Why Don’t Men Settle Down?

It’s not that they aren’t interested in monogamous relationships, Hugo Schwyzer argues. It’s that they’re waiting around, in vain, for a sign that she’s ‘the one.’

Last week, Jennifer Doll offered a familiar lament in the pages of the Village Voice: “Dear Single Women of NYC: It’s Not Them, It’s You. Though her focus is on New York, Doll could have been describing almost any large American city in which the number of single, straight, employed, and emotionally competent men is apparently dwarfed by the number of women who want to meet them.

The “man shortage” is a perennial go-to for articles aimed at women readers; these pieces differ mainly in the degree to which they blame the crisis on women’s ambition, pickiness, or sexual aggressiveness.

Refreshingly, Doll gets that men also desire relationships. She interviews one guy who claims to be looking for marriage:

“I don’t want to be 34 and doing that thing that sketchy New York guys do where they go out and act as though they’re 24. I’ve seen too much of it … It’s a real cautionary tale.” When I told him that was refreshing, he said, “I think most guys feel that way.”

I think we can all agree that guys in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s who behave like overgrown teenagers is not a phenomenon limited to the 212 area code. Middle-class male adolescence is a countrywide phenomenon that can last a quarter-century or more.

Women’s sexual availability often takes the rap for men’s increasingly famous ambivalence about marriage. Pundits offer endless variations on the why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free aphorism. If women would commit to being less sexually available, the argument goes, men would be more willing to commit to marriage.

But that reasoning misses the mark on two counts. First, plenty of women like sex, and not just because it’s so irresistible to men. Second, it doesn’t take into account just how hungry many men are for an enduring relationship. Like the guy whom Doll found so “refreshing,” a lot of men—far more than the stories like hers let on—want more than an endless supply of free milk from new cows.


Doll’s interviewee is right: most guys do want to grow up. Most of us have winced as we’ve watched men humiliate themselves chasing women who are too young and not interested. What seems cool at 25 is embarrassing at 50. But how do we figure out when the moment is right to “settle down”? Do it too early, and we might be tortured by regret about all the new skin we’re missing. Wait too long, and we’re in danger of becoming the creepy bachelor uncle, the one about whom a niece warns all her girlfriends.

Of course, marriage isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. And being married—or being willing to be married—shouldn’t be the only benchmark for growing up. The marriage rate is falling, and one reason is that more people are finding alternatives that work better for them. But another reason is that too many young people—men especially—have such lofty expectations for marriage (and such fears of divorce) that they set themselves up to never be “ready.”

My dad once told me that the biggest mistake men make is “waiting to be struck by certainty.” Men expect signs. They want a “burning bush” or a billboard on the interstate; they want to hear the voice of God booming, “Marry her!”

Most guys see certainty as the total absence of doubt, and so they keep imagining that settling down is what you do when you’re 100 percent sure about someone. Problem is, it’s damn near impossible to be 100 percent sure about anything. In most ventures in life, we’re 70 percent sure at best. But then again, we don’t expect most ventures to last forever. And so we hedge our bets, we play the field, we wait for the one to come along who will strike us with certainty. And with no biological clock ticking (just the fear of turning into an aging “creeper”), we can spin out that waiting for a very long time.

A friend once told me, “I’ll know I’ve met the one when I don’t want to screw any of her friends, no matter how hot they are.” He would know he’d met his future wife when monogamy would seem effortless. For him, being “struck by certainty” would mean the complete absence of interest in ever having sex with anyone other than his “one.”


Growing up means letting go of the need for a “burning bush” moment. It means not holding other people hostage to your own indecisiveness and understanding that certainty comes after you make a commitment to something. It’s the result of an action taken, not a prerequisite for taking it.

Again, marriage isn’t for everyone. The willingness to make a commitment is hardly the only proof of maturity. But I’m not concerned here with the men who are certain they never want to marry. The problem is with the ones who very much want to get married but are waiting to be struck by (and keeping everybody else waiting for) that thunderbolt of certainty.

As men grow older, the poet Donald Justice wrote, men should “learn to close softly the doors to rooms they will not be coming back to.” What’s left behind in those rooms? The unlimited options and possibilities we love to contemplate.

The certainty you’re looking for comes only after that door is shut.


More From Hugo Schwyzer:

Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls


Why Don’t Men Initiate Divorce?


Red-Hot Monogamy


Other Stories From the Good Men Project Magazine:

The Prostitute Who Saved My Relationship


Are Men Natural-Born Cheaters?


What Your Marriage Needs to Survive


Marriage: Just Don’t

About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website


  1. The Absolute Truth says:

    Well there are certainly many of us Single Men still hoping to meet a Good Woman to settle down with, but most of the women nowadays aren’t looking for a Relationship anymore.

