Monday, November 17, 2008

The Economics of Conventional Courtship

There is a somewhat steaming debate occurring that I wasn't aware of, and I didn't realize that I hit that much of a nerve, but it is over more or less this idea of men (for lack of a better description) dropping out of the race or the "game" of dating. I'm not talking nerds or guys who got their first kiss when they were 30. I'm talking a trend I see of more and more "normal" guys just exiting the market and choosing not to marry let alone date.

This is just a comment I made to a poster which I wasn't intending on posting here, but after second thought, deemed it worthy of its own post.

Do realize that I do not tolerate any hatred or male-bashing. You either accept this is happening or at least is the opinion of thousands of men or not. And if you don't and start up with the victimization of sexism and misogyny BS your hours wasted on writing a response will be rejected;

...Having said that caveat, perhaps the best way to describe it is this;

The basic fundamentals, the basic laws and principles on which human attraction and courtship have been based, have been violated in that I think arguably for the first time, there is a progressively larger and larger percentage of the male population that no longer cares to pursue romantic or sexual interests. Be it because the proposition of chasing women in today's world is no longer appealing or that the alternatives of X-Box 360, cigars, cars, riches and never being poor due to too many "capitas" in "income per capita," are all that much more attractive, the basic rules of the game have changed with no real emotion or passion or desire having anything to do with it.

Men simply quit or are quitting in greater numbers. It's, again cold as this may sound, an economic decision.

The ramifications of this for conventional American courtship are quite earth shaking in that it more or less obsoletes it. If one of the sexes no longer cares to pursue the other, then the game is literally over. No more bar scene. No more marriage. No more children. No more family. No more divorce. None of it.

This is even more earth shaking when you think of the sociological/demographic ramifications. Declining birth rates is just one bit of evidence I think that eludes to this. Divorce rates would be another. But the consequences I would contend reach as far as the ultimate end of a generation/nation/culture/society as we know it. America will cease to exist in it's previous Cary Grant/John Wayne/Clint Eastwood form and turn into something we haven't seen yet nor can I fathom.

So for all the Megans and romantics out there, you have to understand, this isn't a choice, let alone anything anybody particularly likes. It's just what it is and people are responding to it. And not until the environment changes do I see a stop of the flood of men out of the market and back into traditional roles of father/husband, provider/bread winner.

The economics of it just isn't there.

10 comments:

Alfred T. Mahan said...

"I'm not talking nerds or guys who got their first kiss when they were 30."

Thanks a lot, jacka$$. :P

Andrew said...

Hi Captain Capitalism,

I'm emailing you in regards to an email I sent to you last month about a partnership, have you had a chance to think about it?

If you have any questions or would more information, please advise me and we can go from there.

Kind Regards,
Andrew Knight

cgoodsthings said...

Dear Captain,

I was going to leave a comment on this post, but my comment got to be way too long, so I'll try to post a shorter version here.

In a lot of ways, I agree with you. A lot of men have dropped out of the dating game completely because right now the rules are written against them. As you say, a lot of it based on purely economic considerations. And I say that as a straight single woman who worked for nine years in a male-dominated profession (electrical engineering), has a lot of guy friends, and has had a lot of guy friends her entire life.

But I also disagree with you in some ways, there are things about female companionship that men crave (and I don't just mean sex) that will drive a lot of men back into the dating game. Whether they ever go to the marrying game depends on other factors than just loneliness.

And in some ways, I think it may be a moot point. I think popular culture and female popular culture in particular pushes some very shallow and one-dimensional stereotyped roles onto women, and part of male dissatisfaction comes from inherent problems with these roles. And while I think it is female popular culture that pushes these roles onto women, men don't help the situation because they let themselves be convinced these roles are all they can expect from women and instead of saying "man, such-and-such approach is not getting me where I want to be, I'm going to see if I can adjust my viewpoint and maybe try something else somewhere else", men settle into a cycle of getting burned, getting out of the game for a while, going back in with the same expectations, getting burned the same way again, and now we repeat.

