(Video) How Many People Are Dateable?


You may have seen me write about what percentage of people are dateable…but you’ve probably never seen me ask a room full of singles before.

Notice how silent it gets when people finally realize that nobody’s good enough for a second date. I can understand why no one would want to lower his/her standards, of course, but what does it say about you if you can’t find anybody suitable to date? And what if everyone else in the world had such similarly high standards that YOU could never make the cut?

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  1. 81


    Right on with the threatened thing- I mentioned that earlier too.

    Honestly, women like ambitious men- and men who have a college degree/advanced degree are assumed to be ambitious. Before you all jump down my throat, I know there are exceptions to this (Bill Gates), there are intelligent men without degrees…etc. etc. But, as you can tell by the blog comments, people work by generalization: eg artists are flakes, lawyers are sharks, accountants are boring, you get where I’m going with this. So this is another generalization that tends to be true in a lot of cases and not in others. Peace.

  2. 82

    Sayanta #81, actually Bill Gates did graduate from Harvard undergrad. It was the law school from where he dropped out.

    That aside, i agree w you. Women want a guy who has his act together, and a guy who has a good job, his own business (i.e. general contractor, coffee shop) or has attained a certain level of eductation assumes he does. Though I’ve found that’s not always the case – I’ve dated guys who were ‘good on paper’ (grad degree, Ivy league, cute, tall, etc.) but were a mess – arrogant or emotional basket cases, incessant mama’s boys, etc.

    So you never know…

  3. 83

    Intelligence comes in many forms. My father was in Mensa, yet only completed the 8th grade. He had a genius IQ. I guarantee you would have been veeeery hard pressed to beat him at Scrabble or Jeopardy. My former husband is also incredibly smart, but he does not have a college degree. Both of these men were/are voracious readers.

    So while it’s totally understandable that formal education is associated with smarts, that’s not always the case. And there are some pretty smart men (and women) who have absolutely no common sense, or struggle with emotional intelligence.

  4. 84
    Karl R

    Sayanta said: (#81)
    “Honestly, women like ambitious men”

    My boss is an ambitious man. His ambition has earned him a lot of money and status. I can see why women want that.

    He also works 80-100 hours per week. His wife has read him the riot act (multiple times) about being absent from his children’s lives (he has three teenagers). This week she’s struggling to get the house ready for the office holiday party, and keep his parents entertained. My boss is spending this week in Portland and Chicago. He spent most of Thanksgiving weekend reviewing documents for a case (though he was, technically, at “home”).

    My father was a professor, and completely lacking in professional ambition. He spent a year as an associate dean and thoroughly hated it. When the university president considered him for the job of provost, he couldn’t refuse quickly enough. Not only did he manage to support four children solely on his income, he saw us off to school every morning and was also home for dinner about 28 evenings each month.

    If you want wealth, a husband with a prestigious job, and all the material perks that come along with it, I can see why you would want an ambitious man. But if you want a partner who will help you raise your children (instead of leaving that entire task to you), then I think you’re confused about how to get what you want.

  5. 85


    Honestly, I personally would put your father into the category of ‘ambitious’ just by the fact that he was a professor.

  6. 86

    Karl #84: It’s BECAUSE I am ambitious that I would never take a position as an associate dean or a provost. (I’m a professor like your dad.) If you take one of those positions, your research career basically dies. I’d rather be renowned for my research nationally or internationally than take an administrative position. Your dad was smart and savvy: getting out of the deanship after just 1 year so that his research track would not falter significantly.

    Sayanta and downtowngal got it right before: Though we women say we want smart men, it isn’t so much the raw brainpower that matters to us as the fact that on average, smart men tend to have it all together more. We don’t want to date or marry someone whom we have to mother. We do like caring for our special man, but we don’t want him to be dependent on us for basic life needs.

  7. 87


    good points- and I wish I was one of your students! 🙂

  8. 88

    Here’s an article relating less education to anger- sobering. And, I guess, a ‘point’ for those of us who insist on educated SOs.

  9. 89

    Thanks Sayanta. 🙂 You have plenty to teach me, too!

    That was an interesting article: it’s not just lower education that leads to anger, but also economic hardship, time pressure, and having children. All of these are highly relevant to the topic of whom we choose to marry, and whether to have kids. Firsthand, very sadly, I have seen marriages around me tank because of anger from wives or husbands related to economic hardship and the difficulty of childrearing.

    I wonder, though, whether lower education was directly linked with greater anger, or whether the actual link is that less education is usually associated with lower salaries, leading to financial hardship. Maybe if someone who wasn’t very educated married someone who was financially very stable, then the anger wouldn’t emerge.

