168»

Casual Sex Makes College Students Crazy, Fat and Stupid

Committed romantic relationships in college, while no longer the norm, provide significant health benefits analogous to those associated with marriage, a study has found.

In Romantic relationships and the physical and mental health of college studentsresearchers found that monogamous relationships between young people were predictive of fewer mental health problems and lower rates of obesity. (H/T: Steve) What was the single most important factor?

Being in a committed romantic relationship decreases problematic outcomes largely through a reduction in sexual partners, which in turn decreases both risky behaviors and problematic outcomes. 

…The individual and contextual changes that occur throughout college push to the forefront a number of behaviors that can increase risk for negative physical and mental health outcomes. For example, Desiderato and Crawford (1995) found that approximately one third of sexually active students reported having multiple sex partners in the past 11 weeks. Within this group of students with multiple sex partners, approximately 75% reported inconsistent or no condom use.

With regard to substance use, 90% of college students report having used alcohol in the past year and approximately two in five college students engage in some sort of substance abuse (Prendergrast, 1994). Furthermore, 44% of college students report binge drinking within the past 2 weeks (Wechsler, Lee, Kuo, & Lee, 2000). Substance abuse is associated with negative consequences including academic difficulties, health and psychosocial problems, high-risk sexual behavior, and other risky behaviors such as driving under influence and dating violence (Rabow, Neuman, Watts, & Hernandez, 1987; Wechsler et al., 2002).

In summary, risky behavior could act as a mechanism that explains a great deal of variance in the physical and mental health of college students.

The study was an anonymous survey conducted at a large Southeastern public university. 1,014 women and 570 men participated, comparing single students to those in a “committed dating relationship.” 

Mental Health

The researchers conservatively defined mental health problems as those serious enough to have a detrimental effect on academic performance. Students were asked to report serious problems resulting from the following:

  • alcohol use
  • depression/anxiety disorder
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • drug use
  • eating disorder/problem
  • relationship difficulties
  • stress

Physical Health

Students reported a decline in academic performance due to any of the following:

  • cold/flu/sore throat
  • injury
  • mononucleosis
  • sinus infection/ear infection/bronchitis/strep throat
  • sleep difficulties

BMIs were calculated based on height and weight.

Risky Behaviors

Sexual Partners: 

Because the number of sex partners a person has is linked to a number of negative health outcomes, such as contraction of cervicovaginal human papillomavirus (HPV; Burk et al., 1996) and hepatitis C (Alter, 1997), participants were asked to indicate the number of partners with whom they had engaged in any form of sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, or anal) in the last school year.

Substance Use:

  • alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor) 
  • tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco)
  • illicit drug (marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.)

Students were queried regarding general frequency, binge drinking and drunk driving.

Research Findings

This model showed that being in a committed romantic relationship is associated with having fewer sexual partners and that having more sexual partners is directly associated with problematic outcomes, such that having more sexual partners predicts poorer physical and mental health. These results suggest that being in a committed romantic relationship decreases problematic outcomes largely through a reduction in sexual partners, which is associated with decreases in both risky behaviors and problematic outcomes.

1. Students in committed relationships drank less overall, engaged in binge drinking less frequently and drove drunk less.

2. There was no difference between the groups in the use of tobacco or illicit drugs.

3. Not surprisingly, students in LTRs had fewer sexual partners during the last year.

4. LTR partners had fewer mental health problems.

5. LTR partners were less likely to be overweight or obese.

6. There was no difference in physical health problems (excluding STIs) between the two groups.

 

Why do students in committed relationships indulge in fewer risky behaviors? 

  • They have less time to devote to risky behaviors since a portion of their time is now spent with the partner.
  • The types of risky behaviors assessed (multiple sex partners, substance use) are incompatible with the less impulsive lifestyle committed relationships seem to foster.

  • It is likely that the process of dating and partner selection, especially among single, sexually active college students, is intertwined with substance use and risky behavior (i.e., drinking and driving), which leads to poorer physical and mental health.
  • Heavier substance users are unable to keep romantic partners around and are thus more likely to be single. (Among married couples, alcohol use is associated with higher levels of marital dissatisfaction, negative marital interaction patterns, marital infidelity, and violence in the relationships; perhaps the same association holds for college students and contributes to relationship dissolution.)
  • Having more sexual partners was directly associated with more physical and mental health problems. Although the present data cannot offer evidence for mechanisms other than risky behaviors, it seems that the most likely explanation is that having more sexual partners places an individual at higher risk of experiencing a sexually transmitted infection and its sequelae.
  • Having multiple sex partners potentially creates more general stress, which leads to more problematic health outcomes. Conversely, it is equally plausible that individuals with more mental health problems or diatheses for such problems are more likely to have more sexual partners. Indeed, Hall and Fincham (2009) show that psychological distress predicts dating infidelity rather than vice versa.
  • We cannot rule out the possibility that individuals who have poor physical and mental health engage in more risky behavior and thus do not enter or stay in committed relationships.

Your number of sexual partners dramatically influences your well-being. Both men and women in LTRs are significantly happier and perform better in school than sexually active single students. 

Go for an LTR with someone who is not a poster child for risky behaviors. Failing that, sit it out. Students actively engaging in the hookup scene suffer more declines in health and academic performance as a direct result of multiple sexual partners.

Don’t let college be an experience that derails your future by shrinking your market value both professionally and personally.

 

  • Passer_By

    “Being in a committed romantic relationship decreases problematic outcomes largely through a reduction in sexual partners, which in turn decreases both risky behaviors and problematic outcomes. ”

    College professors wrote that sentence?

    As to the general proposition, obviously, there is a bit of a correlation/causation issue, though I assume they understand that.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      College professors wrote that sentence?

      LOL, good catch! I didn’t read it too carefully, I just cut and pasted it. Oy.

  • PeppermintPanda

    I would argue that this demonstrates correlation, not causation …

    Impulse control and long term thinking are related to success in countless areas of life. Choosing long term relationships over short term hook-ups demonstrates impulse control and long term thinking in one area of life (relationships) and is likely highly correlated to impulse control and long term thinking in other areas of live (finance and health).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      I would argue that this demonstrates correlation, not causation …

      Yes, that’s clearly stated by the researchers, and the findings are necessarily of a speculative nature around which produces which.
      Still, strong correlations between # of sexual partners and falling grades due to mental health issues is significant.

      I agree that N is correlated with personality traits, including risk-seeking tendencies and impulsiveness, which are related to dopamine chasing.

  • Wondering_Why

    The vast majority of the married couples who live in my city are obese. The young women who are between the age of 15-25 do not eat plastic food and lead healthy lives but are gaining weight easily, starting with the 15 year olds and ending with the 25 year olds ballooning out.

    Why exactly would I, a young man, want a long-term relationship when the vast majority of women(I suppose men too, but everyone in my family is lean by design) who should be in their physical prime are becoming chubby, and they’ll hold no sexual power over me 5 to 10 years from now?

  • Ramble

    Count me in as one more noticing the causation/correlation problem with these findings.

    Though, even if they are simply correlated, Susan’s point is still valid, IMO.

    One thing I want to point out about some of these students making impulsive decisions: let’s not forget that one of the “draws” of college life is the opportunity to be more impulsive.

    Even “sensible” people will often tell stories about some of the “wilder” nights they had in college (even if those wild nights made up a pretty small percentage of their social lives in school).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      One thing I want to point out about some of these students making impulsive decisions: let’s not forget that one of the “draws” of college life is the opportunity to be more impulsive.

      It’s true, kids get to college thinking they’re going to have total freedom for the first time, and they go wild. Binge drinking is probably the first and most common manifestation of that. Of course, that leads nowhere good…

  • http://loveashley.net Ashley

    So they are basically drawing the conclusion that if you are careless enough to have casual sex then you are supposedly more careless about other things in your life as well. It seems like an obvious thought to me, but of course not always accurate or the case with everyone. And I agree with Ramble, even people of high moral fiber have stories from college to tell. I know I do, but I’ve calmed down since.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      So they are basically drawing the conclusion that if you are careless enough to have casual sex then you are supposedly more careless about other things in your life as well.

      I think it’s more than that. They are noting that a significant percentage of people who are sexually active but single have experienced mental distress severe enough to affect academic performance. That does not surprise me, as I have heard that college counseling centers are booked weeks in advance with students struggling with hookup culture. I know one student waited six weeks, and when she finally told the counselor that she had had a bad experience with a guy who courted her until they had sex and then disappeared, the counselor sighed and said, “That’s why everybody is here.”

      They’re also noting that people hooking up are more likely to be obese, which I found surprising. Stress eating I guess?

  • Donkey
  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    Regardless of correlation/causation (I’m more willing to buy the latter for some things than others they report) the big surprises to me are:

    1. Lack of differences in STDs.
    2. Obesity is more likely in those not in a committed relationship. Given the level both men and women go to “be in shape to get a date” this one surprises me. Both men and women have a rep for letting themselves go after marriage (and by my observation it happens first with men unless the woman is pregnant at marriage).

    I would like to see more work on the mental health issues to determine correlation/causation. I honestly thing a good partner is great for mental health (and a bad one bad for it…in fact that’s my strongest definition of a bad partner).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      1. Lack of differences in STDs.

      They didn’t track STDs as part of physical health (probably b/c most students don’t even get tested), but did suggest that STDs played a role in deteriorating mental health among the students having casual sex.

  • Escoffier

    None of this sounds implausible to me. What I would ask is, what is the “And therefore?” Is this an argument to girls (and guys) to lock down SOs ASAP freshman year?

    We all know that no one is going to make romantic decisions based on social science, no matter how sound. But I am concerned about another aspect. Suppose you get kids to do this. There would be very little expectation of marriage later. These couples are almost all inevitably going to break up. What of the inevitable heartbreak that will accrue to one side? Also, isn’t this essentially reinforcing the notion that romantic pairings are in essence transitory, and how is that good preparation for marriage?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Escoffier

      here would be very little expectation of marriage later. These couples are almost all inevitably going to break up. What of the inevitable heartbreak that will accrue to one side? Also, isn’t this essentially reinforcing the notion that romantic pairings are in essence transitory, and how is that good preparation for marriage?

      The researchers state they that assume some of the relationships may culminate in marriage. The impetus for the study was to determine if college students in premarital relationships enjoy the same health advantages as married people. It turns out they do, except that smoking and drug use was not significant in this particular study.

