Expired or Desired: Do Single Women Have A Best Used By Date?

Young Japanese couple on a date together.
Young Japanese couple on a date together.

Take it from a Professional Matchmaker, it's time to wake up ladies. Your clock is ticking in more ways than one. The correlation between youth and desirability has been proven again and again throughout history. However with people staying single longer, how does that affect their chances of attracting their ideal mate? Today, only twenty percent of Americans are wed by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960. The crisis for single women in this age group seeking a mate is very real. Almost one in three women aged 30 to 34 and a quarter of late-30s women do not have a partner, according to the 2006 census statistics. And this is a growing problem. The number of partnerless women in their 30s has almost doubled since 1986. Here are 5 reasons why love really is about timing:

1. Love or Money?

Many women thought they could put off marriage and families until their 30s, having devoted their 20s to education, establishing careers and playing the field. But was their decade of dating a strategic mistake? So, as a result, many women are missing out on their fairytale ending - their assumption that when the time was right the dream man would be waiting. Unfortunately they don't realize he was there all along while they were busy focusing on their career aspirations, 401ks, yoga class, and girls nights out

2. Ageism exists

According to studies and observations by professional matchmakers, women are most desirable to men when women are in their 20s, and men are least desirable to women when they are in their 20s. Makes sense--men select for looks and women select for money. There is a cost benefit analysis, Women aren't as bothered about a guy's looks as men are about women's looks anyway. The primary weapon that women have to attract men (their looks) declines rapidly after 30 for women. But the primary weapon men have to attract women (their personality, confidence and status), tends to RISE after 30.
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3. Power Play

In general, men pursue beauty while women pursue capability. And as such, women largely focus on how to attractive, while men largely focus on how to appear powerful. This makes it natural for there to be an inversion in marketability around age 30, since that's generally when men becoming more capable (attractive), and women becoming less beautiful (attractive). Most powerful men don't want a powerful woman; they want a feminine magnifier for themselves, e.g. someone who makes them feel successful, and loved, and respectable. To most men, this is best achieved through a young, attractive, and kind/positive woman who focuses on him--not on herself.

4. Revenge of the Nerds

The women who rejected the introverted, budding alpha in their 20s now seek them in their 30s--but can't have them because they're dating younger, more attractive versions of themselves. Talking to many women who may have convinced themselves in their 20's that they don't want to "settle", it's intriguing how many look back on past relationships where they let good men get away.American journalist Kate Bolick wrote recently in The Atlantic about breaking off her three-year relationship with a man she described as "intelligent, good-looking, loyal and kind". She acknowledged "there was no good reason to end things", yet, at the time, she was convinced something was missing in the relationship. That was 11 years ago. She's is now 39 and facing grim choices.

5. Darwin said it first

Ever since Charles Darwin outlined his theory of sexual selection, biologists have been fascinated by the ways in which animals compete with one another for a partner. The peacock's tail is perhaps the best known illustration of this evolutionary struggle. Although it doesn't help an individual bird to survive, prodigious plumage suggests its owner is physically fitter, so the peahens find it more attractive. Sealing the deal for Darwinists is their quarry's biological clock. The main reason that young educated adults are increasingly marrying in their late twenties and thirties is that women are pursuing education and careers, but ironically, the delay works to men's advantage. Once they get past their awkward late teens and early twenties, men begin to lose their metaphorical baby fat. They're making more money, the pool of available women has grown, and they have more confidence. "I could get a woman now, but when I'm 30 or 35 I could do better," Bryson, an otherwise nice-guy 24-year-old from Austin tells me.

I'm wondering if the large quantity of involuntarily single-and-childless women shows poor life-planning strategies. These women have advanced education, great job skills, and good careers compared to the American average. Yet they say that they are sad about not having children and also that their primary reason for working is to earn money. Psychologists say it's because women expect more from relationships than men do. We don't just want a boyfriend, we want a lover, friend, playmate, career adviser, confidante, handyman, accountant, masseur, dishwasher and shrink. And that's an awful lot of skills to find in one person.