A sophomore from Athens Amber Estes wrote an advice piece on how to find husband in college (via Instapundit). The college years seem be a good time to pair up, especially when the men are conveniently pre-selected to meet certain minimum requirements, but some parents disagree. In her cover story for The Atlantic, for instance, Katie Bolick recalled that her mother suggested that her college boyfriend break up with her daughter (many years down the road, her dad lamented that she’s unlucky in love). A while ago, Penelope Trunk broke the mold recommending to start the husband hunt “early”, by 24. I commented back then that’s what’s shocking about this statement is that 24 is considered early, and I think Estes might concur.
In the mid-90s, when I transferred to Berkeley in my junior year, I started out under the assumption that everyone would be looking for a spouse. After all, this is what I knew in the Soviet Union where by the time they received their diplomas most women were married, likely had children, and possibly had already divorced.
It’s not just that I personally didn’t exactly follow Amber’s advice — I shopped for some outrageous get ups at Mars Mercantile and wasn’t too shy to parade them around campus, for instance — or that I didn’t do the Greek scene, which seems to be her thing. I struggle to think of a single Berkeley alumni my age who married her college sweetheart — not sorority girls, not Russians, not anyone.
I found that few students were interested in romance, and that the relationships that did form on campus were often of the transient kind — one night stands, “open” relationships, or the ones that simple didn’t last long. We were busy: the curriculum was fairly demanding, and we were on the studious side. It’s worth noting that the atmosphere was cliquish and students didn’t talk much to each other. Perhaps feminism played a role, and young men were unsure of themselves. More importantly, there was the prevailing assumption that the 20s are not for childbearing. Many of us were graduate degree-bound, and even the ones who weren’t didn’t want to be bound to a single individual at that stage. If I mentioned wanting to have two children by the time I’m 30, other students thought it was crazytalk. Most of them didn’t worry about such things.
They also, if you find this information relevant, didn’t think I was a motherly type. My retort was that nearly everyone is a motherly type. I eventually lost touch with my college friends, but I do know that at 33 I was among the first to get married, and at 34 I was among the first to give birth. Personally, I found it very difficult to start a family in my 20s. Perhaps I was doing it all wrong; I didn’t bake cookies for bf’s buddies as Estes suggests. To the contrary, DH’s old bandmate called me a Zionist bitch, and I am still damn proud of it. But I suspect that the less confrontational women fared worse than me when it comes to love, mainly because they didn’t plan for it.
I do see quite a few professional Bay Area mothers who started having kids in their late 20s. But even within this “young mom” demo, I’m yet to meet a single woman who married a college sweetheart. It could be sample bias, of course, but it might just be that around here we are not wired to meet our men on campus. So either there is some kind of emerging trend for earlier marriage or the South is just different.