  2. I find in the Anglo-Saxon culture would find a defect that no Asian culture, women are actually too demanding, they want a perfect man, wealthy, consistent, of the same age, ect … a kind of superman! are actually very childlike and they marry the most out very different from what we actually wanted.

  3. You missed the mark. The reason why so many young men don’t want to get married is because the cards are stacked so heavily against us. We have to court a woman which includes paying for dates and gifts, then paying for an expensive ring, then paying for an expensive wedding and honeymoon, and then *usually* we must serve as the primary breadwinner for the household. This is fine.

    But after all this we run a very high chance (~60%) that she will “no-fault” divorce us and leave with the kids no matter what we do right. We will be left alone and financially ruined paying child support for kids that we rarely get to see.

    As a young man who has seen this happen to countless older men, I’ll continue to date women but will never sign the death-sentence that marriage has become. And for what it’s worth, labelling men like me with a “fear of committment” is just a sad and ignorant attempt to shame us into marriage.

    • If You Are Having Sex With The Women You Date…….You Will Still End Up Paying Child Support For All Of The Kids You Create By Having Sex With Women You Barely Even Know! I Am Sure That Men Who Are Afraid Of Marriage Are Not Willing To Give Up Sex Ever………..So You Will Still Have To Take Responsibility For Your Actions And Responsibility For A Family. You May Want To Just Be Alone Completely Or Start Dating Men Instead, If You Really Want To Avoid Creating More Responsibility For Yourself By Having Kids With A Woman.

    • If You Are Having Sex With The Women You Date…….You Will Still End Up Paying Child Support For All Of The Kids You Create By Having Sex With Women You Barely Even Know! I Am Sure That Men Who Are Afraid Of Marriage Are Not Willing To Give Up Sex Ever………..So You Will Still Have To Take Responsibility For Your Actions And Responsibility For A Family. You May Want To Just Be Alone Completely Or Start Dating Men Instead, If You Really Want To Avoid Creating More Responsibility For Yourself By Having Kids With A Woman.

  4. Five Simple Tests to Tell if He’s Ever Going to Settle Down

    Read them here at…

  5. Actually, a lot of the research coming out now is pointing to many men who are willing to settle down – more so at times than women, who are increasingly getting more degrees and are a larger part of the workforce.

    So in a way (although I agree with a lot of what you’re saying) this article’s major premise is outdated.

  6. Hugo Schwyzer has absolutely NO authority to pontificate on the subject of “why guys don’t want to get married”. And don’t you believe for one minute, that he doesn’t know what’s happening. He is being willfully obtuse, selling out normal men everywhere, and poisoning the minds of young people with feminist indoctrination.

    Schwyzer is pissing in the face of the whole male population when he writes this kind of garbage.

    The MRAs have been explaining for YEARS why men don’t want to get married. All you must do, is listen. It is not at all hard to figure out. So again, that is why I say that Hugo Schwyzer and people like him are being willfully obtuse: they are pretending not to get it. But deep in their guts they know perfectly well what is really happening. And they are cashing in, building their parasitical careers at the expense of truth, upon a foundation of human misery. At the same time, they are helping to multiply that misery — stashing more and more psychopolitical gunpowder and petrol in the societal basement, toward a catastrophic explosion that cannot fail to occur sooner or later. Yes, truth has a funny way of working it way to the surface eventually. . .

    People like Schwyzer are self-loathing because they are loathsome. And deep in their guts they know this. But they project their self-loathing onto normal men, and try to suck as many of them into into the feminist ideological shithole as they possibly can. Misery loves company, and let me tell you, they are bound to get their wish because things are bound to get miserable as hell in the future.

    Hugo Schwyzer ought to be deeply ashamed for writing this article, but knowing him, I know that he is morally incapable of it.

  7. wellokaythen says:

    One apparent assumption in the article that I would like to challenge. Maybe it shows that I’m immature to think this way, but: why is being monogamous and cohabitational the only sign of maturity? Put another way, I don’t think being non-monogamous is necessarily a sign of immaturity, nor is it necessarily a phase to get over so that a person can move to his/her “natural state” of lifetime monogamy.

    I see many people shacking up and resticting themselves to one partner because they think they’re supposed to or because it will force them to grow up. Some of the most childish people I know are people who have been married for years. Though this doesn’t happen as much as in earlier generations maybe, there are still people who get married as a primary goal as a way to solve all their problems, which strikes me as being a very irresponsible, immature approach.

  8. Actually, there is, If you had read the article you’d understand why.

  9. Evil Pundit says:

    Yes, jeffliveshere, any comments that disagree with your feminist world view must be censored. After all, it’s not like you can make a logical argument to counter them.

  10. If you want to know why men will not commit, go visit your local family court.

    Spend a few hours watching the faces of the litigants. On every female face you will see vindication and self-righteousness. On every male face you will see despair and humiliation.