      My own feeling is that an LTR in college is a highly beneficial way to experience it, much, much safer than hooking up, and that’s true for men and women. It may or may not end in heartbreak, just like any relationship one has that does not end in marriage. As we’ve seen here recently, the advent of dating and “going steady” in the 1950s provided opportunities for spouse shopping without any expectation of marriage. I don’t see how this is any different, really.

      The irony is that relationships may be scarce, especially with lopsided gender ratios in college. That is why I suggested that sitting on the beach for four years is highly preferable to hooking up. Undoubtedly, some of those students get discouraged, but they’re less likely to have mental health crises and academic difficulties.

  • J

    Suppose you get kids to do this.

    Some do already.

    What of the inevitable heartbreak that will accrue to one side?

    Without a doubt, these breakups, often at graduation, usually hurt one or both partners. But they go off to separate grad schools or separate cities to work, and the relationship is either over immediately or limps through a LDR phase and then is over.

    Also, isn’t this essentially reinforcing the notion that romantic pairings are in essence transitory, and how is that good preparation for marriage?

    I’m not sure the kids think of these relationships as marriage preparation as much as an alternative to promiscuity.

  • http://www.rosehope.com/ Hope

    I have no wild college stories to tell, only boring ones.

    Once I drank a glass at a small gathering in another dorm room, and went back to my dorm room, woke up with a bad headache, and that was that. Come to think of it that was probably the last time I ever drank something alcoholic.

    One time I went to a dry on-campus frat party where everyone was standing around awkwardly. There wasn’t even music, just the lights dimmed, and tons of guys with very few girls. I was with the ex, and we left ten minutes later. Only college party I attended.

    Yeah you can laugh at my dorkiness. :P

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      One time I went to a dry on-campus frat party where everyone was standing around awkwardly. There wasn’t even music, just the lights dimmed,

      Colleges will NEVER be able to shift their own cultures if this is all they can muster. More and more frequently, though, I hear of colleges sponsoring Spring Flings days, often with well known bands, bbq’s etc. If you can’t make it cool, despite the absence of alcohol, kids won’t come. That means coughing up the bucks for something really impressive.

  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    @Susan

    They’re also noting that people hooking up are more likely to be obese, which I found surprising. Stress eating I guess?

    I was working on a more basic level: doesn’t this make them less likely to find a partner to hook up?

    Is this more proof that alcohol (ie: beer goggles) is a key to hookup culture?

  • Abbot

    “N is correlated with personality traits, including risk-seeking tendencies and impulsiveness, which are related to dopamine chasing.”

    When the dopamine is supplied with ease [subsidized] those receiving the cheap easy subsidy demonstrate weakness by letting more pass the gate. Yep, that be right there someone you’d commit to. Uh huh

  • Escoffier

    J, I’m sure they don’t think of them as preparations for marriage. I’m saying that’s part of the problem.

  • Ramble

    They are noting that a significant percentage of people who are sexually active but single have experienced mental distress severe enough to affect academic performance.

    If mental distress is a main cause of academic performance suffering, and we know that more girls graduate from HS than boys, more girls go to college than boys and more girls graduate from college than boys (even though IQ score are about the same)…

    Can we conclude that boys are suffering from more mental distress than girls?

    I mean, they do commit more suicide than girls do.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Can we conclude that boys are suffering from more mental distress than girls?

      I mean, they do commit more suicide than girls do.

      Probably, but that distress wouldn’t likely to attributable to partner count.

  • Passer_By

    @susan
    “I know one student waited six weeks, and when she finally told the counselor that she had had a bad experience with a guy who courted her until they had sex and then disappeared, the counselor sighed and said, “That’s why everybody is here””

    So, does that mean these counseling centers are filled almost entirely with women patients? Or do the men patients say “I’m here because I’m having trouble getting past the guilt of running a harem, and it’s damn stressful too!”

  • Escoffier

    The difference between this and the ’50s “going steady” culture is that the Cleavers and the Nelsons were not having sex. With all the emotional and other risks that entails.

  • Ramble

    If you can’t make it cool, despite the absence of alcohol, kids won’t come.

    Personally, I think that we “need” to make these events dry in the first place is ridiculous. I understand that the law saw that you must be 21, but we know for a fact that the drinking age can be 18 and people can act cool.

    There is something so artificial about *needing* to keep these events dry.

  • Jimmy Hendricks

    Overall I agree with the general premise of the study, although I do think they’re stretching a little bit on some of the conclusions.

    Also agree with Susan’s advice.

  • Abbot

    “Cleavers and the Nelsons were not having sex”

    Somehow, for some reason that has NEVER been logically or scientifically explained or justified, women today cannot grow or discover themselves when dating dry. That means, when women say such things, they are really saying that grandma was an incomplete woman since she did not medicate herself with multi cock.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    Once I drank a glass at a small gathering in another dorm room, and went back to my dorm room, woke up with a bad headache, and that was that.

    Hope you HHHHHhhore :D. J/K

  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    @Hope

    Once I drank a glass at a small gathering in another dorm room, and went back to my dorm room, woke up with a bad headache, and that was that.

    Given the number of times I’ve done that (if you replace dorm room with “the beach” and “my rack”) I declare you qualified in submarines, drinking ribbon :)

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    Ramble…”let’s not forget that one of the “draws” of college life is the opportunity to be more impulsive.”

    There was a TV documentary about life on an aircraft carrier a few years ago…the interviewer asked a young seaman if he was every sorry he’d chosen the Navy instead of going to college. To which the reply was something like “Yeah, I’m sure I would have enjoyed 4 years of drinking and sex, but I’m happy with what I’m doing on this ship.”

    Can’t remember what this sailor’s job was on the carrier, but it was probably something that could get people killed or horribly injured if not done right. Which raises the question of whether 4 years of letting it all hang out is really better preparation for leadership than 4 years of a responsible job (even if the latter involves occasional drunken-sailor episodes)

  • Abbot

    “that distress wouldn’t likely to attributable to partner count.”

    unless he finds out he got duped into committing to the town bike right after closing on the house

  • Jackie

    @Susan
    “They’re also noting that people hooking up are more likely to be obese, which I found surprising. Stress eating I guess?”
    =====
    Well, if they are drinking a whole lot, there’s tons of calories in alcohol. Then, if they have a hangover, lots of times they will have greasy food/McDonald’s. Then, there’s recovery time– instead of running or hitting the gym, they are watching tv or just hanging out in a dark room.

    I can see how it would be easy to gain weight. But I have recently begun a detox with no sugar, flour, wheat and lots of raw foods. I think I’m getting judgmental and jealous! ;-)

  • Jackie

    @Hope
    Hope, your “party animal” stories are hilarious! :mrgreen:

  • Ramble

    Probably, but that distress wouldn’t likely to attributable to partner count.

    Sorry, I am not really getting what you are saying here.

  • JQ

    @Susan:

    Read the article, did some casual online reading about structural equation modelling and mediation. Saw lots of model coefficients and tests for statistical significance, but no attempt to characterize the “practical” effect size. Sort of hard to say that the statistically significant effect matters when we can’t say anything about the reduction in the probability of exceeding or not exceeding some outcome threshold.

    I also have a bevy of concerns about their analytical method which cannot be addressed by the information given in the paper. The biggest is when they try to add the codes for negative academic outcomes across questions to get composite measures. Those levels by the way (taken from Item 45A3 of the Fall 2011 full ACHA-NCHA II [1]–the study used this questionnaire to collect their data, so presumably the questions and response options are the same) are
    1 This did not happen to me, N/A
    2 Exprd*, academics not affected
    3 Received lower grade exam
    4 Received lower grade course
    5 Received incomplete/dropped
    6 Significant disruption thesis
    Hard to really say that two two’s are really as bad as a four. Are six ones really as bad as a six? They did this for the mental and physical health problems items.

    *I read this as “Experienced” but didn’t go explicitly looking for confirmation in [1].

    [1] http://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_DataReport_Fall2011.pdf

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @JQ

      I appreciate the critique re methodology, as I am not really capable of assessing it myself.

  • lovelost

    @Susan,

    when are you planning to write about the Kristen Stewart affair?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Lovelost

      when are you planning to write about the Kristen Stewart affair?

      I wasn’t planning to. From what little I’ve read, the details are unclear. I’ll leave it to US Weekly.

  • Lovelost

    Shoot I was hoping for some alpha beta debate on HUS. Anyhow…

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Shoot I was hoping for some alpha beta debate on HUS. Anyhow…

      Banging head against desk repeatedly!!!!

      I will only make one comment. Two years ago the manosphere described RPatz as a big bad alpha. He probably has more sexual options than any other man on earth. He chose monogamy – so that makes him a peurile beta. His options are immaterial – it’s beta because he didn’t exercise them to be a manwhore.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    I wasn’t planning to. From what little I’ve read, the details are unclear. I’ll leave it to US Weekly.

    I knew you were smart but not that you were a genius. :D Great choice ;)

  • DelFresco

    @Susan – “I know one student waited six weeks, and when she finally told the counselor that she had had a bad experience with a guy who courted her until they had sex and then disappeared, the counselor sighed and said, “That’s why everybody is here.””

    This is interesting. Is it considered bad form in hookup culture to split after you hit it? Or is it that all these women are naive? Seems like some people arent’ acting in good faith, maybe both sides?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      This is interesting. Is it considered bad form in hookup culture to split after you hit it? Or is it that all these women are naive? Seems like some people arent’ acting in good faith, maybe both sides?

      Some 18 year old virgins are certainly naive, but I don’t think that’s the case most of the time. I think that women understand that even serious relationships start with a no-strings hookup, so they try to look for signs in the guy that he’s open to a relationship and then take their chances. Guys aren’t stupid – and they know that their best opportunity for sex is to come across as being LTR minded. Here are some lines women have reported to me from guys who pumped and dumped them after putting in a strong initial effort:

      “What’s going on between us is a game changer.”
      “You’re different from the other girls I’ve met here. I could see having something real with you.”
      “I don’t want you getting with anyone else.”
      “I feel really close to you. I don’t usually let girls see me this way.”

  • tito

    a lot of truth here. women especially became basket cases after some promiscuity, at least in my experiences. most of the chicks i knew from college are still unmarried and wandering around in the wilderness looking for someone to take them.

  • Wondering_Why

    ”I wasn’t planning to. From what little I’ve read, the details are unclear. I’ll leave it to US Weekly.”

