Today’s guest post is by Bishop Bill. I recently read a very interesting article in Time Magazine about the LDS (and Jewish) dating scene. I have a particular interest in this as I have a daughter in her late 30s that was widowed last year due to cancer, and she lives in Utah County.
The article is partly a book review of Date-onomics, a book that breaks down dating trends by demographics. Not only is it harder to find a partner when the numbers are uneven; it radically changes behaviors between the sexes in ways that disadvantage the majority sex!
Highlights of the article:
- In Utah, there are 3 single women for 2 men (active LDS). The gender gap has grown from 52:48 female to male in 1990 to 60:40 currently.
- This has been caused by more men leaving the religion than women.
- The lopsided numbers encourage Mormon men to hold out for the perfect wife, “paradox of choice” I’m dating a 9.5, but I’m holding out for a 9.8.
- Studies have shown that women are more likely to be treated as sex objects whenever men are scarce.
- Salt Lake City residents also spent inordinate sums on beauty products—$2.2 million in 2006 on hair coloring and $6.9 million on cosmetics and skin care products, according to Forbes. By comparison, Oklahoma City, a city with a slightly larger population, spent $172,000 and $594,000, respectively.
- Mormon Matchmaker, an LDS dating site, has 3 times as many single women looking for a match than single men.
- Some interviewees observed that due to the dearth of eligible men, there is an increase in promiscuity in Mormon dating culture.
In short, it’s a buyer’s market in which men are the buyers and women are the commodities. So, in a church so obviously geared toward men, why are so many of them leaving? Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa (who also happens to be ex-LDS) considers it an unexpected byproduct of the growing importance of the mission in the life of Mormon men; faced with the choice to serve or not (at a young age when they may not be fully ready to commit), many have chosen to leave. The more pressure to serve, the more they feel obligated to leave altogether if they don’t meet this requirement (rather than remain and lose status in the community). From the article:
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Mormon men do not go on missions, which typically entail a mix of community service and proselytizing. Mormon men are being asked to serve missions at precisely the time in their lives—late teens and early twenties—when sociologists say men are most susceptible to dropping out of organized religion.
Another problem for single women in the LDS church is that LDS men are delaying marriage more than ever, but they still want the option to have many children–which means their same age female peers are less desirable marriage partners due to fewer remaining years of fertility.
So, aside from boob jobs, what can LDS women do to deal with the new reality? Options seem limited.
- Marry non-LDS men
- Freeze their eggs (the overwhelming advice in the Jewish community)
The article recommends a few things:
- Making missions optional for both men & women, lowering the pressure to serve that drives many men out of the church.
- Giving women more to do in the church rather than just motherhood so that they don’t feel like utter failures if they don’t marry.
- Reduce the pressure to marry within the faith.
Clearly, nobody’s clamoring to bring back polygamy. What do you suggest?
- What would you tell your adult daughter?
- What would you do if you were a single LDS woman facing these odds?