[RENAY] Hey, Welcome to That’s When You Get a Dog, the podcast BOWFOW, by old women for old women.
We’re back, with a brand new episode and it is deep in the Christmas and holiday season. Not sure what you’ll all be getting up to over the holidays but why not give the gift of podcasts to a friend or family member who doesn’t know what a podcast is, they’re free and the options are limitless. Obviously I’d love you to share this one, but just share your favourite.
But now the Ronnie fact, and as it’s nearly Christmas I’ll keep on theme, On Christmas morning Ronnie has a special breakfast, he gets his own veggie sausage, a slice of toast and mushrooms. On Christmas Day he not only lives like a King but he also eats like one.
But now anchor time… Why all the Single Ladies, why all the single ladies?
[WOMAN 1] I am 33, I am currently single
[WOMAN 2] I’m 35 and single
[WOMAN 3] I’m 38 years old and I’m single
[WOMAN 2] Why am I Single? I think |i’m single because there aren't enough decent deserving men out there and I’m just not prepared to settle.
[WOMAN 1] I don’t know, maybe I’ve set really high expectations or I’ve focused on my career for a long time and I’ve kind f put that to the side line, just being an independent lady and all that jazz.
[WOMAN 3] I have no idea why I’m single
[RENAY] Yes the Singledom episode, and you may be wondering why this episode is released now? Well we are just about to hit peak dating app /dating site season with the biggest day expected to be January 3rd. Last year Market Watch published an article with the growth, major dating apps had seen over the holiday season, eharmony saw a 21% increase of mobile registrations, OKcupid saw a 30% increase and Match.com expected a 60% increase between the holidays and February. Basically, if you’re single, sometime over the next few weeks you will definitely consider joining an app if you haven’t already.
But let’s hone in a little more, I have a lot of single female friends, their friends have lots of single friends and their friends and their friends. It seems like there are more single women over 30 than there used to be so I wanted to know if that was actually true. Enter Jon Birger, New York Times bestselling author of Date-Onomics.
[JON] Most dating blogs basically tell women it's their fault, that women are bad at dating, if you hadn't returned his text message 20 minutes too soon or 20 minutes too late you'd have your Mr. Right by now. In my book Date-Onomics I reject that argument. My belief is that the modern dating problem is not a strategic problem it's a demographic one. So for the past 15 years in the US and in the UK too we've had about 4 women graduate from college for every three men. The numbers are similar in other Western countries so the end result is a post college dating pool or dating market so to speak that has one third more women than men. And just to put that into perspective according to U.S. Census data among college grads age 22 to 29 there are now about 5.5 million women in the U.S. versus only 4 million or so men.
Now of course that wouldn't matter so much if we were all more open minded about whom we date and eventually marry. But the research on all this shows that we aren't terribly open minded. In fact there's been a 50 year trend towards what academics refer to as assortative mating
[RENAY] Pause! Assortative Mating, I went old school with this one and according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com Assortative Mating is a form of nonrandom mating in which bonds are established on the basis of phenotype. Phenotype is observable characteristics.
[JON] that's kind of a fancy way of saying that college graduates / university graduates tend to want to date and marry only other college graduates which is a problem nowadays if you're a college educated woman seeking a college educated man. So I refer to the shortage of college grad men as the man deficit and the impact of the man deficit extends beyond just numbers. The lopsided gender ratios change behaviour as well.
So there's been a lot of research by sociologists and psychologists on humans sex ratios and the consensus is pretty clear, when men are the ones in oversupply the dating culture is more traditional and more monogamous more people get married fewer people get divorced. You really see this today in parts of the U.S. like Silicon Valley that has a big tech industry that's very male heavy. Silicon Valley has a marriage rate for women that is through the roof high and a divorce rate that's through the floor low. But in contrast when women are in oversupply as they are today, the dating culture is actually less monogamous and less traditional. In other words what people refer to today as the hookup culture is in fact a byproduct of these lopsided sex ratios, in fact that's the core argument in my book that the rise of the hookup culture and declining marriage rates among educated people have very little to do with gender or porn or anything else that Modern's scolds like to blame.
[RENAY] So we’re in oversupply ladies, but we can still go to Silicon Valley to find a husband, I wonder if there are any singles trips?
Something I’ve definitely heard about single women over 30 is the you’re too picky narrative, there’s been articles, blog posts, youtube videos and more all about the too picky single woman who’s left it too late, is this something that has any truth to it?
[JON] Everybody is more picky. Not just the women. The research shows that college educated men are almost as unlikely as college educated women to want to date and marry people who don't have a college degree. So I kind of reject the idea that this is women's fault. Let's put it that way.
[RENAY] In a study published November 2015 by Sage Journals, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin they found that although men in theory were attracted to women who could outsmart them, when they were in fact confronted with one the men backed away. 650 men took part and aparatently proximity has a lot to do with the attraction. If the intelligent woman is in front of the man the attraction goes down, if the intelligent woman is not within reach, so a more theoretical person, the attraction is higher. So I guess you can get the guy to fall in love with you online?
