Single, educated women outnumber male peers in many Ontario cities

Dating and relationship trends are shifting as single women in several Ontario cities outnumber their male peers when it comes to education. according to new numbers from the latest federal census.

Dating options shift over education gap, economics and demographic changes

Single women in southern Ontario cities outnumber their male peers when it comes to education — that's according to new numbers from the latest census. (Getty Images)

Single women in southern Ontario cities outnumber their male peers when it comes to education — that's according to new numbers from the latest census.

Between the ages of 18-64, there are more single women with college or university degrees than single men in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, London, Hamilton, Windsor and Sudbury.

The numbers follow a trend economists have seen in Canada for the past four decades: women are going to post-secondary school at higher rates than men, and educated workers tend to be based in cities rather than rural areas.

"The one thing that we haven't really been talking about, which is really standing out in the data, is how many more educated women there are than educated men, particularly among single people," said Marina Adshade, a professor of economics at the University of British Columbia.

"It's typical in most cities. The only place that you don't see it are places where you have a lot of really male-dominated industries. So for example, in Alberta where you have a lot of people who are working in oil."

K-W region skewed higher

Adshade said typically, people look to date within their education level.

"Today, people are looking for people who are more similar to themselves," she said.

In Southern Ontario, Kitchener-Waterloo seems to have slightly more single, educated men in the 25-34 age range.

Adshade said that's highly unusual, not just for the region, but for all of Canada.

She thinks the high number of grad students (because of three nearby universities — Wilfrid-Laurier and Waterloo Universities in Waterloo, and the nearby University of Guelph plus Kitchener's Conestoga College), and people working in the male-dominated tech-sector are what skews the numbers toward a more even split between single educated men and women. 

'Searching in really narrow categories'

Adshade said single women are changing what they're looking for in a partner as a result of the disparity.

"We have a natural tendency to say, 'I'm only looking for somebody that has these qualities.' We start to limit our pool, and I think what people don't realize is how quickly that pool shrinks," she said.

"It's one of the reasons why people are staying single longer — they're searching in really narrow categories."

You have a dynamic set up that can be demoralizing.- Jess Carbino, sociologist for Bumble

Jess Carbino is a sociologist for Bumble, a dating app that requires women to make the first move with matches.

"71 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men said that the reason they signed up for Bumble was that women could make the first move," said Carbino. "We're putting [women] in a position where they have the ability to set the tone of the conversation, and where they feel good about themselves and empowered."

Carbino said, over time, unrealistic expectations for relationships have developed, making it more difficult for anyone looking for a partner.

 "We've moved to what sociologists and psychologists have called an all-fulfilling relationship — a relationship in which individuals expect their romantic partner will fulfill all of their needs physically, emotionally, sexually, monetarily, intellectually and spiritually," said Carbino. "You have a dynamic set up that can be demoralizing."

Online users, according to Carbino, are more acutely aware of a lack of options.

"Online daters compared to offline daters are far more willing to say they're willing to commit when they meet someone because they're actually experiencing and visualizing the market in a far more meaningful way," said Carbino, adding the number of viable options quickly becomes apparent.

"It's not this ephemeral thing that they can try to speculate about and think about, 'There are all these other people out there for me.'"

LGBT dating trends

LGBT singles are dating in a smaller community and have already adapted to the reality of having a smaller pool. 

"People who are in the community seem to be far more flexible about who they're looking for. For example, they're less likely to choose their partners based on their education levels," said Adshade, adding age differences are also often greater between partners. 

"It's a community that's really benefited from having online dating and apps for matching because they're searching in such a small market."

Shift from tradition

Adshade predicts a similar trend among single, educated women over the next few years.

"We're already seeing educated women are significantly increasing the chance they'll marry someone that's much younger than them — more than five years younger than themselves," she said.

"We're going to see a moving away from these traditional ideas that if you're a woman, you marry a guy that earns more than you, is better educated than you to looking for different things in a relationship."

She said women are also choosing to stay single, pointing to data that shows people aren't marrying at the rates they used to.