    The problem with Robert Pattinson is that he’s a nice guy. Prior to becoming famous women wouldn’t touch him. Needless to say he’s a very attractive and charming young man, but women’s hypergamous nature runs amok even when faced with Alpha males, so I have the idea that Kirsten was never attracted to him sexually; his social status made him desirable.

    But it waned off and she had said she wanted to do something bad, to get in trouble. Heh, at least young men figure out that if one of the most attractive dudes known to man currently can’t attract an average girl, then the beta males(beta males with beta looks, not Alpha looks on a beta body), the best they ought do is move on. Find an hobby, the desire to mate will be manageable soon enough.

  • Desiderius

    Susan,

    “As we’ve seen here recently, the advent of dating and “going steady” in the 1950s provided opportunities for spouse shopping without any expectation of marriage. I don’t see how this is any different, really.”

    “Going steady” involves dating, but dating didn’t (as doesn’t) necessarily require going steady. My grandmothers* (hey, they were pretty damn successful in the courtship game) went steady in high school, but then dated multiple men after that, only offering exclusivity to those prepared to commit to them. Real commitment. The ring.

    There is a misconception among young people (again, the women are more important than the men) that dating is something that couples do. Those not interested in being a couple (often with good reason for young women with options) thus miss out on the crucial formative experiences that dating provides.

    I know, I know, your young women want to go on dates but the men aren’t asking. They’re not asking because the invite is a DLV because the women perceive it as premature emotional escalation since they’re not a couple yet and dating is something couples do.

    Really need to make the distinction.

    * – I’m pretty sure one of those grandmothers was getting some action on some of those dates. To your point, Escoffier, she was the one who ended up with the weaker marriage, but still had a pretty awesome brood to her name by the time she passed away last year.

    I suspect sex is a something of a red herring. It’s about whether they’re preparing for marriage as they play the game or not.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      There is a misconception among young people (again, the women are more important than the men) that dating is something that couples do. Those not interested in being a couple (often with good reason for young women with options) thus miss out on the crucial formative experiences that dating provides.

      Not so much a misconception as a case where they’ve rewritten the rules. In high school and college, the word dating is reserved for an LTR. Afterwards, there is more traditional dating, perhaps because the SMP shifts to an older group of people. Perhaps hookup culture was not as ingrained during their college years, or more likely, they’re happy to have a reason to leave it behind and get on with seeking a mate.

      I agree entirely with you that dating and relationships provide crucial formative experiences and the opportunity to develop skills that are essential for a successful marriage.

  • Desiderius

    Susan,

    I don’t blame you for advocating monogamy – it’s certainly an improvement on the current incarnation of the hookup culture, but I hope you’ll take a serious look at the “serial” piece before you’d have your charges go entirely back to the future.

  • http://marellus.wordpress.com Marellus

    It’s true what you wrote here Suzan. I suspect another 1200 comments in the pipeline for this blog post, and that will be because of sour grapes over hypergamy.

    Good Luck.

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    I think the campus SMP is going to become more and more polarized, with celibate abstainers on the one end and a lawless, anarchic brew of hookups, FWBs, and some LTRs on the other.

    Like any other cooperative arrangement with a known shelf-life, an LTR that, from the onset, is not expected to survive is always going to be highly problematic, because both parties anticipate some kind of defection occurring roughly around the time of graduation (the defection could be a decisive break-up or it could simply mean different life trajectories that kill the relationship in a more indirect way). If you know that defection is highly likely, you will invest in the situation differently, but your partner will be rational and know that you are doing this, and so on… “LTR with shelf life” can rapidly become “STR”.

    I think that what happens is that LTRs in this environment become extremely fragile. Clearly courtship and traditional dating become problematic and seemingly wasteful unless one has a lot of disposable income while a college student. I had originally believed that the hook-up culture was being driven by men—particularly high-SMV men—having sexual options due to a combination of less puritanical social mores, greater tolerance (for a variety of alternative lifestyles, not just hetero hook-ups), and a numbers game that was biased in favor of men and caused women to enter an intense competitive funnel when they came on campus. That is how I tend to fondly remember my own undergraduate days, although the current male students enjoy a much more dramatic scarcity advantage.

    I still believe that these are factors are very important, but now, having heard the female students’ POV a bit more, I think that a part of hook-up culture may be a pragmatic response to changing life scripts and work conditions post-college. There seems to be a calculated desire to be agile and preserve options that exists on top of the libertine Van Wilder stuff.

    Most of the students I interact with have high expectations for the future and believe that their accomplishments in several areas will converge years after college. If you believe that you will peak later in life, you may quite reasonably feel that you should wait until you are operating at your highest level to select a life partner, as you would command the highest price on the SMP at that point. The thing is that this viewpoint has effects on the types of decisions and commitments that you are willing to make in the present. It’s almost like you can objectify your future self and speak of it as a separate entity.

    In other words, if I am a college undergrad actively filtering for my future wife and seeking a monogamous LTR, but simultaneously I am highly optimistic about the future and believe that my SMV/MMV/whatever is going to peak in 10 years, I could easily face a situation wherein I feel that the LTR filter that I can impose today is far less stringent and reliable than is the filter that I will be able to impose at age 32 (in this example). The result might be that I don’t particularly want to invest very much in my immediate relationship(s), since I feel that better days lie ahead when I will no doubt have $$$, status, adventure, philanthropy, a rich network of exciting friends, and all of the other things that college students typically feel good about. The girl that Future Me will be able to land will be perfect. I might feel that I can (and should!) play it fast and loose now and get serious later on.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @BB

      I think that what happens is that LTRs in this environment become extremely fragile.

      Definitely, Research shows that the cheating rates are very, very high. That’s hardly surprising, as the very thing that might keep people from cheating – preserving a valuable committed alliance – is moot.

      The girl that Future Me will be able to land will be perfect. I might feel that I can (and should!) play it fast and loose now and get serious later on.

      I think this is the default position for most men, not just men with a ton of options. From what I’ve read, guys who have sex only occasionally in college will still prefer to take their chances in the hookup scene than go the “college marrieds” route. Perhaps that is because hooking up is a higher status move than having a gf?

      I also think there’s something going on that men are loath to acknowledge. The truth is, women are not being penalized for delaying marriage. The marriage decline reflects the changing attitudes of both sexes, it’s not a male marriage strike.

      A woman who figures she can snag a much higher value male when she’s 27 rather than 21 is almost certainly correct. Especially since, unbeknownst to her, a significant portion of those high MMV males are men she finds attractive at 27, but never noticed in college.

  • Ramble
  • Ramble

    I also think there’s something going on that men are loath to acknowledge. The truth is, women are not being penalized for delaying marriage. The marriage decline reflects the changing attitudes of both sexes, it’s not a male marriage strike.

    Susan, I think that this is an “iffy” thing to say. I don’t completely disagree with you, but, the marriage rate has been going down for years. And, it has been going down since the sexual/cultural revolution.

    And, as we have seen, girls (at least in their late 20′s, early 30s) are none too happy about the fact that marriage is harder and harder to come by.

    So, I am absolutely not saying that the marriage rate has gone down because of some marriage strike initiated by men, but I would not say that women are NOT being penalized.

    I used a double negative, but I thin you get what I am saying.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Ramble

      And, as we have seen, girls (at least in their late 20′s, early 30s) are none too happy about the fact that marriage is harder and harder to come by.

      But we’ve also observed that most of these women, at least the ones who have publicly shared their stories, are open about having made “poor choices” in men. Marriage is hard to come by when you spend your 20s with men whose mating orientation is strictly short term.

  • Abbot
  • Herb

    @Susan

    A woman who figures she can snag a much higher value male when she’s 27 rather than 21 is almost certainly correct. Especially since, unbeknownst to her, a significant portion of those high MMV males are men she finds attractive at 27, but never noticed in college.

    I’m glad you extended it to women because I was about to point out the earlier bit about women applied to men.

    Sadly, for women it is more problematic than for men. While I’m not whole hog ‘sphere “women are best at 21″ (unless you’re 100% airbrushed physical oriented) I would say waiting until 30 is asking for trouble. You’ve highlighted more than once the big issue: fertility and the open hostility to honest talk about the fertility curve to young women. However, there is also an expectations issue. It does seem the longer women put off marriage the higher they set their sights. Bollick’s dumped bf at 28 and Lisa Gottlieb are the classic examples.

    Men, it seems, use something close to an instinctive Colley’s Rule (check the fourth paragraph). That’s why I agree with:

    I also think there’s something going on that men are loath to acknowledge. The truth is, women are not being penalized for delaying marriage. The marriage decline reflects the changing attitudes of both sexes, it’s not a male marriage strike.

    I suspect most college oriented men would still marry about the same range I and my parents did (24-26) instead of 29-30.

    My educated guess is this longer delay in women while men pursue a kind of Colley’s Rule is related to the qualifier/disqualifier difference discussed here. Men have a fairly small list of requirements and generally will take one of the first few women to meet those requirements (hence my Colley’s Rule idea as an instinctive optimization) while women, especially modern liberated women, are stuck in the paradox of choice and paralyzed by it, more and more until it’s too late (for children or maybe marriage period).

    An odd side effect, which I like underlies a lot of the ‘sphere as well as other men’s attitudes is that this paradox of choice paralysis and consequence lack of interest in commitment disqualifies huge numbers of women in the eyes of men who otherwise would commit.

    If the common question that brings you new readers is “why don’t I have a boyfriend?” two answers we can derive from the above might be (which are pretty much the same actually):

    1. “You don’t really want one.” – You’re not interested in real commitment, just the accessory you call a boyfriend that you can discard at graduation when real life begins.

    2. “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” – A boyfriend is not a temporary companion but a potential mate. If you’re not into mating you can’t get potential mates.

    I wonder if what I’m driving at is commitment is a binary state for men: you are committed and it’s permanent or you’re not and it’s all just fun and games. Meanwhile, women are willing to see commitment on a continuum.

    In that case, I’d say women are more interested in supportive relationships than committed one where support is what a chicken gives to a ham and eggs breakfast while commitment is what the pig gave.

    How divorce works out seems to match up to that…the man (pig…that analogy should make the feminists happy) has a harder time getting back together after than the women (chicken…I’ll leave how that maps to Kate, Lisa, and all the “last one down the aisle wins” girls as an exercise to the reader).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Herb

      I would say waiting until 30 is asking for trouble. You’ve highlighted more than once the big issue: fertility and the open hostility to honest talk about the fertility curve to young women.

