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Australia's great man drought

Ben Birt
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Image: Getty

Are you quenching your thirst?

There is a great trouble sweeping through this part of the world and it has left its mark on countless healthy Australians. When discussing the subject, it is common to hear words like "desperate", "devastating" and "suffering" or the more positive "hope" and "faith".

This terrible tide rushing over the country was first confirmed by a report in 2005 which found that there were 20,000 more women than men at the age of 30 in Australia. It has become known as the "man drought" and has been blamed on men in their mid to late twenties leaving to work overseas.

The guys' point of view

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With an apparent surplus of women to choose from, it would be logical to assume that guys have never had it so good. Ross, 30, isn't so sure. "I'm out there looking for 'the one' and would argue there aren't enough single girls at times."

He also sees some potential benefits. "If there are hordes of women out there suffering from a perceived man drought, I might go into a bar with a bit more confidence, especially with a few schooners under my belt."

And there is some good news for the ladies too. "I hang out with a bunch of mates who are single and what many would call a good catch. There are still plenty of eligible bachelors out there."

"There's a man drought? More like a sheila shortage!" says Tom, 29, who goes on to say that if there are more women than men, "It's not going to change how I treat women — chivalry is cool."

The girls' point of view
Twenty-nine-year-old Jackie's thoughts on the subject tells us a lot about the effects the drought can have on single women in the working environment. "We have no single men here in our office. The effects are devastating."

Some girls, like Nicola, 29, have been forced to look further afield. "I've managed to snare myself a Pom. You've just got to take what you can get!"

However, not everyone is convinced of the seriousness of the drought. Sarah, 27, says, "Every time I'm out there seems to be a sea of drunken men in suits."

Some words from the experts
Lija Jarvis from dating site RSVP has some words of encouragement. "The online environment for singles suggests a pretty even gender balance." She adds, however, "The men are there. They may just be after a woman that is not at the same life stage of settling down or searching for a long-term partner."

"The number of suitable and eligible men is certainly an issue for a lot of women," says Lyn Fletcher, acting CEO of Relationships Australia. On the other hand, she says, "even though there is a man drought, women are less likely to settle for second best in a relationship. Women are deciding they're better off by themselves than in a bad relationship."

An unexpected bonus
The effects of the man drought have not all been negative for young women as Will Davies, managing director of home loan company Scope Lending, observes. "I've been running workshops that teach people about the process of purchasing property and I've noticed over the last few years an increasing number of women aged between 27 and 37 coming to them." According to DaviesI "It's great that people start getting interested in their financial future before necessarily settling down in a relationship. Who knows what the future will hold!"

Drought survival tips
Guys, it is hard to resist the temptation to make hay while the sun shines but don't push it — you never know when it might once again start "raining men".

Girls

  • "Put your best foot forward ladies! If you see a guy that catches your eye, make contact with him rather than waiting and hoping he finds you," says RSVP's Lija Jarvis.
  • Move overseas — maybe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
  • Move to WA or the Northern Territory (or stay if you're there already) — mining operations mean there is no shortage of men.
  • Any farmer will tell you droughts don't last forever even if sometimes it feels like they might. As Ross wisely says: "It's that old adage: when you're least expecting it, the right person will come along."


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