    Only a crazy man would marry in an environment where his wife will watch “eat, pray, love”, decide to dump him because he is not “exciting” enough, take his children and his dignity, and transform him into a wage slave that has to beg to see his own children.

    Pretty simple, eh?

    • My responses are not showing. I’ll retype this one time.

      This brings forth the single, largest fear men have and the Truth Hurts. Good men have been entrapped by this.

  11. “Why Don’t Men Settle Down”

    Because feminism have destroyed the marriage:

    “The nuclear family must be destroyed… Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.” -Linda Gordon

    And now that men are refusing to go into this modern meat-grinder called “marriage”, feminists and male-feminists are going nuts trying to shame men into this trap. Marriage in a feminist society is nothing more than indirect-welfare: money passes from the pocket of the man to that of the woman by simply signing this feminist-contract which is marriage.

    So, as a modern man, an AntiFeminist, i can only encourage men not to marry. If you do, most likely you’ll end up miserable without home, money, and with a nasty ex-wife that will use Daddy-State to enforce your oppression via monthly alimony to be paid to your ex jailer. Also, if you have kids, you’ll lose them, and your wife will use them to emotionally blackmail you into giving her more money.

    The fact of the matter is that a man must ask himself what is the purpose of “marriage” in a feminist society. The answer is: indirect welfare, giving men’s money to women. You have nothing to gain from marriage in this feminist society, and you have everything to lose.

    Also, i want to say another thing: this “good men project” is being lauded by Ms Magazine. Ms Magazine is that feminist outlet that has been founded by feminist and CIA agent Gloria Steinem.

    Obviously the feminists are seeing that men are waking up, and they’re running for cover, trying to build a “better looking jail”.

    Dont fall in that trap. Dont marry, live your life, be free, and dont let these agents of feminist oppression tell you that if you dont marry “you’re not a man”, that if you dont accept those sick, repelling, obnoxious things that are the women in a feminist society you have no “bright masculinity”. Your masculinity is definied by yourself only, not by some ex-cia agent or some self-hating “man” (any male-feminist is a self-hating man).

    Avoid marriage, stay free, live strong.
    Thats modern masculinity.

    • You should point out that a lot of masturbation is involved in this ‘modern masculinity.’
      No worries; these guys are already living in their parents’ basement, getting a woman to consent to sex with them is probably the least of their dilemmas.

      • There’s nothing “modern” about masturbation and there’s nothing wrong with it either.

        I’m a professional and I own my own home by the lake. I have plenty of female friends but I would never let them move in with me. I always have a policy of friends first and fend for yourself.
        I moved out when I was 16 and put myself through university, perhaps I’m an anomaly because I don’t like sports, beer, cars or superficial women.

        • But you saying “sorry it hurt your fee-fees” isn’t at all a shaming game meant to minimlize the opinion of another adult. Try some self reflection.

          • Don’t feel the trolls.

          • Turn about is fair play as they say. Shaming tactics is a staple of feminist debate, refusing to continue to offer reason in response to it is not the same as initiating it.


            You can feel them if you want to. We aren’t here to judge.

            • What you’re calling ‘shaming tactics’ sounds alot like ad hominem attacks to me… the problem is that in alot of the cases where alleged ‘feminist shaming tactics’ are used I’ve noticed they’re responses to immature overemotional and unbending attitudes, hateful posts or lack of reasoning. That being sad, most of the people on here seem to be seeking a deeper and fair understanding of the other gender.

              • I’m not trying to defend ad hominem attacks, but just to remind everyone they tend to stem from frustration…at immature and hateful statements or even trolls.

      • lmao, I was thinking the same thing.

    • Really… REALLY? I don’t even know how to respond to you. So what you want is a world where women are relegated to the kitchen and are simply baby machines? Where they can’t vote? Where they aren’t your friend or partner they are simply your possession.
      Your conception of feminism is completely misguided.

    • Anti-Feminist,

      I’m truly sorry your marriage failed…that can put a chip on anyone’s shoulder. The reasons why it failed is yours alone to know. Marriages have both worked and failed for many centuries for various reasons (ie. adultery, financial issues, abuse etc)…but for you to play the card, “feminists caused ALL OF MY marital problems” is very low and childish. Perhaps some deep reflection is required on your part…I would not doubt that your debasing attitude towards women may have something to do with it? You have put a spotlight on yourself — you’re quite the shining star aren’t you? (sarcasm)

    • anit-feminist needs to meditate and work on his mama-issues. textbook dude…textbook.

  12. Levi and Denis – both of those videos where filled with misandry and stereotypes. They don’t even do anything that sincerely helps men! They just feed into those dark places of fear that both men and women can live in.

    These videos project the same thoughts of hate and contempt toward women that both of you seem to want to fight against when it comes to hate and contempt toward men. Why would you even want to support something like this when you are trying to fight what you think is hateful attitudes toward men? You don’t fight hate with hate. Do you know why? Because the people that are hateful and mean won’t care and the people that aren’t hateful and mean, and are good people, will see right through those videos that project women in general as awful worthless creatures.