      Agreed, fertility is a big problem with delayed marriage.

      However, there is also an expectations issue. It does seem the longer women put off marriage the higher they set their sights. Bollick’s dumped bf at 28 and Lisa Gottlieb are the classic examples.

      IDK, it seems like the high expectations were there from the start, and those women failed to realize that great men were not going to be available to them forever. The last I heard about Gottlieb, she’d been dumped by a much older, shorter, portly fellow.

      Men have a fairly small list of requirements and generally will take one of the first few women to meet those requirements (hence my Colley’s Rule idea as an instinctive optimization) while women, especially modern liberated women, are stuck in the paradox of choice

      That’s an excellent observation, I think you nailed it.

      I wonder if what I’m driving at is commitment is a binary state for men: you are committed and it’s permanent or you’re not and it’s all just fun and games. Meanwhile, women are willing to see commitment on a continuum.

      Perhaps – the guys in the Ask Men survey were much more likely to only want to date someone with marriage potential.

      I also wonder here if men being the gatekeepers to commitment plays a role. Men either are opening the gate or they are not. Whereas women see a continuum, or what I think is actually a linear progression of commitment.

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    Susan, I can give a small anecdote that may have some explanatory power in the right hands (i.e., not mine):

    I have occasionally met small groups of my students out for drinks after class. It is not the same thing as an Oxbridge tutor being able to offer a student a glass of sherry and a seat by a fire, but it’s usually the best that I can do. I’ve occasionally and randomly asked the males if they want to become something like their dads and asked the females if they want to become something like their moms.

    The answers that I receive are very different: male students overwhelmingly say that they want to ultimately be like their dads, with other men looking noticeably moved and nodding in agreement, and they frequently add deeply respectful qualifiers like “at least I hope I can end up something like him.”

    The women typically do NOT want to end up like their mothers, and go to some length to explain the ways in which a particular mom’s lifestyle and accomplishments are perceived as being deficient. The few women who are enthusiastic about the question invariably have mothers who are powerful, hard-nosed businesswomen, lawyers, politicos, etc. and these professional achievements are cited *immediately* as the reasons why the mom should be emulated. It seemed to me that these girls had a definition for an “alpha” female that was not too dissimilar from the definition that a lot of the boys would have for an “alpha” male.

    If people go to college with the knowledge that there is a high probability that they will meet their future husbands/wives there (I was told this when I was a senior in high school by an English teacher who wanted to scare us into studying harder by using an odd eugenicist argument), they will clearly behave differently than they will if they believe that the future spouse will emerge from the fabulous backdrop of an affluent, stylish late 20s/early 30s internationalist future. The latter case will create the campus mating equivalent of an inverted yield curve, with perhaps similar effects on current investment appetite.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @BB

      The few women who are enthusiastic about the question invariably have mothers who are powerful, hard-nosed businesswomen, lawyers, politicos, etc. and these professional achievements are cited *immediately* as the reasons why the mom should be emulated.

      That’s very interesting, as I have known many such young women growing up, and have been struck be the absolute lack of family warmth or closeness. None of these girls was remotely close to her mother, which is partly how I came to be a confidante to so many of my daughter’s friends. The more high powered the mother, the more aloof in personality and even intimate relationships.

      Yet I do not doubt that over drinks with a professor most of these young women would mount a spirited defense of their mothers. Of course, there are undoubtedly many young women who genetically resemble their “manly” mothers and wish to emulate them. And there’s also a conditioning factor – a few of the girls I knew who were vulnerable and sad about their mother’s emotional reticence became much more like them over time, perhaps internalizing the lesson that “nice girls finish last.”

      If people go to college with the knowledge that there is a high probability that they will meet their future husbands/wives there…

      I can’t imagine that’s the case anywhere but BYU. Even if some women secretly hope for such an outcome, we’ve been shamed for three generations into not going to school to earn a “MRS” degree.

  • Herb

    @Ramble

    And, as we have seen, girls (at least in their late 20′s, early 30s) are none too happy about the fact that marriage is harder and harder to come by.

    Read closely, though. They’re angry marriage is harder and harder to come by on exactly their schedule and according to their exact plan.

    I think the problem is less marriage is hard to come by than men keep having their own desires and pursue them instead of holding for women then “manning up” on demand.

  • Herb

    @Bastiat Blogger

    If people go to college with the knowledge that there is a high probability that they will meet their future husbands/wives there (I was told this when I was a senior in high school by an English teacher who wanted to scare us into studying harder by using an odd eugenicist argument), they will clearly behave differently than they will if they believe that the future spouse will emerge from the fabulous backdrop of an affluent, stylish late 20s/early 30s internationalist future. The latter case will create the campus mating equivalent of an inverted yield curve, with perhaps similar effects on current investment appetite.

    *faceslap*

    Bastiat Blogger, that’s genius in the sense of something so obvious everyone but a genius misses it because we over complicate. The college SMP is clearly a inverted yield curve environment.

  • Ramble

    But we’ve also observed that most of these women, at least the ones who have publicly shared their stories, are open about having made “poor choices” in men. Marriage is hard to come by when you spend your 20s with men whose mating orientation is strictly short term.

    I hear you, and, again, I am not disagreeing with your central point.

    However, girls are suffering from the reactions of many guys (i.e. “fuck this, I am going to play video games in my shorts”, or “fuck this, I will just be a douche bag”). That reaction is helping to reduce the marriage rate.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      However, girls are suffering from the reactions of many guys (i.e. “fuck this, I am going to play video games in my shorts”, or “fuck this, I will just be a douche bag”). That reaction is helping to reduce the marriage rate.

      Good point, very true. It’s a huge factor.

  • Ramble

    BTW, I want to take this opportunity to say that people here, including Susan, should not feel that they need to reply to or engage every commenter here. Even if that commenter is addressing you specifically.

    If you feel that some commenters are using circular logic, avoiding some basic points, employing personal attacks, or, in general, being difficult, just ignore them.

    Susan (and, again, this goes for everyone), if you feel that engaging someone is ultimately pointless, but that they are not rude enough to be banned or deleted, just ignore them. Your cred is secure.

    Anyway, I wanted to put that out there.

  • Abbot

    “Men have a fairly small list of requirements”

    That is why there is no “women shortage”

  • Abbot

    “Marriage is hard to come by when you spend your 20s with men whose mating orientation is strictly short term”

    due to the lack of them being required to invest more time.

  • Ramble

    Good point, very true. It’s a huge factor.

    Susan, I am sure that you have already figured this out, but, saying things like that is an excellent way to get me to shut up.

  • Ramble

    I can’t imagine that’s the case anywhere but BYU.

    Bastiat said “if”.

  • also intj

    I think the expectation of meeting a future spouse at college is geographically/culturally influenced and not limited to BYU. I’m seeing lots of kids from our high school getting married this summer as they graduate from college. I live in a pretty traditional red state so think this influences thinking, although I see marriages happening with those who attended both in-state and out-of-state schools. A kid I know picked among his own top schools based on the attractiveness of girls he saw there; he figured he would get a great education at all of them and would marry someone he met during college so he went for the one with the “hottest girls.” Now that’s planning ahead!

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @also intj

      I stand corrected – that kind of thinking ahead is foreign to me, but I can easily believe it is very different elsewhere.

  • http://www.rosehope.com/ Hope

    Asian guys play way more video games. There have been cases of death from days of playing in a row. Is it an embarrassment that reflects on Asian women?

    Let’s not hate on American women just because men like playing video games.

  • Abbot

    “Is it an embarrassment that reflects on Asian women?”

    If it is not in lieu of placing value on women, then no.

  • http://thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com Dan_Brodribb

    STIs notwithstanding, I don’t find it likely that your number of sexual partners influences your well being.

    But I WOULD believe that your wellbeing influences your number of partners, esp. for women.

    If a woman isn’t feeling happy with herself physically, mentally, or emotionally, the temptation may be there to use sex as a way of getting validation or feeling better about oneself.

    Casual sex doesn’t make people crazy, fat or stupid but I wouldn’t be surprised if being crazy and stupid makes people have a lot of casual sex (if they have the social skills to get it).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      STIs notwithstanding, I don’t find it likely that your number of sexual partners influences your well being.

      It may be that a short-term mating strategy has an enormous opportunity cost – in this case the tangible benefits that result from an emotionally intimate relationship. Also, couples engage in less risky behaviors overall, and get in less “trouble” as a result. It may not be that casual sex will be the ruin of you (my title was meant to be hyperbolic) but that the same kids having it are the kids on campus who are kind of a mess. I believe that is very true for males as well as females. I know there’s a strong correlation to heavy drinking, and I would expect a strong link between risky behaviors and low GPA. I haven’t seen that studied, though.

  • Just1X

    @Abbot

    not just a US problem. is that good, or bad, I wonder?
    I guess that we next talk about the male pill further reducing shotgun marriages and sexbots reducing male interest in the SMP (let alone the MMP).

    As the wise Private James Frazer said, “we’re doomed I tell ye, doomed!”

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    In other words, if I am a college undergrad actively filtering for my future wife and seeking a monogamous LTR, but simultaneously I am highly optimistic about the future and believe that my SMV/MMV/whatever is going to peak in 10 years, I could easily face a situation wherein I feel that the LTR filter that I can impose today is far less stringent and reliable than is the filter that I will be able to impose at age 32 (in this example).

    I have to agree with this. Most of the women I know that are still single, have tons of debt and no children in USA. Seem to have followed a script that have them “finding themselves single” at 35 dating a guy that doesn’t seem to want to “put a ring on it” and have no idea how that happened. The new American dream seem to be “going to college, getting a degree, makes tons of money and land the dream guy, have the kids and be a super mom that is still fabulous…” They kind of forgot that men have a say on this “schedule” and that there are no guarantees that all the debt you entered into will give you a job that will pay for it “on cue”, YMMV.

  • Abbot

    “makes people have a lot of casual sex (if they have the social skills to get it).”

    What type of social skills do women need or have to practice in order to have any casual sex?

