A friend of mine claims once a woman reaches the age of 21 she is free game for any free man even if she’s “taken.” His reasoning is if a woman is smart and talented and beautiful she will not be unattached long because a man will hunt her down and lock her up like his property in a relationship or a marriage.

My friend goes on to claim a woman over 21 who is not in some sort of committed relationship has “something wrong with her” that makes her an unattractive choice for dating and marriage or she has bigger plans than spending a lot of time with one man.

This predicament for the lonely single man, my friend claims, demands any woman in a relationship that does not include newborn children, is fair game even if she has a ring on her finger or claims to be in a relationship.

“You can’t find a good woman today who is unattached,” he claims, “because all the good women are taken so you have to realize your next wife or girlfriend is already in a committed relationship.

Even when the ‘good women’ have relationship breakups they don’t last long going unattached. That doesn’t mean,” he continued, “you are out to break up people, but the fact the woman claims to love someone else shouldn’t stop you from thinking of her as a future potential mate.”

I understand what my friend is claiming, but does it make any sense in the real world? Is his philosophy dangerous for ongoing, established relationships? Do women share the same view that “all the good ones are taken” and there is an expectation today that relationships and marriage are only fleeting and of-the-moment?


  1. This is a really interesting question, David. I guess if someone in a long-term committed relationship, whether it be marriage or not, is seeming ‘available’, then it is only a matter of time until the ‘death’ of that commitment. One would think (hope) that if you are married, your availability has ‘ended’ but reality dictates that sometimes, things don’t work and if you are looking beyond your relationship, is it an indication that things are irretrievably broken? I do believe that you can love more than one person at a time in this life..but I don’t believe you can be in committed relationships with more than one person. And I don’t believe that someone over the age of 21 has something wrong with them – sometimes the search takes a lot, lot longer than anyone could have predicted…

  2. Wendy —
    You ask many excellent questions in return! Thank you!
    The “seeming available” is an interesting turn-of-phrase. Do we send out signals of availability even though we are not?
    Is it proper to accept the current as the final forever?
    Or is there always a chance circumstances and life could change and to be ready for the inevitable end is to be relationship-smart and not lonely-stupid?
    Does a person earn only one true love in a lifetime?
    Is it possible to fall in love with the perfect person more than once?
    I think my friend’s point about 21 is that it was a legal age and by that point most of the “good women” are already scooped up and are unavailable so if you wanted one of them you had to accept she would already be committed elsewhere when you met her…

  3. I don’t think that the age of 21 means anything in today’s society as far as being “taken.”
    When I was 21, I dated a lot, and the women I knew dated often. We were in college and there were more women than men on campus, so it was natural to try to meet as many of them as possible to see if you could find a good match.
    It was also popular to not really date any woman exclusively, but to go out on “group dates” where you brought your friends and she brought her friends. Or, we’d end up at house parties where it seemed that everyone was single and available.
    I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to settle down and I know the women I knew had a long view and marriage often was far away because they were just starting life.
    I’ve found in my area, that there are many unattached single women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are extremely attractive and would make great partners for any guy.
    I think the problem is with the men, not these women. There are a lot of “loser” guys out there who expect the woman to become his mama and take care of him, feed him, and clean up after him when he gets into a relationship with her. Some women get tired of trying to “raise a man” who can’t hold down a job or accomplish any goals.
    Other guys are like “Johnny Appleseed.” They want to plant their seed, then move on to the next conquest. When it comes to getting a job and supporting their woman and kids, they aren’t up to the task and move on in the hopes of avoiding child support, commitment and all that is involved in mature relationship.
    I do know that a ring doesn’t mean much for some people. In some ways, a ring is attractive because it means that there won’t be a daily entanglement that comes from having a serious and commited relationship. Maybe this is attractive to your friend and is a reason why he sees married women as being potentially available? He can have his fun without the need of supporting or being involved in a long-term relationship with her.
    I remember hearing about a study that suggested that “man-sharing” is more common than people think because in some places there is a perceived shortage of men. I’ve known women who have told me that a ring is attractive because they get all of the benefits and fun, but can send the guy home to his wife afterward. Of course, I would bet that there are more guys who subscribe to this philosophy than do women.
    There is a cost to be paid for being unfaithful and many women wish that they could find the right guy to settle down with. Often, they don’t settle down even when they reach their 30s or 40s because they haven’t found the right man who will be an equal partner in a committed relationship.
    For more on the “man-sharing” issue, see http://www.fyicomminc.com/gaianews/speech12.htm