    There ARE women out there that are mean, awful, hateful and cruel to men. There are women that do take a man for all he is worth. And when these women see these videos, they aren’t going to care. But the good women? The women you should want to care, when they see these videos, they are going to see it for what it is. Misandry. And you’re going to loose the exact women you should be trying to engage to see your side of it.

    Denis, in your video, they call women all kinds of names! That video isn’t about helping men. And no good woman is going to listen after stereotypical negative female names are plastered all over the place. It’s more of the same, just on the opposite side of the spectrum. If you think feminism created hate for men, then that crap you’re posting is creating hate for women.

    Levi, in your video, it portrayed women as having only one dream in their life, the dream of being married. When I was a little girl, I DID dream about the wonderful man I would one day marry. I also dreamed about playing softball professionally. I dreamed about becoming a vet. I dreamed about living on the beach and having a pet dolphin. I dreamed about making beautiful dresses or being a painter. I dreamed about being rich enough to buy the NY Jets so I could one day give it as a gift to my dad because he was such a huge fan. The extent of my dreams were not ONLY to fall in love and become married. Do you know how many of those dreams came true? Well I am not a vet. I don’t have a pet dolphin and I never was rich enough to by the NY Jets. And if I did become rich enough to buy them, My dad passed away two years ago so I couldn’t ever give him that gift. That video portrays women one dimensionally. It also acts like the woman is the cause/to blame, why the man never played for the Yankees. I am also not married. Do you know how many dates I’ve gone on with guys who treated me poorly? Do you know how many men tried to just sleep with me when I know they didn’t really respect me? Do you know how many men called me or my friends a “b*tch” or “sl*t”. Do you know how many babies women loose or are still born? So I’m sorry but that video acts like women get everything they want and men get nothing when the truth is that BOTH men and women struggle and have their personal hardships. And BOTH men and women should be more aware and sensitive to what the other sex goes through.

    Talk about issues men face, let women KNOW how you feel and what is going on with you as a man. But you are NEVER going to get a woman to listen to you if your message is centered around name calling and hate and showcasing women as one dimensional creatures.

    • No b*tch or sl*t in the video I posted. It’s not hateful, it’s the truth and the truth hurts.

      NAWALT, but a lot are. Sorry it hurt your fee-fees.

      • “Sorry it hurt your fee-fees.”

        Really? Denis, now you’re just acting like a bully.

        • Yes, he his acting like a bully.

          Denis – I mixed your name with Levi’s. Go back and read what I addressed to him. That was for you. Your video projected this negitive image of women as being one-deminsional as well as the reason why a man hasn’t accomplished his own dreams.

          By the way, Your attempt to qualify your comment with “NAWALT”, is thinly guised. No man that believes in the video you posted has a healthy view of women.

          Further, your last comment about hurting my “fee-fees” is extremely ignorant and condescending. What adult talks like that to another adult unless they feel like they have the right to condescend to them? You want to disagree with me? Fine. But don’t be ignorant to attempt to talk down to me as if i was 5 years old. You’ve just further showcased your own unhealthy atittude toward women by your silly comment showcasing your attitude.

    • It’s a far more fair video than Uncle Tom at GMPM, because it does NOT refer to women as animals.

    • They were esposing beating women. Yes. That is hate.

  13. Good video

    Sex Differences: Why Won’t Men Commit?



    • Henry P. Belanger says:

      This video is ridiculous / transparent. If you wanted to be a fighter pilot, pro athlete, etc, you would have had to start in on it looong before you got married. It starts off with a broad generalization and makes faulty arguments all over the place. This is one of my major beefs with the MR guys on this site — they whine about generalizations about men, then turn around and use similarly broad generalizations on which to base almost all their arguments. The fact that the acronym NAWALT exists points to how basic / rampant these generalizations are.

  14. Actually the reason men don’t settle down today is quite nicely summed up by this video: http://vimeo.com/19843219

    The part you FAILED to mention.

  15. Funny falling on this post as I just had a marriage argument with my girlfriend this morning (when are we getting married, how many people, when should I start inviting people…)

    Deep down, I really never cared about getting married. I don’t see the need to get married when I am already committed to the person I am with besides for social reasons (family, religion, etc…) Which by the way, I don’t really care about, but she does :s

    On top of this, who knows if we’ll be happy 10 years from now, 20 years from now. Why make it more difficult to leave each other if we need to find out own ways.

