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His expertise lies in the field of market research and he applies his scientific skills to educate women with all they need to know about men. Here's an excerpt:. After looking it over for about fifteen minutes, Beth returned the report to my desk and told me I was a male chauvinist. I was taken aback for a moment.
I was fond of Beth and trying to help her, so after I recovered, I asked her what made her think that. After telling Beth that more than three hundred women had worked with me on the marriage research and not one had made the comment she just offered, I apologized.
I had to admit she had a point. My interviews with single men had shown there were men who would not commit. Beth was also right when she said that if I could help women identify which men were more likely to commit, I would be performing a real service. As a reward for her insight, I put her in charge of the project. My researchers approached this project the same way we had others.
First, Beth reviewed the literature and research we had on file. With this in mind, I reviewed our interviews with men and women who were planning to marry and videos of two focus groups we had run with single men. We then broadened the study by surveying and then running focus groups of single men who at that time had no intention of getting married. At first, we had young single men do the interviews, but so many of the interviewees gave macho answers that we doubted their reliability.
In fact, we threw out the entire study and started again. The second time we tried teams composed of men and women, but that produced mainly politically correct answers, which we also questioned. Finally, we had men in their sixties ask the questions, and that solved the problem.
The responses they elicited were generally straightforward. The single men apparently did not feel an obligation to give these interviewers macho or politically correct answers.
This survey uncovered some interesting facts. The first was that there is an age when a man is ready to marry-the Age of Commitment. The age varies from man to man, but there are patterns that are easily identified:. Still, there is no one-to-one correlation. For example, when a man goes to law school, which takes three additional years, he usually starts considering marriage around age 27 or The single men we interviewed explained that when they get out of school and get a job and start making money, new possibilities open to them.
For the first time, a majority of them have some independence. All of a sudden, they have a nice car and an apartment and an income. Many look at time spent as a carefree bachelor as a rite of passage. If a woman is seriously trying to find a husband, she should date men who have reached the age of commitment.
Even among men who are positively inclined toward marriage and are from identical educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, 20 percent will reach the age of commitment a year or more before our estimates, while another 20 percent will only consider marriage as a real option two to four years later.
This is usually an arrangement agreed to by the man but devised by the woman. When we conducted a focus group with 12 men who had just proposed to women, we learned that men were far more likely to marry when they got tired of the singles scene. Our original intent was to determine how men at different ages reacted to single women they met at social gatherings.
We started by asking the men about their lives before they met their future wives.
How often and whom had they dated, where had they met the women, had they gone to singles places and, if so, how often? The first thing that struck us was that about a third of them said that for six months to two years before they met their brides-to-be, they were not dating or going to singles places as often as they had been just a few years earlier. They had not stopped dating. Picking up women was no longer their main reason for going out.
They told us the singles scene was not as much fun as it used to be. Four of them used one phrase or the other, and ten of twelve men in our focus group said they felt the same way: The singles scene had lost some of its appeal. Many men reluctantly admitted that for more than a year, they had felt uncomfortable in the singles world where they had been hanging out for the past five years.
The singles world for professionals obviously is an older and more sophisticated crowd than that for men whose formal education ended in high school, but eventually men from both groups had the same experience.
Three young men who had graduated from the same high school were in one focus group made up of men who were about to marry. One was a plumber, one worked repairing computers, and the third was a store manager. Each said he had begun to feel uncomfortable in his favorite singles place about two years earlier.
For two of them, their singles place was a bar and pool hall where they and their single friends hung out and met women. The third man was a very active member of a large Baptist church. For him, the singles scene was church meetings and church singles functions.
Interestingly, he and the fellows who frequented bars and pool halls made the same comment. One said that the singles bar he used to visit was filled with teenyboppers, and he felt out of place. They had simply gotten too old for the crowd.
It surprised us when they reported feelings identical to those of the younger high-school-educated men. The places the professional single men went drew an older crowd. Among the professionals, the youngest women were college graduates and probably at least Professional men-unlike the younger men who had only completed high school-were perfectly at ease in their favorite singles places well into their thirties.
Still, 30 percent of the single men with a postgraduate education said that as they approached thirty, they began to feel they no longer fit into their singles scene.
Looking for mr. right
There were two notable exceptions to the age guidelines: men who were balding or heavy. A year-old man who was almost completely bald explained that he had felt uncomfortable in the singles scene after he had approached a young woman in a singles bar and asked if he could buy her a drink. Her response was to tell him, loud enough for everyone in the bar to hear, that it would be a good idea if he went home and kissed his wife and played with his.
When he protested, she became sarcastic. He could see he was losing the argument not only with her but with the entire bar. He walked out and never went back. It is not how old they are that makes men uncomfortable, it is how old they feel, or how old others make them feel.
An attorney, he told us he had been going to a restaurant for three years on Friday nights. It was a hangout for attorneys, judges, and others who worked in the court system. Joe explained that the restaurant was usually full, and on Friday nights the bar area was crowded with young singles, while most of those seated at tables were older and married.
When he showed up one Friday night, there was a new hostess seating people.
Joe was too embarrassed to contradict her, and he realized she was right — he no longer belonged at the bar. It was a series of small incidents over a period of time that turned them off-usually comments made by one or more young women that made them realize they no longer fit into the place they had frequented for years.
One of the focus groups composed of men about to marry said that if a woman wants to know whether a man is ready to get married, she should ask him how much he enjoys the singles scene. Once men reach age 47 to 50 without marrying, the chances they will marry do not disappear, but they drop dramatically.
Men who have been married before are open to remarry much later in life. They have entirely different relationships with women. If a woman in her forties or older who has never been married is dating a man who has never been married, the chance of him marrying is still good. But at that time in her life, most eligible men are either widowed or divorced, and their chances of marrying again are substantially higher than those of men of the same age who have never married. In other words, if a woman meets two men in their late forties, one who has been married and the other a lifelong bachelor, she should choose the one who has been married before.
A stringer is a man who strings women along. He likes having a woman, sleeping with a woman, eating with a woman, possibly sharing his life with a woman without ever making a real commitment. He often tells women, up front, he never intends to marry, so if and when he decides he wants to cut out, she has no reason to complain.
If you think you may be involved with a stringer, establish a deadline. Pay no attention to his excuses. In fact, he is likely to tell you anything that will get you to stick around without his needing to make a commitment. The chances a stringer will marry are very slim; he is simply not the marrying kind.
Earlier I mentioned those men who went with one woman for a time, then shortly thereafter went out and married another. This was the pattern, in fact, that initiated our research. So we questioned the couples in which the man had gone with one woman for years and was marrying another.
The marrying kind
The women who married these men insisted they commit early in the relationship. We ran across at least fifty men we could identify as stringers. They can be very dangerous.
I estimate each one is responsible for at least two women remaining single. They are destructive because they con women into wasting their time during the years when they are most attractive and most likely to get a proposal.
They stay with women, live with women, promise them marriage, and string them on and on indefinitely.