This is Part 3 in my Market Failure series. There are two subjects which I failed to fully address in the last post on the subject, so I will try to briefly cover them here. [I recommend reading Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this post. ]
Something that I know that is a real problem for men and women in the MMP is identifying a potential spouse when you see one. When I look across a room at a party, how do I know that the pretty girl I see on the far side of the room is wife material? I can make some educated guesses based on things like her clothing, the nature of the party, the individuals she is with and the like. But it is ultimately it is still a guess. If I really want to find out more, I need to spend time and effort (and possibly money, although in the long run time is more valuable) to try and learn more about her. Not an ideal process, and it is riskier for women for a couple of reasons. For one, time is against them in a way that it isn’t for men (because of the quicker decline in female SMV). Another issue is that if they gauge a man incorrectly they run the risk of being pressured into sex (which represents a serious threat to their MMV). [The extreme end of this is a violent man who will use force to get what he wants.] Also, women cannot count on some of the same markers that men can. For example, as a man I can use feminine clothing as a shortcut; a woman who dresses in a very feminine manner these days is more likely to be counter-cultural and thus chaste, as compared to a woman who dresses in a more masculine or slutty manner. “Masculine” clothing doesn’t provide that easy identifier.
Much of this confusion and difficulty comes about because the SMP and the MMP are effectively existing in the same space. Sometimes people might be operating in both markets at once, or they move from one to the other as their SMV changes. Either way, it complicates matters for those who are serious about marriage.
Something which several commenters brought up in the previous threads in this series is the problem of hidden costs in the MMP. What I mean by this is that when we are looking at potential spouses we don’t always see serious defects which might be lurking beneath the surface. Two examples which would be relevant and topical include a man who is a porn addict and a woman who is an Alpha Widow. Both of those individuals bring baggage into a marriage which could cause it to crash and burn. They both count as hidden because there is no easy way to know for sure if the other party has taken care to hide the problem (assuming that they even recognize it is a problem). Unless you can go through a porn addict’s complete browser history (and credit card history too) you may not be able to discover their addiction. Unfortunately, this addiction being hidden might mean that the addict’s future wife doesn’t realize her husband has sexual dysfunction issues until after they are married. At the same time, how can you tell if a woman is an Alpha Widow or not? She can have an N of 1 and still be an Alpha Widow. It only takes one, after all. A woman with an N of 5 or 10 might be safer than a woman with a much lower N, all of it depending on the strength of the bonding. There are several women in these parts who managed to escape Alpha Widowhood despite having relatively high Ns. And they seem to be attracted to their husband despite these difficulties.
These hidden costs or latent product defects all have a negative effect on the MMP. They can make people hesitate when they find what they believe to be an otherwise good product. Or they can induce people to not even enter the market at all (more likely for men at this point for women).