It seems that there is a struggle to find the right man that gets harder and harder as people get older.

The Man Drought is a phenomena which has been discussed at length over the last 10-20 years. It is commonly taken to be the perception that there are less eligible men than there are eligible women. It’s still pretty common to hear it mentioned in the press, as well as in many a late night conversation with friends. Those quoting statistics also profess that the Man Drought is not just an issue of perception, but an issue of fact.

So, is it true that there is a man drought?

Well, it depends who you ask.

The Man Drought has its origins in census statistics. In Australia where I am from, it is cited that there are less men than there are women in our country. In fact, McCrindle’s research has documented this reality in our nation. The evidence shows that there are higher numbers of women than there are men overall, and different ratios in different states. There are other charts which document this phenomena, showing how the percentages have changed overtime. Where a surplus of men existed in say the 70s and 80s, the stats have now swung in the opposite direction. Morever, in Australia (again), the number of single men available decreases as you get older (particularly into your 40s and older). The statistics may be true of your part of the world also.

But it’s the reason why there is such a focus on these statistics is perhaps the more interesting and poignant part of the data.

You don’t have to go very far to find out that a lot of single women are struggling to find the right man. “Where have the men gone?”, “why are all the good ones taken or gay?”, “I think I’m just going to settle to be a cat lady”, all sorts of questions and statements that get thrown around ad nauseam. This is particularly true as people start to get older – I have definitely noted as I’ve hit 25 and a lot of my female friends have or are heading past it (or feel like they’re well past it), this is of greater and greater concern for them. There are a lot of jokes from both men and women about eggs drying up and the unavailability of men. This goes beyond Why He Hasn’t Asked You Out Yet – this is trying to find anyone of interest.

In my younger days, I would’ve responded with “Man Drought? What Man Drought?”. But having now been exposed to numerous people, mainly friends, who have experienced this pressure or thought, I think it’s worth more of a reality check than just to write it off.

So let’s have a look at how we can all negotiate the Man Drought.

Location Location

In a few articles about the Man Drought, there is a pointed observation that a lot of men prioritize their career and head overseas, where they eventually marry. This is a pretty valid point by the numbers at least. We now live in a global economy, and people are no longer considering cultural boundaries or distance as blockages to being able to further their career. If there is an opportunity overseas that promises higher pay, less stress, better views and stronger career progression, more and more men are willing to make the jump and travel abroad.

Of course, this leaves a few less of them for the ladies back home. As a result, some suggest to the ladies to not be afraid to get their travel on to go find the right man. However, a lot of women have their lives where they are currently living, with careers, goals, and commitments of their own to pursue. Abandoning it all on the chance of finding The One in some foreign country isn’t always the most attractive option.

This obviously isn’t the biggest issue to consider, but it’s definitely is worth mentioning, so it’s here.

The impact of celebrity

Boyfriend Material

I’ve got to be honest. As a single guy, who talks to single guys, who observes the behaviour of single female friends, there is without a doubt a huge impact made by celebrity. I guess for me when I saw girls going gaa-gaa for some of the men of the silver screen during high school, I thought, hey, this is just a phase, it’ll pass soon enough.

Fast forward 9 years and I still see a significant enough number of single people I know *daily* making mention (usually via social media with an accompanying image) of some actor or some celebrity who is the ultimate dreamy combo, usually followed by the word “Yummy”. Once I have regained my composure, I stumble across the next half dressed man or suggestive comment, with dozens and dozens of like-minded women also voicing their interest.

Now, I have to say there is definitely some sort of accepted double standard in Western culture. I know a lot of girls say “It’s not a double standard, we’d let the guys do it too”, but the reality is that is simply not true. A man or a group of men who share images or celebrities are usually branded as idealistic, sexist, or putting down the women they know. The same feedback is not given to the girls, as somehow the attention is different.

And hey, I’m not saying *every* woman does this, I just seem to know enough who are I guess.

I’m just saying, celebrity has had a profound impact on how we as a society see and expect men to behave.

