In the ongoing dialogue between men and women, it seems the lines of communication are ringing with the annoying drone of a busy signal. The growing ranks of people remaining single, either unwillingly or by choice, has swollen to unexpected proportions in the last decade.
“All the good ones are taken,” says Serineh with a wink of her eye. Although it’s meant to be a joke, there’s a tone of underlying seriousness.
“Don’t worry. You’ll catch them on the next round,” responds Razmig, implying that with the recent spate of divorces, potential partners once thought to be out of reach are now available again.
“But they’re all so burned by the experience that they never want to do it again,” says Serineh.
Studies have shown conclusively that married people live longer. Specifically, the death rate for people who are unmarried (never been married, divorced or widowed) is significantly higher than for those who are married and living with their spouse. But the biggest difference was in those who had never married.
“So all those jokes about being married …,” begins Serineh and trails off.
“Good thing I got that out of the way,” quips Sarkis about his former marriage.
Unfortunately for Sarkis, the studies also go on to show that married adults are generally healthier than unmarried adults. In comparing the health levels of married and divorced men, it’s been discovered that that the relative health levels of divorcees drops significantly as they age. In fact, by the time divorced men reach the age of 50, they can expect their health to deteriorate much faster than the health of those who are married.
So a happy husband has about ten years added to his expected lifespan while a woman’s lifespan increases by a mere four years.
Although weddings have not tapered off, as evidenced by the year long wait for a hall or church date, it is the union of people of a certain age that has become uncommon.
“Yeah, at this age, why bother?” asks Razmig. As we grow older and more established in our lives, there is a tendency to get set in our ways. We develop likes and dislikes about how we want our homes and our lives structured. “Is it really worth all the effort?” Razmig goes on to ask.
If the above research is not enough, then consider this: a new study now suggests that marriage, especially in middle age, keeps the mind sharp and wards off age related issues like memory loss and dementia. The most vulnerable are those who are widowed or divorced and do not remarry. The marriage factor on the well being of the mind affects it regardless of education, physical activity or level of social interaction.
So what is an Armenian single person to do? Both sides seem be in a stand off: one claiming there are no quality men willing to consider marriage and the other hesitant to make the mistake of marrying the wrong woman.
“Where are the men?” asks Serineh, looking around the roomful of people who are either too young or clearly attached to their families.
“They don’t come to events like this,” says Taline.
“Why not? We’re here,” Serine says while Taline shrugs. She can’t respond to Serineh’s statement.
“Where are you supposed to go to meet them?” asks Serineh. Again Taline can’t respond.
Mary, a globetrotting grandmother who has keenly watched the shifting dynamics between the sexes, believes that the reason why Armenian women don’t meet good men is because they are taught different things then men about dating. “I don’t know how it is now, but in my time God forbid if I invited attention, wore a showy dress, had a low neckline or wore it tight. I would be considered nothing short of a prostitute.”
She is vocal about the double standards inherent in gender relations. “Men, apparently, need clues in order to approach a woman. Without those clues women’s chances are kaput. On the other hand, woe to the woman who takes the first step: she is crucified.” Mary goes on to suggest that someone should write a book about proper modern dating rules in the Armenian community of the United States so we no longer rely on “imported traditions from Caesaria or Aintab.” She believes that there is nothing wrong with a woman going out to E-Harmony (a computer dating site) to get a companion. “Enough of sitting home waiting for a call, or pampering an overinflated ego, for a drop of love. I’m just sorry to see wonderful ladies end up broken-hearted due to sticking to outdated attitudes.”
In a busy and complicated world it’s hard to maintain a varied social life. Dickran claims that the established venues of matchmaking in the Armenian community are no longer working. “You see the same people over and over again.”
There is resistance to the idea of, what is essentially, a blind date even though a mere generation ago, being introduced by an intermediary was an accepted practice in Diasporan communities.
Fortunately things seem to be changing somewhat. Currently, there are several internet dating sites that cater specifically to Armenians. Al, a reader of this column, sent in a comment telling of his experience of how he spent several years using the same old methods of trying to find an “Armenian bride.”
“I wasn’t able to meet a quality girl in social settings or parties. I found it difficult to meet and start a conversation with an Armenian girl in social gatherings. These events have turned into fashion shows and modeling events. It’s all about who is wearing what, driving what, and doing what. Very little spend time to get to know the other person. Hopelessly, I turned to the Internet for help. I found several Armenian dating websites where I had the opportunity to meet Armenian girls and start a conversation right away. I met and dated many Armenian girls. Some were quality girls, some weren’t. Eventually, I found the love of my life. We met on an Armenian singles website and started dating and married a year later. Online dating has its downsides, but it’s worth trying.”
“Maybe it’s time to consider the internet,” says Dickran. It will certainly be good for his health.