Opinion | The Frustrations of Dating for Both Women and Men

To the Editor:

Re “Why Aren’t More People Marrying? Ask Women What Dating Is Like,” by Anna Louie Sussman (Opinion guest essay, Nov. 25):

As a 72-year-old single male co-parenting children, I really appreciated everything Ms. Sussman wrote. The challenges so many women experience in dating are painful. I’ve heard about them repeatedly from friends and women I’ve met, from Match and JDate to Green Singles and Veggie Connection.

However, after my five years of full-tilt online dating I’d like to share another side of the story from the perspective of one of the great guys they seek with all those wonderful qualities, plus an Ivy League education and a successful career.

Why do 90 percent of the women to whom I write very kind, fully forthcoming messages not bother responding? Why do so many of the 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-7 women require men to be several inches taller than my 5-foot-6 height? And why could I easily write a best-selling book sharing the most bizarre experiences I’ve had with seemingly fabulous women that continually dumbfound even my therapist?

How about the woman who was willing to fly to meet me just because she wanted to have sex with me once? And the woman who wouldn’t hold hands, later admitting that it triggered memories of her previous boyfriend?

I could go on about the hidden fears, traumas and addictions. The point is that it can be hard for both women and men to find a partner with whom to have a healthy, fulfilling and loving committed relationship. Should we just settle?

Terry Gips
St. Louis Park, Minn.

To the Editor:

Many thanks for Anna Louie Sussman’s excellent opinion piece on the difficulties women are having finding decent husbands. It was nice to read an unpatronizing look at the near-impossible job facing single women looking for husbands amid a selection of largely dysfunctional men.

Sadly, this has been the state of affairs since I first started dating in my 20s some 40 years ago and was astounded to discover how few decent men there were out there. There’s got to be more than this, I’d think. I’d attend a church retreat and notice the ratio of women to men was 10:1. I wasn’t finding anyone at my workplace either.

There’s got to be more than this, I thought as I moved to another city when I hit 30. But I noticed the same pattern in all my dates: The men didn’t listen. They wanted to talk about what interested them; their eyes glazed over when it came to me.

As the essay said, men aren’t offering a buy-in to the relationship. They also don’t want to get some therapy, deal with their issues, do the work. What has changed over the decades is that women aren’t willing to put up with being second-class. They want a marriage that is not only good for the man but good for them as well. Sadly, a lot aren’t finding it.

Julia Duin
Issaquah, Wash.
The writer is the author of “Purity Makes the Heart Grow Stronger: Sexuality and the Single Christian.”

To the Editor:

Anna Louie Sussman explores women’s difficulties with heterosexual dating and relationship opportunities across a spectrum of circumstances. To her earliest example from high school, I add my middle schooler’s experience.

My daughter’s seventh-grade class recently had a potluck. My daughter planned her contribution for a week, carefully choosing her item, thinking about how much to bring, how to serve it, how to transport it and how to clean up.

At the start of the potluck, the teacher asked the class to notice a pattern. Only girls had brought in food — not a single boy contributed.

Already in middle school, girls are taking on the caring, emotional labor for boys. If we don’t do better at helping them see it, by calling out and addressing this at early ages, we will never teach our girls — or our boys — to think differently about relationships. And we will inevitably find ourselves in the bleak dating and relationship landscape that Ms. Sussman describes.

Jessica A. Magaldi
The writer is a law professor whose current research emphasizes issues related to gender equity.

To the Editor:

Are you planning a follow-up titled “Why Aren’t More People Marrying? Ask Men What Dating Is Like”?

The gist of Anna Louie Sussman’s piece is there are not so many good men out there. Well, as a man I’ve got news for you. There are not so many women out there who are marriage material these days. I look forward to reading a man’s take on the subject soon.

Nick Sloane
Glendale Heights, Ill.

To the Editor:

A two-parent household is, in my experience, a superior one — but only if the partnership makes life easier and better for both. My parenting partner is my best friend.

I’m 44 years old, six years divorced, and a mother. I have diligently tried to date; dates are readily available but partnership has eluded me.

My daughter and I recently got roommates: a dear friend and her daughter. Living together has made an extraordinary, surprising, positive impact on all of our lives.

Having another mother as a partner in parenting has given me all the benefits of a marriage with none of the trials. Our shared household is more peaceful, easy and cooperative than my marriage ever was.

We have autonomy: separate finances, freedom to date and travel as desired or needed. We naturally divide responsibilities: I’ll make breakfast; she’ll empty the dishwasher. There is no nagging, no list making, no sexual resentment.

Best of all, my daughter gets to experience all the benefits of having a sibling — learning to share, to work out disagreements, to work together as a family to care for our home and for one another.

I am rested and happy, I am excelling at work and I am free to date whomever I wish.

It may not be the “married, white picket fence” future I had imagined, but the peals of laughter coming from the kids’ room every morning give me confidence that this version is as good, or better.

Claire Spencer