  • ozymandias

    I definitely think this is a correlation/causation issue. People with mental illnesses develop dysfunctional coping mechanisms; for a lot of them, it’s risky sexual behavior and substance abuse. I mean, there are people who cut themselves because the endorphin release is worth the pain. In addition, some mental illnesses can put one in a very vulnerable state; I’ve certainly had the “I will have sex with that person so that they’ll put up with my stupid ugly horrible self” thought process.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Ozy

      No doubt. But let’s not fall into the trap of “correlation is meaningless.” It may simply be factual and accurate to say that kids having casual sex on campus have more crises, more academic struggles, more appointments in student health, student counseling, etc. We know that kids having casual sex drink a great deal more than other kids do, for example. That is almost certainly causal (in both directions!) but the correlation alone tells us a great deal, even if that is not true in your case.

  • Just1X

    @Hope

    I don’t think that there’s hate involved in pointing out that men are taking other options over a hunt for romance (or perhaps, rather, sex). I see it as a problem worth investigating, I bet the feminists tackle it by trying to make games less available / fun, rather than address why men feel that way. any takers?

  • http://www.rosehope.com/ Hope

    Just1X, the thing Abott likes to spout over and over again is how terrible American women are and how great foreign women are. That’s all I was addressing.

  • Jason773

    Susan,

    Perhaps – the guys in the Ask Men survey were much more likely to only want to date someone with marriage potential.

    I also wonder here if men being the gatekeepers to commitment plays a role. Men either are opening the gate or they are not. Whereas women see a continuum, or what I think is actually a linear progression of commitment.

    For any guy with options AND not totally turned off to marriage/family (strongest reason for me to marry would be to have children), exclusivity only comes if marriage potential is there. If there is no marriage potential, why would some guy lock himself down with one woman when he could keep that woman and many others all while ‘dating’?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Jason

      If there is no marriage potential, why would some guy lock himself down with one woman when he could keep that woman and many others all while ‘dating’?

      Well, a lot of guys feel that women are the ones who are loath to commit, or at least want to delay commitment. I don’t think most women are looking to lock themselves down for marriage much before the mid-20s. There’s an opportunity there for women. I advise women who know they want to marry to seek out guys 5 years older once they graduate from college, and to be prepared to commit fully if they fall in love. There’s lot of evidence that early bidders fare better than women who wait until they are nearing 30.

  • Abbot

    “I don’t think that there’s hate involved in pointing out that men are taking other options over a hunt for romance ”

    Men who proactively avoid dating women is not the angst-driver per se. It is the reasons involved and if the “I am not committing to a promiscus woman” reason is expressed, as it often is however quietly, then the angstometer blows the mercury straight out the tube.

    “I see it as a problem worth investigating”

    Oh, its being investigated alright. In fact, an entire new shaming language was developed around it. Terms like – insecure, hypocritical, immature, archaic, caveman, weak, can’t handle a strong (independent, sexual, exploratory, fill in the _____) woman. Can’t man up, unfair, and on and on and on and on.

    So yes, whey you point it all out you are a hater. So there! hmphhhh!!

  • Abbot

    “a short-term mating strategy has an enormous opportunity cost”

    Then the 1950′s really were the peak of American positive social evolution aka the Social Positive period.

  • Just a thought

    I mean, maybe I’m in the minority but I’m not certain I care so much that some men are opting out and staying home/playing video games. I opt out of my college dating? hookup? scene by not going to parties/ going to parties and leaving early. Girls can opt out and find other ways to get sex, furthermore they can push all the love they would put into a bf into building a career.
    I do think that men opting out of the dating scene is more problematic for men because as a woman I can easily get my genes into the next generation. Let’s assume I am a crazy nutcase, I can buy sperm and impregnate myself a la Gottlieb, I can have a one night stand with a guy and not use protection and never tell him about the kid. I can raise the kid on my own, so on and so forth.
    However, as a man, eggs are more expensive than sperm, then I would need a surrogate and perhaps after that I can raise the kids.
    So I wouldn’t bother to shame video game playing men who avoid women like the plague. Their genes won’t get into the next generation. Which then leads me to think that in later generations, the only men who survive will be alphas.

  • Abbot

    “in later generations, the only men who survive will be alphas”

    Past generations gene selection favored alphas thus the current mindset of most men today, even if a growing portion opt for video games. Such options are taken as a natural response to the artificial female behavior being presented – due to BC pills, feminist propaganda and college degrees/jobs. If women truly want more accommodating men then they will need to fornicate with the least alpha men today in order to de alpha subsequent generations of men.

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    Anacaona, I think that a lot of these women are, deep down, quite ambivalent about becoming moms. They do seem to want it eventually and will certainly say so, but motherhood has to fit into a complex life blueprint and compete with many other priorities, almost all of which impose trade-offs. I guess that they expect to have it all (I’m not saying that they should or shouldn’t feel that way; I am not a guidance counselor).

    In contrast, a young woman who prioritizes being a mom will no doubt have the dominant logic of a secure, safe family life steer all of her major life decisions, the most obvious one being a strategic husband search.

    I think this is why so many of the female students seem to feel that their mothers had incomplete lives or failed to self-actualize. If you tinker with the motherhood/wife idealization and lower its perceived prestige among ambitious young women, I think that the dominos will start falling from there and you end up with a mating system that just doesn’t prioritize the spouse-shopping market until years after college has finished (and we can note that N count transparency is lower in this system, too).

    A caveat: my sample consists primarily of male and female students who have signed up for an Austrian econ-flavored international finance class being taught by a “paramilitary hedge fund manager”/professor with known anarcho-capitalist leanings. They sign up expecting some swashbuckling and that’s what I try to provide (“edutainment”), but their views may not accurately reflect the sentiment of the larger student population.

  • INTJ

    @ Just a thought

    So I wouldn’t bother to shame video game playing men who avoid women like the plague. Their genes won’t get into the next generation. Which then leads me to think that in later generations, the only men who survive will be alphas.

    What can I say to women? Enjoy all the alphas you created!

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    Anacaona, I think that a lot of these women are, deep down, quite ambivalent about becoming moms.

    I wouldn’t call them ambivalent more likely they think is a given and they shouldn’t worry about it too much because it will eventually happen. Kate Bolick article is an example of that thinking. The culture puts a lot of pressure on academic/economic achievement and downplay male choices a lot. My sample is probably smaller than you but the fact that everytime I talk about my pregnancy with them (and I don’t do that very often given the responses) I get whether “tears of joy for my experience” or “uncomfortable looks” from this same cohort, while my Dominican friends are mostly upbeat and happy and receptive about the whole thing because they already have their kids at the same age and/or plan to have them, makes me think there is something deep down that is not what they expected, YMMV.

    What can I say to women? Enjoy all the alphas you created!
    NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! :(

  • Desiderius

    Bastiat Blogger,

    “their views may not accurately reflect the sentiment of the larger student population”

    They’re my favorites – just like dear old ma – but you’re absolutely correct that they’re far from representative. I think it was a big mistake to make them the norm toward which all women were expected to strive, with the accompanying cultural/moral changes that entailed.

  • Desiderius

    Susan,

    “It may be that a short-term mating strategy has an enormous opportunity cost – in this case the tangible benefits that result from an emotionally intimate relationship.”

    Fair enough. Both of those entail an opportunity cost in missing out on a strategic search for a (real) mate at the time when, thanks to biology, her value is highest.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Both of those entail an opportunity cost in missing out on a strategic search for a (real) mate at the time when, thanks to biology, her value is highest.

      Biology and culture have never been farther apart than they are today.

  • AnonymousDog

    That study compared students in ‘committed relationships’ to those who had ‘multiple partners’. My gut reaction was to wonder how students with NO partners, the involuntarily celibate, would have compared.

    I have wondered, over the years, if some of the risky behavior I engaged in as a student was a result of sexual frustration.

  • http://bloggingbellita.wordpress.com/ Bellita

    @Bastiat Blogger
    The women typically do NOT want to end up like their mothers, and go to some length to explain the ways in which a particular mom’s lifestyle and accomplishments are perceived as being deficient.

    I fit this description even back in college, but in my case, the specifics were different. My mother prioritized her career and was often home late. (She was a retail manager who had to keep mall hours . . . including those “midnight sales” hours.) My sister and I were looked after by a full-time nanny. I knew I wanted to be a housewife at around that age and figured out later that I also wanted to homeschool my children.

    It’s a popular cliche to say that each generation rebels against the lifestyle of the one before, but the example of your male students contradicts that. I wonder how long ago young women gave similar answers in admiration of their own mothers. Perhaps, long before we started going to college as a matter of course?

  • Doc

    “one third of sexually active students reported having multiple sex partners in the past 11 weeks. Within this group of students with multiple sex partners, approximately 75% reported inconsistent or no condom use.”

    One of the reasons that I love college’s… Lots of women, lots of liquor… What’s not to enjoy?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      One of the reasons that I love college’s… Lots of women, lots of liquor… What’s not to enjoy?

      One would never suspect that the purpose of college is to educate young minds, build character and reward self-discipline. It sounds more like a speakeasy to me.

  • Ramble

    That study compared students in ‘committed relationships’ to those who had ‘multiple partners’. My gut reaction was to wonder how students with NO partners, the involuntarily celibate, would have compared.

    I have wondered, over the years, if some of the risky behavior I engaged in as a student was a result of sexual frustration.

    Susan, I just read the study and they made absolutely no mention of those students that are celibate, or involuntarily celibate.

    That is really disappointing. (I know that you did not conduct the study).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Susan, I just read the study and they made absolutely no mention of those students that are celibate, or involuntarily celibate.

      That is really disappointing. (I know that you did not conduct the study).

      The study was conducted to determine if committed couples in college enjoy some of the same physical and mental health benefits that married people do. There really was no agenda to determine the mental health of celibates – the relevant comparison was commitment vs. no commitment. The researchers concluded that committed couples in college do enjoy benefits similar to married folks.

  • Jackie

    @BB
    ” They sign up expecting some swashbuckling and that’s what I try to provide”

    BB, tell us more about what the swashbuckling entails! ;-)

  • Abbot

    “one third of sexually active students reported having multiple sex partners in the past 11 weeks.”

    How many of those were men?

  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    @Ana

    I have to agree with this. Most of the women I know that are still single, have tons of debt and no children in USA. Seem to have followed a script that have them “finding themselves single” at 35 dating a guy that doesn’t seem to want to “put a ring on it” and have no idea how that happened.

    In the immortal words of Zig Ziglar, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

    For these women never was a priority and there never was a plan. So they aimed at nothing and got it.

    The irony as a ton of Kates and Kays will point out is modern women in the US are much more goal oriented than their male counterparts. That driven, goal oriented, I have a plan to get what I want women are 35, single, and childless tells me how much they’ve always wanted a family.

