In the wake of the Princeton Mom message to female undergrads at Princeton last week (summary, find your husband now before he gets snapped up and FYI my son is available), it did get me thinking. No, not about dating a 20 yr old Ivy Leaguer (icky), but about the logic of finding your mate early in life vs. finding yourself and then your partner.
Princeton Mom, however repellant her message (which actually made me want to punch my laptop screen), does echo the reality many of us dried up old sluts now face.. its hard to meet men as you get older and the pool dries up.
There’s a reason for Match.com and its not because you’re falling over eligible men as soon as you step outside of your condo. Match, or whatsleft.com as I tenderly think of it, at least provides a portal to singletons.. something that college does by virtue of parties, clubs, organized sports, classes, coed dorms and shared houses.
As a tomboy in college working on dual majors in Engineering and Economics, 95% of my classes were male dominated. I hung out with dudes all day, every day. I competed with them at the weekends during races and welded with them during labs in the week. I think I welded myself to one of them once. Dudes were everywhere. And sure, we were all 15lbs overweight, drunk 50% of the time and totally oblivious to who we were.. but the opportunity was at its maximum for meeting one of them.
Fast forward today and I work at home. All of my friends are female and any dude friends I had, got antsy, nervous and disappeared as soon as they got married. I spent my 20s working like a dog, my 30s trying on relationships and in my 40s, well to date its been a blast, but sausage fest it ain’t. I don’t know a single, single dude that’s dateable. Whats left has commitment issues, bad teeth, no character or brains, and typically, a paucity that I personally find repellant. Any smart driven dude in his 40s that attends a party or cocktail hour without a ring on his finger is likely to have 4 numbers before 6pm and one of them will be a married chick. So in a way, Princeton Mom is kind of (I hate myself), right. There really isn’t a bigger pool of guys to date then college.
Note that I said ‘bigger’ not ‘better’.
Because bigger (as we all know), doesn’t equal better. Sure there were bright and driven guys aplenty in college and in my first job in consulting. Often good looking with brains, ambition and money.. sure lots to chose from. But better?
That cute guy I dated in college now resembles Bill Gates and still spends his weekends visiting his mother. My regular college hook up practically runs McKinsey, but without his blond hair and with 20 years of expense account food, now resembles a potato. So yes, potential was huge.. but better? I’m not so sure.
And who was I in college? A lost girl with a ‘blue collar’ chip bigger than my college loan and self esteem I couldn’t find with a microscope. Even I found Mr. Right, was I even dateable myself? I sure did wear a lot of fleece. Plus back then I probably would have chosen the guy who could hold his ale, jibe a boat with confidence and who looked good in a wetsuit at the end of a match. Hardly essential qualifications for a life partner.
Yes you grow together and all that, evidenced by my college friend who has two kids with her old roommate, but I think even she selected him on his ability to funnel a beer and eat a curry at 3am. Luck and tolerance got them through. I’m not sure I would have been so lucky.
Would I choose differently today if I could go back?
You’re expecting me to say no?
I don’t know.
If I’d found my mate (or ‘a’ mate) in college I would have missed out on some crazy ass experiences, some incredible guys and I certainly wouldn’t have arrived at who I am or even where I am. Plus I don’t believe in do overs…
But having the chance to grow up with someone, have someone be part of who you become and not least, have someone to fall back on when you need it… I hate to admit but I can see the appeal. So while I want to rail on Princeton Mom for her retro ‘post -feminist’ advice, she has a point. It might have been nice to find a ‘partner’ before I found myself cruising eHarmony for 50 yr old chubbsters called Brian.
Having said that, at this point in my life, a ‘life’ partner might be 20 years and that actually sounds like a fucking long time.
So maybe we call it even.