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British bachelors beware
September 30, 2003 12:48 AM   Subscribe

British bachelors beware. Rachel Greenwald knows how to find a husband using the techniques of Harvard Business School, and she's bringing her methods to the UK. But it's not easy: she advocates careful 'packaging', putting 10 to 20% of total income into a separate 'find a husband' bank account, cancelling newspaper subscriptions so they can be read in public and getting a third party to contact unsuccessful dates for feedback. There's one change for the UK though: here it's aimed at over-30s instead of the over-35s. I always thought "the Rules" were too spontaneous.
posted by TheophileEscargot (40 comments total)

 
"The figures she quotes tell a grim story. In America today there are 18 million single men over 35 - but 28 million single woman in that age bracket."

On that note, I'm looking for a publisher for my book, Find a Wife After 18 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School.

...although it's just a small guide on how to kill time until you're past 35, really.
posted by DaShiv at 1:27 AM on September 30, 2003 [1 favorite]


"The figures she quotes tell a grim story. In America today there are 18 million single men over 35 - but 28 million single woman in that age bracket."

And God knows A) it's impossible to marry someone who is thirty-three or thirty-four, and B) if you don't get married at some point in your life, you are a total and complete failure as a person, having missed out on the whole "meaning of life thing."

Or, C) You're gay and should move to Canada.
posted by The God Complex at 1:44 AM on September 30, 2003


Separate Single Woman From her Money Using What I Learned at Harvar Scam School (Including First Letter Capitalization)
posted by elpapacito at 3:09 AM on September 30, 2003


In America today there are 18 million single men over 35 - but 28 million single woman in that age bracket.
Well I know what I want for my birthday next year. That'll be a one way plane ticket to "singlesville" for me please. Wonder if I can add it to my Amazon Wish List.

On a more serious note, that's 20 million singles who either don't want to / can't get it together. Personally I blame "Sex in the City" and all that advertising for beauty products. Oh and those darn-tooting wimmin's libbers as well.
[Vaguely related link]
posted by seanyboy at 3:38 AM on September 30, 2003


On the demographic gap... I assumed that was because (on average) men tend to marry younger women. After all, the male : female ratio is pretty much equal until 60 or so when age-related illnesses start kicking in.

I think the sort of people who go in for this stuff tend to have unrealistic expectations as their biggest problem...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:46 AM on September 30, 2003


The Lonely should be severely medicated and kept well away from both writing implements and small dogs.
posted by dong_resin at 4:14 AM on September 30, 2003


The Lonely should be severely medicated and kept well away from both writing implements and small dogs.

Large dogs are okay?
posted by Shane at 5:01 AM on September 30, 2003


Oh, my. Just so much to say about all this, one doesn't know where to dip in.

Let's just begin by saying that turning to HBS for relationship and marriage advice might be akin to employing Cindee's School of Beauty to construct a business model for your new software company....
posted by taz at 5:34 AM on September 30, 2003


TGC's post reminds me of the main reason some people loathe one of my favorite movies, Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. In George Bailey's nightmare, Mary's an unmarried career woman in a smart hat, and this is presented as the worst fate that could possibly befall her.
posted by rcade at 5:37 AM on September 30, 2003



posted by rcade at 5:39 AM on September 30, 2003


I'd be happy to help out any of these lonely Upper East Side ladies. The problem is, the amount of money I'd have to spend on them would make a serious dent in my crack, gin and hooker budget.

Seriously, though, at the age of 35+, good men can be hard to find in that particular demographic, and many others. While I might find Ms. Greenwald's methodology a bit over the top on the marketing biz-speak, there's quite a bit of truth to the underlying premise, it being that major effort may well be required to find a life-long companion.
posted by attackthetaxi at 5:44 AM on September 30, 2003


Don't people just have meddlesome friends / parents anymore?
posted by Space Coyote at 5:49 AM on September 30, 2003


Yeah, the "unrealistic expectations" part gets to me too. Call me old fashioned (shit, I'm only 24), but what ever happened to just meeting someone and falling in love with them? It seems to be all about accepting nothing less than landing an extraordinarily successful superman who's going to cater for (and pay for) your every desire. Professional seeking professional. The only result I can see is too much inbreeding in the upper classes - if this trend continues their offspring will start to look like the British royal family.
posted by Jimbob at 5:50 AM on September 30, 2003


Large dogs are okay?
Well, I don't see as many cute widdle sweaters on large dogs. It's the dogs I'm looking out for, here. Nothing should have to spend it's life being a surrogate child.

Except maybe the Kennedys.
posted by dong_resin at 5:58 AM on September 30, 2003


I for one will ring in with my positive opinion on this matter.

When I was a young 24 years old, I moved to Seattle after getting out of a 3-year relationship. I made a good friend at work, and she asked me if I was dating. I told her 'no,' and she asked what I was doing about it. I told her nothing. I said I believed that when the time was right, the right partner would come along.

