Green and red lights to guide your search

You’ve been on the dating circuit longer than you’re ready to admit and you’ve found lots of men who are interested—but sex is their interest, not settling down. You’re understandably discouraged. You’d love some encouraging news.

Wait no more! In the good news department are the National Marriage Project studies to guide you. The studies confirm that there is a myriad of reasons why a man might be commitment-phobic, but they also found that most men ultimately end up becoming the marrying kind.

Getting the odds on your side

Here is some research that may make your day and more importantly, put some science in your search:

Eighty-one percent of married men surveyed agreed with the statement that they decided to get married because it was the right time in their life to settle down. The median age for men to first marry is now 27 (adding another year or two for college-educated men)—a number that is at least four years older than related stats from the 1970s. Researchers believe this has to do with lengthier educational pursuits, career agendas, and a lack of societal pressure to marry at an earlier age. The important thing to remember here, however, is that most men still want to see marriage as a decision they make themselves when it fits their timeline.

In fact, 15 percent of single men agreed that they were pressured by their former partner to marry at an earlier age than they were ready. What should you take out of this stat? That the men who did marry (the majority) were not the ones who felt coerced into it. In other words, forcing the issue might get you a ring on your finger, but will it actually get you a man who walks down the aisle. The odds are against you. Threats or undue pressure are not the best routes to “I do.”

And baby makes three

Thirty-five percent of married men disagreed that they got married primarily because they were ready to have children. This goes back to the difference between the female and male biological clock. A better bet than discussing children too soon is to show your nurturing side. Why? Because although men don’t necessarily want to talk about having babies right now, they do tend to consider whether a woman they’re dating might be a good choice for bearing their children sometime down the road. In fact, 75 percent of married men in the 25- to 34-year-old age bracket agreed that when choosing a wife, they specifically looked for someone who would also be a good mother.

Fifty-three percent of unmarried men who say their fathers were involved in their upbringing claim they’re “ready to marry.” Though it’s not an absolute predictor, studies show that individuals with strong family ties and parental involvement may be less hesitant to jump into a matrimonial situation. So, while the saying goes, “Love him, love his family,” the more appropriate saying for this I-seek-commitment situation is, “If he loves his family, you can feel safer about loving him.”

The voice of commitment

Fifty-five percent of unmarried men who regularly attend religious services say they’d be ready to marry tomorrow if the right person came along. Studies indicate that a man with a religious belief system, whatever denomination it may be, is more likely to be pro-marriage and pro-family. That doesn’t mean a man has to be religious in order to commit, but it relates to the point again that if a man has been surrounded with positive messages about commitment while growing up, then he will also be more willing to consider it as a potential asset in his own life.

Forty percent of unmarried men studied claim they wouldn’t want to get married until they could afford a nice wedding. What does this mean to you? Well, if you’re more interested in the wedding, you’ll just have to wait until the finances are in order (and who knows when that might be?). It would be more useful to decide if this is the man you want. Perhaps calming your beau’s fears that you don’t need him to provide a fairy-tale wedding might actually get you closer to commitment. The thing to realize is that men think of commitment in tangible terms, without taking into account the other qualities that are truly the more important part of the equation.

With the stats above in mind, you can begin to see what leads a man toward commitment and what might lead him astray. Every individual relationship is different, but once you know the pieces of your puzzle, it’ll be easier to discern if you’re part of a couple with lasting potential, or if you should consider cutting your losses now and start looking for someone who can make you happy in the way that you desire.