This is my summary of that Forbes article “Why Are So Many Professional Millennial Women Unable To Find Dateable Men?
When I read this article it struck me that things aren’t much are different than they were 20 years ago when my friends and I were navigating our careers in New York City. We prioritized career because it was our birthright and calling. Our mothers and fathers told us we should. The feminist movement showed us we could. We took our careers seriously. We had some serious fun. We pooh poohed the idea that we had to rush to get married. We could delay that. We thought we’d have plenty of time to find a soulmate when we were ready. Different influences perhaps but the same end result — lots of fabulous, kickass women with no “better halves.”
Some of us ended up marrying. Some of us didn’t. This is how what we learned stacks up against the themes laid out in the Forbes article.
Move to Alaska
Millennial Article :“There’s always the popular suggestion to move to another state with a more favorable male-female ratio. It worked for my sister who found her boyfriend in Alaska.”
40:20 Vision: Don’t move to try to find a man unless it’s a city that excites you for some reason apart from that goal. Chances are you moved to NYC or another big city for a reason and unfortunately that reason is not always simpatico with settling down in a sleepy sort of town. There are people who stay (where they grew up) …and people who go. Decide which kind you are before you go.
Change Your Attitude
Millennial Article: “This unwillingness to settle for less than we think we deserve is joined by a lax attitude towards searching for potential mates.”
40:20 Vision: Uh…you don’t leave your career to chance, why do so with your potential spouse? You are an independent, ambitious woman and you are beginning to think that perhaps a partner would add value to your team…but you don’t want to put any effort into it? Read any successful executive or entrepreneur’s advice and you’ll hear that choosing your team is the most important success factor in business. So why leave your life team to chance?
“I started to do all the stuff that people tell you to do but that you think is so foolish. Writing down what I really want. Not what society tells me I want but the stuff that is important to me. Asking myself, “What does that look like and how do the people in my life fit that? I started weeding out the toxic friends. I stopped going out just to go out and because I feared I might miss out on something. I started doing things alone. I made time and space for the right relationship. – 40-something, on opening herself up, married in her forties (to a younger man), two children
Millennial Article: “We long assumed we would meet Prince Charming via friends, or through our own social circles. Why should we waste our precious time and energy unless we meet someone we really connect with and care about?”
40:20 Vision: As much as you love your career and have found your passion, “it isn’t going to love you back”. Make time for friends of course…and also be open to finding love in other circles and places that match your values and not just your friend’s social settings. Prince Charming may be out there – you are just in the wrong place. You don’t have to quit your job like this woman did but you can explore ways to “meet meaningfully” instead of “meeting cute”
“In my late thirties, I was working at a Silicon Valley tech company when I decided to leave my job to work on my personal life. It was a great job and I enjoyed it but I decided I wanted to meet the right person and potentially have a family and that maybe I needed to make a big change in my life. I had saved enough money that I could take a year off so I quit and literally made it my goal to wholesomely meet the right person.
I realized that over the previous decade I had mostly met people at parties and accidentally. I met enough people to date but it was haphazard. I decided to think about what really defines me. I did a lot of things that year. One of the things that had been important in my life was faith. I was raised Catholic and at least wanted to have faith as part of my life. I consciously found a Catholic young adults group to get involved with, which was very different than the things I typically did in San Francisco. I ended up meeting my husband at a Hurricane Katrina Fundraiser that I organized for the church at a bar in Pacific Heights. – 40-something, married, mom of twins, PR / Marketing Executive
Millennial Article: “We aren’t sure if we need to start stressing out over our single status and lower our standards. Or whether we simply need to remain patient that the right man will come along.”
40:20 Vision: You don’t want to live life with regrets. I don’t buy the adage that we all settle. We don’t settle — we grow up and hopefully what we are looking for changes and matures along with our years. It’s better to stay true to your values than to change your values to achieve a lifestyle.