  4. Chirs!
    I appreciate your take on the matter and I understand there are a lot of twentysomethings that are “available” and attractive.
    The “man-sharing” link is a great read, thanks!

  5. Chirs!
    I appreciate your take on the matter and I understand there are a lot of twentysomethings that are “available” and attractive.
    The “man-sharing” link is a great read, thanks!

  6. Hey David,
    I think the concept of ”availability” is relative and situation specific. Personally, I won’t go for any ”attached/ engaged/ committed” person – no matter how green the grass looks. I wouldn’t even hope or wait for that miracle to happen. And, if someone tries to pursue me when I am in a so called ”committed” relationship? I won’t definitely be two timing. Coming out of a ”committed” relationship by being pursued by another potential charmer? Well, I think it’s a personal choice. If someone comes out of an established relationship just because I am pursuing him – he might walk out from me one day being pursued by someone else. I do agree that the best of the ”good people” don’t stay unattached very long but at the same time – can the concept of ”best” be generalized? What is ”best” for me might not be same for you and vice versa. Is your friend’s philosophy dangerous? Some people love to live dangerously!

  7. Hey David,
    I think the concept of ”availability” is relative and situation specific. Personally, I won’t go for any ”attached/ engaged/ committed” person – no matter how green the grass looks. I wouldn’t even hope or wait for that miracle to happen. And, if someone tries to pursue me when I am in a so called ”committed” relationship? I won’t definitely be two timing. Coming out of a ”committed” relationship by being pursued by another potential charmer? Well, I think it’s a personal choice. If someone comes out of an established relationship just because I am pursuing him – he might walk out from me one day being pursued by someone else. I do agree that the best of the ”good people” don’t stay unattached very long but at the same time – can the concept of ”best” be generalized? What is ”best” for me might not be same for you and vice versa. Is your friend’s philosophy dangerous? Some people love to live dangerously!

  8. Excellent response, Katha, and I think you’re getting to the heart of the matter my friend was trying to convey. I found his theory fascinating on a level I am not successfully expressing here.

  9. I think I get your friend’s point. Maybe it’s a New York/East Coast thing. Most women who are not in a relationship are career driven or not interested in being “tied down” because they want to live on their own terms.
    So those women are not available to a man who wants a relationship because the women who are bright, smart, funny and well-educated and who WANT a relationship are already in one unless your timing is great.
    He’s feeling down a little that he’s ready to offer himself again and there’s no one around who’s A). Interested or B). Available or C). Old Enough.
    The “Golden Ring” women don’t stay single long because part of the reach of grabbing that ring includes being in a relationship while the “Brass Ring” women are reaching for money and power and success and not a man.
    So the women who interest your friend are already “taken” and that’s depressing to him.

  10. That’s it, Karvain!
    I think you’ve explained it better than I did and I thank you.
    This is about feeling lonely because all the suitable mates are taken and you’re left along in the world to yearn for what you cannot have unless you accept the fact that the woman you may later love will be coming out of a relationship or breaking away from one to join you.

  11. I get your friend. I don’t think he’s looking for sexual notches. I think he’s feeling out of it by not being attached and realizing he may never get the right attachment again.

  12. Thanks, Karvain!
    My friend was not trying to brag or conquer. He was expressing a great loss and realization of that loss and its ramifications that I did not clearly convey here.

