Attractive, interesting, hard-working single women invest a lot of time wondering why they haven't been snapped up by a decent guy. Is it a "man drought"? I don't think so. One Friday night a few weeks ago I was out with some friends. The room was full, guys and girls out and about seeking connection. The conversation turned to men and the desires of my girlfriends to find a partner.
I was listening with one part of my brain and observing with the other. They were animated, passionate, sincere. One girl was dating a guy who was completely inappropriate: "Oh, no way! He's not for me." She told us a few things about him and we were outraged: "But that's not respectful! You deserve to be treated better than that!". Yet she sees him maybe five nights a week... We suggested she wasn't leaving space in her life to meet someone who was "for her".
"I know," she said, "But it kind of suits me for now. I'm going to break up with him after he gets back from his holiday at the end of the month."
Someone else chipped in with her story. Upset, mis-match, disappointment... etc etc yadda yadda blah blah blah. Let's face it - if it was true love they'd have been living happily ever after right?
Just near us at the other end of the table, a group of neatly dressed, talkative and seemingly friendly guys were sitting. They kept looking our way. The girls were oblivious. They had formed a huddle around the table.
"Those guys keep looking our way. Should we open up the circle so they can join in?" I suggested. A couple of friends of friends had arrived. There were now six girls sitting together.
"Those guys?" said one friend, Sally. "None of them are my type."
But then, neither is the guy she is dating. (And what if one of them WAS the type of one of her friends?)
Suddenly, things became very clear to me.
Firstly, more women are born than men. Men are more likely to die between the ages of 19 and 34 than women due to misadventure. Men are very clear about many of their desires - for example, they like sex and work out very early on that the best way to get it regularly is to have a girlfriend or partner (even if she is not their perfect match).
At the same time, a whole generation of women have been educated, created careers, and entered the workforce with fewer barriers - in work and life - than their mothers before them. They work hard and often long hours. They get home tired. Their needs and expectations have changed but they retain a romantic view of love. Hurt once or twice they shut down, close themselves off. The no longer seek to lock eyes with someone across a crowded room. Instead, they wait in the corner of a bar with their backs turned huddled together waiting for some shining knight to walk up, tap them on the shoulder and say "I could tell from the way your hair hangs down your back that you and I were made for each other - can I give you my number and take you out for coffee sometime?"
Not going to happen.
I felt sorry for the guys we were sitting near. Okay, so they were loud and maybe not our type but they were having a good time, and clearly a couple of them in particular were keen to meet someone. Why else did they keep looking our way, making friendly gestures?
The girls were clear that they wanted a partner. Step 2, as I saw it that night, was to open up enough to allow some kind of connection - even a superficial laugh in a crowded bar with a random stranger who is "not your type". With practice, who knows, maybe eventually they'll discover a genuine and lasting connection or fabulous friendship.
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