by Amy Stevens Seal, CEO & Founder of The LDS Matchmaker
In a recent article published by Time Magazine titled What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis, the author, Jon Birger makes the assertion that the loosening of sexual morals is a result of skewed gender ratios in favor of single men, particularly when it comes to college educated, adults.
Birger, who also authored a recent best-selling book called Date-onomics, illustrates how this skewed gender ratio negatively affects both Mormon and Jewish women seeking to find a husband.
The article essentially gives women in these groups permission to feel frustrated by stating that there are just not enough men to go around.
Since the article went live four weeks ago, it has been a significant point of discussion among both married and single members of the LDS faith.
For single LDS females, the article seems to validate a frighteningly real perception many have held for a very long time. At social events and wards for LDS singles, the gender ratio is noticed and lamented by many women seeking to find an eternal companion.
The news and media is filled with negativity. However, those who are wise, realize there is a force for good in the world that often goes unreported.
About a year ago, I received a call from Jon Birger, asking me to comment on his hypothesis of the gender ratio being skewed within the LDS Church.
As the founder of The LDS Matchmaker, it is not uncommon to receive media calls. Many media requests and questions are negatively slanted towards the Church.
I have learned by sad experience to be skeptical of flattering offers for fame and notoriety by participating in their productions.
I politely declined to provide the information he wanted, but he found other sources willing to validate his data and “prove” his points, backing up his analysis for his book and related Time article.
The points highlighted by Birger’s research, cut to the heart of the most painful and vulnerable issues LDS women have wrestled with for years. It’s understandably easy to get worked up about this kind of data and assume the worst.
The world of dating is full of fears, insecurities and frustrations. When negative stories and statistics are circulated, it validates widely held thinking errors that “there is a man shortage” or that “to get a guy you need to be something different than who you are.”
The tendency for women to compare themselves to others, to be critical of their bodies or to feel they are powerless in dating and pursuing relationships, are all part of the negativity and frustration that is so prevalent among singles.
I know that women reading this have degrees from prestigious universities, careers with the world’s top employers, significant relationships with friends and professional contacts that are remarkable. There is a very large number of single women with hard-to-come-by accomplishments that have defied the odds.
We belong to a Church that makes up less than one percent of the world’s population. Does the ratio of the world not believing in what we know to be true stop us from believing? No.
Since when did anything good come with an “even” playing field? Honestly, what worthy goal or pursuit in life has come easy?
Does the percentage of applicants admitted to a given college or university stop you from pursuing your goal of a quality education? Are you satisfied being a victim to the statistics? Absolutely not!
Most women cited in Birger’s so called gender ratio shortage graduated from a college or university that admitted less than half of those who applied.
Let me remind you that the adversary is cunning and continues to mix the philosophies of men with just enough truth to be convincing . . . and discouraging.
What greater way to threaten our progression than to stop our eternal family from being created. Through these tools, we become captive to doubt, fear and feelings of lack and deficiency.
To combat negative perceptions that hold us back, we need to ask productive questions and get focused on effective solutions vs. the problems that weigh us down. Instead of worrying about how many men there actually are, focus on what you can influence, most importantly, yourself.
As I consider the fruits of my matchmaking and dating coach labors over the years, I think of the many interactions I have had with thousands of singles in various stages of finding love. It is clear to me that there is one important question to ask. What makes the difference for those who find love and get married?
I’d like to share three stories of women who were the least likely to find love according to Birger’s “statistics”:
Julie, age 43, was working as an ex-pat, living in a very remote area of the world. She received a master’s degree from a prestigious university and had achieved a great deal of success in her career. She had minimal opportunities to meet single men, let alone men who were LDS. After committing herself to a dating program, which emphasized personal responsibility, she got others involved in her cause and successfully found a wonderful man who was visiting the country she lived in. She made many sacrifices to date long distance and re-evaluated her expectations for marriage to align with the reality of the life circumstances she chose. She is now happily married to the amazing man she attracted into her life.
Emily was 40 years old and while she was highly thought of in the workplace, she had never even been on a second date in her life. After being promoted to a leadership role in her job, she worried that her true desire of having a family seemed beyond reach. She was not in any way what the world would deem as “physically attractive” but she was a beautiful person. She decided to embark on a journey to become a better version of herself and make it her year to find love. Although she struggled with her weight, she enlisted professional stylists to help her find flattering styles she felt comfortable with to update her look. She worked with a professional writer to highlight the interesting parts of her life and personality to create an online dating profile that would get noticed. Most importantly, she was able to let go of many negative beliefs she had held onto for so long. Within two months of implementing these changes, she met her husband online. She is now happily married with a darling baby boy.
