A couple of years back I met, very briefly, a young Russian woman here in Paris. She was about 30 years old and was, in her words, “looking to settle down”. The method she used in going about this business was to meet men in any way possible, but mainly using dating sites, and ascertain whether they were suitable.
One of her criteria was that they were “serious”. The age range she was looking at was between 30 and 40, although between 33 and 43 was probably more realistic. She told me she’d not had much success since she quit living with an Irish guy who “wasn’t serious”. Before that she was seeing a Frenchman who needed to be ordered to take a shower. That was about as much as I could ascertain regarding her track record with men.
It didn’t take long to understand why she was struggling. She insisted that she would not sleep with any man who did not commit himself to her in a long-term relationship, by which she meant something not far short of promises to marry her. She wanted marriage and kids, she told me, and didn’t have time to waste on guys who just wanted sex. I asked her if she thought she was likely to find a man who would commit to her with such certainty before he’d even slept with her. She seemed the think she would. I asked what sort of man she expected to find in his mid to late thirties who was looking for marriage, she said:
“Somebody who wants to settle down but hasn’t met the right woman yet.”
I thought about it, weighed up the pros and cons, and then decided to break her heart. I did so by gently explaining how men actually get married, as follows.
A guy will spend his early to mid twenties in and out of relationships of varying levels of seriousness, shagging around a bit, basically enjoying himself with little interest in settling down. Then as he gradually moves between 25 and 30 he starts to take life a little more seriously: career, finances, etc. and he gets less and less interested in going to bars, clubs, and meeting random women. If for no other reason, he does this because the hangovers start to hurt. Around about 28 or 29 he notices his mates are all getting long-term girlfriends, then engaged, then married and for the past year or more the group of lads he used to go on the piss with has dwindled almost to nothing. Parties now consist of going to somebody’s house or a pub with partners in tow, not fourteen lads on the lash for a week in Faliraki.
At some point in this period he’ll have the following conversation with himself:
“I’m not sure if I want to settle down just yet, but everyone else seems to be. I’ve been with my current girlfriend for two years now, and she’s a great girl. Sure, there are probably others better looking but I can trust her and she doesn’t drive me fucking nuts. She’s also got a half-decent job, which helps. She’d probably make a good mother, and I’ll want kids at some point. And I really don’t fancy having to go out to clubs or go internet dating to find somebody else; firstly it’s a pain in the arse and I’ve not done that in years, and secondly am I likely to find somebody better? Probably not. Yeah, this one seems okay. I reckon I should think about asking her to marry me.”
By the time they’re in their late twenties or early thirties, they’re married. Sure, there are some hold-outs who keep up the single life into their mid-thirties before settling down. There are others who keep it going indefinitely and never settle down, and I’ll come back to them later. In my experience, almost all of my male friends of my generation got married in this fashion. Recently I was asked if I had any single male friends. I don’t, and not only that: none of my friends has been single for about 10 years! I’m almost 40, so basically nearly every guy I knew (with very few exceptions) was married by their early thirties. Which means in most cases they first met their partners in their mid to late twenties.
My Russian acquaintance really didn’t want to hear this, and nor did she want to hear what men don’t say to themselves:
“Hey, I had a fun time shagging around for 15 years, it was a blast. But I woke up one morning about a year ago and thought I ought to settle down. I was 35, after all. The only problem was, I hadn’t met the right woman yet. The cocktail waitress had great tits but was so thick she didn’t know to come in from the rain. That American girl was heaps of fun what with her tattoos and red hair and she was amazing in bed, but hell she’d done the Orgy Dome at Burning Man and I’m looking for the mother of my kids here! And Jane from college was a sweetheart, but she’s a bit…well, plain. No, I need to get out there and find the right woman for me! I’ll start looking tomorrow.”
I don’t know a single, solitary guy who did this. Well, perhaps one. But he was one of those guys who got women so easily that he didn’t feel the need to hang onto them because he could always pick up another five minutes later. He is now settled with a kid.
That’s not to say there are no single guys out there in their mid to late thirties looking to date. There are, and there is no shortage of them. But they fall into one of three categories:
1. The guys I mentioned earlier who will never settle down, at least not in the way women want them to. These are not going to be hanging around some Russian chick who isn’t putting out until promises of marriage are made. I’d say 30-40% of single guys in this age group in any given city fall into this category.
2. Guys who desperately want to settle down but no woman will touch them with a barge pole and they’ve been single for a decade, not counting the girl he met in a bar in Pattaya. These guys probably make up 60-70% of those on the market. One of the most difficult things in life for a woman in her thirties to accept, to the extent that very few of them do, is the fact that their dating pool is now made up almost exclusively of these men.
3. Decent, successful men who have recently come out of a long-term relationship and enough time has passed that they want to get back into another. There are about twelve of these guys around at any given time and they stay single for about five minutes. They will be looking for women ten years younger, and they’ll find them queuing up.
My Russian acquaintance took serious exception to this, to the point she told me to fuck off and never to speak to her again. I doubt she’d have reacted like this if what I had said wasn’t true.