Dating and Mate Selection — 16 May 2011
Are all the good men taken?

A common complaint of single women in midlife (45 years or older) is that “all the good men are taken.” This perception hinders them from finding a suitable and worthy mate after divorce or widowhood. It also deprives good available men from finding these special women. Is this belief a myth or a fact?

In terms of availability of middle-aged men, the 2010 U.S. Census figures report that, “The overall percentage of adults who were married declined to 54.1 percent in 2010 from 57.3 percent in 2000. The 45-to-54 age group had the highest percentage divorced for both men (15 percent) and women (18 percent).” Though there are slightly more unattached women than men in this age group, availability is not the major problem in finding a partner.

If by “good men” women mean better earners, researchers Kate Antonovics of UC San Diego and Robert Town of University of Minnesota found that “marriage increases men’s wages by as much as 27%, and that little, if any, of the cross-sectional relationship between
marriage and wages is due to selection.”

So, if men are available and their earning power is not a major part of the selection and if marriage actually enhances their earning potential, what do women define as “good men?”

One woman stated that it meant “a man who does not have too much baggage.” It is true that when couples pair at a younger age they mature together and may adjust more readily to each other’s habits and preferences. Later in life, one’s ways are more deeply ingrained and his/her preferences may be less malleable. It is also plausible that the woman’s willingness to compromise may have dwindled with age.

Being divorced or widowed is a traumatic life event that often leaves some emotional scars. However, to assume that people in these marital states are necessarily more emotionally damaged than others is a grave error.

The women who negatively prejudge the nature or quality of available men in mid-life may be unaware of the damage this view causes them. Assuming that all the good men are taken taints the woman’s view of available men and may doom her to settle for men whom she regards as unworthy of her companionship. It may also cause her to become discouraged, depressed and socially withdraw from others. She may then be left alone to face her loneliness, sadness and low self-esteem. Altering her erroneous perspective may help her be more receptive to finding a suitable good man.

For women seeking a partner in mid-life:
• Abstain from rehearsing and believing that, “all the good men are taken.” It only curtails your efforts of finding a suitable partner.
• Value your worthiness and trust that a wonderful man is awaiting you.
• Do not “settle” for a man you do not adore.
• Assess rather than prejudge your suitors.
• Be open, positive and confident. These traits are likely to attract a discerning good man.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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