When does a single man finally decide to settle down?

May 7, 2013






In compiling my book, Finding Mr Right, book I researched an abundance of literature, trawled the Internet and continuously interviewed.  I have also gleaned snippets and vital pieces of information from many helpful people encountered along the way.

Throughout my research, I became, almost to the point of obsession, fascinated by how men and women who marry select each other.  Today, microscopically small proportion marry the first person they meet: most play the dating field to a greater or lesser extent, and when the time is right, settle down with one person.  OK, not everyone makes the right choice when they marry, and divorce statistics bear this out, but generally, there is an acknowledgement that ‘this person is the one for me’ and the question is popped.

For those women who have never been on the receiving end of a marriage proposal or who may have turned one or more down and are now unhappy about their single status, there are inevitable questions.  As she lies alone, blinking into the darkness, the single woman audits the status of all close friends:  who’s married, who’s engaged or co-habiting?  Who’s got children or has a baby on the way?  Invariably this is closely followed by ‘but what about me?’ moments.

Even in the 21st century, chivalry still decrees it is the man who asks and the woman who accepts.  Through discussions with married men and a little help from the Internet, I have gleaned the following reasons why men choose their life partners.  These observations aren’t based on any formal research on my part, but are backed up by the findings in John T Molloy’s fascinating work, Why Men Marry Some Women But Not Others.

Fundamental to a woman’s quest to find a husband is that she seeks out and gets close to the marrying kind.  So who is the marrying kind of man?

• Many men in their early twenties adopt a promiscuous and peripatetic approach to women.  There is a gradual transition to monogamy and stability as they progress into, and through their thirtysomething years.

• This nomadic relationship life phase wears off after a few years when men tire of the single life and their friends begin to stabilise in their relationships.  The influence of peers is strong.

• Men working in the professional sector aged between the ages of 30 and 38 are the age group most likely to settle down, either through co-habiting or marrying.  Before such a time frame, men in this category rarely consider permanency in their relationships.

• After 38, male levels of commitment diminish, plummeting after 43.

• When a man’s friends, colleagues and siblings start to get married, this triggers a domino effect.  He doesn’t want to be left behind and is more likely to leap onto the marriage bandwagon than watch it roll past.

• Men’s lives are also governed by biological clocks that start to tick in their late thirties and early forties.  They aren’t worried about being able to father a child, but they do want to be young enough to play actively with their children and encourage sport, adventure and fun.  Men invariably imagine having sons with whom they can bond as fellow males, play football, go camping, ride bikes, etc.  Therefore, men in this age bracket who say they want a family are ideal candidates for marriage.

• His own family life as child has a bearing on a man’s attitude to marriage later in life.  A happy, stable childhood provides a firm foundation. I f his parents fought, bickered and divorced when he was young, then he may hesitate before formalising commitment.

• It’s obviously true that opposites attract, but statistically, marriages have a better chance of survival if the man and woman have similar backgrounds (socio-economic, religious and political) and are matched psychologically, professionally and spiritually with shared personal tastes and values.

• Don’t dismiss a good man out of court if he doesn’t initially impress you with his physical presence or mannerisms.  You might not notice him at first because he has been dismissed many times in the past for his perceived failings.  He might well be hiding a number of good points or they might get overlooked because you are not seeing him as he is.  Many women I’ve interviewed have ‘discovered’ wonderful things about their partners as their relationships progressed.  Be open-minded because these unpolished jewels are usually keeping the most attractive aspects of their personalities under wraps.  Such men are often strong candidates for marriage.  How many of your married friends’ husbands, in your opinion, are beyond perfection?

• Divorcees and widowers over the age of 40 are more likely to marry than their 40-year-old single counterparts.

So, to enhance your chances of finding a life partner, find and flirt with the marrying type.  Meanwhile, steer well clear of the following:

Stringers or serial monogamists

Check out his track record and examine his state of independence.  Does he value his own space too much and apart from the sex, how close does he get to the real you?  Does he give off any commitment signals?  Take his emotional temperature and if it’s cold, find someone else to warm the cockles of your heart.

Married men

If you are dating a married man, who still lives with his wife and family but promises to leave them, then you are being lied to:  he won’t leave and he won’t set up home with you.  If you do manage to marry him, beware.  The excitement from the days of your clandestine assignations is likely to vanish because the chase and the secrecy will be over.  How long will it be before he eschews monogamy and seeks sexual comfort elsewhere?

Mummies’ boys

It probably goes without saying, but try and avoid a man who still lives at home with mum.  Men who have their own homes and have lived as self-supporting, independent adults are more likely to marry.  And you wouldn’t want a mother-in-law moving in as part of the marriage deal, would you?  Avoid a man with an Oedipus complex.  No matter how wonderful you are, you won’t even come close to receiving the level of adulation he has for his mother.


Men who regard the institution of marriage as some kind of financial coup for women and a fiscal disaster for themselves are unlikely to marry, and don’t make good prospects either.  Meanness is an unpleasant streak in anyone and marrying someone who regards his hard-earned fortune as ‘all mine’, protected with a lengthy pre-nup is unlikely to mellow or start to share.  Run!

Extracted from Finding Mr Right – The Real Woman’s Guide to Landing That Man by Annie Harrison.  Read the book to find out EXACTLY how hundreds of women in their late thirties finally ended up with their Mr Rights.



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