The Wall: Stop Saying Women Have An Expiration Date For Dating And Marriage

One of the most damaging and ludicrous myths perpetuated online about women is known as “The Wall.” The meme claims that women peak at a very specific time in their lives, normally when they’re in their early twenties.

By Robyn Riley6 min read
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The idea is that once women pass this peak in physical attractiveness and fertility there’s a sudden and brutal diminishment of their sexual market value, forever making them worthless and un-marriageable compared to younger women. 

The Wall: Putting an Age Limit on Women

Most men in the manosphere who talk in depth about this subject don’t deny that if a woman has good genes and takes care of her health then she can remain physically attractive into her thirties (how generous). They do however claim that in comparison to an 18 year old even a healthy, beautiful 30-year-old woman will always be a high status man’s second choice. These men, who often characterize themselves as pick-up artists and masculinity gurus, fail to acknowledge the fringe nature of their perspective about male and female relations and how most men live in the real world, not online.

Certainly with the advent of hookup culture and dating apps there are unfortunately more men out there then ever who do think this way. But the vast majority of single men  looking for wives and long-term commitment are looking for a woman with age similarity and personality compatibility – not the hottest, youngest bang at the club.

People with a 0-3 year age gap tend to have the most marital success. 

When it comes to marital success, people with a 0-3 year age gap tend to have the most success. While, of course, there are many happy relationships out there between people with great and small age gaps, studies show that the larger an age gap between a man and a woman, the less they report long-term romantic satisfaction. These findings fly in the face of The Wall meme. It would be quite reasonable to expect that a man in his thirties would be more likely to be happy settling down with a woman who is around 26 or 27 rather than an 18 year old.

Maturity and life experience greatly define our attraction to others, and most men desire a woman for deeper reasons than just “this 18 year old is hot and fertile.” Many men choose women on the basis of shared religion and values, common interests, personality compatibility, and the desire for companionship. All of which can be offered by women of any age.

Younger Isn’t Always Better

Women too can age like wine. When I think back to my awkward 18-year-old self, I know for a fact that I’m more attractive now than I was then. Very young women don’t yet know who they are, they lack the self-embodiment and confidence of a more mature woman, and in most cases, they don’t have a refined sense of personal style.

Sophistication, glamour, and sensual femininity are things a woman must develop as she grows in wisdom and self-knowledge. Men who are of a higher caliber than your average pick-up artist know this. I’m not denying the reality of menopause, wrinkles, and grey hairs. Of course, beauty fades with time. But a view on sexual market value which simply prescribes younger is always hotter and younger is always better shows the inability of most men in the manosphere to be able to define what a high-quality woman is in the first place. 

I know for a fact that I’m more attractive now than when I was an awkward 18-year-old. 

I say all of this from the position of a woman who is happily married and the mother of a beautiful, rambunctious boy. Some may very well think that I’ve “hit the wall,” and that’s perfectly fine, but my experience really contradicts what The Wall meme describes. I met my husband at 28, and on a purely superficial basis, he’s the tallest, most handsome, and highest-earning man I’ve ever been in a relationship with. I got pregnant just before turning 30 almost immediately with no trouble whatsoever.

My husband is much more than these stats, but for me to have found and snagged him so “late” in the game proves that not all women need to rush into marriage out of fear that they’re running out of time. Choosing a man must be done intentionally and with great caution. It’s better to wait for the right man, even if that means waiting until you’re almost 30, than it is to marry the wrong man early in life. 

Fertility Isn’t the Only Factor in Marriage

The one piece of truth in The Wall meme is that women may have an easier time finding a husband when she’s younger and if she waits too long to commit to one man she may have a harder time finding a good guy when she gets older. When we’re younger we’re full of life and zest, we have tons of energy, and our social networks are still being established. Meaning it’s easier to meet people when you’re younger and to form strong bonds. I would never suggest to a woman that she spend her twenties partying and wasting time and put off looking for a husband until 35. I would just like to remind women that hope should never be abandoned because of what people on the internet say to you. 

There are single people looking for love in literally every age bracket.

However, even elderly men and women who are made widows later in life are still capable of finding new love. Many divorced men and women who already have kids from previous marriages are not looking for a partner on the basis of their fertility. The complex circumstances of people’s lives mean that even if your situation is less than ideal, you likely will still be able to find love. 

The value of a person is not defined by fleeting youth and vague notions of peak fertility for a majority of the population. There are single people looking for love in literally every age bracket, and neither men nor women have expiration dates. Love and attraction can be established at any age and for a variety of reasons. 

The Empty Egg Carton

Another aspect of The Wall focuses on fertility specifically. Often the same type of men online who enjoy using The Wall meme are the same men who use the empty egg carton meme. In short, men will post a picture of an empty egg carton to allude to a woman’s inability to conceive a pregnancy because she’s too old and has no eggs left. It’s a cruel and misleading meme.

