All I want is a little success . . .

By Megan McArdle

In the comments to the post on the working women trend story, Amber asks:


My only question is, who are these guys? I'm a recent graduate, so maybe it's different for people in their early 30s (though I tend to doubt it), but guys from my expensive private university really don't care about this stuff. I mean, maybe a few [expletive deleted]s do, but by and large, the guys I know are happy to have girlfriends/wives who make a lot of money. It all goes into the same pile anyway, right? (Err, I guess some couples technically keep things separate, but still...)



It is different in your early thirties, but not in the way that the New York Times story suggests. The problem isn't on the female side; it's on the male side.

In your twenties, you date almost entirely on personality. But as you hit thirty, success starts to matter. To both parties, of course; one hears a lot of nightmare stories about the female train wrecks with bad employment and worse credit trying to wrap their tentacles around any solvent male they can find. But especially to women. To be a woman guys want to date, the bar is pretty low: you ought to be able to keep a job, and your credit card debt shouldn't exceed your income. But for men in their thirties, this is not enough. You have to be successful.

Speaking as the Emissary From Your Thirties, you know that amazing guy who just got back from Africa and tells hilarious stories and dates, like, everyone you know? The one your best friend quit her job to go to Tuvalu with? The one who's been working on a really titanic novel for four years that he never quite finishes, and can't seem to hold down a long-term job? His dating prospects start heading rapidly downhill by his thirtieth birthday. By his late thirties, his studio apartment is getting very lonely at night. If he does get married to a woman more successful than he is, it's likely that their relationship will be controlling, resentful, and involve enduring quite a lot of contempt from her friends and family.

But it has nothing to do with money. Men with some measure of success in their chosen fields have no problem finding spouses. And successful women have no cause to complain, either. After all, they have a bevy of unsuccessful but charming men to choose from, who will be more than happy to date them if they can overcome their biases. The unsuccessful men, on the other hand, are pretty much frozen out.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2007/09/all-i-want-is-a-little-success/1985/