February 12, 2006

The odds.

It's almost Valentine's Day. The press won't let you ignore it. (And let's not even talk about all those ads, especially for things heart-shaped and diamond-encrusted.) The press loves to torment us with pieces about how damned near impossible it is to find a special someone. This one, in the NYT, leapt out at me because of the way it presents information to help women feel good about themselves, which is always an important journalistic goal:
THE phrase "All the good ones are taken" is usually ascribed to lovelorn women. But if you're in your 20's, single, straight and looking for love, the statistical odds of finding a full-time partner are better if you're a woman....

Overall, there are 120 men in their 20's who have never been married, widowed or divorced for every 100 women in the same category.
This is silly. Women often marry men who are older then they are. A 20 or 21 year old man isn't hurting because a lot of 28 and 29 year old women have married guys who are 30 and over. Tell me how many 18 and 19 year old girls there are before I marvel at these woman-favoring odds! It's not as though we're penned up in our decades, prisoners of base ten.

43 comments:

W said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Whoops! I originally wrote "A 20 or 21 year old man isn't hurting because a lot of 28 and 29 year old men have married guys who are 30 and over."

While I'm here commenting, I'll just add that the statistics don't reveal the proportions in each sex who are gay. If you're only looking at people who have never been married, there is a greater chance, I would think, that a person is gay than in the excluded group, the divorced and widowed.

W said...
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W said...

repositories.

W said...
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Bruce Hayden said...

I don't think that the percentage of gays of either sex, gender, or sexual orientation, is really significant here. But I do think that Ann hits it right on the nose - men often marry younger women, and young women rarely marry younger men.

So, really the proper view is probably to see how many of either sex are ready for marriage at any one time to people of the opposite sex who are either younger (for men) or older (for women).

And, as is probably obvious from this, probably the biggest reason that the ratio is 6:5 males to females at that age is because of all the women from that age bracket who married older men.

Part of this is tradition, but part is really a function of our times. A lot of women start getting serious about marriage in their early 20s because their biological clocks are running. Many guys though aren't getting serious until their thirties or so. So, no surprise that younger women are marrying older men - since they are the men who are looking to get married.

Dave said...

Yeah, as a divorced guy who is only 30, I ain't too worried about finding another woman.

There are tens of thousands of eligible women here in NYC.

Maybe if I were living in a small town in Alaska, I'd be concerned....

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

Is it just me or is Valentine's Day the most useless holiday ever? My ex-wife and I had a routine of treating Valentine's Day like any other day of the year. We'd have our un-Valentine's Day dinner on some other day. It's a farce dreamt up by Hallmark and its sentimentalists.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe I should amplify my first point in my previous post. The reason that I discounted gays is that to my knowledge, the percentages of gay males and lesbians is somewhat comparable. And even if not, it is hard to quantify, since there is a certain percentage of the population that just isn't interested in marriage or relationships with the opposite sex, regardless of sexual orientation.

For example, I know several women who have had fairly constant female companions over the last decades, but avow that they aren't lesbians. If they are being honest, which I suspect they are, I think what they are saying is that they aren't sexually involved with their companions, and may not even be sexually attracted to them.

Ann Althouse said...

Bruce: Kinsey found twice as many gay men as lesbians. While this may have been because more men recognized and admitted it, there is certainly no reason to assume the numbers are the same.

Dave: "Is it just me or is Valentine's Day the most useless holiday ever? My ex-wife and I had a routine of treating Valentine's Day like any other day of the year." Well, you are divorced! Anyway, as you encounter those tens of thousands of women who are available to you, you might want to just play along with Valentine's Day. All the other men are doing that, right? Personally, I don't know. When I was young, only squares celebrated Valentine's Day.

Dave said...

Ann: I suspect you're right. It's a good idea to play along.

Dave said...

Regarding Kinsey: Hasn't there been some debate over the methodologies he used to count gays/lesbians?

