Is marriage a restrictive redundancy today?

Do we even need marriage at all anymore? That’s a good question.

Pew Research Center says: “While about three-in-ten U.S. adults (31%) say they are single – that is, not married, living with a partner or in a committed romantic relationship – that share varies widely across demographic groups. The youngest and oldest Americans are the most likely to be single – 41% of those ages 18 to 29 and 36% of those 65 and older say they are single….”

According to the same article, women, by contrast, are by far most likely to be single later in life – roughly half of women ages 65 and older are unpartnered (49%)

And men?  According to Business Insider, men are more likely than women to be on the dating market: 61% of single men say they are currently looking for a relationship or dates, compared with 38% of single women.

You would certainly think that a well-heeled town like Scottsdale, Arizona, where I live, would have perfect pickings for women interested in a relationship. Not so. Single men here have their money tied up in trust funds for their children and maintenance for ex-wives. They are not interested in commitment, as some of my friends found out to their chagrin. No, they are interested in conquest. In fact, a majority of women say they have experienced harassing behavior from someone with whom they went on a date! Nearly half of U.S. adults, particularly women, say dating has become tougher in the last 10 years. Although men and women can be equally dissatisfied with the dating scene, women describe more negative experiences.

One-night stands

 Eli’s in Scottsdale was a popular over-50s watering hole which has since closed, so we can discuss the scene openly. The band was superb, the bar was long and the alcohol flowed freely. Great hookup place, right? Indeed it was, and laughing men pinching women’s butts was bound to have a positive impact!

Think so? It seems the ‘male potential’ at Eli’s were men who were looking for one-night stands and little else.

“I am woman, hear me roar!!”

As feminists, we have given men an excuse to disregard traditional women.

 A typical feminist goal: “I don’t need a man for anything!”

Sounds good! Men have always needed to be fairly independent, and so this attitude resonates with them. Hang onto your wallet! What a lucky break!

Women who are not economically and emotionally independent lose in this scenario. According to Greater Good Science Center, marriage is the best solution for women who want a lasting relationship. “Historically”, Greater Good reports, “large studies show that, on average, married people report greater happiness later in life than unmarried people. Separated and divorced people tend to fall into a less-happy bucket, while the never-married and widowed fall someplace in between”.

Men who want committed relationships

Men who want a romantic relationship with a woman, possibly leading to commitment, find it hard to know just how to approach a potential date due to the strong focus on sexual harassment and assault in the last few years. Seventy-five percent of men older than 50 say it’s hard to know just how to behave on dates, there is an element of fear there, because a wrong move could involve legal trouble.

Here’s the Bad News

Instead of single life being liberating, many of my older women friends find it economically powerless and very lonely. Welfare or disability scarcely cover the bases for older women in need, and they feel their economic position may be permanent.

These are not the voluntarily unmarried who planned their careers and their stock investments and are out here on the golf course enjoying the sun. No, these are women who have been married or in relationships, raised children during the years best for economic gains and are now alone. They find life a daily grind to pay bills and a struggle to avoid the homelessness that lurks around every financial crisis.

Smoking from an early age and the obesity of just having given up claim the lives of some older women. Happy Hour seems a way out and ends up the way to finality for others. The chronic illnesses of aging begin to appear.

Family, if there is any, live far away or do not want the bother of interrupting their lives for an older relative.

Among those who are on the dating market – the 15% of American adults who are single and looking for a committed relationship or casual dates – most say they are dissatisfied with their dating lives and that it has been difficult to find people to date, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2019.

And my friends? Sometimes they have unrealistic expectations.

“He should be vegan, be emotionally receptive, have plenty of money and be fit and tall.”

Sounds like the ingredients for an Angel Food cake.

Altogether, the situation seems a bit ironic. We have spent decades ruminating about fulfilling our ‘needs’ in relationships, and scarcely a minute focusing on how we can love ordinary people for who they are.

The 1990s are over.

And we are very lonely.

What should I do, lower my expectations?

I would suggest we change our expectations, not lower them.

Another Approach

Rhonda Lynn Way, a single woman from Texas, has decided to pull back from dating for a while. “I don’t think there’s one love of your life,” she stated. “I think there’s love.”

According to the Atlantic, this woman was deeply disappointed by the dating scene. Did she give up?

She gave up on a narrowed perspective. Instead, she began spending more time with her family and grandchildren (There’s always Zoom for distance) began serving in her church and volunteering for positions of interest. If determined to find a romantic partner, these sorts of activities are ideal for giving purpose and for making acquaintances of like mind.

How do I meet people without ‘dating’ an online person and feeling like a deer in the headlights?

1. Change up your routine to meet new people.

2. Head to a bar or coffee shop solo. (Here’s a hard one, but, what have you got to lose?)

3. Take a class or lesson to get out of your comfort zone.

4. Pursue hobbies you’re passionate about.

5. Ask your friends to play Cupid. (This is the way my parents were introduced and it still has merit.)

6. Attend meet-up groups and singles events in your area.

7. Take a good, objective look at yourself and what you have to offer a potential relationship. This means having strong interests and the kind of life affirmation and fun that attracts others.  It does not mean being so hard on yourself that you don’t get out of the starting gate for fear of rejection.

I realize, as an older woman, that you have a long way to go and a short time to get there, but most relationships aren’t formed over-night. In the meantime, don’t hole up and give up. Be a person who contributes to society and enjoys others. Good people of like mind will be right there with you. You won’t be disappointed!