She quickly put a kabosh on that. "Dating is a human need, like food, clothing and shelter. As animals we are not meant to be alone. You need to date, even if its not a long term relationship, even if its just casual."

At first I thought she was crazy and I just kept on doing my thing, but what she said rang true [for me]. I thought about what she told me and I realized she had a point. As human beings, we crave acceptance and affirmation. We need to feel that we are attractive to other people. We need intimate human contact. We need hugging and kissing and sex in ways that mere friends and family can't provide to us.

Not every relationship has to lead to the altar, but having a romantic interest is good for people.

I also realized that dating is training for long-term relationships. To take the attitude that 'it will happen when the time is right' is to abdicate your responsibility to be prepared for a relationship when it comes. Relationships are like everything else in life - practice makes perfect. Do you want to ruin that perfect relationship when it comes along because you simply didn't learn the rules of relationships ahead of time and drove your perfect partner away with your boorish, selfish behaviour?

Bullshit! Anyone in a successful relationship knows it takes tremendous hard work. It is those people who put the most effort while single into finding a good partner who will also put the most energy into maintaining a good relationship [hopefully]. They know what hard work it took to get there and won't take it for granted.

After that, I dated constantly for the next 9 years! I got confused and depressed, thinking, 'what's wrong with me that I can't find the right partner?' Of course, I was choosing the wrong partner, which I eventually learned. If I hadn't made an effort to date that whole time, who knows how much longer it would have taken? One thing is for sure, I might not have found the right partner for 9 years, but with each person I dated, I learned one more thing about myself, about my dates, about human relationships. It was totally worthwhile and I wouldn't change a thing.

I grew up in a very loving, close and supportive family. Until I was 18+ years old, I had people around me every day who loved me and cared about me and hugged me. When I moved out on my own, I loved myself, but that wasn't enough. I missed the daily hugs and affirmations from those most close to me.

There is nothing wrong or unnatural about wanting to get married. There is nothing wrong with making it a priority to find a partner. Kudos to these people for taking any approach to getting what they want in life!
posted by PigAlien at 6:02 AM on September 30, 2003


It seems to be all about accepting nothing less than landing an extraordinarily successful superman who's going to cater for (and pay for) your every desire.

Indeed.

There is nothing wrong or unnatural about wanting to get married. There is nothing wrong with making it a priority to find a partner.

There is, however, something very wrong with obsessing over it to the point that you eliminate any possibility of happiness or contentment in your life should it not happen for you.
posted by rushmc at 6:16 AM on September 30, 2003


Hold on, this woman is advocating women go after men, and we're complaining?

Take a look at askmen.com or other similiar sites or publications (Maxim, et al) and the obligatory monthly "how to mate today" section involves little more than "How to lie to the girl you want to talk to" Ethically dubious? Sure, but its practical. I'm not a bad looking guy, but to get a date the fail rate is around 2/5. Each attempt involves a lot of flirting, time, etc when its fairly obvious what both parties want. If Rachel is putting another nail in the coffin of "southern girl waiting on a gentlemen" nonsense then all the better. If this leads to more causal sex thus reduced stress and a more sesual and healthy society then I'm all for it.

If there is a social shift that involves women being more assertive about meeting men and men not having to resort to "Havent we met before" obvious lies or women dolling themselves up and sitting quietly in the corner just to get over our puritanism then it can only be a good thing in the long run.

Sure, this attempt is very much focused on meeting wealthy/successful men and the such, but it betrays a larger social problem regarding how modern people meet, date, and mate. Unless there's copious amounts of drugs involved to the outside observer the US comes off as some kind of puritanical social experiment. Also, whats wrong with making an effort to meet successful or attractive people. It really is a supply and demand issue and ignoring the fact that people we subconsciously consider "better mates" usually have no shortage of woo-ers is just being stupid.

>but what ever happened to just meeting someone and falling in love with them?

I'd say you've been reading too much fiction. Real life romance rarely falls into the "oh my we're so in love." It actually is more like dating to test the waters, follow-ups, and whatever comes from there is anyone guess. The assumption that you're going just meet someone and fall into the uber-romaticism notion of "true love" is a bit far-fetched and divorce rates more or less support that argument. Not to disparage the concept of love, or more accurately extreme attractiveness, but there's a lot of leg work involved and the idealists almost always turn out to be the nice guys who finish last (or the guy who thinks he's found his true love every day). The typical "jerk" is the guy who doesn't go home alone. Funny how that works.

I think we're going to be moving away from typical homo sapiens male dominated dating because of feminism. That means women will have to take up the slack. This all reminds me of a popular bumper sticker I see here in Chicago, "Feminist eh? Then ask HIM out." The driver is always female.

