Thirty years ago, women sought a different kind of man. ‘Metrosexual’ wasn’t a comprehensive term, ‘down low brothers’ were still under the radar and open relationships/sex-centric relationships were nearly exclusive to swingers and loose folks. In 1982, Michael Jackson was the hottest thing since baked bread, Prince made androgynous swexy and women were still fawning over The Fonz. With society’s taste in men changing, so did women’s perceptions of relationships with men. While it’s easy to make assumptions, you can be sure that 30 years ago women sought marriage when pursuing a romantic relationship; Black women were less likely to date outside of their race because of the social climate; and many lesbians were committing themselves to a heterosexual lifestyle because 51 percent of the country still hadn’t recognized homosexuality as a viable lifestyle choice.
What has really changed about what women look for in men can be summed up in one word: security. Women’s desires have slightly changed because women’s needs have changed. Thirty years ago, not only were men making more money than women, but they were getting far more opportunities than women (this gender discrimination still exists, but conditions are improving) –those opportunities offered to men made them the natural choice for breadwinners. Now, as more active breadwinners, women don’t have to lean on their partners, in terms of finances, as they once did. Seemingly, men have taken the leniency in financial demands to presume that they have less responsibility, which simply isn’t true. This influx of ‘career women’ coupled with male withdrawal has produced a generation of women who unfairly have to do it all: work, clean, cook, mother and father, while men take a not so appreciated backseat in relationships and home life. Security also extends to other aspects of the relationship, such as communication–because, while women still want to feel pursued in relationships, the dissipation of prescribed gender roles has ignited confusion for men when it comes to initiation and perpetuation of contact, which incites insecurity in the women involved. Nowadays, we’re being told to be the aggressive ones at the bar.
Technology has also affected what women desire in men. While women are not more needy, they do require more notification. Social media and handheld devices were completely stationary 30 years ago, and had no place in a relationship aside from a long phone call. Today, not only is it important that men and women make time for their partners in person, women also seek partners who will text them throughout the day, and will not have more female friends via social media than they do in real life. In addition to technology, shifts in the social climate, security and rifts in communication, education has become a larger factor with women, seeking men who have some sense of formal education. Because women have more education, they seek men with higher education and with a greater deal of success. While women are not opposed to dating men who don’t have degrees, they don’t always want to because they find that some men find their higher education and earning power to be intimidating. The independent woman who is a bit too proud of her accomplishments, her degrees and her job, surprisingly, is not as embraced by men as we thought they’d be.
But definitely some sought after qualities that women still seek in men that is, and will always be, unwavering are respect, creativity, stability, maturity, attentiveness, considerate sex and emotional availability, no matter what decade we’re in.
What do you think has changed in the dating game and what type of men women seek out since the ’80s?
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