    What’s meant to happen will happen anyways, why make it more difficult :p

    • For many women who want to get married, marriage is another level of intimacy. I can relate it to sex for men. As a man, you probably want the whole complete sexual experience with your partner. You don’t just want one sexual act for the rest of your life. Picture having a female partner that told you that she is happy to give you oral but she doesn’t want intercourse, or vice versa, she’s happy to have intercourse but she doesn’t want to give you oral. She is putting restrictions on the level of intimacy you could have with her. She is putting restrictions on the experiences you could have together. And that’s what it can feel like as a woman when a man tells you he’s happy to be with you but he doesn’t want to marry you. He is putting restrictions on the experience and intimacy she might want. If a woman denied an aspect of your sexuality, you would feel like you weren’t getting the complete experience. When a man denies an aspect of commitment, she can easily feel like she isn’t getting the complete experience. In both cases, the partner can love the other one very much. But they are still holding back. And there is nothing fun and sexy in that. And what is worse then just holding back? Just doing it to make the other one happy. I don’t know a man that wants his partner to just do a sexual act because he wants it. Most men want their partner to be just as engaged in every sexual experience. Again, this is the same for women and their romantic relationships. That’s the best I can explain it.

  16. I wonder what the stats would look like if it were possible to distinguish between “absent” fathers who left the relationship of their own accord, and fathers who are not a presence in their child’s life due to choices/actions of the mother. Do you think it would be statisticaly significant?

    • According to psychologists Joan Kelly and Judith Wallerstein, 50 percent of mothers “see no value in the father’s continued contact with his children” after divorce (Surviving the Breakup, p. 125).

      Researcher Sanford Braver notes that “40 percent of mothers reported that they had interfered with the noncustodial father’s visitation on at least one occasion, to punish the ex-spouse (“Frequency of Visitation by Divorced Fathers; Differences in Reports by Fathers and Mothers,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1991).”

      Research recently published by Ohio State University professor Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan and graduate student Elizabeth Cannon indicates the importance of mothers’ actions and decisions in influencing the degree and nature of fathers’ involvement with their children. “Mothers can be very encouraging to fathers, and open the gate to their involvement in child care, or be very critical, and close the gate. . . . This is the first real evidence that mothers, through their behavior, act as gatekeepers by either fostering or curtailing how much fathers take part in caring for their baby.”

      As Schoppe-Sullivan sums up, “Mothers are in the driver’s seat.” So, while we’re in the process of making calls to personal responsibility, we must not call only fathers to task. We must also call mothers to task and condemn behavior that excludes or hampers fathers’ involvement with their children. When a mother getting a divorce seeks sole custody, we should question the reasons for this attempt to exclude the father from any decision-making role with respect to the children.


  17. Count my son’s father as among the unwilling. Its a damn shame too, because he could be a good dad if he were actually willing to give it a go. But what can you do? You can’t force involvement. I just tell my son when he asks (with some frequency too) that his father loves him but has made some bad choices. Its a hard thing to try to explain to a 5 year old who just wants to have his dad around.

    • Wrong. Most men who are not in their kids lives are doing so by choice.

      • There’s no reliable source for that. It’s just a tourettes like reaction to the cognitive dissonance that was aroused by reading something that contradicted the meta-narrative that “Women=Good, Men=Bad”

  18. “For every loser I’ve screamed at, there have been nice, normal single guys with perfectly acceptable ZIP codes and ages and jobs and habits who never did a thing wrong but for some reason were chucked after the first or second, or maybe even third, date for being boring, predictable, too nice, too normal, not successful enough, or . . . admitted to no one, perhaps not even myself: too available. The scariest of scary words.”

    I don’t think that men are the cause of her problems.

  19. While I think this is a great piece, I disagree with one of the principle assumptions it makes. I think that, although society perceives women as ready to to accept the first marriage proposal that comes their way, in truth more women then ever are CHOOSING to wait longer. Women, too, are afraid of pledging to share their life with someone before they are 100% confident.

    I responded to this piece in depth on Moxy Magazine (http://moxymag.com/2011/02/the-big-risk-%E2%80%93-saying-i-do/) — but basically both parties need to realize that marriage is a risk. And like any risk, there is potential for great rewards (an amazing marriage) or for great failure (ending up with a broken heart). That risk is the same for both parties; it’s a major part of any marriage.

    But the reason folks still get married is because they believe they have a real chance of achieving the reward.

  20. This assumes that marriage is the answer to having the monogamous long-term relationship men are striving for. Why does it HAVE to me marriage?

    For some people there is The One, but for others I think there is More Than One. Studies into the biological side of personalities have shown that now everyone is hard-wired for a ‘settling down’ lifestyle. Some of us need change and evolution in our relationships (romantic, friends, etc) and unless you find someone who you can evolved with and stimulate each other, maybe one person isn’t the answer.

    Many people realize they “married the wrong person after xx years.” Ending that type of relationship must me heart-wrenching, but maybe the problem wasn’t that it was the wrong person, but that you married her. What is (s)he was JUST what you needed at that time in your life but you grew up in different directions, and those directions didn’t have room to accept the differences. My question is: Is that something wrong with that?

