18 thoughts on “My advice to Princeton women

  1. Not really. It doesn’t explain why the gap appears as early as one year out of college.

  2. It’s not even good advice for someone who wants a successful marriage as a chief goal in life.

    In my experience, people who get married young get divorced, often in messy, unpleasant divorces.

    Marry after age 30, even after age 35, I say, if you want the marriage to flourish.

    People under 30 generally are not aware enough of what they want out of life (besides to get married) or who they are to choose a mate well.

  3. What I generally liked in the op-ed is: It is striking to note how well educated women tend to choose partners with whom they can have an interesting intellectual dialogue, whereas this, by rule, does not need to be the case with comparably well educated men. And, yes, I know some exceptions (after all, women are not a monolythic class).

  4. I found that part of the op-ed sort of horrifying. The notion that men will be perfectly happy with partners who are not as intelligent than they are, but that women will find less intelligent partners dissatisfying and frustrating just seems to be reinforcing sexist cultural norms. Of course, it is striking that this is the cultural practice, but the op-ed just problematically reinforces it.

  5. I certainly agree that the op-ed is problematic, but I wonder if we are missing out on the author’s perspective. The advice sounds to me a lot like the advice middle/upper class women got when marriage was viewed as a matter of securing a social/economic future. Love was not required.

    The author, I think I read, graduated about 35 years ago, and that might lead one to see marriage as like a business arrangement.

    I’ve been married well over forty yeaars. I don’t think of marriage as like a business, but I am amazed that I could choose someone compatible after all the changes those years have brought. And if I hadn’t had that good fortune, my assessment might well be in more business-like terms. E.g., “he’s such a loser,” “I invested the best years of my life in that marriagr,” etc.

  6. Kathryn:

    That seems to assume that intelligence is not found outside of elite universities.

    I’ve met very intelligent people in the strangest places as well as idiots in elite universities.

    The world is a very rich varied place, full of surprises.

  7. I met my husband when we were both undergrads. Now, in my mid-thirties, I am still very happily married. When I was 19, my husband (then boyfriend) and I both already decided that we would get married eventually, but we only did so in my mid-20s, after finishing the undergrad degree and getting a decent job. Currently, I make more than my husband and he does most of the household things, for instance, raising our children (he was a stay-at-home dad for some years after the birth of our first child).
    Why do I bring this up? More and more (as in the comments here) I hear that relationships made early in one’s 20s (or God forbid, one’s late teens!) are destined to fail, or at least have a high probability of failure.
    The assumption often seems to be that people that young can’t make a mature decision, or make decisions for the wrong reasons. I don’t think we should actively encourage people to find a partner in college, but I don’t think we should stigmatize people who happen to find their life partner in college either, nor make assumptions about the motives and gender dynamics behind couples who form in college.

  8. swallerstein, it assumes a lot of things, and I don’t agree with any of them! I think it’s a real mistake (and very tied up with issues of class) to confuse education with intelligence, and I think there are many reasons why one might or might not be happy in the long term with a partner–intelligence is fairly low on my list of priorities relative to sense of humor, kindness, sense of responsibility, etc. Education is still lower.

  9. Yeah, the second link (one posted by Kathryn at 9) helps clarify the position. I mean, that was how I read her original article. I just had the knee-jerk reaction at the extremely classist way she made the point.

    But the point itself (women are more likely to find men at college than after college) is one that’s commonly held. Her version seemed to strick a chord because of how dire it sounded. I just think the classism/elitism (equating intelligence with education, and equating good education with Princeton) makes her version of the point particularly objectionable. Part of me wants to just say to a heterosexual woman from Princeton: Hey, it’s fine not to marry if you don’t want to. Also, there are some smart guys who go to Rutgers. Maybe even try NJIT. Move to New York. Lots of guys there.

    Then again, I’m sure they already know all this. We’re probably spending way more time on this than undergrad Princeton women.

  10. Anonymous:

    I don’t mean to disqualify people who get into great relationships at an undergraduate age. If my post implies that to you, my apologies.

    My experience is that relationships, whether legally married or not, involving people of whatever gender, if they begin after age 40, always last and seem, from the outside at least, relatively harmonious and mutually beneficial.

    If they begin after age 35, they generally last and seem sane.

    If they begin after age 30, more than half last and seem sane.

    Etc., etc., etc.

    Now, if you found someone who is right for you at an early age, great.

  11. Kathyrn:

    I only wish that I had read your wise list of priorities about 45 years ago.

  12. It’s not an op-ed. It’s a letter to the newspaper. I think all Daily Princetonian op-eds are written by current students.

  13. I spent two hours on Monday with psychologists who maintain emphatically that IQ ismthe best indicator of college performance. They are both profs, and know what they are talking about, I guess. So if someone is doing well at Princeton, which is certainly not a breeze, inference to the best explanation suggests intelligence is the reason.

  14. I doubt IQ tests are indicative of intelligence, even if they are correllative with college performance. For every psychologist who connects them, there seems to be one that doesn’t, and of course, performance on both may just reflect effective acculturation to taking certain sorts of assessments — both take work and practice and varieties of intelligence:


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