There was article yesterday in the Guardian which claimed that female graduates are less likely than their less (conventionally) educated counterparts to be able to date or marry a man who is their educational equal. Apparently, more women are going to university than men. I know that in my course for example, women outnumbered men. Which proves what women have known for centuries – we’re far more intelligent and productive than men, which explains why until recently they wouldn’t give us our chance to shine. Jokes aside, the article goes on to suggest that in the future we’ll go on to see a lot more ‘mixed collar’ relationships, where women who are highly educated marry and date men in traditional blue collar professions. He emphasises that this shouldn’t be seen as ‘settling’ because obviously, there are wonderful men from many different backgrounds who would make great life partners.
But surely settling is determined by the person who does it? The definition of settling in dating terms is having a standard that is very important to you, but realising that the standard is, at present, unobtainable, and so you learn to live with something lower than that standard.
Let’s be honest here – there’s a good reason a lot of people end up settling. It’s simple. They initially had ridiculous expectations and over inflated opinions of their own value in the dating economy and have had to come face to face with the reality that Denzel Washington they ain’t, so Halle Berry is NOT going to be checking for them even though she’s their dream ‘bae’. I find that men in general are more prone than women to shoot for the Premier League when they’ve been floundering in the Championship for a while (yes, yes, be impressed at my limited footie knowledge), but women can be just as guilty. If you’re on Twitter banging on about finding your Barack Obama when you’re not even vaguely approaching being Michelle, then you really do need to settle, and be happy with your settling.
The idea of dating ‘up’ or dating ‘down’ is fraught with problems. People are are not cars – they don’t come with specifications that makes one make better or worse. Humans are much more complex than a consumer good that we can choose based on speed or durability and Katie Hopkins and Drake could seem like a mismatched pair to me, but in reality get on spankingly well.
Having said that, I think we’d all be lying if we claimed we’d never thought of a hierarchy when it comes to dating. Most of us have thought ‘he’s not good enough for her’ when our friend has dated a guy who just didn’t seem on her level. Someone’s ‘level’ is determined by a bunch of different thing depending on who is judging, but it’s often character, behaviour, physical attractiveness and financial status, as well as education.
The problem is an assumption that the level of formal education necessarily determines whether someone will be able to relate intellectually with you. I studied medicine at university, and frankly, there were more than a few people on the course who I didn’t care to have more than surface conversation with. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have above average intelligence, it just means that a degree doesn’t guarantee that you are a well rounded, well-read or particularly interesting person (to me – everybody is interesting to somebody).
On the other hand, while I haven’t dated a lot, the only men I have dated have had degrees and in my adult life I have never been romantically interested in anyone who didn’t have a degree. This doesn’t mean that men who don’t have degrees are not eligible, it just means that for me, I tend to find that I have more in common with people who do. I definitely have a type, and a guy who has a phD in physics gets my attention instantly because it gives me a marker of a shared value in academic education. That doesn’t mean that someone with a diploma in health and social care or who works on a construction site is completely off my radar. There is a lot more to me than my education.
As a woman though, I understand that my education is rarely as valuable to a man as a man’s education is to a women. I’m making a big generalisation here, but bluntly put, men with degrees probably care less about their partner having a degree than women with degrees. Some women may find that frustrating but it’s the harsh reality. Bearing that in mind, women who think they have siginificant points because they have a degree will find that they’re sorely mistaken in the current dating market. Unfortunately, your masters degree in Business may give you just a couple of marks more than the woman who can cook a really good macaroni cheese depending on the man in question. And I can accept that.
I think the main problem is that I’ve found is that men who aren’t as educated or in jobs as financially rewarding as mine (and mine is NOT that financially rewarding, trust me) tend to be uncomfortable with that. Very quickly in a relationship , their insecurities creep in and comments like “you think you’re smarter than me” begin to pop up in the most random of conversations. Obviously, the ideal man has none of these insecurities but realistically a lot of men do.
Not having a degree doesn’t necessarily make a man less intelligent, less valuable or less eligible, but if he has a hidden belief that it does, I can’t dedicate my time to convincing him otherwise and dealing with the inevitable strain that will place on a relationship.
What do you guys think?