  • Escoffier

    BB @ 49, first two graphs: EXACTLY!

  • Desiderius

    “BB @ 49, first two graphs: EXACTLY!”

    Second that.

    Jesus, Bastiat, that’s some website. I think your SMV is roughly 13.

  • Desiderius

    Susan,

    “Biology and culture have never been farther apart than they are today.”

    Culture is trying its darndest, but (see Single Motherhood Epidemic), biology always wins out in the end.

    Mother Nature fights dirty.

  • Abbot

    “how much they’ve always wanted a family”

    Then wouldn’t it behoove a family-minded man to be in a place where he has a massively vast selection of hot-rod-fertile women within, say, 50 miles who have always dreamed of having a family and are excited about getting started? hint: shhh, psssst, none of them know what spring break is and never will

    Why is this so hard….

  • ozymandias

    Susan: In my case (certain exceptions aside), being promiscuous and being mentally ill are negatively correlated. :P The happiest times in my life have also been the sluttiest; the craziest have also been when I was too nuts to get laid. So, uh, I’m not generalizing from myself here. XD

    I’m not suggesting the correlation is meaningless; I’m suggesting the correlation goes the other way. Depressed and anxious people are more likely to have casual sex, not casual sex makes people (in aggregate) more depressed and anxious. I mean, I find it highly unlikely that casual sex leads to seasonal affective disorder, you know? (Of course, casual sex may make an individual person more depressed and anxious, just as any sexual/romantic situation might; I’m talking about groups in aggregate.)

    And of course there is the advantage of having intimate relationships, which I definitely don’t want to neglect. The emotional support and intimacy of a LTR is almost certainly good for the mental health. :)

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      I’m not suggesting the correlation is meaningless; I’m suggesting the correlation goes the other way. Depressed and anxious people are more likely to have casual sex, not casual sex makes people (in aggregate) more depressed and anxious.

      I think it goes both ways. Clearly, demands for services as a direct result of hooking up activity has been observed by institutions.

      In addition, the nature of hookup culture puts physical intimacy ahead of emotional intimacy as the norm. Very few people are wired that way – indeed binge drinking is believed to be a form of self-medication designed to decrease anxiety about having sex with a stranger.

      Many decisions are made in a state of intoxication and deeply regretted afterwards, by both women and men. The idea that men love hookup culture is wrong – the majority dislike it as much as the girls do.

  • DelFresco

    @Susan “I think that women understand that even serious relationships start with a no-strings hookup, so they try to look for signs in the guy that he’s open to a relationship and then take their chances. Guys aren’t stupid – and they know that their best opportunity for sex is to come across as being LTR minded.”…

    That’s an interesting dynamic. No wonder they call it the Game.

  • Ramble

    The study was conducted to determine if committed couples in college enjoy some of the same physical and mental health benefits that married people do.

    I understand.

    There really was no agenda to determine the mental health of celibates – the relevant comparison was commitment vs. no commitment.

    No, but they were interested in seeing if promiscuity correlated with other social problems. So, again, it is disappointing that with that survey right in front of them they did not also see what effect unwanted celibacy had on people.

  • OffTheCuff

    Ozy, I think the correlation is more people who have *ever* had clinical depression, not that some people are happier when having moar sex (duh).

  • Ramble

    One would never suspect that the purpose of college is to educate young minds, build character and reward self-discipline. It sounds more like a speakeasy to me.

    Susan, in all honestly, did you think that the average high school in Brookline or, better yet, Dorchester was focused on educating young minds.

    Just think of all of the bullshit:
    - Sit Still
    - Be Quiet
    - Get in Line
    - Don’t talk to that person sitting next to you.
    - No water bottles (as they drank from there water bottle)
    - Where is your homework assignment?! I told you to memorize those state capitals.
    - Oh Susan, your daughter is such a dear, but, your son, well …
    - etc.

    Of course, when you get into lower SES districts, it gets even worse. It seems like state supported baby-sitting.

    These places seem much more concerned about getting children to follow their rules, no matter what, than anything else. With sitting still and being quiet at the top of the list.

    My point is, I would not presume that these places are genuinely focused on education. I mean, hell, even the elites have a story in the paper every so often about grade inflation.

    “My Tyler did not study 3 hours a night for his AP classes to get into a school that was then going to give him a B-. I mean, what is that expensive tuition getting us, anyway?”

    So, yeah, in our setup, I would say that a big point of college is to leave home and break away from that previous restrictive environment.

  • INTJ

    btw Susan, have you heard about the Reddit thread yet? It has quite a few good posts that demonstrate the dangers of excessive alcohol use.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/x6yef/reddits_had_a_few_threads_about_sexual_assault/c5js8mf

    Perhaps most important though is that you can see the profile of a sociopathic serial rapist: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/x6yef/reddits_had_a_few_threads_about_sexual_assault/c5js8mf

    It’s amazing that the serial rapist uses tactics scarily similar to PUA, but targets much more introverted girls than PUAs do.

  • Sassy6519

    What can I say to women? Enjoy all the alphas you created!

    Uh oh.

    I wouldn’t call them ambivalent more likely they think is a given and they shouldn’t worry about it too much because it will eventually happen. Kate Bolick article is an example of that thinking. The culture puts a lot of pressure on academic/economic achievement and downplay male choices a lot.

    I think more women should be proactive in searching for husband material men while they are young. Isn’t it possible for a woman to pursue a career or education while also still being open to dating and looking for a compatible mate? I think that I practice that myself. I’m pursuing my masters degree, but I also have an active dating life. I have a hard time understanding women who purposefully avoid dating or who purposefully avoid looking for a compatible mate.

    It’s not hard to juggle both at the same time.

  • Mike C

    I do think that men opting out of the dating scene is more problematic for men because as a woman I can easily get my genes into the next generation. Let’s assume I am a crazy nutcase, I can buy sperm and impregnate myself a la Gottlieb, I can have a one night stand with a guy and not use protection and never tell him about the kid. I can raise the kid on my own, so on and so forth.

    I assume by raise the kid “on my own” that means zero public assistance/funding? I really have zero issue with women choosing to be single moms as long as they don’t look for surrogate husbands in the form of the government.

  • Mike C

    I also think there’s something going on that men are loath to acknowledge. The truth is, women are not being penalized for delaying marriage. The marriage decline reflects the changing attitudes of both sexes, it’s not a male marriage strike.

    Susan,

    Yes and No. I think this depends highly on a woman’s age. Between 25-30, I don’t think there is any “male marriage strike” as many women are just as prone to want to delay marriage for a number of reasons. I think once a woman hits 30 and particularly the mid 30s if still unmarried her desire for marriage ramps up dramatically, and I’m thinking of two women close to me as I type that.

  • Ramble

    binge drinking is believed to be a form of self-medication designed to decrease anxiety about having sex with a stranger.

    Or socializing in general. Remember, college, like high school, is full of awkward mother fuckers.

  • Just a thought

    Mike C,
    Well I was more thinking about a successful women who can raise a child wholly off her own resources. With more women going to college and excelling, there’s a larger chance that there will be more women who will be able to opt into this choice. Secondly, I don’t agree with your characterization of government help as a “surrogate husband” for the women. Intact families are also often poor and need medicaid, food stamps, WICs and so on. Even single people may qualify for food stamps. I don’t think a single man who qualifies for food stamps is looking for aid in the form of a government “daddy”. Furthermore, one cannot conflate fatherhood with a pack of money. It is the time spent with children, fathers teach their kids persistence, they are elemental in providing good role models for their sons, they protect their daughters from teenage pregnancy and the presence of a father in the household even correlates with later menarche in young girls, showing that dads exert a protective effect of daughters.
    This is why I desperately have to point this out. If we wish to have fatherhood return to its exalted place in our culture, we must repudiate the idea that being a dad is equal to a bunch of child support payments. It’s a ridiculous relationship that has stripped fatherhood of its value and men of their dignity.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    In the immortal words of Zig Ziglar, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
    Sad but true.

    Isn’t it possible for a woman to pursue a career or education while also still being open to dating and looking for a compatible mate?

    I think Susan mentioned that women cannot go to college to get a MRS degree anymore. I think most social circles women are encouraged to date lightly instead of trying to find a long term mate. At least that is more or less what I had seen so far, YMMV.

  • Escoffier

    “I really have zero issue with women choosing to be single moms as long as they don’t look for surrogate husbands in the form of the government.”

    I do. It’s bad for the kids and bad for society.

  • Ted D

    Herb – “In that case, I’d say women are more interested in supportive relationships than committed one where support is what a chicken gives to a ham and eggs breakfast while commitment is what the pig gave.”

    PURE GOLD! Man, this almost made me spew coffee all over my desk.

  • Ted D

    Escoffier – “I do. It’s bad for the kids and bad for society”

    +1

  • Ramble

    Ted, the chicken and ham thing is an oldie but goodie.

  • Mike C

    I do. It’s bad for the kids and bad for society.

    On second thought, you are absolutely correct. The evidence is clear that fatherless children have lower achievement, less success, are more prone to crime, etc. So I do have an issue, but I really try to not get too upset over things over my control. If someone either chooses single motherhood, or ends up there through poor choices, what can I do? I just get annoyed when someone sticks their hand in my pocket, and I get ever more annoyed by the obliviousness of someone who doesn’t realize the tax base has become a surrogate husband in a sense as *one* traditional role of fatherhood was provisioning of resources.

  • Escoffier

    Just pointing out that unless we can restore a culture which says parenthood is for marriage only, we are all fcuk’d even if we don’t have to pay for it (which of course we will).

    I have no idea how to do that, it goes without saying.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    “I do. It’s bad for the kids and bad for society”

    Is very interesting this discussion ties up to Courtney and J and O talking about that in our “entitled” age people think they are entitled to sex and love/commitment.
    Single mothers think they are entitled to children because they have the womb to carry them and care little about how being unable to secure a good father for them affects their development. Is easy to say that Obama was the son of a single mother but not to look at all the ones that end up in poverty, jail and/or following the same poor life choices. I think is part of the same “Snowflake” mentality: “Not chance in hell that they are going to become , another statistic, they are special and will raise future presidents, alright”, YMMV

    PS
    At the risk of sounding ignorant can someone explain me the Ham and Chicken metaphor?

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    I agree about Herb’s excellent turn of phrase. His ham-and-egg breakfast analogy really captures the situation perfectly.