  10. 90

    I agree with Helen. Statistics don’t always show the full picture.
    Economic hardship, which can result from a lower education level, is a major stressor, and stress can definitely lead to anger and resentment which in turn leads to further unhappiness, lower self esteem, frustration and less ability to cope in a demanding world. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. I think the anger comes not from lack of education but from the situation arising from or contributing to that.

  11. 91

    I’m a sag. I knew you weren’t serious. I have had the same frustrations as you, the guys I like rudely don’t reciprocate the feeling, the guys with huge red flags or the ones who are excited about me and I can’t find any interest in them, massive amounts of really odd people online; ah, the joys of dating. IT is really hard to keep dating, keep getting your hopes up, keep being positive time after time after time.

    On this other topic of being dateable, I’m so glad there is such a huge variety of people in the world. Not every one has a high I.Q. Wouldn’t it be awful to struggle intellectually and be married to someone highly intelligent? I’d hate for the person I loved most in the world to think I was beneath them intelligent wise (or worse to think I was dumb) or really in any area of life.

  12. 92

    Kristyn – good to know it isn’t just me and that everyone experiences dating misery!

    Regarding intelligence – it’s good, but there’s nothing worse than a smart guy who’s cocky about it! I think I’d rather have a sweet dimwit.

  13. 93
    Karl R

    Helen said: (#86)
    “Though we women say we want smart men, it isn’t so much the raw brainpower that matters to us as the fact that on average, smart men tend to have it all together more. We don’t want to date or marry someone whom we have to mother. We do like caring for our special man, but we don’t want him to be dependent on us for basic life needs.”

    Sayanta said: (#88)
    “Here’s an article relating less education to anger […] And, I guess, a point for those of us who insist on educated SOs.”

    Let’s say that I want a dependable car. I decide to buy a foreign car, because they on average are more dependable than American-made cars. That “on average” won’t make my car more dependable if I end up buying a Yugo. I’d do much better selecting a car (foreign or domestic) based on its track record for reliability.

    If you want a man who can take care of himself without your help, look for that trait. If you want a man who doesn’t get angry easily, look for that trait.

    It really simplifies your search if you just look for the traits that you actually want and need.

  14. 94

    Karl R, I wonder if you’re missing the point.

    “It really simplifies your search if you just look for the traits that you actually want and need.”

    I’ve never online-dated in my life, but am pretty sure there’s no easy way to tell on an online site whether a man can take care of himself without a woman’s help or whether he gets angry easily. The information that IS offered, as I understand it, is education level. Absent the other useful information described above, it makes sense that women would use the information they DO have (education) to make estimates about other traits regarding the man.

  15. 95

    As -I think- is evident from my previous posts, I’d like to find a man who wants to advance himself on all possible levels (emotionally, physically, materially, and, if relevant, spiritually). I’ve done (and attempt to continue to do) the same for myself.

    The argument about whether college = brains, ambition, etc. could go on forever. And ever. And ever. I think it’s pretty safe to say that college degrees generally open more social and economic avenues for people. So if I meet someone who has that degree, I’m operating under the assumption that this person cares about expanding his opportunities in life- which is an admirable trait, one that I think I have, and one that I would like my husband to have.

    I’ve met people who grew up in the ghetto, worked HARD putting themselves through college and grad school. Did they want to quit? Hell yeah- try working at a thankless job and spending the few hours you have expending the energy toward classes and exams. But they didn’t, because they knew about the opportunities out there.

    Then I have known middle-class people (mostly men) who decided that college education was bourgeoise, and they wanted to stick it to THE MAN by dropping out.

    Well, about 10 years later, those students who worked through college, grad school, etc., are pretty satisfied (some of them have their s-t together better than I do), and the ones who dropped out keep complaining about their finances and their lack of opportunity- issues that might be resolved if they went back to school. But going back to school would be selling out. Hey, it’s their life.

    And Yes, Yes, Yes- I know there are exceptions to everything I have stated above. That doesn’t change my opinion about whom I want to marry. And since I’m not a stickler about grad school, and there are a decent number of male college graduates in my age range, I don’t think I’ll have a problem. Yes, I admit I may have to compromise on some other criteria, but oh well.

    And- Yes, I know that men who work in vocational trades are hard workers too. And that they make a shitload of money sometimes. This is where educational/class differences might come in though. I grew up pretty well-off, going to lots of cultural events, traveling, etc.

    And, again, I realize there may be exceptions to this, but most plumbers, auto mechanics, etc. probably did not grow up the way I did. Does this mean they’re not good-hearted family men? Of course not! But am I going to be able to relate to someone on an intimate level when we have polar opposite backgrounds, along with ideas on finances and child-rearing? I doubt it.

  16. 96


    I totally agree about Eharmony being better than other sites because people seem to be more ‘serious’ on there as well as less superficial. I also feel that what part of the country you’re from can play a role in online dating and dating in general. I’m from NY and here the women (in general) tend to be more on the superficial side. What part of the country are you from?

