased salary. The LW's therefore needs to determine what "step up" now means to her. Does she necessarily need a wealthier even more intelligent man? Will she accept "stepping up" as a man who may not have the finances or degrees, but is far better at managing a home, money, children, etc. Maybe the LW will earn more, but thankfully it's her husband that has the skillset to wisely invest it. Maybe the LW has more degrees, but her husband's work ethic and skills allow him to bring home a bigger paycheck. Or maybe her husband is the one that has the right skills with children (Mr. Mom) that she lacks. This isn't about "settling" - it's about determing what's truly important in "stepping up" (or "marrying up"). Because if the woman does indeed settle, she may be disappointed. But if she respects attributes of her spouse that she does not have, there won't be an issue. And to me, this is part of the whole "the heart wants what the heart wants" aspect. We fall for certain people for specific reasons. And those reasons may not always be about wealth or degrees, but other items a person brings to a relationship.
Comment: #20
Posted by: JJH
Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:51 PM
Re: julie
There are things that "the heart" will not negotiate about, that is true. But there are other priorities that can and generally do change with maturity, and that is what introspection is all about. And it never hurts to know yourself.

I personally cannot get to love and desire a man I can't admire, so I guess that constitutes "marrying up". I believe most women do a version of that, so you're right about that. However, the reason why a woman would look up to her husband don't necessarily have to do with material things.

What *I* need to admire a man is for him to be intelligent enough to understand when I speak, curious of the world enough to have something to talk about, emotionally balanced enough to have self-esteem, following the golden rule, hard-working, in good faith and treating everyone like an equal. As for the rest, bald, paunchy, short, dead broke, 20 years older or younger, black, white, yellow, polka-dot, whatever religion, ethnicity or language - I don't care. He doesn't need to be in the same field as me as long as he respects what I do. An interest in what I do would be nice but not essential. What IS essential is that he be as eager to help me do what I want to do as I am eager to help HIM to what he wants to do in life - in other words: form a real team.

In principle, the problem with a letter like the one from LW1 lies when what's on the shopping list are the type of things you have to have yourself in order to attract the same, and are also the kind that fade as you get older. But you know what? For all that my own shopping list is not shallow, I'm not having any more success than her. And that's in spite of the fact that I do many different things, come in contact with literally thousands of new people every year and I'm attractive, fit, youthful and extremely active. These things happen and I know first-hand that they're not necessarily due to anyone doing anything wrong.

I suggest that LW1 keep on doing what she's doing, learn to know herself very well and stop pushing to meet. Che sera sera, you know?

Comment: #21
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:16 AM
One of my pet peeves with Amy Alkon is her slavish devotion to evolutionary psychology. Another is when she picks a letter specifically so that she can espouse that slavish devotion.

@Khlovia -- I agree with Lise B -- AWESOME POST.

@Diana -- I frequently think your posts are just too negative, even when I sometimes agree with the point you are making. But that last bit in your post about "settling" for a happy life was right on point -- loved it. LW thinks so highly of herself that it would be darn nigh impossible for her to find someone good enough (or better enough?) for her. Wow.

LW -- please do not buy into Amy's evolutionary bunk (because you can believe in evolution -- as I do -- and still recognize evolutionary bunk when you see it). "Settling," when it refers to being with someone you don't really love or don't really want to be with because you don't believe you can find someone else, is a very sad thing and shouldn't be done. Recognizing that your standards are impossibly high and are not actually geared towards finding happiness is a whole different thing. I know too many people who have a list of qualities they want in a partner. Throw out your list, because you only need to find one thing: a person who makes you happier and more fulfilled than you are by yourself. It's not about level of education or salary. It's about a person who, when you are with them, you are a better person. I'm a pretty decent person all by myself, and was basically a happy person all by myself, as well. But I am an even better person with my husband in my life. Of course, as it happens, that "one thing" is harder to find than someone who meets all the criteria on your list. That's why you have to open your mind and your heart to the reality that you probably don't really know what you need, even if you think you know what you want.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:35 PM
Sort of agree with Amy on this but not for the same reasons.
She's discussing this from the point of view of successful women seeking men who maybe aren't so successful. But there's two players here. Who's to say a less financially successful, better educated man will feel comfortable dating a super successful, wealthy, well-educated woman. Sure it might start out well, but constant daily reminders that your wife is more "accomplished" than you will grate on just about any guy after years of marriage.

I have more education than my husband and am the primary bread winner. While my husband is super secure, highly intelligent and very proud of me, it bugs the heck out of him that he doesn't "contribute" as much financially as I do. I would love for my husband to be the main bread winner. Not because I want to be matched "up" with a more successful guy, but because I know it would make him feel better. Watching me carry the brunt of the financial burden is very difficult for him.

Of course I'm speaking only from my personal experience. I don't know enough about these theories to think that this applies to everyone. Just another point of view.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Penny
Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:51 PM
When my husband and I were first married, for about 3 years, I made more than he did, despite the fact that he had a college degree and, at the time, I didn't. We depended on my income to keep afloat. I didn't mind and always felt that it was "our" money, not mine or his.

When he got a good job in straight commission sales, his income shot up. That's when he told me that he'd always felt bad that I made more than he did, though he never said anything. I assured him that I had no problem with him making more than I did.

Now, my son's wife is making more than he does, but he just got a job as a commissioned salesman. I tell people, truthfully, that I married my husband for love, but I also could see the potential in him.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:56 AM
@Penny -- I think you raise a point that is far more salient than the one Amy harped on. Regardless of whether women are "hard wired" to "marry up" as Amy and the evolutionary bunkologists would have us all believe, the fact remains that SOCIETY puts a lot of pressure on MEN to be the primary breadwinners. So, even if the LW is perfectly happy with a guy who flips burgers for minimum wage, that doesn't mean the guy is going to be perfectly happy with that.

I think the real issue for LW is that she believes that because she is so well-educated and professionally successful that she deserves to be with a man who is at least as well-educated and professionally successful -- as if all that hard work toward her education should "earn" her the right to the "best" men available (where "best" is defined by level of education and income). Perhaps I am being unfair to the LW, but in her fairly short letter, she manages to come off as an arrogant, conceited person who is too busy being impressed by herself to be impressed by anyone else.

Frankly, one wonders how she made it through all that college, as her reading comprehension skills appear to leave a bit to be desired. She reads the idea of looking for a man who meets her emotional needs and makes her happy, instead of focusing on his education and income as "settling."

I'm not going to lie and suggest that I was busy combing the fast-food restaurants looking for a date. But over the years of the marriage, there have been times when I have made more than my husband, and there have been times when he made more than I do. I wasn't looking for a "provider" who could "take care of me." I was looking for PARTNER who would work with me to create a happy life together.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Lisa
Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:06 PM
Maybe LW1 should reconsider her ideas of what intelligence is, and what settling is. There are many different kinds of intelligent people in this world, and many of them do not have PhDs. And the person with the high-paying job isn't necessarily the one you'd have a good connection with. Why not just look for someone whose company you enjoy and see what happens?
Comment: #26
Posted by: Cheryl
Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:37 AM
To each his own...and its true its our opinions that decide our actions. I have seen women saying that they wanted someone better than them to marry and then crib when he acted superior and I have seen women marrying 'beneath' them and cribbing when he is not as 'good' as them. In short we will always have dissatisfied individuals. But one interesting thing BTL has been the mention of theory of gravity in the same breath as theory of evolution. It was nice of Mr. Newton to put into a theory which was so obvious.
Comment: #27
Posted by: surefoot
Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:26 PM
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