Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Suits and Seniors Dance

In our summer study group we were considering Barbara Dafoe Whitehead's Why There Are No Good Men Left. She looks at the rising age of marriage for college-educated men and women, and concludes that they are waiting so long after college to look for mates that their college connections get cold. As I often tell students, college is the best marriage market they will ever be in. I encourage them not to waste it.

The problem, as a recently graduated woman in the group noted, is that the men are not ready to get serious about marriage in college, even though most of the women are. Men usually start to get more serious a couple of years out of school, but this does the mature college women no good.

Until now.

We came up with a wonderful idea: a Homecoming dance that would pair senior women with men a couple of years out of college. The guys would have spent those couple of years working and supporting themselves. They would know how to get up in the morning, clean and feed themselves, stick to a task, not destroy themselves on weekends, pay the bills, and start thinking a little about the future with a longer time horizon. And they would start to notice that living alone is kind of lonely. They would finally be as mature as the women were in college.

Thus, the Suits and Seniors Dance.

The women would benefit from more mature men. The men would benefit from smart women. They would still have the advantage of the college marriage market, without the disadvantage of all living within the college bubble. Real-world courtship could begin.

My wife immediately saw another consequence of regularly mixing the senior women with graduates: it would raise the bar for the senior men. Nothing gets a set of men to shape up faster than competition from another group of men for the attention of women. Besuited young men with serious intentions would be stiff competition, indeed, for scruffy college boys who still put off thinking about family until a vague tomorrow.

Shoot, just threatening to organize such a dance might get some of the college men off the dime.

14 comments:

Mark Smith said...

Is it a correct assumption that female college seniors are looking for the person that they'll marry?

My personal situation (I know, not statistically valid at all) was the opposite. I was ready to get married out of college but my wife wanted to have a few years to prove to herself that she could be independent. We married 4 years after college (and after 7 years of dating).

So, are you hearing that college women want to get married soon?

Gruntled said...

College women are, of course, a varied group. Marquardt and Glenn, in "Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right," found that most college women are hoping to meet their future husbands in college. This includes cases (like yours) in which she is not looking to marry right after college, but still wants to have the issue pretty much settled before graduation.

My wife was not engaged on graduation day, but she had a pretty good idea.

bombsoverbaghdad said...

I advise college-aged women to marry their college boyfriends (if the relationship is solid). I tell the same thing to guys. Most men don't want a woman whose been through 10 years of the dating, sex, breakups, etc.

Russell Smith said...

Brilliant Idea. The worst place to meet someone stable is hanging out in the post-graduation bar/singles scene. Did the ladies in "Sex and the City" really appear all that happy? --

Russell

Gruntled said...

Whitehead's book actually treats "Sex and the City," and agrees with your point about what sad role models they make.

The difficulty is that the initiative still lies mostly with the men. I think this is rooted in biology as much as social construction, and in any case is not likely to change soon.

Kerri said...

I think there should also be a sort of "Meet the Geeks" dance, where girls can get to know all the intellectual, counter-cultural, and just plain weird guys that aren't as obvious on campus. The ones that I've met that are more into girls than video games are great catches (mine included), but one has to look more closely for them, probably in the library.

Gruntled said...

That is where I caught my wife ...

Her response to your suggestion, Kerri, is "that is a knowledge class riff on a corporate class solution."

Kerri said...

I forgot to add that the reason girls want to meet these "geeks" is that they seem much more marriage/settle-down ready than other guys on campus. My closest personal circle of friends includes three serious nerdy/weird couples (myself and Ethan included), and I imagine we'll all marry our current catch eventually.

Gruntled said...

Do you think nerds are, by virtue of being nerds, more ready to settle down and less interested in partying and promiscuity?

Kerri said...

I'm not sure... I think that seems likely. There are different breeds of nerds though. Academic nerds, like the ones in my close group of friends, certainly seem to be less attracted to the frat/party scene (all my good friends are independents, not surprisingly), and are more intelligent (and thus perhaps more likely to be thinking of the future). Video game nerds, of which there are several on the hall, don't party OR do their homework OR talk to girls much, so I'm not sure where they stand.

mary jo tewes said...

Sounds like a great idea! Too bad I'm already graduated! I especially like the thought of competition from older, more established men making college guys shape up.

I agree that most college senior women probably don't want to get married within the next year, or even the next two years, but they are probably sick of college dating and want to be in a committed relationship that they see as leading to marriage. It gets rid of all kinds of anxiety.

Good point about Sex and the City. It seems so depressing to be in that situation, and not even the talented writers of the show could keep that from coming through. I usually feel depressed after watching it.

On the question of nerds, I also think nerds are probably generally used to being outside of the campus culture, which usually means that they are outside of the crazy-party crowd. And 'outside of the crazy-party crowd' is probably a better place to start a relationship than in it.

Gruntled said...

It has been my impression that even women who definitely don't want to marry right out of college would still like to have a relationship established by then with the guy who they think will turn out to be "the one."

funny videos said...

I think women find men after college. Although there are a lot of men, and women that do meet their mate for life in college.
I think a lot of men, and women meet their mates at their choice of religion.

Gruntled said...

Some people meet all kinds of places, including their churches, etc. Still, for the college-going class, college itself, and the network it makes, is the most likely place to meet your mate.