  17. 97

    Sayanta #95 brings up some good points, and reminds me of another one – it’s not just education levels, it’s values. I’ve dated guys who are contractors/plumbers, many of these are good guys w their own businesses and are very street-wise; however what didn’t do it for me was that we didn’t share the same values. I would want to support my kids in having the best academic opportunities available, and these guys had different priorities in that regard. Doesn’t mean they’re bad guys or that I’m to picky, just not for me.

  18. 98
    Karl R

    Helen said: (#94)
    “Absent the other useful information described above, it makes sense that women would use the information they DO have (education) to make estimates about other traits regarding the man.”

    If you’re looking for a man who has his act together, you could look at a few other pieces of information which are available: income, profession, and living situation. Is the man living with his parents or a roommate? How much is he making? What kind of job does he have? All of those are listed in the profile.

    If you want to know how a man handles anger, ask him about his last relationship. Does he seem bitter? Does he blame the woman for everything that went wrong in the relationship? You can get this information out of someone during your first phone call or your first date.

    For some people, it makes sense to filter out people quickly by whatever information is available. If one hundred women are interested in me, I should narrow the pool down to the few who are most likely to be good matches.

    If I’m only going on one first date a month, I have the time to take a closer look at women who might turn out to be exceptions to my initial estimates.

    Sayanta said: (#95)
    “I’d like to find a man who wants to advance himself on all possible levels (emotionally, physically, materially, and, if relevant, spiritually). I’ve done (and attempt to continue to do) the same for myself.”

    If I understand you correctly, you feel your criteria are reasonable since you expect no less from yourself.

    “there are a decent number of male college graduates in my age range, I don’t think I’ll have a problem.”

    If that was your main criteria, or one of a few criteria, I’d say you would have a point. But you’ve stated that your partner:

    1. Must be trying to advance himself materially (ambitious).
    2. Must be trying to advance himself physically.
    3. Must be trying to advance himself emotionally.
    4. Must be no more than six years older than you.
    5. Must be interested in having children.
    6. Can’t be of an ethnic background that has a conservative view of a woman’s role (which includes most men of your own ethnic background).
    7. Must be sexually attractive.
    8. Must have a bachelors’ degree.
    9. Must be intelligent. (An important distinction, since there are some people with degrees who fall short in the intelligence department.)
    10. Must have good character.
    11. Must be healthy.
    12. Must be interested in spirituality.
    13. Can’t be a conservative Republican.
    14. Must have an interest in great literature and (or?) great art.
    15. Can’t be socially awkward.
    16. Must be passionate.
    17. Must be willing to wait until marriage for sex.
    18. Any others that I’m unaware of. (non-smokers?)

    Since you meet (or exceed) all of these criteria, you believe that it’s reasonable that your future partner meets all of these criteria too.

    Imagine this hypothetical scenario: You meet a man who meets all of these criteria … and not just at the minimum. He has season tickets to the symphony. He can quote Chaucer and Dante. He paints for a hobby. He has a terrific personality. You like this guy. He’s everything you could want in a man.

    Furthermore, he finds you attractive, fascinating and funny. He genuinely enjoys being around you.

    But you don’t quite meet his standards … because he likes to play tennis competitively (as an amateur), and he wants a girlfriend/wife who can be his mixed-doubles partner. And even if you play tennis, you just aren’t up to his level.

    Do you think that expectation is unreasonable? He meets it. Why shouldn’t his girlfriend? Your date’s list of criteria won’t be identical to your own, and he/she will have a different order of importance as well.

    It’s always possible to add one more standard to the list … and that standard will rule a few more potential dates out.

    Sayanta said: (#52)
    “I’ve never been in anything serious at all! And I haven’t met wonderful guys, period.”

    So there’s something wrong with all of the straight, single men in New York City?

    In that list of 17 (or more) characteristics that you’re looking for, I skipped over the one characteristic that actually matters. “He accepts you just the way you are.” Evan found that in his wife. I found that in my girlfriend. My girlfriend found that in me.

    If I’m understanding you correctly, you can’t find any men that meets your standards. There’s not one man (whom you’ve met) that you can accept just the way he is. If that’s true, that means you lack the only trait that’s essential in a relationship.

    That kind of turns the whole picture around, doesn’t it?

  19. 100

    I also really liked your conclusion in #98.

    And what Helen wrote in # 64: about one of the most important things is compatibility of personalities.

    This goes along with something Evan has written on this blog before about his wife, “She “gets” me.

    Isn’t that what we all really want in partner – someone who truly “gets” us?

    Seems to me, the longer an arbitrary list of “must haves” one has when it comes to a potential partner, the less likely they are to meet those souls who might actually “get” them. Simply because they are too focused on the externals – the creditentials – as it were. If that hasn’t been working perhaps it’s time to pare down, or toss the list?

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