Sissy Willis said...

Some women aren't going to take it any more:

Nearly two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops Friday in Kashmir, burning Valentine's Day cards and posters to protest a holiday they say imposes Western values on Muslim youth.

David said...

The important idea behind Valentine's Day is that it is a bit of whimsy in a busy world.

Break out of the routine and take the time to tell the people who are close to you that they mean something important to your life.

Forget the Blackberry, e-mail truncated messages that are little more than after-thoughts while you are doing something else.

Valentine's Day should be special for your circle of acquaintances and not an efficient method of multi-tasking.

In this day and age of reaching out and touching someone electronically, try the old fashioned, tried-and true, drop a personal note!

Long time married and believes in Cupid!

Ann Althouse said...

Sissy: There were things like that last year too. Here's my old post on the subject. Well, the modern idea of romantic love really is a powerful destroyer of tradition, isn't it? And that's not even taking into account the whole "Saint" part.

Balfegor said...

Is it just me or is Valentine's Day the most useless holiday ever?

Hallmark has nothing on the Japanese (and the Koreans) -- Valentines Day and White Day! Works out to male advantage, too, since the girls go first.

FXKLM said...

If all the guys are chasing women a few years younger than themselves, they'll eventually run into some legal difficulties.

Jennifer said...

Dave - I'm with you. In 9 years now (not all married), my husband and I have never celebrated Valentine's Day. It's a totally maufactured holiday!

Of course, my secret motivation is that no way am I letting him off the hook the other 364 days a year by squeezing it all in on one day. Flowers and dinner once a year, my foot!

Besides, its so much nicer when its a surprise.

TWM said...

"It's not as though we're penned up in our decades, prisoners of base ten."

Could be worse. Could be prisoners of the metric system.

I really don't get the controversy though. If you don't want to play Valentine don't play. If you do, do.

Dave said...

TWM: What does base ten number systems have to do with metric vs english measurement systems?

Base ten merely refers to the number system we use, in which the digits 0 through 9 are used to express all real numbers.

That has nothing to do with the metric system or the english system.

reader_iam said...
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reader_iam said...

Since we met on Feb. 16 (8:47 p.m.--yeah, he was standing beneath a clock; no kidding), my 3-1/2-years-younger husband, whom I met in my early and married in my middle 30s, and I skip Valentine's Day in favor of a more personal holiday.

Sweet relief!!

Robin Goodfellow said...

That reminds me of an ad I hear on the local radio from time to time. It quotes some statistic about how "AIDS is the 4th leading cause of death for people in their teens and twenties", or some such. But this is a very misleading statistic, because the ACTUAL most likely cause of death for people in their teens and twenties is to die of something much later in life (like heart disease).

TWM said...

Dave,

It was a joke about numbers. It didn't have any deep mathematical meaning -- chill out.

TWM said...

But, I did tell the joke incorrectly. I SHOULD have said that it could be worse it could be based on the English system, since the Metric system is a base 10 system (units and subunits are multiples of 10) and Ann's comment was about base 10.

So we were both wrong.

Maxine Weiss said...

It's all about income. There's a lack of marriageable men in their 20s and 30s, because they don't have the income to support the women.

The man-shortage begins when the men are in their 40s and 50s, at their highest income levels.

Peace, Maxine.

Abraham said...

Personally, I hate Base 10. It's a stupid base. Base 12 would be much, much better.

PatCA said...

I don't know why people get so upset with "commercial" holidays. If we didn't have these days, would you remember to take time out for Christmas gifts/giving or cards expresing love once in a while?

Take the day to do something loving. No one is forcing you to spend a jillion dollars.

W said...
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Balfegor said...

I don't know why people get so upset with "commercial" holidays.

I think it's a little like the complaint of "heteronormativity," only it's "commercial holiday celebrating normativity." So to speak. The widespread commercial promotion of the holiday creates public and social expectations of participation, and to defy those expectations is viewed as abnormal. In a sense. And some people resent that perception (however mild) of abnormality. Others, of course, love it, love being contrarian or some such, though, so it's a bit of a wash.