  • Mike C

    Escoffier,

    Interestingly, this will become “real” for me in the not too distant future. A woman somewhat close to me will become a single mom in about 5 months or so. Really, the poster child for everything we talk about here. Started dating an irresponsible, “badboy” type with a lot of demonstrable alpha tendencies and really messed up previous history, and I remember saying “what is she doing with this guy” if her goals were traditional family, motherhood, and husband. Anyways, he is completely out of the picture now. I haven’t given much thought to what if any role I’ll play in terms of being a positive male role model and provide male guidance if the kid turns out to be a boy, but I’ll wait to see if she even brings it up to me at any point.

  • Just1X

    @Ana

    “In that case, I’d say women are more interested in supportive relationships than committed one where support is what a chicken gives to a ham and eggs breakfast while commitment is what the pig gave.”

    Chickens support ham and eggs breakfasts by losing eggs.
    Pigs are committed because they die for such a meal.

    So, I guess that I’d summarise the quote as

    Women are prepared to support marriage (low cost), (high cost) commitment is for men.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    @Just
    Oh I got it now. Thanks! :)

  • Mike C

    Just pointing out that unless we can restore a culture which says parenthood is for marriage only, we are all fcuk’d even if we don’t have to pay for it (which of course we will).

    I have no idea how to do that, it goes without saying.

    Escoffier,

    Have you read much Julius Evola? My brother was really into his writings and sort of “forced” me to read some. Definitely forced me to think a bit as my instinctive tendencies are towards individualism and libertarianism. One interesting question I ponder is can you have a strong society/culture based on individualism when many people themselves lack any sort of higher code/principles and the individualism essentially rests on a core of “if it feels good in the moment, then do it”. Hard to see how it all plays out. I see further stratification between the upper classes that retain some of the traditional value and structures like parenthood inside marriage and a growing underclass. I think the question is can we provide enough “bread and circuses” to keep them distracted and pacified.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    I think the question is can we provide enough “bread and circuses” to keep them distracted and pacified.

    If the level of interest and money that Gossip, Trash TV and Reality Shows generates is an indicator. I would say YES! Sadly :(
    I will add that the educated class is not any better at trying to find the root of all things. Given my First World friends are incapable of discussing this issues with a calm, objective head and prefer to keep parroting their upbringing and close their eyes to reality, because they don’t have in them to handle the idea that they had been lied all their lives.
    Even manosphere is an example more than half of the members were screwed up in reality and that is why they ended up in the other side of the fence. Very few found it just out of searching for it, YMMV.

  • J

    If people go to college with the knowledge that there is a high probability that they will meet their future husbands/wives there …they will clearly behave differently than they will if they believe that the future spouse will emerge from the fabulous backdrop of an affluent, stylish late 20s/early 30s internationalist future.

    But is this still the case? While I wish it were, since most people will never again be in a place where there is such a large aggregation of attractive, single people to choose from, but I don’t believe there’s a glut of people marrrying their college SO.

  • J

    Is easy to say that Obama was the son of a single mother

    He was also the grandson of two UMC married people who gave him a lot of support. One wonders where Obama may have ended up without their involvement.

  • Ramble

    But is this still the case?

    J, he was playing out some various scenarios. He was trying to say that, if our assumptions are X, then our actions will likely be Y.

  • Ted D

    Something that is really bothering me with the “meeting your husband/wife in college” discussion: can someone tell me WHY this isn’t possible today? Most of the kids I know that are going to college at all ARE NOT living away from home. Most are commuting, which means they are still around all of their familiar people. A few may be living closer to the college in an apartment or dorm, but 90% of them are still living in the Pittsburgh area.

    So, is it more common for kids to travel far from home for college? I imagine since Pittsburgh has so many very fine colleges to choose from, perhaps I’m just living in an area where by and large young people do NOT have to leave home to get a degree. Is this more the exception than the rule?

    I can say this: if my kids have to live on campus when they go, I have NO idea how we’ll afford it. I’ve already told them that MY contribution to their higher education will consist of:

    Free room and board
    Free meals
    Help with car costs (gas/insurance) but ONLY help. They have to work.

    And that about sums it up. I expect them to get grants and loans for their education costs and figure out how to pay them back. It is exactly the same deal I got from my grandparents when I went to school. It may have taken me a few years to pay back my loans, but I went to Community College so as not to drive up the cost.

    I’m sure in UMC land things are VERY different, but I’m sure most folks here are not UMC, so I’m curious what their experiences are. I guess I am fortunate to have so many good schools in my area.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    He was also the grandson of two UMC married people who gave him a lot of support. One wonders where Obama may have ended up without their involvement.

    Didn’t knew that. Thanks for adding more pieces to the picture.

    But is this still the case? While I wish it were, since most people will never again be in a place where there is such a large aggregation of attractive, single people to choose from, but I don’t believe there’s a glut of people marrrying their college SO.

    If I have to guess at least in my circle of friends most of them married their college sweethearts. The only reason hubby didn’t married his girlfriend in college was because she broke up with him and dating outside college was already dating hell, also hubby is really picky of the women he would approach so he wasn’t trying to “open” women left and right so he didn’t had a big market to shop from.

    It is exactly the same deal I got from my grandparents when I went to school. It may have taken me a few years to pay back my loans, but I went to Community College so as not to drive up the cost.

    Education back in DR is cheap and very good, IMO. Hubby and I are planning on sent the kids there for college if by the time they are grown up I haven’t broke big in the literary world :p. They would benefit from interacting with another culture and learning things the European way.I hope that makes them more balance.

  • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

    @Mike C

    I think once a woman hits 30 and particularly the mid 30s if still unmarried her desire for marriage ramps up dramatically, and I’m thinking of two women close to me as I type that.

    Definitely, and of course then she is [probably] less sexually attractive than she was at 25.

  • http://www.femaleframechanges.blogspot.com Olive

    And, as we have seen, girls (at least in their late 20′s, early 30s) are none too happy about the fact that marriage is harder and harder to come by.

    But we’ve also observed that most of these women, at least the ones who have publicly shared their stories, are open about having made “poor choices” in men. Marriage is hard to come by when you spend your 20s with men whose mating orientation is strictly short term.
    I don’t totally disagree, but I think it’s a bigger story about what women really want. Getting involved with short-term guys makes it easier for women to avoid commitment, which sounds really odd since it’s often observed that “men want sex, women want commitment.”

    I have a close friend from high school who ended her engagement nearly a year ago, and now she regrets it and says she had cold feet with regards to marriage (she’s desperately trying to get back with her former fiancee, but she cheated and I think it might be too late).

    Also I know two women from work (30s and 40s) who are likely getting divorced because they got in touch with men from their pasts and decided their marriages weren’t working out (one already lives with the other guy).

    I’m not saying women are the only ones “afraid of commitment” but I do think men are often given that label, while the same is not often said of the ladies.

  • J

    A kid I know picked among his own top schools based on the attractiveness of girls he saw there; he figured he would get a great education at all of them and would marry someone he met during college so he went for the one with the “hottest girls.”

    I recently suggested that the availability of young women suitable for marriage be one of my son’s criteria for college selection. I was laughed out of the room. Neither of my sons can imagine getting serious about a woman in their early 20s, and my husband backed them.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Neither of my sons can imagine getting serious about a woman in their early 20s, and my husband backed them.

      My experience is limited to Boston, but I have literally never heard of a guy under 25 even mention seeking a wife. In fact, any mention of marriage would send most men this age running away in the blink of an eye. I do know one couple, ages 24 and 25, who are talking about getting engaged in the next year.

      I don’t think either sex is generally looking for a marriage partner until their mid-20s, which makes sense given the average age at first marriage. BTW, that age is higher for college graduates: 28 for women, 30 for men.

  • J

    @Ramble #136

    I got that, Ramble, but read the rest. I had a to make as well.

  • Ramble

    J, I read the whole comment, but it still reads to me as if you were thinking that he was saying that people are marrying their college SO.

    Either way, it doesn’t matter. I was attempting to clarify, and, if you say you understood him, that is good enough for me.

  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    @Ramble

    Ted, the chicken and ham thing is an oldie but goodie.

    Yeah, I learned it from attending way too many political breakfasts.

  • Ramble

    I recently suggested that the availability of young women suitable for marriage be one of my son’s criteria for college selection. I was laughed out of the room. Neither of my sons can imagine getting serious about a woman in their early 20s, and my husband backed them.

    J, I have a hypothetical question for you.

    Let’s say God came down from heaven and told you that your son will not be able to afford a home until he is in his early 30′s, and that is all he told you (you have no reason to believe that your son will not get married, nor have a wonderful marriage and life in general).

    And, let’s say he was dating some nice girl when he was 21-22 and they were both soon to graduate.

    Would you want him to get married at 22-23?

    Let’s say your son was open to various scenarios:
    - marrying at 23
    - not marrying, but seriously dating that same girl for at least a few years until they can get “settled” (i.e. knowing where their careers might be, if they can get a stable job/career at all, etc.)
    - not marrying, but continuing to date the same girl but thinking that he still has growing up to do and wants to see how things play out (again, with things like job/career in the back of his mind)

    With these scenarios in mind, would you prefer that he get married sooner (22-24 to the girl he dated in college) or later (late 20′s, early 30′s to whomever that may be)?

    To be clear, I am not talking about you, the mother, attempting to force/coerce him into something. I am simply asking you what your preference would be.

  • Ted D

    “My experience is limited to Boston, but I have literally never heard of a guy under 25 even mention seeking a wife. ”

    This must vary widely based on geography. Around here it isn’t at all uncommon to see people marrying around the 22-24 mark, at least among the lower SES kids. Among the more affluent? Yeah, they tend to wait until their late 20′s for marriage, but many of them date for several years prior to saying “I Do”, so they don’t necessarily wait until they are 28 to start looking.

  • JP

    “Also I know two women from work (30s and 40s) who are likely getting divorced because they got in touch with men from their pasts and decided their marriages weren’t working out (one already lives with the other guy).”

    They probably didn’t understand that they were playing with hand grenades when they did it.

    Were the marriages fine before they re-established contact?

  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    @Ted D

    This must vary widely based on geography. Around here it isn’t at all uncommon to see people marrying around the 22-24 mark, at least among the lower SES kids. Among the more affluent? Yeah, they tend to wait until their late 20′s for marriage, but many of them date for several years prior to saying “I Do”, so they don’t necessarily wait until they are 28 to start looking.

