The article’s author, Kaja Perina, writes that men and women in the first flower of a relationship delude themselves in typically gender-specific ways. Men overestimate a woman’s degree of interest in them, while women defensively assume that men are just looking for sex (even more than is actually the case, that is).
In the most interesting part of the article, Perina suggests that our society’s rampant age segregation — a by-product of the high school and college systems — makes for vain young men and insecure young women:
Peer judgments may be supremely influential in today’s world. Traditionally, teens mixed more with adults and extended family, so they received feedback on their mate value from their clan as much as from their clique. But today teens are schooled and socialized in lockstep, creating an unprecedented separation from adults that Miller argues may warp accurate self-appraisal. A 17-year-old girl, he contends, compares herself mercilessly to her equally nubile peers; she doesn’t mingle with adults enough to realize that she and her friends are all in the top-10 percent of women, reproductively speaking. “Forty years ago,” says Miller, “a girl might have entered the workforce at age 18 and gotten a lot of attention in the office relative to the 28-year old ‘spinster.’ ” Today, she’ll enter college, still socializing and competing with a gaggle of equally young, pretty girls.
Boys also rank themselves heavily against peers. But because high school shelters them from the status wars waged among professional men, Miller believes boys actually overestimate their mate value during adolescence, and none more so than jocks. “Young men who were captains of the football team graduate thinking they’re God’s gift to women, and women respond, ‘I’m interested in corporate attorneys and well-cited professors. Who the hell are you?’ ” The bottom line, he says, is that the longer you extend age-segregated higher education, the more you delay accurate calibration to the overall mating market.
It could be true — if you believe that men are primed to value youth and beauty in a mate, while women value brains, wealth, and other signs of worldly success.
Sounds like an outside-the-box argument for alternative or community-based education.