Jeb Kinnison

Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30

Attachment Type Dating Pool

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.


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