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I think marrying a mage/sorceress would likely seems cool compared to an ordinary woman. Can heal family diseases more quickly using the knowledge of spells and potions, more likely to age slower (if will use magic/potions or perhaps traits) compared to an ordinary woman. Can do more house work and other things. Lastly, can defend the family using magic.

Then what could be the reason why ordinary men would avoid getting into relationship with a female mages/sorceress and would prefer an ordinary woman instead? Let say, women mages/sorceress in my story are not sterile.

I'm thinking of timeline similar to The Witcher.

Edit

My setting is in medieval period which is similar to The Witcher story, where normally 3rd class person men works in the farm while their wife stays at home. While the middle class and upper class family, their wife still stays at home and not doing jobs like what we are now today.

"Ordinary men" doesn't imply lower class, but people who doesn't have magical powers or doesn't have higher political roles.

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  • $\begingroup$ Person with magic powers can move things so I'm thinking about sweeping the floor using magic powers while doing other household chores at the same time is an asset compared to an ordinary person. $\endgroup$ – threeFatCat Nov 15 '19 at 6:34
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    $\begingroup$ A Roomba will clean the floor and won't nag when you get back home late after drinking with friends. Now, seriously, do we really need sexist stereotypes? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Nov 15 '19 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ Endora as a mother in law $\endgroup$ – nzaman Nov 15 '19 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ Presumably, becoming a sorceress takes a significant investment of time, effort, and possibly other resources. Therefore, any sorceress is going to be a highly-driven individual, and probably one with high natural talents as well. What makes you think that such a powerful, driven, talented individual will be content (or even willing) to spend their days doing household chores? $\endgroup$ – Dave Sherohman Nov 15 '19 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ this is up to you and how you structure you magic system and society. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 15 '19 at 15:22

11 Answers 11

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What makes you think that the sorceress would do the housework with her magic? The rational thing for the household income is that the average man does the cooking and laundry, and that the sorceress does sorcerous things at the court of the local prince. A modern family might be able to cope. How about older cultures?

  • They were raised with the social and cultural expectation that males are the dominant partner in a relationship, that women look after the children and kitchen. A sorceress would not fit the feminine ideal of their culture.
  • Or they are counseled by parents and elders that a marriage should be one of equals, and that a vast social and power difference will strain the relationship, no matter who is dominant. "Bye, honey. I'm off to the sawmill. Have fun fighting undead."
  • Elders also counsel against matches of people who age at different speed.
  • They were raised in a culture where mages are seen with some suspicion, or perhaps a mixture of respect and suspicion. Yes, you want to have one in your village. But not in your hut.
  • There are persistent rumors that sorceresses can do love potions. So when one asks a man for a date, he runs as fast as he can.
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Men tend to be scared of what they don't understand.

The common trope is that women are already hard to understand on their own. Sprinkle a woman with magic ability, and you will scare any man out.

What can scare the man?

Well, just listen to the reasons some men use to prevent women getting a higher salary/better education/stronger position than they have, and you can have your explanation.

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Pride

Perhaps your societal standard of males is all about being a provider and protector for your family.

So if you marry a woman who can do all of that better than you can... doesn't that mean that you're a failure?

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    $\begingroup$ Apparently there is some research showing that highly successful women have this problem in real life. For women the number of eligible bachelors goes down as they climb the ranks, while for men the number of interested women goes up. A peasant sorcerer could marry in to local nobility, but what could a sorcerer do if they were local nobility? Marry the King? $\endgroup$ – Display Name Nov 15 '19 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ I've heard of that, but I haven't personally read research that could factor out things like age, which correlates heavily with societal success. And I didn't want to search for hours. $\endgroup$ – Gloweye Nov 15 '19 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ A woman wrote this book about it: thestar.com/life/relationships/2018/02/05/… $\endgroup$ – Display Name Nov 15 '19 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I'm hesitant to add it as a source since I haven't read it, but I think the comment is useful. $\endgroup$ – Gloweye Nov 15 '19 at 15:29
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Must Produce an Heir

Assuming in your world only women can use magic, or male magic is inherited differently. Society and most sorceresses view the man's main role in the relationship to provide an heir who can also use magic.

Magical ability requires genes from both parents. Only a small percentage of men have this and it is completely latent in men. The only way to tell if you can produce an heir, is if you do.

If the men cannot produce an heir, one of two things will happen:

  1. The couple will get divorced and the man will need to raise his non-magical child alone.
  2. The couple will need to contract a surrogate father to copulate in the husbands stead until an heir is produced.

This would turn dating a sorceress into much more risky preposition and would be a major turn off for most men.

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First thoughts are the best:

She's ugly as Hell.

Yes, she can do all the magic stuff. She ages slower and through pheromones you age slower too. Her powers are limitless, healing, defending, cooking, cleaning all with a snap from her fingers.