  13. Hey David,
    If a partnership (regardless of personal or professional) doesn’t work we tend to self-crucify ourselves; at least I do. And definitely worry about the unknown/ unseen future. Moreover, after a great personal loss we don’t have much energy left to hunt for another one immediately and the scenario tends to look very bleak. May be it is an outburst of your friend’s present mental condition – who knows? My point is the world is not such a hopeless place if you know what to look for!

  14. I think I finally understand it after reading Karvain’s post and can sympathize.
    I was thinking about it from a different angle of some guy who was saying he could get any woman he wanted at any time. Some extraordinarily fine women with brains and beauty ask themselves where did all of the good guys go and why can’t the guys they meet treat them right?
    Your friend should keep his eyes open and never despair. There are some gems out there to be discovered who are sexy, smart, and willing to make a commitment to the right guy.

  15. Hi Katha —
    Yes, what you say makes sense.
    I tried to put myself in my friend’s position just now.
    The women I know in my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances and professional circles demonstrates that I find attractive on all levels are all either married or dating someone. None are single or unattached.
    The women around me in the same circle who are single or unattached are either so scarred from previous relationships that I would never risk having a relationship or they are too young to consider or they are already married… to their jobs.
    So the only women who interest me are already “taken” by someone else and that would be a sad and lonely affair to face and I guess that’s why some of the online dating services find customers because there is a human need to not just find a connection with someone but one that is good and creative and special.

  16. Dave —
    My wife’s father drank for 50 years and in many ways ruined his family and his marriage. He’s now sober for 10 years at 73 but he had a heart attack a year ago and hasn’t left the hospice since. How he stayed married through those abusive years where he beat up his only son and emotionally abused two daughters and a wife is beyond my comprehension.
    I think the Midwestern values system played a lot into it plus the fact that the mother is deeply religious is also a factor in her attempt to “keep the family unit whole at any cost.” The cost, unfortunately, is paid by the children over the rest of their lives.
    Hey! Janna is crazy to visit Disney in Florida! If you hear of any deals or have any insider tips on having a lot of fun, lemme know!

  17. Chris!
    Yes, that’s it! It’s the male side of the coin when women lament “Where are all the good men” when they are surrounded by single men.

  18. You might want to suggest that your friend go outside of his usual circle of acquaintances. In an urban area, this is a lot easier to do than in the suburbs or rural places.
    He might be pleasantly surprised to discover that there is a whole world of single women waiting to meet him that he might not have considered in the past.
    He might want to evaluate if he is willing to break down any self-imposed barriers, such as race or religious denomination. (I wouldn’t switch to another religion, however). Being open to new ideas and experiences opens up opportunities to meet new women who aren’t taken, but who haven’t been considered because they weren’t in the immediate vicinity.
    The key is to always present himself as being confident and happy with himself. If he just broke up, he should take time to exercise and have fun. He should make a point of reaching out to women around him — not to gain a relationship, but to make some sort of connection that might spark a relationship.
    As also with many things in life, projecting confidence is also important.
    He wants to adopt the best attributes of the “ubersexual” male as the advertising world is defining the term: “Ubersexuals are the most attractive (not just physically), most dynamic, and most compelling men of their generations. They are confident, masculine, stylish, and committed to uncompromising quality in
    all areas of life.”
    A lot of romance and attraction (and many other things in life) has to do with the projection of confidence. If your friend presents himself in a confident way, he’ll find women making an effort to reach out to him before he knows it.
    The key to confidence is to find the way to be happy with himself. It’s amazing to discover that if can figure out how to be happy with yourself, others will be drawn to you like a magnet.
    Pretty soon, he won’t be worried about all the women being taken because he’ll find that many women will be looking to find a way to spend time with him.

