Where are all our eligible men?

Where are all of the eligible men?

Whatever your position in the church, I bet this is a question you’ve heard raised many times and commonly by single women in church. Eligible women seem to outweigh eligible men in the church. Recently I found a fascinating article on the internet and it gives an interesting perspective on the problem and certainly food for thought.

In“The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox,” Mark Gimein explores what seems to be a shortage of available, attractive men. Gimein first points out that the woman controls the central decision when it comes to marriage. They are the ones who have the power to say “yes” or “no” to a proposal (or at an earlier stage, a date). Gimein then explains the paradox (more eligible women than men) in terms of an auction.

You can think of this traditional concept of the search for marriage partners as a kind of an auction. In this auction, some women will be more confident of their prospects, others less so. You could call the first group “strong bidders” and the second “weak bidders.” Your first thought might be that the “strong bidders”  (women who, whether because of looks, social ability, or any other reason are conventionally deemed more of a catch) would consistently win this kind of auction.

But this is not necessarily true. In fact, and empirical studies of auctions bear out, auctions will often be won by “weak” bidders, who know that they can be outbid and so bid more aggressively, while the “strong” bidders will hold out for a really great deal.

The result?

The number of appealing men remaining shrinks as many are married off and taken out of the pool, leaving a disproportionate number of men who are considered less desirable (perhaps they are “short”, “socially awkward”, “underemployed”). And at the same time, you get a pool of women weighted toward the attractive, desirable “strong bidders.”

So, where have all the most eligible men gone? Married young, most of them — and sometimes to women whose most salient characteristic was not their beauty, or passion, or intellect, but their decisiveness.

The conclusion to be drawn from this analysis seems to be that holding out for the ‘best deal’ – that “perfect mate” (Relationship Sin No. 3) –  may actually not be a great philosophy – not least because in marriage terms – it doesn’t exist! And it doesn’t matter if you are male or female (although it does seem worse for women) – the same principles apply.

When I discussed this with a friend recently she said “I can see that this theory has played out in my life. There were quite a few good men that I passed up when I was younger…holding out for something ‘more’. Now those men have become amazing husbands and fathers with terrific families, and I am just looking for a decent guy to date.”

If you know anyone in this situation, a quiet word in their ear might help them see things differently (how about giving them this article). Alternatively if you have any thoughts about this theory, why not add them to our discussion board.

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