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Why Men Won't Commit:

Women's Guide to Men

Week of July 8, 2002

            I really think we need to talk about our relationship.

            OK, now that the men are out of the room Iíd like to shed a little light on the male mind for my female readers.  If ďmale mindĒ seems a contradiction of terms, donít feel alone; most men canít figure you out either.  Thatís why Iím not writing about women. 

            Not all men are alike, but there are identifiable trends.  In ďWhy Men Wonít Commit:  Exploring Young Menís Attitudes About Sex, Dating, and Marriage,Ē the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University found American men are now marrying at a median age of 27, the oldest ever.  Since women still tend to marry men, this means they are getting hitched later too.  In fact the median age of first marriage for women in this country shot to 25 in the last decade after ranging between 22 and 23 for a century.

            How can guys who never miss a tee time and faithfully change their oil every 3,000 miles be tortoise slow to pencil in a wedding day?  The Rutgers study identified ten factors, but it boils down to a fear that marriage offers little they donít already have and might require things they donít want to do.  Not much incentive there, but why would men think this way while women, in general, donít?   

            This is largely because we are not the same.  When I hear single women talk about marriage, they usually speak of the positives:  Love, commitment, security, a steady life partner, and a stable family environment.  When researchers asked men why they stayed single, six of the top reasons were perceived negatives they wished to avoid and three were benefits that no longer require a wedding.  Reason number ten was that they wanted to enjoy numbers one through nine as long as possible.          

            Research subjects also expressed a fear of marrying the wrong person.  None seemed to worry much that they may actually be the wrong person, and often fretted marriage would require them to change.  Many felt commitment would be easy if only they could find their ďsoul mate,Ē that magical person who would agree with their every word and rarely expect anything.  Kind of like a cross between Tinkerbell and grandma.

            Many of the men wished to avoid having a family until they were older, and were, as a group, unconcerned with womenís biological clocks.  As one fellow put it, ďThatís their issue.Ē  Some preferred to own a house before marrying, which at least requires a commitment to a mortgage. 

            Thatís a start.  Men feel they no longer need to marry for social acceptance, which by my observation is true.  As society depreciates traditional moral and religious values, live-in relationships no longer draw scorn, allowing men the perks of marriage at low risk Ė or commitment.  While nearly half claimed they wouldnít marry without first living together, several in the study viewed their live-in partner as a stand-in, essentially a seat-warmer for Miss Right. 

            It should surprise no one, no man anyway, that the number one reason men are cold on marriage is that sex has become easy to get without it.  The irony here is the number of women who feel they must oblige a man to keep him; my guess is that if matrimony were suddenly the only acceptable arrangement for sex the median age of marriage for men would drop to about 17. 

            Men are capable of better, but our cultural swap of values for expedience makes it easy for some to take the path of least resistance.  Itís a trade that, in the end, benefits neither women, families, nor men themselves. 





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© 2002 Brent Morrison