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Seeing "American Reformer Matching Grant" at the end of this article made me think that American Reformer has a grant for match-making.

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I think we can agree that we are talking about men’s marriage chances from different life stages and ages so our perspectives will vary greatly. Data findings can help us as Christian men to understand the world around us.

Statistics point to overall lower marriage rates and older median ages at which women get married at least in the case of the USA.

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Some good 2019 data (published in 2021) on the regional variation in the *median* age of first-time marriage in the USA for both men and women. Americans get married at older ages than is currently assumed.

https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/payne-manning-median-age-marriage-geographic-variation-2019-fp-21-13.html

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“Between 1995 and 2020, the share of women ever married decreased by 15 percentage points from 72% to 57%” (USA example)

https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/carlson-25-years-change-marriage-1995-2020-fp-20-29.html

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“Of those men who were born in 1940, about 83% were married by age 30. Among those born in 1980 only about 25% were married by age 30.” (England & Wales example)

https://ourworldindata.org/marriages-and-divorces

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Completely agree with you on this. I think the men complaining are also suffering from a seriously wrong historical perspective. They typically compare their situation to Western men in the 1950s, but that was probably the easiest time and place in all of history for a low-quality man to get a spouse. For most of history, men were in a brutal competition with other men, and the highest-quality men took most of the women. The majority of men who ever lived have no surviving descendants. When I hear men complaining about how tough it is today, I find it truly laughable. They seem to think it should be effortless. May of them are also imposing a standard of absolute virginity, which is needless and unrealistic. Also, I think that in some ways it is even easier today to get a woman than it was in the 50s, because a lot of men aren't even courting women for marriage. If you are one of the ones that is, there is tons of female demand. I have a few middle-aged friends who have divorced, and every one of them has had a new woman before they stopped cohabiting with their estranged wife. This wasn't cheating, it was due to online dating AFTER they agreed to split (or were dumped). Women in that age group are so desperate for a man they will take one who is still living with his wife, and just take his word for it that they are separated!

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I appreciate the great writing, Mr. Renn!

Speaking from experience--a small-town or rural resident, particularly in the western USA, might perceive "a huge shortage of marriageable women." A study of census data for my home county, and surrounding ones, indicates the male population outnumbers the female population by a couple percentage points, i.e. several hundred (or thousand) people.

Be that as it may, my social circle does include a dozen or so Christian women in their 20s. Those I would consider dating (or have asked out), fall into these categories: 1) already in relationships; 2) not interested or "ready" to date; or 3) apparently single but younger than I'm comfortable asking out, i.e. under 24-25 years old vs. my own age of 31. It is a great mental challenge to believe that the dating pool has not dried up.

On the other hand, I may not have adequately developed "relational competence" as Mr. Walker alluded to. Until a couple years ago, I didn't become serious about pursuing dating; didn't bother to learn how; and I didn't learn much from my family in my youth. I feel severely behind the curve.

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As a single gentleman I have to respectfully disagree. I am in a city a fair bit smaller than New York, but in my experience the dating pool of folks who are single, childless, and have less flags than a communist parade seems to be incredibly small.

I may be suffering from the issue of being a large religious minority (Catholic) in an evangelical city, but I know it took my brother quite a while to find a lady worth marrying, and he is certainly more physically fit, kinder, and in better financial shape than the average man and works in the Big Apple. His experience leads me to believe this problem may be more serious than you let on, be it because churches aren't promoting relationships or that online dating, through providing so many potential options, actually hinders dating. Paralysis by potential, if you will.

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It would be interesting to hear from younger, recently & happily married Christian guys on "what worked." Old guys like myself have no idea what it is like out there.

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I agree with Aaron that there many high quality Christian women in America who would make good wives. That said, many of these high quality women wait too long before getting serious about marriage as a life goal. I live in NYC where these women suddenly wake up in their early 30s.

Dating and courtship markets among devout Christians are very thin when it comes down to it. Many Christians don’t realize that finding a match who they find attractive, and shares their Christian denomination and worldview is not a straightforward process in the age that we live in. I have seen many men and women reject excellent matches for lack of a vague “spark” or some other arbitrary reasons.

I’m an unmarried practicing Catholic man who knows many pious and attractive single women. That said, these women (and men in the Catholic community) don’t act fast to land a match in their 20s. Many young people take their time to open themselves to serious relationships. Lots of safe group hangouts over betrothals and young marriages.

These devout young people many times puzzle over why they are single but don’t acknowledge how closed their hearts are. The culture we live in reinforces a “slow life” strategy where young people are encouraged to find themselves and be wary of marriage and commitment before age 30 (see Jean Twenge’s new book “Generations”).

We shouldn’t be surprised that American men and women across different Christian denominations are finding it hard to find a match in an age that lauds individual autonomy, self-exploration and a market-based/transactional approach to social relationships.

Christians in America shouldn’t expect marriages to “just happen” like they did in the past. The current laissez-faire model no longer works in the negative world.

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It does seems like a major problem is that men are not looking or asking women out. A lot of men aren't developing relational competence. But it goes both ways.

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founding
Jun 20, 2023Liked by Aaron M. Renn

The distinction between Christian woman, specifically in these aspirational class settings where they all mostly have college degrees, and typical non-Christian women even in the aspirational class merits more attention. I have observed the same distinction and more even outside of NYC.

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