“In my twenties I met a 40-something, just married woman who changed me. She said make two lists: nice-to-haves, and non-negotiables. So for me, hot looks became a nice-to-have. A nice person in love with me was non-negotiable.” – 40-something, married, entrepreneur, NY
“Part of me wishes I wasn’t going to be an older mother…but I’m happy with where I am in my life now. I don’t feel unfulfilled. In my twenties, there was pressure to get married but I just had a different mentality. I’m very happy that I have a career for myself. That has made me a different person today than I was in my twenties. I’m grateful for all of the experiences that I have had. I’m love culture and seeing the world. Now I can give those experiences back to my children one day. If I had gotten married at 25 and had kids and never experienced any of that my children would never get that. – 40-something on stressing perhaps a little but not settling, business owner who since this interview got engaged and baby on the way
Millennial Article: “I talk to so many women who are obsessed with finding men on their level. They want someone as ambitious, engaged, and high-achieving as they are.”
40:20 Vision: White collar. College degree. I guess the wives of Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs weren’t too obsessed with this criteria. Marissa Mayer and countless other successful women credit having a supportive spouse with making it work (lucky them!). And that increasingly means that the husband is not the top gun in the career / breadwinner part of the relationship. If you are looking for a partner, be careful not to confuse profession with ambition… and don’t under-estimate what you can learn from support.
“I would not have recognized his qualities and that he was a good fit for me when I was younger. He is Type B and I am Type A. He was into kite surfing and going to Bali. I wouldn’t have looked at him twice. I was looking for drive and ambition. I associated that with a suit and investment banker types. And I only knew about work. Not work and balance. I learned he did have drive and ambition but also and incredible sense of balance. It works. I can relax a little because I see he does have drive and he pushes himself a little more because of me. – 40-something, fashion executive, San Diego California, marred and had first child at 45
Millennial Article: “We are coming to the realization that we were unwittingly playing a game of musical chairs — while everyone was pairing up, those focused on our careers are left standing alone.”
40:20 Vision. The song is right – “doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone”. There are women who have come to value and relish their independence. It’s been a long time since marriage was our only option…it’s okay to celebrate that!
“I know I will die a fulfilled woman. I have filled my life with people and trips and opportunities that I would never have had If I was married — not in the way I’m having them now. – 40-something, runs own strategic marketing and events firm
“I don’t think getting married has to be the only way to live your life. Honestly, I love living alone. I do. I absolutely love it! I love my solitude. I find solace in it. Even in my twenties I was brazenly independent. I just wanted to cruise the world and just had lots of ambition. I recently got into a relationship and I really love him. We’ve been talking about moving in together but I’m not sure. He really likes his alone time too. So maybe we’ll just create a new paradigm. Maybe we’ll keep our own places and just spend four days a week together.” – 40-something, producer, writer, designer, Los Angeles, CA
That thing the article didn’t mention:
40:20 Vision: If you do want babies …don’t wait.
“It’s not fair but for women there is an expiration date on fertility. So you have to try to decide that earlier than later. We all thought we had plenty of time. But by a certain age you have to be on a certain path that will lead you into that. 20-somethings today can learn from us. Start planning in your 20s. If you knew that older, professional women who didn’t plan for it had regrets …then you can plan for it. You can have children but you have to give up some things. There are sacrifices. You will have a family but you can’t spend a month in Europe. You have to decide what is important. It doesn’t matter if you choose something that is different. And who knows, maybe you will meet someone later on who has kids and be a great step mom or be a great aunt. – 40-something, survived and learned from a 20-something marriage, travel industry executive, engaged
The 40:20? If you are serious about getting serious, then get serious about what you want in a partner in life. Tune into whether what you want has changed. As 40-somethings we’ve learned that dreams evolve. Usually what you think you want at 20 is different than what you find you want in your 30s and 40s. You have more options than “marry down or don’t marry”. There are more choices and they are yours for the making.