Why Professional Women Marry Late

“The timing of a first marriage is related to the attractiveness of the alternatives to marrying. When women value roles that provide viable alternatives to the role of wife, they delay marriage.”

(Allen, S. M. & Kalish, R. A. (1984). Professional women and marriage. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 46(5), 375-382.)

Dr de Bergerac is interested in this topic because she witnesses so many professional, attractive, intelligent women who are single and say they don’t want to be. They thrive in their careers, yet they do not seem to find The One. And those who do, do it much later than the population average. Why?

The scientific answer seems to be: they also have better things to do than the population average. If a date competes with a project at work that is fulfilling, bodes success and a higher income – then the date better be at least as fulfilling, easy-to-present-to-others, and liquid. Of course work and relationships fulfill different needs – but they also compete for the same, scarce resource: time. Professional women have less time and higher demands for relationships, given their alternative options. Both together are likely to keep them single.

Is there a way out other than asking the women to lower their standards? – Yes, outsourcing and delegation. Professional women could outsource the elements of dating they consider non-essential (to online matching services, professional marriage advisers..) and delegate those pieces of work they do not absolutely need for their career: let the intern pre-draft important emails and write the first version of the report. He’ll be thrilled and his boss will have more time to look for The One.

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