The study aside, you certainly hear that men find strong women scary.
[JON] That's certainly the narrative you hear a lot nowadays right. Every day there seems to be some new dating article on how men are afraid of dating women who are smart and successful. I have no doubt that there are some men out there who do think that way. But I have to say that when I'm on the lecture circuit and when I ask people about their own circle of friends this argument rarely holds up. Renay, if I ask you how many women do you know who are married to men who are much smarter than you or how many men do you know who are married to women who are dummies? I certainly don't know anybody who fits that kind of a narrative. In fact men are actually more likely than women to be married to a spouse who is better educated than they are. So if men truly don't like smart women it kind of begs the question of why they're going out of their way to marry them.
[RENAY] What Jon is saying makes sense, I do know of men who have chosen looks over intelligence but for the most part it’s true. I don’t know many men who date dummies.
[JON] I have theories on where this idea that men are afraid of smart women, what the origin of this is. One of my ideas is that I think some women assume that what they value in men is exactly what men should value in them. So research does show that women put a higher value on career success and financial success when choosing a mate. Men tend to be a bit more egalitarian in this area. It's not that men just like women who are successful it's that men don't really care either way. Men like women who like them which is, you know, one of the things I like to at my bits of dating advice for women and from the man's perspective whether his wife or girlfriend is an accomplished brains surgeon or everybody's favorite dental hygienist. It doesn't matter as much to the men but I think some women assume that this kind of success, that they value in men, is what men are going to value in them. And that's where some of the confusion arises.
I think men do that is to assume that what they value in women is what women are going to value and that and this could be one of these men are from Mars Women Are From Venus things where we're kind of talking past each other because we value different things in mates. But I do think that women value educational success and career success you know much more than men do. But again I don't think it's that men dislike women who are smart and successful. It's just that men don't put a high priority on that. We just don't care either way.
I do have a second theory and this one's a little bit more numbers based and why it is that smart and successful women perceive that men are scared off by them. This is purely based on that. When you have a dating pool with a gender imbalance the way the math works is that the imbalance tends to get worse over time. Sometimes I liken it to the game musical chairs as you may recall in the first round of musical chairs only the slowpoke doesn't get a chair right. But in the last round of musical chairs you actually have a 50 percent chance of losing the game. In other words the longer you stay in the game the greater your chances are of losing. I kind of feel like the dating game plays out the same way as musical chairs. Imagine a dating pool that starts out with 40 women and 30 men. Well once half of those women get married, twenty of the women married 20 of the men. The ratio among the remaining singles becomes twenty women to ten men or 2 to 1. 5 more marry. The ratio becomes 15 single women to five single men. So in other words the longer the woman holds out the worse the dating math becomes and I suspect that this is what's happening to a lot of smart and successful women particularly if they ended up putting romance on the back burner in their 20s and they're prioritising their career instead.
I'm certainly not judging anybody's life choices and I don't assume that everybody has to get married to her or needs to aspire to get married today. I definitely believe that marriage is not for everyone but for a woman who does want to get married. I do think that dating math is challenging if you decide to put off getting serious about dating until your 30s.
[RENAY] Okay it’s not looking great ladies, the men are running out, although I should point out that I’m not a university graduate, so does that mean I have more choices? I’m hoping yes.
I remember a while back watching the first episode of the sitcom Hot In Cleveland, it’s basically a show where 4 women, including Betty White, move to cleveland and all the men find the women hot. I think they had moved from LA .where they were nothing special but when they moved to Cleveland it was like they were superstars. So is dating in smaller cities better, does big city living have an impact on the dating musical chairs game and gender skews? Women living in big cities tend to focus on their careers rather than dating in their 20s and early 30s, right?
[JON] The college gender gap is actually wider. In states like West Virginia and Mississippi than that in New York or California. So this is not uniquely a big city phenomenon it is really an everywhere phenomenon.
But your point about people prioritising careers, I just think it probably is more of a big city phenomenon although I guess you know when this comes up when I do dating events I'm always asking singles why is it that the people believe that being married is somehow going to sink their career. Because what I remember about being single is being single is a lot of work. Actually it's much more work and much more of a time suck than being in a relationship and I've never totally understood the logic of why it is that people believe that you need to stay single in order to prioritise career. Certainly having kids is a lot of work but being in a relationship without kids I actually think is easier in terms of the time commitment than being single. I just think a lot of work is involved with being single that you don't really face if you're in a relationship.
[RENAY] So I’m going to reference another film, Have you seen He’s Just Not That Into You? And do you remember the scene right at the beginning where a little girl, may 4 or 5 is pushed in the sand pit by a boy? Her mum, brushes her off and tells her that he did it because he likes her. This is where the focus on your career and don’t get into a relationship rhetoric comes in. I was definitely told throughout my childhood and growing up that boys were a distraction, which is true to an extent but just because you don’t have a partner doesn’t mean you’re not still being distracted.
Parents change the story on this, you’re all wrong haha.