>There is nothing wrong or unnatural about wanting to get married. Kudos to these people for taking any approach to getting what they want in life!

Excatly. All we're seeing here is some effort to become self-actualized but because of old social mores Rachel's book is being seen (at least by some people here) as the new Rules, when it sounds like the opposite of the Rules. The Rules is the traditional conservative way to lead men around, while this book advocates getting off your ass and dealing with the complexities of modern mating. I'd take that over the Rules any day of the week.
posted by skallas at 6:18 AM on September 30, 2003


rushmc - I smell sociobiology skulking in the background waiting to pounce.

I envision Rube Goldberg device: 1) 35th birthday bout of heavy drinking triggers 2) hormonal baby production alert system which 3) titrates hormones designed to generate anxiety, low level panic over (perceived) immanence of menopause which 4) motivates female to move about in environment thus 5) increasing chances of random collision with target sperm delivery system.

"She is a slick graduate of the elite Harvard Business School who believes the ruthless rules of commerce can be applied to the hunt for a mate." - She has a good publicist and a fat PR wheel-greasing fund, that's for sure. But slick? I'd call it crude, but I'm keeping my better ideas to myself.

"...at the age of 35+, good men can be hard to find." - Yes, sadly true for their human growth hormone and testosterone levels sag at about this age and they metamorphose into pudgy, vague creatures shuffling back and forth from the television to the fridge, arms laden with transfatty acid laced carbohydrate snacks and beer.

So: these ladies who are shovelling out t-t-truckloads of cash for such fare would be far better off pooling their resources to set up collectives with day care centers and in-house in-vitro programs stocked with the finest sperm money can buy.
posted by troutfishing at 6:43 AM on September 30, 2003


Well said, Trout! Perhaps others feel differently, but if I went out with a man who was using these same sorts of tactics, I would just feel terribly, terribly uncomfortable. I would have the overbearing sense of an agenda hanging over the encounter, and I certainly wouldn't feel special. I would feel like a quantity that had not yet been assigned its column - a statistical ambiguity.

Skallas, you say that the idea of just meeting someone and falling in love is a product of reading too much fiction, and maybe you're right - I've read a ridiculous amount of fiction in my life, and I did meet someone and fall in love - complete with fireworks and earth moving... and we're still together and very happy 14 years later. So I say forget Harvard School of Business and read more fiction; put aside a separate fiction fund, prowl the corridors of bookstores and libraries, ask your friends to suggest new novels and introduce you to the ones they know.
posted by taz at 8:10 AM on September 30, 2003


I thought Terror Sex was supposed to fix all this....
posted by aramaic at 8:30 AM on September 30, 2003


ah, but aramaic... terror marriage?
posted by taz at 8:37 AM on September 30, 2003


Terror Babies™
posted by troutfishing at 8:44 AM on September 30, 2003


Don't folk just get wrecked in nightclubs and wake up next to someone anymore?

At 26, I've never been on a date, other than with people I've been in a relationship with at the time. This peculiar American-style regimenting of the mating/meeting procedure strikes me as appalling. Perhaps I'll think differently on the morning of my 35th birthday, but I know plenty of mid-30s people who still employ the old-fashioned strategy... and not just wasters, neither. Proper posh blokes and everything.

So, yeah, ladies, my advice is drink heavily or dose yourself up on preferred narcotic, and keep an eye on the cynical-looking fellows in the expensive shoes, just there, at the edge of the dancefloor.

Where's my book deal?
posted by jack_mo at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2003


Terror Babies™: Yes! Great marketing niche identifier. But, so far, it seems nobody has been able to locate these much-touted Weapons of Mass Reproduction.
posted by taz at 9:03 AM on September 30, 2003


dating is training for long-term relationships

For some, perhaps. Before I got married, I always found dating, when I knew right away that there was no future in it, a big huge waste of time and energy (and most of the time that spark is either there or it's not, I see no point in dating if it's not). I'm enough of an introvert that the "getting to know you" phase of a relationship is stressful, dating is not something I'd do for entertainment, and not something I'm prepared to do with someone I just casually like.

The assumption that you're going just meet someone and fall into the uber-romaticism notion of "true love" is a bit far-fetched and divorce rates more or less support that argument.

Divorce rates aren't necessarily representative of a lack of "true love", sometimes even wuv, twue wuv isn't strong enough to resist the pressures of everyday life, of differing expectations, of all those other things that cause divorce. Also, your supposition that divorce rates are indicative of true love being far fetched presupposes that all/most marriages are based on a belief that the couple has found true love, which is anything but true.
posted by biscotti at 9:04 AM on September 30, 2003


It also presupposes that "true love" is a permanent condition.
posted by rushmc at 9:13 AM on September 30, 2003


More people need to wear their beer goggles.
posted by insulglass at 9:19 AM on September 30, 2003


This reads like new glossy packaging on an old system. Tell your friends and family you'd like to meet someone! Make sure you look nice! Go out! Is any of this new? Is any of this different for men?
posted by Salmonberry at 9:33 AM on September 30, 2003


At 26, I've never been on a date, other than with people I've been in a relationship with at the time. This peculiar American-style regimenting of the mating/meeting procedure strikes me as appalling.