The Truth about Female Fertility and Age

It’s true that female fertility and the number of viable eggs a woman has decreases with age, and it’s also true that having children earlier in life is better for a number of reasons. Younger eggs have fewer genetic defects, miscarriage is less likely, pregnancy tends to have lower risks with women who are under 35, and labor and recovery are often easier on women who are younger.

That being said, men aren’t exempt from the cruel realities of time either. There are studies that show a link between advanced paternal age and autism, and another recent study conducted in Poland found that advanced paternal age has a greater impact than maternal age on such genetic disorders as Apert, Crouzon, Pfeiffer, Noonan, and Costello syndromes. So while it’s right to warn people of the risks of waiting until late in life to have children, we shouldn’t solely focus our efforts on women, as men don’t have any time to waste either.

During her early twenties, a woman who is genetically and hormonally healthy has a 96% chance of getting pregnant within a year. This is rightly considered the peak of a woman’s fertility. As a woman moves from her mid-20s to her mid-30s, there’s a gradual decline in her ability to conceive – dropping to an 86% chance of conceiving within a year. After 35, women have a drop off in their fertility to a 15-20% chance of conceiving in a month and a 78% chance of conceiving in a year. 

Less than 3% of women who are struggling to get pregnant will need IVF. 

The truth of the matter is that most women are able to have perfectly healthy pregnancies and children even after 35 and succeed in doing so without medical intervention. Less than 3% of women who are suffering from infertility or are struggling to get pregnant will need IVF. 

It’s important that I remind men and women reading this that a 78% chance of anything happening is great odds, and while I wouldn’t ever recommend a woman waits until her mid-30s to have children, it’s not something we need to fearmonger women about either. Educating women about their biology doesn’t require browbeating.

Egg Quantity vs. Egg Quality

By the time a woman reaches the age of 40, it’s not so much how many eggs she has left that will stand in the way of having a child (after all, we only need 1 every 18 months maximum), it’s her egg quality. Most eggs at this late stage in life may have genetic defects and therefore aren't suitable for conception.

Women are born with roughly 1-2 million eggs, which dwindle to about 300,000 by the time she hits puberty. This fact exposes the reality of determining fertility by egg count. 

We can’t increase the number of eggs we have, but we can always improve their quality. 

Furthermore a 21-year-old woman who lives an unhealthy lifestyle by eating excessive junk food, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, is deficient in B vitamins, or not doing weekly moderate activity could have far more trouble getting pregnant than a woman who is 30 but in top physical health. As with everything, quality is more important than quantity. 

To this point, I’d like to add the fact that we can’t increase the number of eggs we have, but we can always improve their quality. Research shows that by cutting out sugars and supplementing properly you can improve your egg quality and overall fertility in just 90 days. 

The Modern Woman’s Relationship with Her Fertility is Complicated

If we’re to see different results in the next generation of women navigating the minefield of their own biological imperative, it’s incumbent on us that we’re optimistic and compassionate. If we’re to help women waking up in their thirties to the reality of their fertility, we should teach them to focus on what’s in their control, rather than to despair about what’s not.

Fearmongering women in this way is counterproductive from a natalist perspective. The Wall meme encourages us to see women’s predicament of having children later in life as something we should have a great neurosis about. It assumes that the reasons why women have children later and later is always because they just want to party and have casual sex with as many men as possible before settling down. 

Surely this is true for some women, but to generalize this to be the case for all or even most women is completely baseless. The reality is both men and women are finding it harder and harder to create authentic love connections and often don’t find suitable partners until later in life, regardless of their desires to have a family. 

Both men and women are finding it harder and harder to create authentic love connections.

Women are often told by their parents to not settle down too. They’re targeted with extensive feminist propaganda from music, film, and television to prioritize career over family. Women are not taught about their fertility in sex ed – they’re taught how to take birth control. Tragically, many women don’t even understand the way their own bodies work or the way that fertility and age are connected. Not to mention many women and men suffer from traumas incurred growing up in broken homes and find it hard to establish healthy relationships of their own. 

We have to weigh all the factors when looking at the situation women find themselves in. They’re in a culture that degrades motherhood, terrorizes them about pregnancy and birth, and encourages them to prioritize career status over family. Surely it’s unfair to place the burden of responsibility solely on the shoulders of misled and lost young women.

Closing Thoughts

The Wall is a myth propagated most often by resentful men who want to generalize women's overall value by quantifying their fertility and beauty using the narrowest viewpoint possible. I believe many men do this as a means of making themselves feel powerful and in control because the chaos and disorder of the dating scene make them feel powerless to find a good woman. If all women are worthless, then it’s not your fault you’re alone, right? They most likely have been deeply hurt or struggle with relationships with women in their own lives and use the internet as an outlet to vent that suffering

If we truly want to help people, let’s not use the limitations of our biology to bludgeon each other. Both men and women should aim to start their families as soon as they can because being younger means you will have the benefit of time and the vibrancy of youth on your side. Not out of the fear of growing old and worthless. Our value as lovers, mothers, wives, and women can’t be boiled down to a number.