It’s not just actors, it is also these stories of men who, by the age of 23, own their first house and are moving on to their second, have a PhD and two Masters’ degrees in different fields, and all the while are athletic champions. And hey, there are some men like this, and they are usually some of the most humble guys around (I do know a few).

But to be fair, they are not the rule, they are usually the exception. And I guess a lot of men would be brushed under the covers in favour of being able to desire an untouchable man such as this.

I guess the most ironic thing is that the celebrities that we desire often have even greater relational struggle than the rest of us. How many wives some of these “ideal” men have gone through is kind of terrifying.

Which leads us to one of the big topics in this arena…

Expectations and eligibility

I guess in tackling the question of the Man Drought, which states that there are not as many eligible men around as there should be, you have to ask the question…

What exactly is eligibility?

There are many different characteristics that seem to make up eligibility. Usually the quick ones to be mentioned are someone who is successful, driven, hot, not poor, and not a cheater. There are guys who are held up as example men and the ones that the magazines tell men to be like and women to desire (much like in the same way there are ideals of womanhood held up to us guys).

But it seems like eligibility looks different to different people. As it usually is.

You see, despite the numerical difference, there are still a large number of single men. You may even be a single man reading this and going, “Hey, I’m still single!”. But the Man Drought problem isn’t that there aren’t any single men around, it’s that none of them are what would fall under the “eligible” label.

So how do you define eligibility? Do you know? And if you do, is your list realistic? If a man held you to the same standards, would he be able to tick things off?

Do you pass your own test?

An old pastor of mine rightly said that “Marriage isn’t so much about finding the right person as it is about being the right person”. If we’re still harbouring insecurity and unrealistic expectations, often these are the things that may get in the way of seeing the people who are actually around us. We’re all human beings, and we all require a lot of grace and acceptance with a lot of the choices we make through our lives. There are definitely things that are important here – such as “how can two walk hand in hand unless they are in agreement?”.

But just as a tip for life, how much better it would be to see all those we know through the lens of grace. As we perceive and discover the depth of the grace aimed towards us, may we be ever increasing in demonstrating it towards others.

Afraid to settle?

There is a fear that comes from this line of thought that “I don’t just want to settle”. That’s a pretty powerful line. Settling is how we refer to losing out on something we really wanted. And this is one of the driving forces behind the blame on the Man Drought. It’s the world’s problem that I feel like I have to settle.

But I guess the reality is that there are some things that it’s okay to settle on. Maybe he doesn’t play guitar. It works both ways – maybe she’s not the fittest woman in the world. Maybe they aren’t the best person with finances ever. Maybe they get scared sometimes. Hey, maybe they have a past. Maybe there is some uncertainty in their life direction.

A fear of settling is definitely one of the drivers of the Man Drought discussion.

Why does it matter to you?

I guess the real issue here is why does it matter? Why does it matter that you have lots of options to pick from? Or why does it matter that you find someone?

I think it helps to have a reality check every now and again about why you’re actually on this hunt for love in the first place. Is it because you’re lonely? Because you want to have a family? Because you want to be a mum (or a dad if you’re a guy reading this)? Is it because you have dreams that take two people? Is it because you need someone to take care of your finances? Is it so that someone can wait on you hand and foot at all hours of the day? Is it because you perceive yourself meaningless or incomplete without a respective other?

Love is a beautiful thing. Just this past weekend, I had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies for two friends at their reception who tied the knot. And it was a magical day. Two lives who love each other. Two hearts who know they belong together. Joined and destined by God for a plan that they couldn’t accomplish on their own. Never needing to worry about who will be at the party or at the function, because they’ll be with each other. Ready to face the world together.

We’re not looking for a perfect person. There’s only every been One of those. We’re looking for someone who’d be perfect for us.

In summary, I guess I can’t give a complete answer to solve 100% all the issues of the Man Drought. Hopefully these have been some good things for us to all think about, whether we’re a single woman still struggling to make that connection, a single man trying to make that connection for ourselves, or anyone in an observer position who is lending a hand to a friend or relative.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the boxes below. This topic could certainly benefit from your discussion.

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