Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gender-Age Nesting Intersection Theory

It’s no secret that men and women are different when it comes to dating and relationships. Our brains are simply wired that way. Who hasn’t heard the phrase, “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”? We certainly do get frustrated with one another for things that are ultimately out of our control.

However, I have a (bit of an ironic) theory that there is an age intersection at which men and women want are generally at the same point in life and want the same things from a partner. It’s a narrow time frame, granted, but it can be an important one. Now, this theory is based on general observations, and doesn’t apply to everyone, so read on lightheartedly.  

Males <21
We’ve all heard women (myself included) complaining about men being immature, underdeveloped, not ready for a relationship. They only think about cars, video games, sports, drinking. They don’t think about the future; they live in the present. They think of no one but themselves. And why would they? Why should they?

Males 21-25
A friend recently opened my eyes to a very realistic stage in men’s development, where they are focused on setting up the nest* above all else. (*Disclaimer: I think that “nesting” is just about the silliest-sounding idea on the planet, and it happens to be a personal joke of mine, but there is no more accurate description for this phase of male development. So, sorry.) His partner will never come first in pecking order (ha ha), when his career, home, or vehicle has not fallen into place yet.

Females <21
This age for women is completely about boys - mostly choosing the wrong ones. It’s hard for women this age to understand why the partners they choose aren’t as committed or serious, even though their parents or wiser friends might explain it to them. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be apparent until after they’ve been hurt - or started dating men a few years older.

Females 21-25
Wedding bells are ringing everywhere for these women. Everywhere. Their friends are getting married, their sisters are getting married. Most women in this age group have marriage - and even babies - on the brain. This can cause a lot of friction with their partners of the same age, who are likely focused on getting their careers started. Men might be pressured into proposing, and then this is a huge stressor during wedding planning. 

Males and Females 26-28
This is the sweet spot. Men and women are finally on the same page here. Men have gotten fairly comfortable in their careers at this point, and they’ve started thinking about marriage and a family. Women are fresh off the frenzy of weddings, but they’re still early in their career and ready to settle down. At this stage, both partners are most open to relationships. This is the intersection. It doesn’t last long, and because of the disparities in dating needs (usually resulting women dating older men), this sweet spot is often missed.

Men >28
I’ve heard that men have a biological need to “spread their seed.” I believe it 100 percent. I’ve done the online dating thing, and I’m open about the fact that I might not want any children. I have been asked, begged, on numerous occasions, to PLEASE have children. I’ve been asked why I don’t want to have children. I’ve been told it was strange that I don’t want to have children. In the very first e-mail. The first word that comes to mind when that happens is desperation. (The second word is rude. The third is crazy.) I’ve also had one potential date tell me on our first phone call that he would really like to meet my parents soon. The guy was a surgeon, and we had never even met. Men in their thirties become desperate. They feel that they’re running out of time. They have essentially ignored women in any serious capacity throughout their twenties, choosing instead to focus on themselves, and now they find themselves with a good job, a nice car, a home...alone.

Women >28
Many of my friends are through with men by the time they reach their thirties. They’ve been put second (or third, or eighth), and they’ve been hurt. So they have turned their backs and decided to make decisions for themselves. They focus on their careers, on their friends, on what they want out of life. Men have become a side dish, an afterthought. How different from 10 years ago. Women at this age have moved completely past wedding madness; in fact, their friends might even be getting divorced now. How fun. And any half-hearted baby fever has probably dissolved watching their fertile friends. Personally, that doesn’t seem like something to rush toward. Especially with someone who is not, well, perfect. Women in their thirties have started feel like the prize. They think of no one but themselves. And why would they? Why should they?

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