But all that comes with a price. Her magical powers comes (you mentioned The Witcher) through a genetic mutation. This mutation makes her visual appearance more like Latrine in Men in Tights than an average woman.

OR:

She's emotionless and cold.

Years and years of training left her emotionally disconnected from the Normal Persons world. She sees the world through magical eyes and everything is her servant.

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Becoming a sorceress takes years of study and training. That means that any sorceress won't be in a marriageable age anymore, which was probably around 16 at that time.

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Practicing magic leaves a physical and emotional toll on the user.

This is quite a common trope in fantasy: the more powerful the spell, the greater the cost for the caster.

Physically, this would mean that although your magical housewife could use her magic to clean the dishes, it would be more tiring than actually doing it by hand, and she'd have to take a nap afterwards. And because she needs to study and practice magic daily, doing the dishes by hand is more tiring for her than for the average housewife.

Emotionally, this could translate as powerful spells leaving the caster in a catatonic state, or perhaps giving them panic attacks. Not very convenient for everyday chores.


Also, there's always the possibility of being the target of a fireball after asking for a sandwich, if that's your style.

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The whole point of magic is that it cannot be explained and as such 'normal' people do not know what is believable around a user of magic. Are the who they appear, do they sleep, what is their religion, do the have navals or armpit hair?

In a fuedalist structure any uncontrollable element within the owned lands would be considered a posible risk, and therefore untrustworthy, and not to be associated with if favour to the local land/people owner is wanted.

Not too mention the strong relative class structures, where in the local social strata does witch/mage/sorceress appear. If this is considered adjacently equal/above/threat to 'normal' people of influence (money/religion) then this would compound the distrust.

This distrust would also likely travel by general association and legends/slander ie. You live near the mage; I heard she eats children and gives people hexs that make them ill.

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Three words: She's a witch!

People have been brutally murdered throughout history on the mere suspicion that they had supernatural, occult powers. To voluntarily court one of these witches defies the natural order, and is a quick way to be shunned by your entire community. Simply put, the general population does not understand and indeed fears magic, so to associate with anyone who practices it is extremely taboo.

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Danger of manipulation

She's a witch. How do you know you like/love this woman? For all you know she's casting a spell on you, or doing something to your mind.

You can't trust your senses, you can't trust your feelings. She simply cannot be trusted.

So your guard is up, whether she's honest or not, you won't let her get close enough emotionally to let you fall in love with one another.

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Note that this is a broad and stereotyped answer. As to any rule, there will be exceptions.

So why would men be less likely to fall in love with female magician ?

First, the time period : people did fell in love, but wedding were not often a matter of love, for neither spouses. At least not the first ones. At best, you hoped for mutual respect and put some efforts into getting your spouse to like you. Second : Sorceress are being of power, they will attract alliance of power, not a peasant that barely have a hut to his name (if he has a name)... or will they (that's the whole question) ? Third : If you are in position to propose to a sorceress and hope to be taken seriously, you have people to do your laundry and dishes and you can probably pay for magic healing if need be. Fourth : Love is a fickle feeling, with much less social constraint than... formal social pairing. We have a lot of stories of impossible love, despite class, origin, condition, whatever.

So I'll alter a bit your question :
Why so very few proposition for someone who would bring so much into a family ?

To be a serious explanation of bachelorette-hood you will need to mix several of those.

1) A risk that no heir will be born.
A magician life is not a peaceful one. Accident happens, and even if you count on nannies, mothers must be alive and not too shaken on a regular basis to carry to term.

2) A risk that one's heir will not be his.
Even if the sorceress has a child, they are often sent away or just simply gone on their own errand. Marriage goal was alliance and posterity. Having a virgin wife was the only way to know one's child were one's child. So if one's wife is always away, wherever, with whoever, it's hard to be sure of her chastity.

3) Sorceress are high maintenance.
Their magic research might cost more than some kingdom can afford. Even of they can level a mountain, it's not something you often get paid for. A dress is a dress. But the heart of a dragon is slightly more complicated to obtain. And, even worse, some can't live without those things.

4) They tend to hog the power.
Yes your spouse will be able to dispatch a whole army of your enemies. But there is a high risk that at some point they will try to kill you or get you killed. Maybe it's pure paranoïa, maybe it's an educated guess as several of your neighbor have learned... or never get to learn, as things are.

5) They are volatile.
Of course, you don't sleep together most of the time at this social level. But sorceress are known to have... accidents. Where some people sneeze, Some sorceress change their spouse into frog (it might be reversible), or their house into balls of fire. Even if it's involuntary, it's a huge risk.

6) They live long life.
After the first three dead loving husband, after the first 12 dead children, Is it still worth it ? The sorceress themselves will spurn marriage as they know of the heartache they are.

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