    Now when kids are involved it’s another story. I get that. For me, kids are not and likely won’t ever be part of the equation. For those of you like me, what is wrong with being in a monogamous relationship (assuming you want that) until it doesn’t fit you anymore. Is that not as romantic?

    We are trained to expect to want “the one…” Maybe we should be questioning why we think this way instead of why we don’t want to get married…

  21. Interesting article, and maybe on the mark for some, but not for me. I’m a single male, almost 40, and have wanted to get married and have kids.

    “The certainty you’re looking for comes only after that door is shut.”

    The certainty I’m looking for is someone who has common interests, values, and aspirations. I simply haven’t found a woman with whom I share these qualities. Hopefully, you’re wanting us to feel some certainty about these.

  22. In my own experience, the question was never one of finding “the one” or love at first sight or meeting Ms. Perfect. To me, when I finally found a woman that I thought I could really committed to, the question was “what if something better comes along?” It took me a few months to come up with the answer: better than what? I am happy, I love her, she loves me, and we are compatible on the key issues that make or break a relationship.

    Yes, we take a risk to make the commitment. But after more than 21 years of a really happy marriage, I am still convinced that the risk of a a mistake is greatly lessened by asking the right questions–not of her, but of yourself.

  23. Why Don’t Men Settle Down?
    Simple answer: They don’t want to.

    Why You’re Not Married:

    • NotARedneck says:

      That’s a great article. It proves that women know the score but most prefer to ignore it and concentrate on fantasy. Concentrating on a man with character, as the author recommends, has gone out of style but it may make a comeback soon. However, such men are still derided as nice guys, a lower form of life. Since the 1970s, they’ve had difficulty getting a date.

  24. I don’t want to be part of some guys fantasy harem. None of my girlfriends do either. And most younger women I know have no interest in being financially dependent on a man. I think that might be a generational thing. And honestly, I find younger men (my own age) significantly more attractive than older men. You know, most women are actually attracted to, um, attractiveness, just like men are.

    • Sure, I can see what you are saying, but I really do think it is something that is becoming less and less relevant, and certainly untrue amongst most of the young women I know. A lot of them are high earners and good savers and simply do not need or want that kind of lifestyle. We don’t secretly want to be taken care of financially. Really. Being dependent on someone financially is incredibly unappealing, and I think it skews the power balance in relationships. From personal experience, I have always supported myself and it is a much more rewarding and fulfilling way to live.

      A lot of us have seen the dynamics of our parents relationships, and do not want that for ourselves. My parents are very much in love, and treat each other well, but my father is still the breadwinner, and I can’t stand the way my mother subtly defers to him. I am not the only one who feels that way either.

      I do agree there is pressure for women to marry up financially, but I believe this to be a social phenomenon, not an issue of biology. I also think that there is a corresponding pressure on men to be more successful financially than the women they marry. I have never had any special attraction to men who were alpha, so to speak. My most fulfilling relationship to date has been with a man who earns very little and to be perfectly honest, is just not that motivated career wise. He has a relaxed personality and I find him very attractive. I have absolutely no desire to make sure I marry up, and in fact, just want be with someone who is easygoing, intellectually curious and who will laugh at my bad jokes! I think this is a much more fulfilling way of selecting long term mates and is slowly becoming more common for women.

  25. I’m inclined to think “the one” has its genesis in the Christian disdain for divorce. The idea of a ‘one and only’ is certainly a bastard child of the goal of marriage solely for personal fulfillment. I strongly suspect that when the generations raised in the aftermath of the sexual revolution are queried, years from now, the ones with solid marraiges did more than their fair share of settling. We’ll hear about how the Romans prized ‘concordia’ in marriage.

    I guess I should be glad my daughter didn’t suffer from having a 43-year-old father. I suspect the speculation about autism noted will turn out, like so much putative information about autism, to be risible.

    • Female Feedback says:

      Maybe so, on the autism risk, however it is certainly a viable theory that emotionally unavailable men are not successful reproducing except in relationships with women who do not expect this quality of them. It is harder for these men to marry good women, in other words, or perhaps even to marry at all. So, until they are older and have more money, they cannot attract a mate, and even then, they attract women who are interested in the man’s money & status and either don’t care or can’t see whether he is emotionally available.

      Also, the emotional unavailability of the father, whether it rises to a diagnosis of Austism or Aspberger’s, surely plays an environmental role in the development of the child.

      • Female Feedback says:

        Sorry, meant to say “whether or not it rises TO THE LEVEL OF a diagnosis of Austism or Aspberger’s, surely plays an environmental role in the development of the child.”

        John Badalment’s, “The Modern Dad’s Dilemma” calls the emotional availability of the father “the elephant in the room of child development.”