  19. Hi Chris —
    Your advice will be passed on and I thank you for your caring and gentle advice. Sometimes when you’re stuck in a rut or thrown into a fog and you’re foundering you look for anything to hold onto to regain your footing and your message is just the kind of handle he needs right now.
    The “ubersexual” link is priceless! I printed it out for Janna!

  20. wow. interesting post.
    i think that if we adopt that kind of attitude towards finding a good partner to share our lives with, we are in big trouble. I can’t say that I agree with your friend. I know plenty of ‘good men’ AND ‘good women’ who are single not because they have unattractive dating habits or aren’t ready to commit themselves to one person. I think we all experiences bouts, periods of time where we spread ourselves thinnly to others, date around, or chose to spend our single selves more introspectively…I don’t think that is any indication of that person being a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ candidate for partnership. And ‘good’ is so relative.

  21. Hi Stella!
    Welcome to our forum and thanks for the comment!
    I agree “good” is relative and one’s sense of goodness may not even be in the ballpark as someone else’s. That’s probably what makes “mate finding” so hard and a “soul mate” a once-in-a-lifetime thing!

  22. That seems a little absurd. I mean, it is quite possible for a woman to just…WANT to be single. Especially when she is that young. Too many women, in my opinion, rush into committed relationships without even knowing themselves. I am guilty of that very thing. When I was 21, I was already living with someone, and I really am grateful for the experience (it taught me a lot about what I don’t want) but I wish I had gotten to know myself a little better before diving in.

  23. Hi spaceface —
    I’m not sure what’s absurd when you are proving my friend’s point with your post.
    There are fantastic women who want to get to know themselves first before settling down in a committed relationship — so you’re unavailable and taken by yourself and your other interests.

  24. David-
    I think we cannot customize another person; we can only customize our wishes, desires etc… and whether we would do it that is/should be our personal choice. If I were in your friend’s place I would have packed my bags and take a trip. That’s how I reached here! 😀

  25. Hey david,
    Its tough to break my heart 😀
    I was a bit disillusioned in my life after being in a six years of so called ”committed” relationship. Wanted to ”taste” life more in an adventurous and constructive way – decided to pursue higher studies – gave GRE, scored well, got admission, got my visa and reached here! 😀
    The best lesson I learnt from my past experiemnce is ”don’t allow anyone to be your priority when you are just their option!”
    Did that answer your question???

  26. Hi Katha —
    Thanks for the wonderful comment! You are truly a wonder! I admire your grit and self-determination and your kind ability to phrase things in such an immediately understandable way.
    I know an Indian woman who had the same sort of situation. She was stuck married to a man without any prospects. He was brilliant, but could not pass the GRE. She passed the GRE, came over, but he was unable to follow because he did not have the proper documentation. Instead of following his call to come home, they divorced and she stayed in New Jersey and is now getting her PhD.

  27. Thanks for your support David!
    I know I can’t control all incidents in my life, but I can control my reactions – that is my choice. Fortunately I was not married; it would have been an extra hassle.
    One more lesson learnt: nothing is indispensable in life except choice!

  28. Yes David! Choice is the only thing in life that is indispensable. My supposed to be boyfriend for six years decided to marry another girl who was from an extremely well off family and was the only successor or some thing like that – more greener grass and his choice!
    I decided to opt for a much tougher alternative to fine tune my efficiency – that is my choice!

  29. Katha —
    I’m sorry it didn’t work out with your boyfriend. Six years is a long time to dedicate to a person.
    I hope your alternative isn’t too tough and that your choice will bring you happiness and warmth.

  30. Hey David!
    I am more than happy to be here and to come to know you guys!!! I am enjoying every bit of it!
    Yes, six years is a long time and too many memories – well, made me learn so much! No regrets!

  31. Heya Katha!
    We love having you with us! Can you stay here forever or are you forced to go back the moment you finish your studies?
    No regrets! Right! That’s the only way to live a proper life! If you don’t like one decision that’s made, don’t look back, look forward to making the next decision better!

