In an essay, a male writer friend, Zaron Burnett, made an observation of women in their mid-20s, specifically, age 25. He noted that when women turn 25, something in them changes.
Whereas before they may have considered themselves in the prime of their youthful adult years, age 25 hits women like a ton of bricks. Burnett contends that women become more aware of their biological clocks at this age, and long-term relationships and all the considerations that go with them (marriage, children, etc.) become more present in their thoughts, if they haven’t already gone down that path.
If nothing else, it’s an interesting theory. Aside from the hard and fast age 25 rule, it’s a theory, I think, that has some merit to it. It is true that both men and women are getting married later, and are having children later, in comparison to our parent’s generation anyway.
But it is also true that women especially, are socially conditioned to desire children and family. Thus, at what point do women – even modern women – see dating not just as a “fun” way to get to know somebody and engage in romance? But rather, or also, as a way to seek out a potential partner with whom they want to build a long-lasting relationship that may include marriage and possibly children.
From a historical perspective, in many cultures, dating had arguably changed more in the last 20 years, than it did in the 50 years prior. From the way people meet, to how quickly they choose to be physically intimate with each other, to how long they take to commit to each other, we simply don’t date like our parents did, for better or for worse.
We arguably have more options now, not only in terms of the sheer numbers of people available to us, but in our access to groups of people with the same habits and activities. So this should cut out some of the nonsense, shouldn’t it?
Choice, however, is an interesting thing in our modern-day dating world. While more of it tends to be better than less of it, the paradox is that too much choice in general can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis. Psychologists confirm this notion. Indeed, we have a lot of choice in how we get to know people and the numbers of people we get to know. But a struggle that humanity will likely always face is that our time is still limited. For women and our biological clocks, this is especially true. (Even if we freeze our eggs.)
While Burnett has the theory that a woman’s focus changes at age 25, to include the possibility of marriage and children, I have a theory about men: they only really “get good” at around age 27/28. This means that men, in my own observation, only seem to take dating seriously – that is, in consideration of forming a long-term bond – from their late twenties. Why is this?
Men’s biological clocks don’t play a role in the same way women’s does in their dating realities and perspectives. But perhaps a mental shift of being more settled in their careers, allows them to more seriously consider long-term social goals and commitments. This is likely because men are socially conditioned to still perceive themselves as the breadwinners in relationships.
Ideally then, women from age 25 and onwards should mostly consider men who are age 27 and older. Perhaps at these respective ages, both sexes see dating as something you do for more than just fun. Dating becomes something such that the possibility of building a life with someone is a very real and imminent desire.
Of course all of this is subject to culture, individual experiences, religion, where you live, and just about any other social factors. But if narratives mean anything at all, it is to remind us that our social observations and experiences are not entirely unique.
My friend Zaron made a commentary about women that I have found to be more or less true in my observations (and experience). And as to my theory on guys, many guys I talk to and especially in their 30’s, agree. It is true that this agreement might just be a fallacy of the availability heuristic – using easy and memorable examples to justify a position. Then again, it might also be a societal phenomenon worthy of some attention.
In the case of both men and women, it appears that the nature of women’s biological clocks and the settlement of men in their careers, may play a huge role in when the “dating for fun” ends. This doesn’t mean that you no longer have fun when you’re dating, it just means that fun isn’t the end, but quite possibly a means to an end.