Jennifer said...

I don't know why people get so upset with "commercial" holidays.

I don't know about so upset. But it just seems pointless. If Hallmark has to remind somebody that they love me, I'm not really that impressed.

Aspasia M. said...

Pass up a chance to get chocolate? Hah! Do I look stupid?

My husband will definitely be bringing me some goodies. (oh my, that sounds a bit lewd.)

And I'm sending Valentines and chocolate to my sister, niece, mother and two grandmothers. I love the frivolity of it all.

PatCA said...

Jennifer,
I know a woman who writes in important dates on her husband's calendar every year, birthday, anniversary, so he never misses and she gets remembered. Everybody is happy. Give the guys a break, LOL!

Charles said...

In any case, Happy Valentine's Day, Ann. :)

Jennifer said...
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Jennifer said...

PatCA - Smart friend! I guess I'm lucky so far, my husband even remembers all the important dates when he's deployed or in the field. Except for, of course, Valentine's Day. :)

My Boaz's Ruth said...

I tilted things one-person the other way. My husband is 5 years younger than me.

Barry said...

"It's not as though we're penned up in our decades, prisoners of base ten."

What an excellent turn of phrase!

RogerA said...

Did anybody share article this with Maureen Doud? Will she feel better about the lack of good men?

And Dave and Jennifer: if you want manufactured holiday's look at what the "beverage" companies have to "Cinco de Mayo!"

RogerA said...

Apologies to Ms Dowd--I have been using MoDo too long.

mraj said...

What is a good man anyway? Women have to define that clearly. If women look for most of the "good qualities", for example, looks, education level, earning portential, height, not overweight, good personality and so on and on, then obviously they are going to find the men shortage. To my knowledge there are only 11 men in the US with those qualities, and they are all taken or not interested in you.

Maxine Weiss said...

We all know what a good man is: one that has loads of money, or at least a steady job, according to the LA Times:

"It Turns Out Money Can Buy Love, After All
By Kathy M. Kristof, Times Staff Writer
Men are from Mars, women are from Deloitte & Touche.

That seems to be the conclusion of a new survey — just in time for Valentine's Day — that found that men want a woman with a good sense of humor, while women prefer a guy who has a steady job and pays his bills on time.

""And they say money can't buy you love,"" quipped Judy Martindale, a financial planner in San Luis Obispo. ""It's sort of a sad commentary.""

The survey of 1,022 adults was commissioned by the Fair Isaac Corp., the firm that generates the FICO scores used to rate personal creditworthiness.

The findings indicated that good credit wasn't important just for getting a loan, the company said, but for finding a mate as well. For example, men and women said being financially responsible was more important than sexual compatibility when it came to sustaining a relationship.

At the same time, the survey found that spending a few frivolous dollars can advance the cause of romance. Buying four dozen roses "just because" was considered "wonderfully romantic" by 69% of respondents, as was being taken out to a nice meal by 94%.

Among other findings:

.Whether your significant other has credit problems ranked fifth among the list of "must know" facts before making a commitment. The other facts, in order, were whether the person was divorced or already married, had spent time in jail, had trouble making romantic commitments or likes to gamble.

.For men, the most important qualities in a spouse were, in order: a good sense of humor, an ability to get along with his family, a steady job/good credit history (a tie for third place), desire for children and a good kisser.

.Among women, the top qualities were a steady job, paying bills on time, a good sense of humor, an ability to get along with her family, desire for children and a clean driving record."---LA times

Peace, Maxine

Jennifer said...

a clean driving record

That's one of the top six things American women are looking for in a man? That is absolutely hilarious.

What a turn on!

Maxine Weiss said...

Makes sense to me.

Driving is a metaphor for other things.

Peace, Maxine