        • How is father absence the fault of a woman? I know many men who left/divorced the women they had children with because they wanted their freedom more than they wanted a child. They were all to happy to walk away, pay child support and see their children every so often. Many of them remark that they’re quite happy having different women every night and felt they weren’t capable of making the committment required to raising a child. How is that the fault of the mother? Grant it, not every man is like this, but there are PLENTY of men that are. There are also women who take the attitude that they don’t need a man while raising a child and push the man out of their lives. Either way, I think we should have both sexes take responsbility for their actions as opposed to blaming it only on one sex.

        • Evil Pundit says:

          @Nikki: The majority of divorces are initiated by women. Women gain the great majority of child custody.

          Therefore women are on the whole responsible for father-absence.

          • ur wrong says:

            Most custody cases end up with shared custody… not sole custody. But it ends up a lot of dads do not even take and make good use of what custody they are awarded.

  26. Female Feedback says:

    Great article.

    One piece of information missing for many men who want to have children: the male biological clock. Another is that today paternity (and also non-paternity) can be proven definitively. In earlier eras, this was not certain and so this is thought to have contributed to the male need for control of the woman; in turn, he then is less available to connect with his children as a parent and this stifles his children’s development. The quest for “the one,” I suspect is often a quest to fix what was deficient in childhood rather than a search for a good and workable match with the female parent of his children.

    Sperm banks don’t take donations from men over the age of 35 because of the chromosomal deterioration in sperm as men age. There have been a number of recent articles in the National Geographic and the New York Times about this, as well as a book called “The Male Biological Clock” that touches on the issue.

    The genetic disease risk rises as men age and the risk of having an autistic child increases as well (it is not known if this is genetic or a problem of poor parenting by the father or both). “Dr. Oz” is doing a show on the autism risk that airs this week or next, I think.

    • Lots of old men still have children way past the age that women go through menopause.

      However, if it’s an issue for young men concerned about their sperms viability then they should use cry-storage until they are absolutely certain.

      • Female Feedback says:

        Assuming that cry-storage doesn’t have problems. There is a higher risk of birth defects with that as well.

        And assuming that the man will be able to attract a woman interested in having children as he ages. Most women want men their own age. I suspect the only ones who don’t are those who are focused on money/status of the man or who have “daddy issues” they seek to have the man fix subconsciously.

        • The average age gap of first marriage is 2.5 years, with younger women. I can understand why normal people wouldn’t want to marry somebody with significant generational differences.

          I don’t think many men worry about their “biological clock” with the same concern as women, but I think you’re right about the “money/status”, it’s called hypergamy.

          • Female Feedback says:

            I think maybe more men should worry about their biological clock if they want to give their children their best shot in life.

    • Good point. I think that there is a biological clock for men. It’s just not running as fast for men as it is for women. My own mother is the offspring of a 52 year-old man and and a 39 year-old woman. She’s totally normal. Well . . . she’s not totally normal. An IQ in excess of 150 isn’t normal. 🙂

      Reverse the ages of my grandparents and you have a probability of live birth that that makes winning PowerBall look likely.

      From a philosophical perspective it frustrates me that we humans are physically ready to reproduce long before our brains have finished developing. Also, there’s so much more to the value of a person than the ability to reproduce.

      • Female Feedback says:

        Yeah, perhaps, although I would think in something as serious as planning the birth of a child you’d want to eliminate as much risk as possible – that’s what the sperm banks do in drawing their line at 35.

        It is thought that autistic/Aspergian people are attempting to compensate intellectually for emotional deficits. The deficits arise from neglect/abuse/trauma and possibly from genes that become damaged as the parents age.

        • Are you really saying that Autism is attributed to neglect, abuse and trauma? I want to be sure before I go completely off the deep end regarding the ignorance of that statement.

  27. Not just institutional pressures. Regardless of what uncritical proponents of companionate marriage say, the enduring fulfillment both sexes are looking for is something the partner must, to some extent, supply through how they act. I suspect many people, men and women did the mature thing and decided that to work and work and work on a relationship, when there’s a good chance that thirty years hence your heart will still sink at the sight of the spouse, just isn’t worth it.

  28. Some may be “celebrating” copugars, but it’s generally not women, at least the woemn who write articels. They seem to think the term is derogatory and not celebratory at all.

    I happen to think it’s clever and complimentary.

    • I’m indifferent about the label, Jim, but I’m glad you pointed out that few women call themselves that.

    • Oh, I don’t know. I was never what people refer to as a ‘stud,’ but if I were called one, I’d probably be flattered. Shallow me. Of course, I also don’t see a misandrist in every school, workplace and Girl Scout troop, so apparently I’m deficient as a man and an intellect.

      • i say who cares…. i prefer intelligence and wit… not matter what the age….

      • Cougar actually started out as a derogatory term for older women. A vagina is akin to ‘pussy’… and cats and kittens are small creatures… big cats… older women. That is the association that is made. Perverted and gross if you ask me. No compliment.

