From Chapter 25 of Bad Boyfriends: Using Attachment Theory to Avoid Mr. (or Ms.) Wrong and Make You a Better Partner, “Types in the Dating Pool.”
If you’re not familiar with attachment types, take the test and read about them here.
Estimates vary, but a good guess is that 50% of the population starts adulthood secure, while 20% are anxious-preoccupied, 25% are dismissive-avoidant, and 5% are fearful-avoidant. But as time goes by and the secure are more likely to get into and stay in long-term relationships, the proportions of the types seen in the dating pool change—the secure become scarce, and the dismissive-avoidant, who begin and end relationships quickly, become the most likely type you will encounter.
The graph is based on a simplified* simulation of the dating pool by age, showing the percentage of each type in the shrinking dating pool. Secures appear dominant early in the dating pool at about 50%, but over time their prevalence declines to around 20%. Notice how the Dismissive-Avoidant start off as the second most prevalent attachment type at 25%, but over time become the predominant type at 50% of the far smaller dating population—this is not because they don’t start relationships, but that they tend to exit them quickly. The proportion of Preoccupied and Fearful-Avoidant increases somewhat as well. The age scale assumes everyone starts looking for a partner at 20, so subpopulations which start later (academics, for example) would be shifted by a few years. Since both starting parameters and the simulation are simplified, these numbers are only suggestive.
The shrinkage of the dating pool with time and its later domination by less secure types means the older you are, the more cautious you should be, because it is much more likely that those in the dating pool in later years have a problematic attachment type, or even worse problems keeping them from sustaining good relationships. Of course there are always new entries to the dating pool who have been released from good relationships by their partner’s death or unfortunate circumstances; but those past 40 who have never been able to get and keep a good relationship going, likely never will—unless of course they have realized they need to change and work hard on themselves.
* — Based on data from a simplified simulation model run by the author based on reported duration of relationships by attachment type combinations and initial populations. Suggestive, but the initial parameters are based on limited studies and the simulation ignores such factors as longer relationships tending to break down less frequently. More longitudinal studies are needed.
For more reading, start with my book, much of which is online here.
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations
[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]
Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”
Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.
More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking
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Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)