Anyway, if you want to read the full version of what I wrote, it's over at my blog, link is here. It got to be ridiculously long, but if you read through all of it and find any of it worth quoting or commenting on, please feel welcome to do so.

I've been following your blog for about a month now (got the link off of Small Dead Animals) and enjoy your writing very much.

Hope all is going well and the dating scene improves where you are,
-Camille

Anonymous said...

From the other side of the fence.

http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_4_darwinist_dating.html

She makes some decent points. Unfortunaly, she lacks your analysis

Anonymous said...

"...you have to understand, this isn't a choice, let alone anything anybody particularly likes. It's just what it is and people are responding to it. And not until the environment changes do I see a stop of the flood of men out of the market and back into traditional roles of father/husband, provider/bread winner. The economics of it just isn't there."

And yet, despite social realities having undoubtedly changed in the past half-century, there remains plenty of men and women out there who are happily meeting, dating, cohabiting with, marrying, starting families, and growing old together.

How to explain such men? I agree with your observation that a growing number of guys are "taking themselves out of the game," but given that there are also men who continue to thrive in the game -- at least by the conventional standards of being able to start and maintain intimate sexual relationships -- one needs a more nuanced theory that is also capable of explaining this latter group's "success." "The economics of it just aren't there" simply won't cut it.

At the risk of male-bashing, I'd note that since there are many men who've managed to adapt to the new realities of courtship posed by the emergence of the "modern woman," then there may in fact be something inherent to those who've chosen instead to withdraw that would lead them to do so rather than learn to adapt as well.

Relately, given that normal is relative across contexts, maybe it's worthwhile to consider redefining your conception of "'normal' guys," perhaps even begin to entertain the possibility that yours is no longer the "norm." Consider, for instance, the primacy that you acribe in your post to what you call males' "traditional roles" (e.g., father/husband, provider/bread winner), and what that implies about your underlying assumptions about normative male-female dynamics.

Rather than waiting "until the environment changes," perhaps that change should begin from within.

Anonymous said...

Is there any evidence that this "dropping out of the game" is actually occurring on a large scale? If it is happening, is it necessarily a new thing or is there a possibility that there has always been a certain segment of the male population who, after limited or declining success in maintaining healthy relationships with females, tends to give up as they approach middle-age?

You've presented valid possibilities of what could happen given the trend that you believe to be occurring, but I'm not convinced that it's a real trend and not just a view distorted by the type/class of people you normally encounter in your line of work.

Captain Capitalism said...

You know, I was thinking about that same thing. Some kind of metric of dropping out. Right now it's just stories like this popping up, marriage rates tanking, supporting evidence, but nothing like polls or surveys done. Any suggestions?

Paul said...

Supporting evidence? I haven't seen any yet. Your strong opinion is all we've got to go on thus far.

Also, what article popping up?

Anonymous said...

"Some kind of metric of dropping out. Right now it's just stories like this popping up, marriage rates tanking, supporting evidence, but nothing like polls or surveys done. Any suggestions?"

StatCan data tells us that marriage rates have indeed declined, but that co-habitation is rising significantly as well, particularly among older adults. I don’t think the gains in the latter completely offset the declines in the former, but the drop in overall couple-hood isn't as precipitous as the marriage stats alone would suggest.

Also, contrary to popular opinion, rates of divorce (per 100,000 adult population) in Canada peaked in 1987, and has been declining ever since. Currently we're at mid-1970s levels.

It would also help to first define what 'dropping out' means. Given that the entire social ritual we call "dating" has changed dramatically in recent decades, maybe you're just applying an obsolete lens on an evolved concept (and looking in the wrong places as a consequence).

Anonymous said...

Uhh, no dumb***, there is more than just a strong opinion, there is about a thousand articles and blogs about the topic that women are having a lot of trouble finding men.

You see any articles about guys bemoaning the lack of available women? No, there are plenty of them available, just none we want.

If it were not for all the spinsters-to-be crying in their botox about it, we would not even be having this discussion.