  29. I’m afraid I don’t follow your line of reasoning here?

    The article you linked to suggested men are slower/more unlikely to make the initial decision about divorce – and this article suggests that they’re slow to make decisions about if “She’s the one”. Both are saying that men (heterosexual men, at least) are slow to make decisions about relationships. Agree with those conclusions or not, but they’re far from contradictory, and I don’t see how either one is misandrist.

    • He’s a guy commenting on a woman’s article. He is free to dissect it and tear at it as he pleases. He’s doing that, but also going beyond the article in his own experience using some of his male friends as reference to provide that perspective. The author of the article also interviewed REAL men and was surprised by some of the conclusions. I don’t see this as biased journalism just because it’s a woman writing it. You’re being a little sexist by implying that we are self-serving and merely out to fore upon men our own desires. You’re not giving your sex enough credit and that is damaging.

      • He’s always doing this. As soon as you bring up the misandrist card, you’ve already lost the argument, particularly if the article in no way tears down men. A woman can write an article about how wonderful men are and he’ll find some misandry in it: you’re just sucking up to men, trying to make your inferior sex look better.

      • “Inferior sex” ? Finding misandry in your posts isn’t exactly rocket science

  30. Monogamous relationships do not require marriage.

    “Women’s sexual availability often takes the rap for men’s increasingly famous ambivalence about marriage”

    -You don’t understand men. You should read Paul Elam’s article, marriage offers little benefit and great risks for men.


    If women don’t understand or care about men, why should men care about these women?

    “most guys do want to grow up”

    -Marriage has nothing to do with maturity. Many immature people get married because they aren’t a whole person and they need to be completed.

    • Not only does monogamy not require wedlock, it’s worth considering something further. If marriage is a Cinderella story, are divorce and adultery the necessary ugly step-sisters? Would marriage be a museum curio if we could really and truly enforce prohibitions against ‘ways out’ like divorce and adultery?

    • candidcutie says:

      The author said he was not speaking to those who do not believe in marriage, but rather those who do and why they may be hesitant. he also says being married is not equivalent.to being mature.

      Please read the article more thoroughly. I thought it was interesting and compassionate to both sexes.

      Most of the articles are telling women not have sex with men for pleasure unless there is a ring attached, I would think more guys would be up in arms.

      • “… not speaking to those who do not believe in marriage, but rather those who do and why they may be hesitant …”

        This makes no sense, like everything this author says. What does he mean by “believe in marriage?” That is like saying I believe in the lottery.

        No matter what, when a divorce happens, family courts will transform the father into a wage slave that has to beg to see his own children. Ultimately, the problem with marriage is the toxic presence of a faminist state that both wants the marriage to fail, and then uses the excuse to destroy yet one more male life.

        It has nothing to do with what you believe, or don’t believe. It has to do with how much of a risk men are willing to take in order to find happiness. When risks were equally shared by women and men, this was an equation worth looking at. As thigns stand, men must pay 100% or all costs, suffering, and consequences for divorce … which is often initiated by women who are looking for more “excitement” in their lives.

        Shitty deal. Stay away.

  31. Great article! But I found out I had married the wrong woman after 20 years. Am I just too dumb? Marriage is something that everybody should take very seriously, it’s better to wait forever than marry the wrong person.

    • You’re not dumb, Alex. Or hey, maybe you are. But regarding your marraige’s demise: it’s impossible to envision what two fallible human beings will turn into after a score of close association. If they changed the vows to the simple phrase, “no matter what,” the marital landscape might be different.

  32. There is in reality no lack of men who are willing to “settle down”, in a very extreme and serious understanding of that expression. The problem is that not many women are equal to the level of discipline that such “commitment” requires.

    So, chalk it up to women’s “fear of commitment.”

    We live in frivolous times, and that spawns frivolous people, frivolous expectations, and frivolous standards all around. No wonder things fall apart.

  33. WHAT????? There is MOST DEFINATELY A LACK Of Men Who Are Willing To Settle Down!!! You Must Be Either Blind, Crazy Or Just Plain In Denial About What’s Really Goin On! Men Are Bastards Who Have Been Ruining The Lives Of Women And Children For Centuries!!!!!!!


  1. […] – Hugo Schwyer, “Why Don’t Men Settle Down?” […]

  2. […] in your partner or seeing character traits that are cause for alarm, this is a legitimate reason to postpone marriage until you have greater […]

  3. […] Employment and the disposable man. Posted on February 18, 2011 by Miguel Bloomfontosis The thing about sexist attitudes is that they’re often expressed semi-unconsciously.  For example, I haven’t yet seen an article or blog post entitled, “Men are worthless if they’re unemployed.”  But look at the first paragraph to Hugo Schwyzer’s “Good Men Project” post from a few days ago: […]

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