There are millions of lonely and discouraged people in this world. Men or women, the refrain is the same: Where are the single women ?, Where are the single men ?. Both sexes seem equally convinced that there is a huge crisis over single people of the opposite sex.
Obviously, both sides cannot be right. The reality is that there are over 64 million singles over the age of 18 across the United States. As you read these lines, millions of men and women hope to meet someone for a stable, love-based relationship. Then why is it so difficult to meet the right person?
A sociological explanation currently circulating tells us that we live in an urbanized and impersonal society, which makes us feel isolated from each other.
Some time ago, in the time of our parents or grandparents, it was easy to meet people. Most lived in small towns, where everyone knew each other, they all went to the same schools, playgrounds, churches or parties. Even in big cities it was easy to meet people, because they were all part of the same neighborhood. People knew each other and greeted each other on the street. They usually fell in love, got married and raised children in the same area or locality.
Nowadays the sense of neighborhood, the “belonging to an area” has almost disappeared. A study done in an area south of Chicago showed that those who lived there have friends in another area of the city than in the one where they live. Almost half have no friends in the area where they live! The authors of the study concluded that the area is actually a simple bedroom for those who live there.
Social isolation is certainly a plausible answer to the question “why is it so hard to meet people?”, But it cannot justify the seemingly essential question “why are people so selective?”. Nathaniel Branden, in his book The Psychology of Love, says that romantic love was a very rare ideal in the world, as in the United States, until a few decades ago.
People did not marry out of love, but rather just to have children or for economic reasons. Divorce was a capital sin, and those who divorced were seen as immoral people, a danger to the society of those days. The woman had to stay with her husband no matter what problems she had with him … beatings, alcoholism or impotence. A man who leaves his wife for a younger woman was looked down upon and severely punished by the laws governing alimony.
Today’s Americans view marriage as a way to be happy, not as an end in itself. Knowing the divorce statistics too well, they are much more selective about the person they will marry. They are waiting to find “Miss” or “Lord” Perfection. But very few fit their romantic ideal.
Part of the problem is Hollywood movies. Men watch a movie or a TV show and see a Farrah Fawcett or a Jane Fonda. The result is that 95% of men seem to look for that 5% of women, represented by the beautiful and thin ones.
If you are a woman, you probably resist better than men to the temptation to be attracted of your partner’s physical attractiveness and exceed your superficial expectations. Most women have prejudices about men who do not have a high salary and a good job. Dating agencies say they frequently encounter cases of women who agree to go out with a doctor or a lawyer, but refuse a porter or a truck driver.
Women seem to be less concerned with their partner’s physical appearance than men, but this does not mean that this aspect is insignificant. Women want a partner who looks good in their relationship the same as men want a beautiful woman. The sadness is that only a very small percentage of “singles” look like in Playboy or on TV. In fact, even models or actors don’t really look the way we see them on TV or in magazines.
Even the Hunchback at Notre Dame would look good with the right makeup, clothes and hairstyle, without taking into account the retouching of the pictures or the angles from which the filming is done. The “super” people we sometimes see on the street probably already have a long line of fans behind them. To be successful with such people, you must be just as beautiful, or have something special (like US $ 1 million).
But let’s do an exercise in imagination and assume that you meet the pair of your dreams, the model you have wanted for so long. But most likely, not all things will go well, and James (our imaginary hero) discovered this on his skin: I felt extremely lucky when I started meeting Barbara. She was like in any man’s dreams: she had a beautiful face, she was tall, she had long black hair, long, thin legs. The first night I was with her in private I thought I was dead and I went to heaven!
It took me about a month to realize the cruel reality. I began to realize how arrogant she was. I’m not against self-esteem, but she had something completely different. She believed that everyone should satisfy her whims precisely because she is beautiful. But I have no right to complain after all this, not Barbara has changed, but me. Her position as an admirer tired me out. I began to feel used by her, not necessarily financially, but also in other ways. Our relationship has never evolved from the challenge of conquering the other to the joys of intimacy. These things come only from an equal relationship.
The other thing that gripped me was boredom. Barbara didn’t have much personality. She wasn’t bad, she had an above average IQ, but she wasn’t spiritual and she didn’t have the talent to talk. After a while it became for me a kind of symbol of position in society, and also a kind of sexual object, but it ceased to be stimulating or provocative for me. Now I’m meeting a girl who’s not even half as gorgeous as Barbara was, but it’s OK. I think the saying about beauty, like it usually stops as you go through the skin is true.
Be careful not to misinterpret James’ experience. Beautiful people are not all arrogant or boring. But do not forget that we all have defects, as we have qualities. Less physically attractive people often compensate with other qualities.