    Unless Boston has changed radically since 2006 (when I left Connecticut) UMC Boston is probably more divorced culturally than any place not on the coasts (and on the East Coast north of DC or maybe Richmond) than nearly any other place.

    In fact, I’d say it’s pretty culturally distinct from the rest of the NE and much more like the San Franciso-Portland corridor.

  • Jimmy Hendricks

    This must vary widely based on geography. Around here it isn’t at all uncommon to see people marrying around the 22-24 mark, at least among the lower SES kids. Among the more affluent? Yeah, they tend to wait until their late 20′s for marriage, but many of them date for several years prior to saying “I Do”, so they don’t necessarily wait until they are 28 to start looking.

    That’s been my experience living in the Midwest and South. Maybe the coasts really are that different….

  • Ted D

    Herb – “In fact, I’d say it’s pretty culturally distinct from the rest of the NE and much more like the San Franciso-Portland corridor.”

    My SO is from New Hampshire, and I can tell you that her opinion of Boston in general is less than flattering. In fact, I get the feeling that NH folks pretty much dislike the entire state of MA, as they refer to anyone with a MA license plate on their car as a “Masshole” when they are on the road.

    If it makes any Bostonians feel better, she calls people from Vermont “Birkenstock wearing tree huggers”. LOL

  • Jackie

    @Ted D

    Hi Ted,

    Congrats on your wedding and best wishes to the new Mrs. Ted! I hope you are having an awesome time in Vegas!
    =======
    “I’ve already told them that MY contribution to their higher education will consist of:

    Free room and board
    Free meals
    Help with car costs (gas/insurance) but ONLY help. They have to work.
    =========
    Ted, I think you are being WAY generous! Let me tell you about my dad ;) :

    His deepest fear was that we would end up somehow weak and dependent. (Like his younger brother, who lived at home until he was 35, then moved back in after his unfortunate marriage separation!) I don’t think it’s a super rational fear, but rationality’s got nothing to do with fear in general.

    Anyway, the expectation was: Putting yourself through college on scholarship (no loans) at 18 was the best way to do this. Hopefully at a university as far away as possible. This was supposedly to promote self-reliance, independence, the “real world,” and a working knowledge of finances.

    We all did it, too. I didn’t even question it, as it was an “expectation” not a “request.” I remember being 14, 15 and strategizing and planning for scholarships, starting business things for myself (started a mowing co-op with some friends, talking to my teachers at school and getting rec’s for being a tutor, etc).

    In some ways it REALLY was a challenge — I wanted to compare myself to my peers and there was a loop of “UNFAIR!” constantly playing in my head. But I also learned a ton of stuff too. There was a point in time where I was actually 2K ahead while I was in school. (Too bad I blew the money on trips! Aww, what am I saying? It was worth it!)

    Anyway, long story short: My dad’s view was, “I respect you enough to expect this of you” and my parents both were both cool with us trying, failing, learning, trying again. That’s my 0.02 of experience! ;-) To me, you sound like a super-nice dad!

  • https://en.gravatar.com/jimbocollins Megaman

    @SW

    It sounds more like a speakeasy to me.

    I’ve read enough Fitzgerald to know even speakeasies were tame by today’s standards. Except for the bootlegging and :mrgreen:
    Funny that university students tend to enjoy a party atmosphere mostly on other peoples’ dime. There’s a hell of a correlation WRT behavior there, too, I’m willing to bet.

  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    @Susan

    The study was conducted to determine if committed couples in college enjoy some of the same physical and mental health benefits that married people do. There really was no agenda to determine the mental health of celibates – the relevant comparison was commitment vs. no commitment. The researchers concluded that committed couples in college do enjoy benefits similar to married folks.

    Don’t the celibates provide a bit of a control group?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Don’t the celibates provide a bit of a control group?

      You’d have to ask the researchers, as they designed the study. Off the top of my head, I would think that recruiting involuntarily celibates would be a challenge, and it’s also gender specific, which is a problem.

      However, I did some research today and found a study that evaluates loneliness in students based on no hookups, non-penetrative hookups, and penetrative hookups. The no hookup students (not even kissing) were the loneliest. That sounds like a better measure to me.

  • also intj

    Of the cohort of kids I’m talking about, six went on to universities in the USNWR top 10. Two of them are getting/did get married this summer following college graduation; both are guys. Lower SES status isn’t the factor for them. I think it’s just growing up with the culture here.

  • http://www.rosehope.com/ Hope

    My husband and I both worked during high school and undergrad. I think working minimum wage jobs provides valuable experience, not the least of which is “must get a solid education that will lead to a better job than this.”

    He went to public university, lived at home the first year, got subsidized tuition because his mother worked for the university hospital, and also worked during undergrad. He also got help from his family. He partied more than me and did binge drink a bit. I went to a private university a few states away on financial aid and had some help from my parents.

    Overall, having and holding a job in college seems to help balance out the “wooo total freedom” crazy stuff that immature kids do. It’s a taste of the “real world.”

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Hope

      My husband and I both worked during high school and undergrad.

      I worked from age 15 on, and bought all my own clothes and provided my own spending money. My father did help with tuition. I considered those experiences as being formative in turning me into an adult, but the working itself did not make me an adult.

      When I think back to some of the choices I made at 18, I cringe and feel grateful I’m alive, e.g. got a ride home from drunk guys. Both of my kids did some stupid things at 18. Some 18 yo make good choices, many do not.

  • JP

    “My husband and I both worked during high school and undergrad. I think working minimum wage jobs provides valuable experience, not the least of which is “must get a solid education that will lead to a better job than this.””

    I worked a minimum wage job on purpose once – because.

    I wanted a cruddy job to experience cruddy job world. I recognized that as the cognitive elite, the natural aristocracy so to speak, I would never actually have to perform such jobs, but I wanted the experience.

    It taught me that I would never make it in life as a professional dishwasher.

    I didn’t get a “solid education” in college. I didn’t get a “solid education” in law school. What I ended up with a piece of paper that served as a “ticket to employment”

    My life would probably have been much better if I never had to go to either college or law school. And by that I mean I will never get those 8 years of my life back.

    Plus, I now get nightmares on a regular basis about college. Most traumatic five years of my life.

  • J

    @Ana

    If I have to guess at least in my circle of friends most of them married their college sweethearts.

    That used to be the case here as well. I was engaged in college (to my narcissist ex), and DH had a very serious gf.

    @Ramble

    To be clear, I am not talking about you, the mother, attempting to force/coerce him into something. I am simply asking you what your preference would be.

    I’m not sure I have a preference, just a sad feeling that the time when the pickings will be best will probably not be a time that my sons are ready for marriage. I understand and have actually discussed here at HUS the factors that breakup college relationships and lead to kids postponing looking for a spouse, but I can’t say it doesn’t worry me. Think of it this way, at college there is a never ending stream of reasonably attractive people of the opposite sex with whom one might have things in common with. On a first job, one might be the only young person in the office. There’s no more just meeting people in class naturally and more reliance on prowling the clubs and meeting the carousel riders so many of the men here complain about.

  • Ramble

    Think of it this way, at college there is a never ending stream of reasonably attractive people of the opposite sex with whom one might have things in common with. On a first job, one might be the only young person in the office. There’s no more just meeting people in class naturally and more reliance on prowling the clubs and meeting the carousel riders so many of the men here complain about.

    Oh, J, I hear you.

    One of the points that I was trying to make was that our opinions/thoughts/beliefs about things like, “when should someone get married” is greatly affected by their ability to own a home.

    And, that age of first marriage has been getting older and older as housing, and the two-parent-working-household trap, has gotten more expensive.

    I mean, look at an extreme example: two middle class (not UMC) people, fresh out of college who decide to get married while working in Manhattan. It is likely that they will not be bale to afford a house and children for quite a few years. Why get the Federal Gov’t involved if you don’t need to. I mean, there is nothing saying that you can not be “committed” without having a Federal contract.

  • J

    One of the points that I was trying to make was that our opinions/thoughts/beliefs about things like, “when should someone get married” is greatly affected by their ability to own a home.

    Yeah, and that’s also something new. DH and I lived in his cheap bachelor apartment for a year. Since we were DINKs and cheapskates to boot, we were able to put down a nice down payment (composed of wedding gift money and my former monthly rent payments) on a starter home in no time. My parents didn’t buy a home till I was a toddler. I recall loads of kids moving away to the suburbs when their parents built homes while living in working class neighborhood duplexes. The pattern was to marry, maybe have a kid or two and then buy the house to accomodate the growing family, not to have a huge showplace first.

  • http://peopletobe.blogspot.com Herb

    @J

    Yeah, and that’s also something new. DH and I lived in his cheap bachelor apartment for a year. Since we were DINKs and cheapskates to boot, we were able to put down a nice down payment (composed of wedding gift money and my former monthly rent payments) on a starter home in no time. My parents didn’t buy a home till I was a toddler. I recall loads of kids moving away to the suburbs when their parents built homes while living in working class neighborhood duplexes. The pattern was to marry, maybe have a kid or two and then buy the house to accomodate the growing family, not to have a huge showplace first.

    Yeah, my parents bought their first home when I was about 3. Mom was a teacher and Dad was a grad student (he’d resigned his Naval Commission a couple of years earlier).

  • http://www.rosehope.com/ Hope

    We also lived together in an apartment for two years before we bought a house. The cheap wedding helped us toward the down payment. :)

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    In my culture waiting to have enough money to buy a house to start having kids/getting married is a sure ticket to never having kids. The system is a lot different and owning a house is usually for people with certain level that the majority can’t achieve.
    The most people need is to have a stable job to be able to rent.

  • JP

    My 22 year old wife came with her own house (yes, there was a mortgage), car (no debt), significant savings, and wedding.

    She’s still grumpy about the fact that I (at age 26) came with $120,000 in debt.

  • Escoffier

    There really is no such thing as a San Franciso-Portland corridor. Few people in SF ever get further north than Mendocino in their entire lives. Even Eureka is considered “too far ” and “why bother.” I am the only person I know who has ever been to Crescent City. There’s just no link between the two places.

  • Desiderius

    Portland aspires to be SF

  • J

    She’s still grumpy about the fact that I (at age 26) came with $120,000 in debt.

    LOL. And to think the typical gripe in the ‘sphere is that women are the ones who amass huge debt and then rely on “beta bucks” to bail them out.