  32. What an interesting topic, with tons of great points. I don’t know that I agree with your friend; to it sounds like an excuse not to venture outside a certain comfort zone (Chris’ excellent point about breaking down barriers). It’s strange, because so many people rely–quite understandably–on dating services, which screen dates according to certain criteria. Yet the most solid couples I know have partners who are dissimilar in many ways. Perhaps this leads to better communication skills? I don’t know.
    Here’s my own observation about the (few) long-term single women I know: The women who are happy to be single don’t put up with BS, which limits the pool. But they’re okay with that. Those who aren’t happy being single have unrealistic expectations of what a relationship entails.

  33. Hi zia!
    Thanks for your take on this matter.
    I have a female friend who went to a reunion at what used to be an all-female college and she and ten of her girlfriends all sat around wondering why none of them were married what was wrong with them. They wanted a man and marriage and children and none of them had any of it yet. They ranged in age from 26-28 and they were all well-educated, beautiful and smart. I guess that kind of package can scare off a man.

  34. First of all, 26 – 28 seems young –from my lofty age of 32 :-)–to be so worried. That’s the age when one’s career is really taking off, after all, when one starts to learn who she really is and what she wants.
    I went to an all-women’s college too, and the expectation was that we not only could, but WOULD, have it all: career, enlightened marriage, children. And I think it’s created a set of sometimes unrealistic expectations. We want men who give us huge diamond engagement rings, but won’t be upset if we earn more than they do. We want men who who will open doors for us, but who can also share their sensitive sides. It’s all very contradictory, and if I were male, it would scare the bejeezus out of me.
    So what’s scaring people off? Package? Or expectations?
    And don’t get me wrong: I’m a total feminist. Just a realist too, who happens to love her sometimes-enlightened, sometimes-not male partner.

  35. Hey zia!
    I wouldn’t call these women “man-haters” but I would call them “man-don’t-really-needers.”
    Men like to FEEL wanted even if they are not and these women don’t want to pretend even for a little big. Feminism – to them – means women are BETTER than men and not equal to…
    When you get the stink eye for opening a door for these women because they feel you are putting them down because they think you think their gender is too weak to pull open a door, you quickly learn to avoid interacting with them at every level because they’re out to “get you” for any little perceived infraction.
    It gets really old fast and I’m married and not looking — but, in their eyes — all men are men and married or not you get the same treatment because we all think the same way.

  36. A couple of observations, I am middle aged and from my observatons of older single women, pushing and over 30s, is that most of them don’t take care of themselves, ie overweight. Others who seem to be available and attractive in reality are not all that easy to engage on any level, either lack desire, or relational skills.
    Now here is the kicker, the women that do show interest and flirt are married women or younger women, makes it hard to be on the right side of the road.

  37. Welcome to Urban Semiotic, Charlie.
    Are you THAT Charlie Tuna of worldwide radio fame?
    Your comments certainly have an interesting point of view and I will be curious to learn what others think of your perspective.

  38. it seems to me that all the good women out there are taken today. i consider myself an average good looking man and having a very hard time finding the right woman today. i was married twice. my first wife cheated on me. my second wife is bipolar and always talked about killing herself. i told her how much i loved her and she should not talk like that. then she started coming home from work late which she never did before. when i asked her about it she started screaming at me. and she was never like that. i was pretty sure she cheated on me as well. i was always a good husband to both of the women that i was married to at one time. now it is very hard to find another woman to meet again. where are the nice women today?

  39. Thing is, they’re not *really* good if they don’t stay attached for long. 😉

    You see, a “good woman” is quite an arbitrary definition depending on what one means by “good”. I would think that someone looking for a serious long-term relationship would not consider good to merely be “smart and attractive”, and give much more weight to “committed”. What good is a woman who is easily swayed to switch allegiance for someone looking for a stable and committed relationship? Not much I say, no matter how smart, talented, successful and attractive she be.

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