With Valentine’s coming up, my daughter’s class did an exercise in Social Studies, during which the teenage girls and boys were to speak up about the kind of guy/girl they’d like to date, and the kind of man/woman they’d like to marry.
It was interesting to get feedback on what the boys said. To my daughter’s disgust, all the attributes listed were either physical or to do with the male ego: She had to be pretty, have a nice figure, beautiful hair, well-manicured toenails (are you listening, single young women out there – this is a hot tip); she had to be seductive etc. For a date, on average they wanted to pick women older than themselves.
For marrying, the same physical attributes still applied, along with a few extras: She had to be a good earner but not as good as the guy; she had to be intelligent but not sassy; she had to be hard-working and be able to keep a nice home. (Ah, are we marrying or hiring a maid? Isn’t it supposed to be a partnership?) The most significant difference was that the woman had to be a few years younger than they themselves. (The logic here is clear: A young man “learns” from an older woman during courting and enjoys her experience; but where it comes to marrying he wants to dominate, so younger it is.)
It’s amazing how deeply these stereotypes are embedded still in today’s young men.
As for the girls, what they came up with I found a whole lot more disconcerting than the surprisingly predictable views of the boys.
Firstly they wanted a sensitive guy who doesn’t fart. (Ok, I think we’ve just entered fairyland. Such a guy does not exist.) The parameters for dating and marrying were the same, and the logic here is also clear: Every man a girl dates, she sees as a potential life partner. She wouldn’t date him if she didn’t. Girls on average don’t date guys “just for fun”. Even if they start out that way, they get “serious” pretty fast. It’s one of the basic misunderstandings between the sexes.
So on average, they wanted a guy who was slightly older than them; who was a good earner; who treated them with respect and did his part in the house; had a sense of humour, and was not domineering. Giving her lots of freedom and respecting her decisions. Falling in with her plans.
Girls! I have news.
You’ve been lured into thinking it’s cool to date a beta-male. This guy will impress you with his suave polished appearance (the “metro male”); will let you make every major decision; will let you earn the lion’s share of the income (which means you’re also doing the bulk of the work); hang back and “chill” while you’re running in small circles trying to juggle everything, and back away from conflict.
Twenty years down the line what you have is a work-life of 50 – 60 hours a week; no time for your children; no progress in financial stability because he’s just not a go-getter and your whole income goes to covering the basics; and every time you ask him for help you get a sulk. The suave polish from the twenties is gone (he doesn’t have to impress you, you’re after all “his”); and there is no backbone, drive, strength of character to replace it but instead a comfort zone around him that is unbelievably difficult to rattle (because you helped him build it, over the years, with all your hard work and his indecisiveness).
Go for the go-getter! If he drives you nuts because he’s so busy, fantastic! If he’s a bit pushy, expecting you to fall in with his plans, well, he’s got a goal, he’s got a drive, he knows where he’s going and isn’t going to be your pet couch potato.
Because society who made it uncool for men not to work in past generations, has done a 180 degrees flip and now not only supports men loafing off while women are doing all the work, but actively promotes it. Think e.g. of PC games. You try to restrict your son’s hours spent in front of the square box only to realize that the games are really aimed at over 18 – i.e. not really suitable for children at all! So if kids can’t play them, who does? Men! Fully grown men. And those games are extremely addictive; they feed all the right brain pathways to make the guy believe he’s really been in combat, had a narrow escape, mowed down a lot of enemies and rescued a secret cartridge for the CIA. So he feels rightfully exhausted and if you, the “little woman” who has just spent 9 hours in a hectic office and 2 more in traffic, ask him to take over cooking supper for the kids, he feels seriously done in. What’s office work and traffic as compared to a war zone? You’ve got it good!
No, girls. Rather look at “your” guy’s dreams and goals. If something in the real world makes his eyes light up, and if you can see that he’s busy with projects, or that he “gets it together”, which includes organizing his friends, you’ve got a live one. Otherwise get prepared for perpetual couch-potato-mommyhood. And no amount of “modern” makes up for that. Remember what’s modern today is old hat in 20 years and only the comfort zone counts then.