Hell, I'm 44, and I've never been on anything I could really describe as a "date", either. The last time I met someone to whom I felt strongly attracted (and this happens to me about once every 8 years) I just told her. Relationship followed (and ended two years later, but that's a different story). The idea of testing out possible partners through attending social events and making small talk really just doesn't work for me; I'm not good at that kind of conversation.

The demographics which this writer cites (18 million men, 28 million women) smell like bullshit to me. I thought that Susan Faludi had already deconstructed such nonsense in Backlash, but perhaps it's time for a rereading. From the Columbia Journalism Review of Backlash:

The most famous case in point is the notorious Harvard-Yale study on women's marriage patterns, word of which hit the front pages, network news programs, and talk shows of America like a bombshell in 1986. The thrust of the study was that women who failed to marry young could basically kiss off their chance for marrying at all: the so-called "man shortage" was allegedly so severe that, as Newsweek so memorably put it, by the age of forty an unmarried woman was more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to find her way to the altar.

The numbers provided by the study, which was both unpublished and unfinished, were chilling indeed. The only problem was that they weren't true -- something that virtually nobody managed to report, although a single telephone call to the U.S. Census Bureau might quickly have indicated that something was amiss. Even a cursory check of population charts reveals that there were substantially more bachelors than unwed women in the age groups in question. "If anyone faced a shortage of potential spouses, it was men in the prime marrying years," Faludi notes.

posted by jokeefe at 9:51 AM on September 30, 2003


It seems that some women have found a different solution.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2003


El Papacito, capitalizing the first letters of each word in the title of a book is correct US publishers' style, not something specific to Harvard Business School.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:12 AM on September 30, 2003


It seems that some women have found a different solution.

Actually, cradle-robbing never went out of fashion.
posted by filmgoerjuan at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2003


I'm with Salmonberry on this - maybe the degree of aggressiveness is kicked up a notch, but otherwise, nothing new.

I have only one thing to add: want to find a great mate? Be happy. Yeah, I know it's all new age-y and obvious, but somehow often missed. Instead of desperately trying to find someone, let him/her come to you. Be a beacon of what you determine to be wonderful. If he/she shares your sense of what is wonderful, why wouldn't he/she want to be with you?
posted by widdershins at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2003


If the "ruthless rules of commerce" approach is for you, don't forget to take a sex contracttm with you on the first date.
posted by Ljubljana at 12:18 PM on September 30, 2003


They should be glad they're not in Japan, where women dread turning 25 - what they call the "Christmas Cake" age. You see, just like no one wants the Christmas cake after the 25th...
posted by gottabefunky at 2:56 PM on September 30, 2003


gottabefunky, I'm travelling to Japan next week. Hopefully I'll get to have my cake and eat it too.
posted by vito90 at 5:45 PM on September 30, 2003


At 26, I've never been on a date, other than with people I've been in a relationship with at the time.

For me, at 24, I've dated two kinds of people. People who I'm already in a relationship with, and people who have no idea that we're dating, who think we're Platonic friends, while I believe something quite different...

That second kind is what I've been up to all summer long. I just dumped him this weekend, but he has no idea.
posted by palegirl at 6:24 PM on September 30, 2003


Maybe it's only the illustrations they choose:
>She recommends putting 10 per cent, or perhaps even 20 per cent, of total income into it. This will pay for new clothes, gifts, a hairdo, a computer for internet dating...
>It means joining evening classes (and signing up for fly-fishing, not cookery).

but it seems like all these programmes run on rigid stereotypes and crazy terminology like "market expansion." I'd be more accepting if Rachel mixed in a bit of widdershins' happiness and taz's book suggestions. But if you're offended by the advertising, you're not the target demographic. I am, however, the target demographic of Rachel's target demographic.
posted by philfromhavelock at 10:19 PM on September 30, 2003


This strikes me as just fear of being alone rather than a desire for a relationship. Put me in the "don't people just have fun anymore?" camp.

And yes these women exist. An ex of mine had an actual checklist of things she needed in a man.
posted by fullerine at 2:14 AM on October 1, 2003


Presumably the willingness to accommodate obsessive-compulsive behavior was high upon it?

That second kind is what I've been up to all summer long. I just dumped him this weekend, but he has no idea.

LOL There is the premise for an excellent novel (and several bad ones) there!
posted by rushmc at 5:20 AM on October 1, 2003


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