There’s a scene in “The Fires of Autumn,” Irene Nemirovsky’s novel set in 1920s France, in which a young war widow named Therese thinks she is being courted for marriage by her childhood friend Bernard — only to discover that he wants nothing more than a fling. I say “naively” because it’s not the first time some newfangled technology has been mistakenly blamed for young people having more sex. But the moralizers of Nemirovsky’s era fooled themselves into believing that the automobile was to blame for loosening sexual mores.
He, in turn, is baffled by her unwillingness to carry on a casual affair. “A house of prostitution on wheels” was how one judge described it at the time.
However, gender ratios within the LGBT community do affect different-sex dating, oddly enough.
According to Gary Gates, a UCLA researcher and a leading expert on LGBT demographics, cities known for being LGBT-friendly (New York, Washington, Miami, etc.) have disproportionate numbers of gay men, but not of lesbians.
When there are plenty of marriageable men, dating culture emphasizes courtship and romance, and men generally must earn more to attract a wife.
But when gender ratios skew toward women, as they do today among college grads, the dating culture becomes more sexualized.
But according to separate research by University of Pennsylvania economist Jeremy Greenwood and by UCLA sociologists Christine Schwartz and Robert Mare, educational intermarriage is less common today than at any point over the past half century.
Because the pool of college-educated women is much larger, the unwillingness of college-educated men to consider working-class women as life partners has little statistical effect on their marriage prospects.Regardless of orientation, not all women, of course, place a premium on marriage, or even monogamy.But for the straight, college-educated woman who is eager to get married and start a family, the question becomes how best to deal with a dating market in which men have too much leverage.The good news, at least according to the work of psychologists and sex-ratio pioneers Marcia Guttentag and Paul Secord, is that people tend to have better sex when ratios skew female. Women frequently wind up being treated as sex objects, and men are more inclined to exercise the option to delay marriage and play the field.As I note in my book, today’s uneven gender ratios “add up to sexual nirvana for heterosexual men, but for heterosexual women — especially those who put a high priority on getting married and having children in wedlock — they represent a demographic time bomb.” Of course, these lopsided numbers might not matter if young, college-educated women become more willing to date — and, eventually, marry — across socioeconomic lines.Indeed, their new mantra should probably be “Go West, Young Woman.” The Western part of the country, in general, has more balanced gender ratios than those found east of the Mississippi River.