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No one assumes single men are tragic a.k.a. Dumbing yourself down for a mate

I got this in an Ask Sherry post and it went on for too long so I made a separate post for it.

Hi Sherry, I would like to know your opinion/comments on this study :

Even today, research shows that men still prefer female partners who are less professionally ambitious than they are. Because of this, many single women face a trade-off: Actions that lead to professional success might be viewed less favorably in the heterosexual marriage market.

When students thought that their answers would only be viewed by their career counselor, women who were single and women who weren’t answered similarly. However, when single women expected their classmates to see their answers, they portrayed themselves much less favorably to the labor market.

They lowered their desired yearly compensation from $131,000 to $113,000, on average, and reduced their willingness to travel from 14 days per month to 7 days.

They also reported wanting to work four fewer hours per week.

Finally, they reported significantly lower levels of professional ambition and tendency to lead. Women who weren’t single did not change their answers when they expected classmates to observe their choices, and neither did men, regardless of their relationship status.

Read the rest of the article here. It’s pretty succinct but you only get one HBR article a month or whatever so use your article wisely.


So.. Thoughts.

Unfortunately, this article makes a lot of good points and sense because of how women are portrayed and treated in society. I feel like single, ambitious, smart women get screwed the most and I have friends who are unequivocally in this category.

Here’s how I see it:

You’re an ambitious, smart, single woman?

Society: Eww. She’s still single. What’s wrong with her? Maybe she can’t catch a man because she’s too ambitious and career-driven. She should settle down and stop being so selfish. Maybe she should stop focusing on making money, who does she think she is? Will money love you back? It’s so sad how lonely she is. She should get a cat and make it official. Would it kill her to MAKE MORE AN EFFORT to snag someone? She should also lower her high expectations, omg…..

You’re an ambitious, smart, single man?

Society: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, YOU UNICORN YOU!? OMGGGGGG HE’S SUCH A CATCH!!!!!! LADIES LINE UP!!!! EVERYONE, PLEASE TAKE A NUMBER FOR THIS AMAZING BACHELOR. *sloppy noises* He deserves a brainiac doctor who is also a model on the side to be his equivalent.

No one assumes a single man is tragic, but they all think single women are.

..which I obviously find idiotic.

Ambitious women get divorced more often because they don’t have a wife at home to handle everything, and honestly, it is a very hard place to be if you are single and unwilling to compromise because successful women who are single and intelligent find it hard to find a match.

You’re of a certain age with an MBA

Now specifically in this article, at the MBA level, you are of a certain age (e.g. not in your early 20s, more than likely) which means you’ve reached a certain level of success and it isn’t as exciting for you to downgrade to anything because you are expecting to live your life a certain way.

I know this is true for me, as I am someone who is convinced if I ever become single in the future for whatever reason (widowed, separated, etc), I wouldn’t bother or be able to find someone else to share my life with again. I just wouldn’t want to go through that bother and hassle, frankly, and it would have to be someone truly amazing for this to happen. Like a unicorn.

(I am envisioning a Golden Girls life where I live alone or with my best girl friends, we do yoga daily, and hang every day or so…)

The pool of (actual) eligible men drops significantly after school

I felt that, when I left school at 23, finding someone was much harder – where TF do you meet these guys? School is the easiest, then the workplace, as you are thrown into social situations together all the time so it’s easier to meet someone, but it also narrows down your pool of people to date.

Also, the “good” ones (debatable what your level of ‘good’ means) are all married and/or engaged with long-term partners, etc and your dating pool is WAY TINIER THAN BEFORE you left school (even during school people pair off like animals on Noah’s Ark by years 3 and 4).

As a result, if you’re a woman who is single in her late 20s – 30s, trying to find someone else, you need to sadly… “compete” (I hate this visual) with a younger market of women because the SAME pool of eligible men you are going for, are not really targeting your spinster age group (/sarcasm), they’re targeting a much younger set of women between a limited age range of 21 – 25 possibly maximum 28 if the men are still single in their late 20s into their 30s.

You have guys who are in their mid-30s, saying they don’t date women older than 25. WTF?

For what reason? Maybe they’re younger/earn less than them/less independent/set in their ways/more years of fertility… who knows. There are so many reasons I can’t even list them all, I am so tired just thinking about this double standard.

All of that taken into account, you now have to address the issue of — what is a guy looking for when he looks for someone single and at my age?

