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‘Straight Talk’ the Princeton Mom Should Give to Young Men

5 minute read

Susan Patton, a Princeton mom who lit up the internet last year with her unsolicited dating advice for college women, is back with a Wall Street Journal column that sounds an awful lot like what she said last year. In the op-ed, she tells young women to “smarten up and start husband hunting” instead of focusing on their careers. But before doling out more of her rules for female happiness, Ms. Patton should probably have taken a look at the research on gender, marriage, and success. If she had, she would have realized she was addressing her letter to the wrong audience. It’s men who benefit most from locking down a smart woman early. I’ve taken the liberty of drafting an alternative letter for her:

A Little Straight Talk For Young Men

Another Valentine’s Day weekend, another Friday night spent bro-ing out with your friends and picking up chicks in bars… or watching porn. You don’t have to hide it. You’re a 20-something man, so the only thing you could possibly want is sex. Settling down with a steady girlfriend you meet on campus now is inconceivable. Once you’re in your 30s and have made some money all the hot 20-year-olds will be clamoring after you, right?

Actually, it’s time for a reality check. Forget your biological clock — your financial clock is ticking. If you have any hopes of leading a successful life, you need to lock down a woman now.

This is the only time in your life where you’re going to be surrounded by so many smart, eligible women. That won’t be the case for long if you’re planning on moving to New York or San Francisco after graduation — as I’m sure many of you ambitious future lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs are. Those places are kind of a sausage fest.

And the sooner you get married the better. Men who marry in their 20s make more than those who marry after the age of 30, according to a the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project.

Sadly for you, the opposite is true for women: college-educated women bring in 56 percent more income if they settle down in their mid-30s rather than their mid-20s. So you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to wrangle one into marrying you ASAP.

And the longer you wait, the worse your prospects are. If current trends continue, any woman you’re currently attending college with will be making more than you in 10 years. If you wait too long, she’ll be financially independent and and looking for a young, hot guy willing to be a stay-at-home dad while she conquers her field of choice. Or at least someone who makes more than she does. The last thing she’ll want is some mid-30s guy who’s her own age. And your sperm is degrading by the year. (You might think about freezing some while you’re young.)

Could you marry someone dumber than you, who doesn’t have the ambitions the girls you go to college with do — someone who’s still willing to actually get married young? Sure, but how long could you really stick with someone who doesn’t want to talk about Ibsen? And you’re not actually considering having children with someone who doesn’t know Ibsen, are you?!?

So what’s a smart guy to do?

Go find a girl in college now. I mean right now. Go outside your dorm and grab one. They have apps for this now, too, right? Use one of those.

And remember, you have to offer those beautiful, smart, success-oriented women something they can’t get on their own. That is definitely going be tough. What could you give a woman that she can’t get on her own? Well… there is that one thing you guys have to offer. But these days you’ll have to convince her that you’re at least as good as any intimate appliance she can order online.

Who needs that hassle, you say? You have your bros to bro out with and a career to pursue, after all. Well, guess what. All your bros are going to start getting hitched quick. According to a 2013 survey, men are more likely than women to equate marriage with success. And for you and your bros, nothing matters more than winning. Just wait a couple years. Soon those smug marriage announcements will be popping up on your Facebook Newsfeed. They’re winning at life, and you’re still playing Madden after work every day.

What’s worse: Those committed guys are probably better off than you in almost every way. Studies show married men live longer than their bachelor counterparts, make more money, and have more sex. And men who marry educated women live longer than those who marry less educated women.

Sure, there are men who don’t want longevity, financial stability, and regular sex. But if you do, you need to start listening to your gut and ignoring the anti-feminist line that one Ivy League mom has been shoving down your throat for the last year. There is nothing wrong with an educated man who actually wants a family.

And if you fail to identify “the one” while you’re in college, don’t worry. There’s always graduate school. Those places are chock full of chicks. Just tell your parents to think of it as an investment: They foot the bill now, the wife you find takes care of you financially for the rest of your life. They’ll probably be cool with that.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com