Is there a girl named Sulzberger at UNC who can’t find a date?

Because that is the only explanation I can think of for the cover story of today’s New York Times Style section.

If you’ve not read it, the article takes the space of almost 2000 words to lament the phenomenon of women outnumbering men on college campuses–at UNC Chapel Hill in particular–and, heaven forbid, making their way through college without a boyfriend.

I know what you’re thinking, Peter: Elizabeth, please. The blogosphere is already saturated with bitter, overly snarky retorts to dated Style stories. Trust me, I hesitated. But it turns out that when one starts a blog about dating as a twenty-something and the next day the Times runs a piece like this, one feels somewhat obliged to weigh in.

Plus, there was this choice quote, from a female UNC junior, on guys cheating: “If you don’t let it slide, you don’t have a boyfriend.” If this is really the state of affairs at UNC, I am more thankful than ever that I went to a liberal arts college.

Not that dating was–or is, I’m sure–any more of a breeze for girls in that environment. No offense to the wonderful and brilliant men I went to school with, but we all know that for four years it was all you could do to pull your pants up in the morning, much less hit on somebody. With a few notable, whorish exceptions, most of you could hardly manage to interact with one girl in an academic year, much less several.

We survived. We dated older men, and each other. We graduated and, well, we’re still surviving.

Which brings me, sort of, to the most obvious question prompted by the story: really, New York Times?? Women in higher education outnumber men? Haven’t we known this since approximately the Clinton administration?? Like, the first Clinton administration??

I’m not saying it’s okay. But a skewed ratio of educated women to educated men is an endemic problem in this country, not just at colleges and not just in Chapel Hill. That means we have to shift our expectations of romantic relationships: women shouldn’t expect to date men with greater financial or academic potential, and vice versa.

But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t expect men to muster the maturity to commit to a relationship: a prospect that, post-college, is daunting enough. The only function of putting up with bad behavior is to encourage it. Which might mean that men will, truly, never grow up.

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