He’s looking for a homemaker/baby minder, basically.

I hate to be blunt but a lot of guys in these kinds of situations – business school, doing their MBAs – they’re also ambitious. Who TF do they think will stay at home with the family?


In business school, the question was posed once about who would stay at home and it highlighted this conundrum perfectly because all the business school women weren’t going to waste their hard earned degrees sitting at home, minding babies, and the guys for the most part weren’t either, so the professor pointed out in that moment to the men mostly, that they’d have to realize they are dating/marrying THEIR EQUAL and if they can’t come to terms with that, they’re not likely to last as a couple.

And who is willing to accept that if they have to give up their career?

Younger women are more likely to agree to this than someone who is older, established with a great career. I know a girl my age in my old company who quit her job at 25 and became a full-time SAHP and “retired” from ever working again because her husband was out there making all the money for them.

No issues with that at all – I am just saying that she is the is kind of what these guys are generally are looking for in a mate if they’re in MBA school and still single.

They don’t necessarily want someone AS ambitious as them, who makes AS MUCH or more money because they want to be the ones in charge of the money making part. Or they have super traditional views of the man going out to work and the woman at home.

Or maybe the women hold these views themselves. Who knows?

The point is to match people up with what they want with what is out there, leaves a great many of ambitious, high-earning, successful women out of the mix unless they change their own criteria and decide to marry “down” (I also hate this visual), and not many people are willing to do so or don’t want to, let alone face the social stigma of it.

Social stigma you say? Well trust me, there is a lot to unpack and deal with when you’re the breadwinning woman.

That’s a whole other topic, being the breadwinner woman in a relationship, there are complex emotions, mixed up and confused roles of who does what and who is expected to do what come into play, not to mention families and friends being suspicious or uncomfortable with the idea and putting their fears or concerns on you when there may have been none to begin with.

It’s exhausting.

All of this to say that – I understand. I get it.

I get why single MBA women are downplaying what they want when they are in mixed groups with men because they need to show how attractive they are compared to other women these single guys are potentially considering if they’re also assessing their survey answers for a personal reason.

Older men are eligible unicorns who can have the pick of 20-somethings to their age range and are so eligible, it hurts. Rawwar.

Older women have to keep skewing up older and older to find an age range to fish in, and even then, you have older men who only date young 20-something or 30-somethings!!!! It’s beyond infuriating how out of whack this is.

So, older women who still want to find someone but not lower their standards too much, say that they “want” to travel less, stay at home more, not be as ambitious, work less, and make less money because they’re trying to make themselves look comparably attractive to women who fit this criteria so that they become eligible and are not filtered out because of their ambition and high-earning potential, because as you go up the ladder, it’ll be harder and harder to find an eligible guy earning as much or more than you who is also single and not a fktard.

The only teeny problem I see with this is if you are truly an ambitious woman in your heart, it means that if you pretend you’re not, and you get hitched to someone who thinks you are, the conflict is unresolved and will likely come to a head at some point in the marriage…. leading to divorce.

Best to be honest, I say. Own up that you want to travel a lot, work hard, make lots of money, hire help and be your best authentic self, but it is easier said than done.

So yeah, this article makes sense, unfortunately.

I personally, if I were in this case, would rather be single than saddled with an idiotic man baby or any other kind of partner who isn’t supportive nor a true and equal partner. I’d even consider being a single mother and adopting if I truly wanted that for my life.

That’s the conclusion I have come to, and I support all of you single, smart, ambitious, successful women who want to stay the way you are because you don’t want to compromise, because I wouldn’t.

You don’t need children to be fulfilled, or to be happy. I love my son to bits but you can be equally as happy without children, and be a wonderful aunt to others’ children without the white hairs sprouting and daily stress and frustration.

(Did you know I found an extra 5 white hairs on my temple the other day? FIVE. I am able to count them now.)

So yes, this ambition versus marriage tradeoff is all too real and I hate that it is. On the plus side, single successful ambitious women who become even richer and happier as they age, can do WTF they want and answer to no one. A DREAM, if I ever heard of one.

If anyone is watching Workin’ Moms Season 5 right now, Enuka Okama who plays Sloane on this season, is #GOALS in all sense of the word – from attitude to style to pure power. I LOVE HER. And I won’t give it away, but her business move with the digital producers was pure gold.

In conclusion, channel your inner Sloane.

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