It feels like singles in our 30s and older are the tester kids for how future generations will date and partner up. I wanted to know whether Jon has spotted any trends or has predictions on how dating will evolve.
[JON] I don't know if it's a trend yet. This is more of a prediction than a trend. I firmly believe that in the years to come. We're going to see more of what I call mixed collar dating or mixed collar relationships Mixed collar marriages.
[RENAY] If you’re unfamiliar with the collar reference, collars are to do with the type of work or job you have. Now I’ve heard of blue and white collar but obviously I googled it and according to Wikipedia there are 12 Collar jobs in total, this includes virtual collar which is for Robots, Scarlett collar, sex workers and No Collar which covers artists and free spirits.
We mostly hear about blue collar which usually covers workers with and hourly salary and white collar, which is office workers and management.
[JON] And just to explain if there are too many women in the white collar dating pool or the college educated dating pool that obviously means there are too many men in the blue collar or non college dating pool and you definitely see that in the census data, we just never hear about this because blue collar guys do not write Huffington Post articles or novels or screenplays about their dating lives. I can tell you based on my e-mails and my Twitter messages that these guys have it just as hard as the educated women do. But there's no sympathy out there for them and I kind of feel that it's inevitable that more and more of those white collar women will find their way to the blue collar men and vice versa. I don't buy this idea that there's going to be a segment of the white collar female population that never gets married. And a segment of the blue collar population that never gets married.
My hope is that those two groups will find each other over time. And in fact you already see this some in the African-American community where the college gender gap is actually much wider among young African-Americans in the U.S. there's about 70 percent more college grad women than college grad men and this college gender gap is more longstanding too. It's been 30 percent more women than men or more going back to the 1970s. So part of my argument in Date-Onomics is that the African-American community is kind of the canary in the coal mine and the African-American community is ahead of the curve in terms of seeing how all this is going to play out in ways in the African-American community is that educated women are much more open minded than white women are when it comes to marrying and dating lesser educated men.
[RENAY] So there you have it, black American women are more open-minded when it comes to dating.
I’m not really a dating app person but you hear advocates for them saying that apps help you meet people you may not have the chance to meet in real life but do apps also mean you filter out more potential partners that you would in real life? Like if I meet someone at work, they don't know I don't have a degree but if that's one of their app filters we’d never meet.
[JON] I do not believe that the college degree makes you a better wife or a better husband.
Once you're interacting with people face to face. All this stuff becomes less important but I actually think that online dating has been problematic in this way because if you're just out at a party or a work event or a conference and you meet somebody face to face it's like you said whether or not that person went to college isn't so important whether you click with that person whether you have shared values shared interests. That's what's going to be important than math for me. But because online dating involves some much what I called box checking it's like picking options on a new car every Bachi want from income, to education, to age, race, dog person or cat person and you can basically micro still like every characteristic you want. And I kind of feel like like all this box checking and is screening out a lot of people that you might have clicked with and I think a lot of the problem has to do with education because somebody who went to college almost instinctively check off the box for a college graduate that's all they know. What happens online dating as you end up just searching out a person exactly like you. I mean I think all that box checking you're saying much more about yourself than the person you might click with.
[RENAY] That was Jon Birger, the first male guest and an interesting one at that. Jon’s book Date-Onomics is available to buy now and as you can tell offers a fresh perspective on the dating culture.
Jon was the only guest this week as Sophie and I will obviously be repping the single ladies in the debrief next week and I wanted to look more at the trends and numbers around dating. There is no shame in being a single women over 30, some want to be single, some just meet the wrong person and some just don’t prioritise dating. The desperate cat lady is a myth that is fading with every day that passes, people like to date but us women also like to be independent. Like I said earlier the way we date will shape future generations but at the moment we’re still just figuring it out and do you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that.
I want to thank Jon Birger again for sharing his theories with us and thank you to all the women who sent in their voice notes.
That’s When Get a Dog is produced by me, Renay Richardson, our original music is by Aaron Williams and artwork by Adam Cohen. Full transcripts and audio are available over at GetADogPod.com, You can follow the show @GetADogPod and me @RenayRich on twitter. As much as I like a Direct message do publicly tell people when you listen, it helps spread the word. Keep Rating us on Apple Podcasts, leave a comment on the Castbox webplayer and share the RadioPublic link the more people click the more they will feature the show.
I now have a new show for you to check out, its called Five Minute Folklore and I will leave you with the trailer.
See You on the Flipside and have a Very Merry Christmas, lots of love from me and Ronnie
[BOB SHOY] Hey everyone this is Bob Shoy, I’ve just launched my own solo podcast, Five Minute Folklore and I think you’ll like it.
Every episode I tell a different story based on different Folklore from all over the World, you get atmosphere, sound effects, voice acting…
[FEMALE VOICE] Hello
[BOB SHOY] Hello
And you get to learn about all the origins and belief surrounding these famous figures. There are episodes available now based in Celtic and Scandinavian folklore and lots more great stuff coming. So subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Acast and whichever podcast service you use and join me for 5 Minute Folklore.