A Boston Globe Magazine article on marriage and divorce in modern times contains this interesting observation:
Academics, therapists, and divorce attorneys say that for young, childless couples where both parties are educated, employed, and capable of financial independence, emotional fulfillment tends to outrank other reasons to get married to a degree that would have been almost unimaginable for their parents or grandparents. Today, emotional fulfillment may be the only reason to marry — and the lack of it can mean the end of a marriage.
Women, I’ll admit, make most of the decisions in the dating scene. Men will generally express an interest in all women who are above a certain level of attractiveness (though other factors can come into play), but women are the ones who choose which men they will consider out of those who express an interest. Women are the gatekeepers.
I have no data to support this argument, but I’ve always thought that the qualities that American women want have changed since, say, the 1950s. Before feminism open the doors to the corporate world, women needed security above all else. They needed men – more specifically, successful wage earners – to achieve this end. So, therefore, women tended to fall in love with men who would provide that security. (Love is not blind — people tend to fall in love with those who have specific criteria previously determined by their subconscious minds. I once heard it deemed “falling in love with a framework.”) Today, however, everything has changed. Women, with increased access to higher education and the corporate world, can now take care of themselves. This, of course, is a beneficial outcome – no person, except in the obvious case of a child, should have to be completely dependent on another.
Still, this reality has rewritten the rules of the dating scene. Women no longer need men; they merely want men. Women can afford to be more picky and stricter gatekeepers. As the Globe article notes, “emotional fulfillment” — a vague term, of course — is now the primary criterion. After all, women tend to “feel” while men tend to “think.”
But, here is the question: is an emotional high brought about by hormones and a partner’s physical attractiveness enough to sustain a relationship in long run? Or do long-term relationships need something else to last?