Marnie age 36 was an African American woman living in Utah, after graduating from BYU with honors. She met very few men who seemed to consider her as a dating option. She felt rejected and unwanted. Her experiences led her to believe that men in Salt Lake were not open to her ethnicity. She decided to hire a dating coach who helped her understand the law of attraction in drawing the right men into her life. By applying her newfound knowledge, she succeeded in dating more in the year that followed than she had in the previous 16 years! She experienced a stark difference by actively working to change her perception of the possibilities for her life. She married one of the men and couldn’t be happier!
Many people argue that love happens when one is “not looking” - by chance, fate or God’s timing. A closer look into the lives of those who have found lasting love, reveals that the real key to their happy ending was a good mix of the following:
Creating the right circumstances in their lives to meet the right people
Taking personal responsibility
Being vulnerable, open and real
Trying on new and different things
Taking a new attitude or approach to the same circumstances
Making a conscious choice to stay focused on what works rather than focusing on disappointments
Birger’s Time Magazine article quotes a matchmaker, who shared that she has three times as many women as men in her database.
The LDS Matchmaker database gender ratio is two females to one male. This doesn't demonstrate there are more women than men available, it simply means that more women have joined a matchmaking database.
The majority of matchmakers are women, not men. Most matchmakers begin building their databases by pulling from their own social networks. It should be no surprise that female matchmakers have more women in their databases.
Paul Brunson, one of the most successful male matchmakers in the world, stated in a recent conversation we had that there are many other factors to consider in analyzing the real gender ratio situation.
Paul has more men in his matchmaking database, for a variety of reasons. He markets many of his services specifically to men. Since he is a man, his message resonates with more men, thus driving them into his network.
There are certain activities, technologies and services that draw in more men than women and vice versa. The reality is there are certain ideas that connect with the male psychology and others that draw more women.
Tinder users are 70 percent male but no one tries to prove this means there are more single men than women.
Self-help seminar attendees are typically 70 percent female. Is this because men don’t care about self-improvement? I would argue that men do care about self-improvement but many take a different approach to making positive changes in their lives than attending a seminar.
There are often gender ratio disparities at LDS singles wards or social events. However, this does not demonstrate that there are more women than men in the dating pool. It only illustrates that men and women take different approaches to why, where, when and what they engage in to pursue encounters with the opposite sex.
Evan Marc Katz, a popular male dating coach, sums up his thoughts on Jon Birger’s research:
“No matter where you go, no matter what your gender, there’s going to be a finite number of people who are actively dating, emotionally available, attractive, educated, commitment-oriented and interested in you. Go onto Match or OkCupid. That’s a random sampling of what’s out there and both sites’ gender ratios are close to 50/50. And if that’s the case, how much time do you want to spend worrying that, societally, there are more women college graduates than men?”
“My point is not to entirely negate Birger’s use of game theory, which suggests that men turn into players because they don’t have to commit. It’s just not the full story. Eventually, most men WANT to commit. Which is why 80% of the population still gets married. And why, as a single woman, you’re never going to run out of college educated men to choose from. The game of musical chairs never actually ends. Match will never go out of business, I will never go out of business, and just about everyone who wants to get married eventually gets married.”
As a once divorced, now happily married, cancer surviving, 43-year-old, “infertile” female, who grew up as a shy, awkward red head, I have certainly defied the odds if that’s what we are focusing on.
But, if you look deeper into my story, you will realize that my faith and action combined with determination and personal responsibility for my life are what made all the difference in finding the man of my dreams and creating my eternal family.
In life we find what we are looking for. If you are looking for reasons to validate your perception of a “man shortage,” you will find them in abundance. If you are looking for a good man and notice good qualities in the people you meet, you are capable of finding that too.
There are so many reasons to have hope and faith. Religion is built on the concept of true faith, which includes the way we think, act, feel, and experience the world.
Women you’ve got this. Don’t let statistics, setbacks or naysayers stop you from achieving your eternal goals.
There’s really no one stopping you but yourself. Game on girls! And if you need further reassurance, call The LDS Matchmaker - we’ll convince you that if you’re ready to make it happen, the odds really are in YOUR favor!