It's by a psychotherapist and sociologist, Leslie Bell, who writes on the issue of young women and relationships. What she has found is that upper middle-class women in their 20s are conflicted about having relationships with men.
On the one hand, these young women have been brought up to believe that they should be "liberated" in the liberal sense to lead autonomous, independent, self-reliant lives. On the other hand, they feel a feminine desire to have a relationship with a man in which they show vulnerability and need.
The two aims conflict and therefore many upper middle-class women in their 20s feel guilty or anxious about their desire for a relationship. They feel split between what they feel they should want as liberated women and what they desire in their personal lives. They resolve this conundrum, according to Leslie Bell, by "splitting" the two aspects of their lives and by denigrating romantic relationships.
From the article:
Laura Hamilton and Elizabeth Armstrong, sociologists at University of California, Merced and the University of Michigan studied relationship patterns among upper-middle-class female college students, and they discovered that these women believed relational commitments were supposed to take a backseat to self-development...Hamilton and Armstrong found that young women often sought protection from relationships that could "derail their ambition."I don't see a way out of this for liberals. If autonomy really is the path to liberation, then women are likely to deprioritise relationships with men. And if relationships are downgraded, then women won't seek to develop the qualities that might make relationships successful (they might not even be aware that they need to develop such qualities).
Like Hamilton and Armstrong's respondents, many young and aspiring women with whom I spoke felt as though it were counterproductive to their development to prioritize a relationship with a man...
Confused about freedom and desire, young women often split their social and psychological options—independence, strength, safety, control, and career versus connection, vulnerability, need, desire, and relationships—into mutually exclusive possibilities in life. Romantic relationships then often become something to be avoided and denigrated rather than embraced.
It's no wonder that splitting is often young women's preferred method to make sense of the dizzying array of freedoms before them. A group of people trying to be autonomous and successful at work, and to have love and sex lives in which they express their vulnerability, need, and desire, is groundbreaking and historically unprecedented. Splitting may serve to ease their anxiety temporarily, but only until the desire for a relationship becomes impossible to ignore.
The traditional path is for both men and women to seek to develop from young adulthood onwards the qualities that will help them to marry well and then to be successful and effective husbands and wives and fathers and mothers. Because these qualities are at the heart of who we are as men and women, this is more truly a means to self-development than a more narrow focus on developing career skills.