Q: Why is it so difficult to find the right partner?

A: It's not your imagination. It is getting harder to find love--especially for women. Many women are tired of "kissing so many frogs," and the age of initial marriages is getting older. To make matters worse, the Pew Research Center just reported some disturbing statistics that can make falling in love even more difficult. But don't panic. I do have some suggestions about how to increase your chance of making a good love match. 

But first, let's look at what the Pew Center, as well as U.S. government statistics, have discovered. 

1. Women with better and advanced education have a greater risk of remaining single or getting divorced.

2. Women earn almost 60 percent of college degrees and almost 70 percent of associate degrees. They also outnumber men in medical school. 

3. Almost a quarter of women earn more than their husbands. To give you a perspective on how much this number has increased, in 1970, less than 5 percent of women made more money than their husbands.

4. Women outnumber men in the workforce. To make matters worse, the recession has become what's been called a male recession since about 80 percent of the jobs that were lost were filled by men.

5. College-educated women are increasingly becoming mothers without getting married. The birth rate of children to these unmarried women has increased 145 percent since 1980. 

No wonder women are fed up with dating and are pessimistic about relationships and love. For men, it's a license to be picky--very picky--and to move on quickly if they don't like, well, the way she laughs or chews her food. After all, men are in high demand and short supply--a perfect storm for early break ups, juggling lots of women at once, postponing commitment--or finding someone who will support you.  Sex and fun yes, relationships and love no. 

For women, their perfect storm ends up consisting of settling, adopting or using artificial insemination, choosing a partner out of loneliness or haste--or remaining single.  Few feminists could have foreseen the revival of that outdated concept of an Old Maid or have predicted that it could cause women so much anguish.

So, what's a woman--or man--to do if long-lasting love or marriage are the goal?  Remember: I told you not to panic. There are people finding love, getting and staying married and raising a family.  You could be one of those people.  Here are some tips.

1. Settling vs. Perfection. You shouldn't feel as though you've "settled," but drop the idea of Mr. or Ms. Right.  As I've warned you before, there is no such thing.  Make a list of your top values and needs. And then bear in mind that even in the best of marriages not all of them can be met. For women, don't over-rely on earning potential as a main criterion to dismiss a man. For men, don't view all top educated and economically successful women as being "out of your league" or "impossible to live with."

2. Earning Power vs. Couple Power.  Don't confuse making more money than your male partner with having rights to the first and last say in how money is used. Work as a team to make mutually satisfying decisions. Be willing to be flexible. Respect other positive attributes in your man and realize that these qualities can make you feel loved and safe and warm even if you make more money. Men should never hold back their ideas or input just because they don't earn as much as the women. 

3. Mistreatment vs. Respect. Gender imbalances in college education and employment status are not a license for men to abuse and disrespect women. And just because men can move on to greener pastures does not mean they should. Believe it or not, men report that they, too, want to fall in love. Women should be wary of excusing abusive behavior and staying in an unsafe and unhealthy relationship just because dating and mating is such an unpleasant experience. 

4. Luck vs. Work.  Yes, as Woody Allen says, finding love can often be the result of serendipity--a mix of timing, luck and maturity. But don't fool yourself by believing that "love will just happen." Treat finding a good partner as though it were a job. Get a plan for meeting and finding someone. Try dating services, asking friends, going to events and introducing yourself to someone who interests you. Get proactive and stop wishing and hoping.

5.  Despair vs. Optimism plus Realism.  Don't worry., people of all ages are falling in love or getting married. But if you are serious about wanting to find a partner, don't play the field too long if you are a man--or else you'll find yourself alone, desperate or unwise in your choices. Both men and women should curb searching for their dream life. Life doesn't care if you have scripts and fantasies. There are lots of ways and places to live.  There is no one path, and if you keep your heart and mind open, you might find that many roads can lead to love and happiness.

Get brave and smart.