Most intimidating football grounds
In class, their conversations centre around going to gigs and smoking weed at weekends, which is not what I’m looking for in a date.’She prefers instead to date older men she meets through her part-time job as a nightclub promoter.
Yet even more mature men fail to show the requisite enthusiasm for her university projects — which include a radio documentary she recently produced on ‘the pressure that black women are under to adhere to white beauty stereotypes’.
One can imagine how such a topic could be a little alienating to many men, and Natasha herself admits ‘there’s only so much I can talk about my own interests without sounding patronising.’She says that men often try to change the subject matter back to lads’ nights outs, holidays and sporting hobbies.‘I’ll always listen to be polite, but superficial, self-indulgent conversation is an immediate red flag,’ she says.
Since the breakdown of her most recent relationship, with a DJ ten years her senior, Natasha has had a handful of dates, but declined to take things further.‘Afterwards I’ll text to say our conversations weren’t flowing in the right direction.
It lasted a few weeks.‘He thought I viewed myself as a big shot,’ says Becca, who admits she found him ‘monosyllabic’. When I tried to start an informed discussion — about religion or terrorism, for example — he had no idea how to react.‘He didn’t understand that my degree meant I had a head full of information and when I asked him about his work all he could muster was that it had been “fine”.‘In any case, there’s only so much you can talk about when you do the same job every day.’In the event, Becca ended the relationship because, she says, he was always at work — an unfortunate fact of life many of us might sympathise with, but one Becca intends to put off for much of her 20s by doing a Ph D in disability research after her masters.
She has dated around eight men in total — all non-graduates.‘I know deep down they didn’t see me as relatable,’ she says.
Recent figures from the university admissions service UCAS showed that 30,000 more women than men are starting degree courses in the UK.
Among those from poorer backgrounds, the gender divide is highly pronounced, with young women who were on free school meals 51 per cent more likely to go into higher education than men in similar circumstances.‘The boys at my school mostly went into manual jobs after we left and seemed to think I had a high opinion of myself for going to university,’ says Becca.
‘They say I’m too bright for them.’Becca recalls a factory worker she asked out in a bar while home for the holidays turning her down because she was ‘too clever’ for him.‘We were having a great chat until he found out I was at university,’ says Becca.
Most accept it although one, a company director, went on the defensive, saying I thought I was a princess,’ says Natasha.
‘I think he had anger issues.’ British women began to ‘catch up’ with men’s educational attainment levels in the Sixties, when larger numbers entered universities, but only recently have the roles been dramatically reversed, with men falling behind at an alarming rate.‘In the Sixties there was a gendered way of pushing female graduates into jobs such as teaching and nursing,’ says Nichi Hodgson, author of The Curious History Of Dating: From Jane Austen To Tinder.‘And only 20 or 30 years ago a man wanted his female partner to be smart because the assumption was that she would be the primary carer, staying at home to raise their children, who would then absorb her intellect.’But now women are competing with men for the same careers — there are more female junior doctors than male, for example, while nearly two-thirds of practising lawyers in Scotland under 40 are women — their achievements have become more problematic.‘Smart women raise the issue of who would take time off when they have children,’ says Hodgson.
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Some were so despairing they were considering freezing their eggs as an insurance policy.