2018 Relaunch 7-years-after-this-post edit: At this juncture in my life (& I have no crystal ball to tell you about the future), I have no desire to be dating/in a relationship/with a life partner/married or have kids. For the first time (& after 20+ years of caring so much about this as the “end-all-be-all” life goal), I don’t care at all and am fully engaged in a relationship with myself. I love my own company, feel no lack, and – accordingly – feel complete and whole on my own; it is an absolutely revolutionary feeling and I wish I could have known it in my 20’s. More on that later…
While I was on my way to the gym on Monday morning, I was listening to the radio and heard a segment on Hot 99.5 that discussed the “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” article published in the Wall Street Journal & written by Kay S. Hymowitz who “argues that too many men in their 20’s are living in a new kind of extended adolescence.” What was interesting about the I Want a Silver Fox Podcast was that one of the hosts (a 29 year old female) essentially wrote off all 20-something males as pretty much being incapable of being serious about dating and encouraged them to just sow their oats (even though I am born & raised here there are some expressions I will never understand) because that’s what they “should” be doing. What was even more interesting was that at the end of the segment, a 22-year old male called in saying that he was ready to settle down (get married, have kids, etc.) and everyone made fun of and balked at him.
Personally, as much as I think there is a huge population of young-to-mid 20-something guys (some even late 20 to early 30-somethings) that this author described out there, I think she failed to mention the biggest contributor to this segment of the male population not “growing up” & that is WOMEN.
Although most young-to-mid 20-something females say they are ready to settle down and are looking for their “one,” many of their actions do not necessarily always line up with their intentions. By that, I mean that although their interests might seem more refined than their male counterparts, it is difficult to say that they are actually any better than them. On any given night out, you will find them partying just as hard & getting wasted just as much… on those nights, they often are not averse to going home with a guy or to getting into casual hook-up/pseudo-relationship-type situations (yes, often with the hope that these will graduate to serious ones, but we’ve all heard of the expression “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”)… & the worse offense is that because they are in their prime w/ looks & youth on their side (+ an income), what they say they are looking for (a good guy & to settle down) doesn’t line up with the kind of guys they keep seeking out or ending up with (the “bad boys” who have zero interest in settling down).
Plenty of these ladies waste years of their lives in relationships that are not going anywhere; they are annoyed by all the “20-something ‘guy’ behavior that Hymowitz describes but instead of cutting their losses, they wait around hoping that how awesome they are will eventually inspire their guy to change and come around (read: graduate their boyf-girlf status to fiance status). Having said all that, there are a whole bunch of young-to-mid 20-something girls who have zero interest in settling down & are also just looking to sow their oats. While on the other hand, for those who are seriously looking, they have a long list of “check mark criteria” that they are filtering guys out based on (i.e. – age, profession, income, height, what part of India he is from, “mother tongue” spoken, etc.)
Please do not get it twisted and think that my now 30-something self is being self-righteous or judgmental of her 20-something counterparts; in my early 20’s I thought I would meet guy potentials at clubs (yes, some people do meet their boo-boos for life at clubs/bars, but if I could take a ride in the Delorean time machine and go back 8-10 years, I’d bonk young-20-something-SM upside the head & quickly tell her everything I knew before having to get “back to the future” so as to not to disturb the space-time continuum!), often went for the bad boy (or more like the super charming-but-doesn’t-necessarily-treat-me-well-or-make-me-feel-very-good-about-myself)-type, definitely filtered out guys for reasons like “He’s not North Indian & he doesn’t speak Hindi,” & most of all, when I was in my young-to-mid 20’s, I felt like I had tons of options so did not feel compelled to pursue things that were less than convenient or “perfect” b/c settling down was something that I thought would just easily happen when I wanted it to – by 27!
Having said all of that about how some women played/play a part in how their 20-something male counterparts’ behavior does not negate the fact that many men are exactly like what Hymowitz described (“as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers”) without the help of women and simply because they have no desire (or need) to “grow up.” As a result, as women progress into their late 20s & often even into their late 30s, they will, unfortunately, continue to be shocked at the maturity level of a subset of the male population & wonder “Where have all the good men gone?” (& yes, many men I know are wondering the same about women). However, I assure you that they are out there; we just have to make sure we stop getting distracted by the not-so-good men/women, stop getting caught up in our expansive criteria, and really start focusing on character, and most importantly, do not come across as stand-offish or jaded b/c of all the not-so-good people who we feel have wasted our time.
Lastly, everyone should always remember this “Maxim for Life” by Wayne Dyer: “You get treated in life the way you teach people to treat you.“
Anyway, enough from me and back to the article… While I was looking for the article on WSJ, my girlfriend posted it to both her & my page; a discussion started on her page, so I posted some of those comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the author’s take on the situation & although I hope you listen to the podcast and read the entire article, I posted some of the podcast as well as copied & pasted a few things that Hymowitz said that I thought were discussion-worthy below.
Thanks for reading & write soon,
Sarah (29-year old host): “What are you expecting from a 25-year old guy who probably has the mentality of someone 18?”… Sam (young 20-something host): “I think the reason we are like this, I actually blame women in their 20’s for this.” Katie (caller): “I am 22 & I pretty much refuse to date guys in their 20’s… because they’re fairly immature, it’s really hard to have a conversation about anything worthwhile… I feel like I am babysitting” Sarah: “Guys in their early 20’s are into themselves, which they should be.” Peaches (caller) – “4 girls were with the same 4 guys since high school, & every single one of those girls ended up leaving… all [guys] care about is getting drunk, being with their friends, and doing whatever they want to do. They are all promises & no action. & that’s not saying that every guy is like that. I have definitely met some guys that are really good guys, but just some of them do not know how to act, do not know how to treat a girl & they just do not care to find out.” Colby (Coby? – 22-year-old male): “I want to get married by about 26 & have 2 kids by about 30. I find that girls my age right now are the ones that are immature. They’re the ones that are going out to the clubs. Getting drunk. Making stupid mistakes.”
For today’s pre-adults, “what you do” is almost synonymous with “who you are,” and starting a family is seldom part of the picture.
In 1970, just 16% of Americans ages 25 to 29 had never been married; today that’s true of an astonishing 55% of the age group. In the U.S., the mean age at first marriage has been climbing toward 30 (a point past which it has already gone in much of Europe). It is no wonder that so many young Americans suffer through a “quarter-life crisis,” a period of depression and worry over their future.
Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.
Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men’s attachment to the sandbox. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There’s nothing they have to do.
They might as well just have another beer.