Dating Above You – The Forgotten Talent

The era of the man being the breadwinner and the woman staying home to raise the kids has been over for a while now.  There are many reasons for this.  First off, a single income does not go as far as it used to. 

The era of the man being the breadwinner and the woman staying home to raise the kids has been over for a while now.  There are many reasons for this.  First off, a single income does not go as far as it used to.  Previously, a single income, even at a blue-color job, would allow you to buy a house, have a car or two and make it unnecessary for your wife to work.  Nowadays, we almost laugh at the quaintness of that.  It sure isn’t possible these days!  Another reason, obviously, is that dynamic isn’t cool to today’s women.  Granted many women today love to be able to be a stay-at-home-mom, but that’s because it’s their choice, not what’s expected of them.  But one of the main reasons is that women are far outpacing men in higher learning.  The last year that more men graduated college than women was 1982.  And the gap is widening every year.  What this signifies is that there simply won’t be the same gender ratio of “breadwinners” that there were in decades past.  Why this is happening is an article for another day.  But one thing that it does indicate is that there are more and more women “above” you than ever before.

What is heteronormative behavior and why should I care?

Heteronormative behavior is acting and behaving in ways that are “normal” for your gender.  For instance, dressing your boys in blue and girls in pink is heteronormative behavior.  These behaviors are changing at all times, so there is nothing static.  In fact, the example that I just gave was exactly the opposite 100 years ago.

“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” – Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department, 1918.

So understand that this is constantly in flux and what is “normal” with liberal lefts may not be the same with conservative rights, as well as any other two groups.  I just want to explain the concept so that I can go into more detail about how this is affecting us at the moment.  So, traditionally, hetero-normative behavior was for the woman to stay at home and hope to “marry up.”  While the first part has changed radically, many women have a hard time giving up the latter.

Jon Birger, a colleague and author of the award-winning book, Date-Onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game, says it better than I can.

“According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, among college grads age 22-29, there are now 5.5 million women in the US versus 4.1 million men. That’s 1.4 million more women than men — or, put another way, 34% more women than men. Where are those missing 1.4 million men? In the NON-college-grad dating pool. Among Americans age 22-29 who do not have a college degree, there are 12.7 million men versus 11.3 million women. And the gender gap among non-college grads is even wider among singles.

The bottom line is that women have surpassed men when it comes to higher education. And among Millennial’s, women are very close to overtaking men when it comes to income. Between 1980 and 2012, wages for men ages 25 to 34 fell 20 percent, while those for women rose 13 percent, according to Pew Research. At this rate, young women’s wages will overtake men’s by 2020.

Given the demographic trend — too many women in the white-collar dating pool and too many men in the blue-collar dating pool — I think it’s inevitable that we’ll see an increase in what I call “mixed-collar” marriages. We already see this happening in the African-American community, where the college gender gap is much wider and more longstanding. Watch any Tyler Perry movie and there always seems to be at least one couple where the wife is lawyer or business executive and the husband is a mechanic or a cop. It’s no big deal. But sometimes I like to joke that in a white movie, you would need a five minute, on-screen explanation for why Julia Roberts’s doctor character was married to a fireman. My belief is that the African-American community is on the leading edge of a broader social change that, eventually, will help solve the modern dating crisis.

That said, when I’ve made this argument at various dating events, I sometimes get push-back from women who complain that they shouldn’t have to “settle” or “compromise” or “marry down.” Frankly, I hate that kind of talk. I think everybody needs to check their classism at the door and seriously re-think what “marrying down” means. I’d argue that marrying a doughy Wall Street schmuck may be marrying down while marrying a fireman is marrying up.  A woman I went to Brown with is a middle-school teacher in suburban Philadelphia. She’s married to the head custodian at her school. He’s a great guy, they’ve raised a great kid together, and I think my head would explode if someone suggested to their son that his mom “settled” or “compromised” or “married down.”

The whole point of this is that it WILL become the norm for men to marry up if women want to find a happy and stable relationship.  But with more options available to women, men also need to up their game if they want to date “up.”

How do I attract and keep a woman “above” me?

All partnerships, romantic and otherwise, involve a compromise and a sharing and balance of attributes and duties.  Regardless of this seismic change, men always need to make sure they are bringing something to the table that makes them desirable.  It used to be that being a high earner was a large attribute in men’s favor.  So if they don’t have that, or that it’s not needed, men need to learn what they can bring to the table.

The first is always confidence.  For many men, though, being with a woman that earns more is a tough pill to swallow.  Lots of men tie their earnings to their self-worth and if their partner is earning more, they feel “less than.”  Now, this is only in their heads.  Men are complex and wonderful characters as well as women are.  So men need to find self-worth, in who they are and not what they make or the job they have.  Women who are making six figures don’t need a man that is a high earner.  What they do need is someone that respects them, makes them laugh, makes them feel good about themselves and is fun to be around.  JUST LIKE IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN!

One way to help men feel more confident and worthy of these women is to make sure that they have other traits that draw women to them:  What are your talents?  What are your hobbies?  What kinds of adventures can you introduce your woman to?  These are things that make powerful women want to spend time with men.

Something else that many men may find difficult is that if the woman is bringing home more than the man (the traditional male’s role), he may have to take on other duties that he feels are women’s roles.  If he works from home, he should earn a few easy recipes to make his lady.  Do the shopping, do the laundry.  These ARE NOT women’s roles.  These are roles belonging to the person that has the most time to accomplish them, and that may be the man.

Personally, my wife earns more than me, and that’s totally cool.  I’m not saying it didn’t take some getting used to, but we have a great balance now.  She loves me because of me, not because of what I earn.  If you are going to be with a woman that is “above” you, there is nothing unsexier than trying to outdo them.

The second thing he wants to make sure he has is the power to keep her interested.  Are you an interesting person?  Would you date you?  If you ran into one of these women at a party and she asked what you did on your weekend, what do you have that would catch her attention?  “I just watched Netflix and hung around the house.” Nope, not good enough.  “I met my friend for coffee Saturday morning and then walked around the city.  I picked up a new book and then met my friends out for drinks later.  On Sunday, I slept in and then worked on a table I am building for my house.”  Now she is interested!  By being interesting, she becomes interested.

For better or worse, we are a brand.  Look around you.  What does your brand have that makes you stand out from the other guys around you?  Maybe it’s that you play the drums.  Perhaps you’re working on your first novel.  Or maybe you are currently unemployed but are working day and night on your own start-up.  All of these are great characteristics that would make these powerful women stop and take notice.

So the whole concept of “dating up” is making sure that you have enough to offer.  Let me give you a little pro-tip as well: many, if not most, of these women are not getting approached!  Because they are strong and confident, they scare away many less confident men.  Which means you are actually not even competing with a large group.  I speak with many women who when out, have their less attractive, less accomplished friends getting hit on way more than them.  So put on your big-boy pants, feel good about who you are and get out there!  There’s an amazing woman out there that is waiting for you!


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