Why men are avoiding work and marriage

Summary: The previous post described how men are abandoning the rat race and dropping out of the full-time work force. The usual explanations (given without asking them) are that they’re pawns of economic and social forces, or neurotic Peter Pans that refuse to grow up. While satisfying to Left and Right and partially correct, these ignore the core fact — these men have agency, and are rationally responding to changes in our society. We can learn much from them, for this trend has just begun. The effect on society will be immense.

Lifting the veil to see what I won. Oh, it’s toil & trouble.

Lifting the wedding veil to see the prize
By Tracy Moore Photography.

For what do men work so hard?

Men work most often to obtain social status, to get money, to get women, and to support a family. Economically independent women have radically changed every aspect of that game, especially for the men at the rear of the pack.

(1)  Women’s added participation in the work force increases competition for good jobs and depresses wages. This makes running the rat race more difficult for men.

(2)  Sex is now more easily available outside marriage, often without expensive dating rituals. This makes running the rat race less necessary for men.

(3)  Partially liberated from the need for male providers, women increasingly select for dark triad traits (i.e., entertaining jerks, often treating them badly). Some of Taylor Swift’s songs clearly describe how this works. Success in the sex games for betas (most of us are betas) largely comes from learning the game (faking dark triad behaviors). Why should men marry these women (when they’re over 28 and ready to “settle”)?

(4)  Men’s (often illusory) patriarchal rule of the family is gone. Now women need men only to get legitimate children and pay child support after the divorce (women file ~80% of divorces, and divorces end roughly half of marriages). Only 18% of fathers get primary custody of the 26% of minor children who live with only one parent. For more information see the 2013 Census report on Custodial Parents. Why should men marry?

(5)  Gin was the cheap power drink of choice for those seeking alternative lifestyles in 18th century London. Technology has given today’s rat race dropouts more and better alternatives: great booze, designer drugs, rock music, a thousand channels on TV, and computer games (which push the same buttons in the brain as addictive drugs). Marriage now has more competition for a role in men’s lives.

The bottom line: many men are “going Galt”, but in a very different way than In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged— they are abandoning both work and marriage. See the details here.

A modern woman looking for a good husband.

A modern women looking for a good husband

Marriage in the new world

These trends are still running. Perhaps they have barely begun. We can only guess what society will look like after 10 or 20 more years of these changes. Even more important, looming ahead is another destabilizer: sexbots (they are coming).

But our world of today makes marriage — and even working hard to get a woman — look as anachronistic as serenading girls in the evening to earn their love. Even the literature that encouraged marriage has lost much of its force (obvious to anyone watching Hollywood’s attempts to make romantic comedies; see here and here). As Allan Bloom explains in Closing of the American Mind

“All the romantic novels with their depictions of highly differentiated men and women, their steamy, sublimated sensuality and their insistence on the sacredness of the marriage bond just do not speak to any reality that concerns today’s young people. …”

Hollywood has adapted its stories to this new world. For example, the hit series “Castle” focuses on the romance between NYPD detective Kate Beckett and rich playboy Rick Castle — and how it erodes his character from alpha into a pudgy beta (as with the Book of Job, the authors tacked on a happy ending).  It’s a powerful cautionary tale of how traditional romance has become toxic in modern America (see the details here).


Social and economic trends have made marriage has less attractive while new alternatives have arisen. Men have responded rationally, in the grand tradition of Western religious and philosophical thought — prioritizing other aspects of life over the accumulation of material goods and pursuit of good women (aka the “rat race”).

By dropping out these men act against society’s norms, showing that they have agency — the ability to act independently, exercising free choice. As usual, the establishment’s analysts refuse to see this, let alone learn from their examples. But time will make these trends impossible to ignore.

We are seeing just the first small wave of this phenomenon. The new generation of men now in school will show us its full force. Born into this world, they see it with greater clarity than their parents. We will see how they react to the incentives we have set for them.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about women and gender roles, about feminism, especially these…

  1. Do we want to bring back traditional marriage? What is traditional marriage?
  2. Love in the new world, after the gender wars.
  3. Taylor Swift shows us love in the 21st century.
  4. Men are “going Galt”. Marriage is dying. Will society survive?
  5. “Castle” shows a future of strong women & weak men. As for marriage…
  6. Men are abandoning the rat race and changing American society.
  7. In the next decade we’ll see if the American family is broken. — Part 1.
  8. Will today’s young men marry? America’s future depends which of these answers is right. — Part 2.

A note about the rise and fall of romantic marriage

Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students
Available at Amazon.

As explained by Allan Bloom in Closing of the American Mind

“None of this results from the sixties, or from the appeal to masculine vanity begun by advertisers in the fifties, or from any other superficial, pop-culture events.

“More than two hundred years ago Rousseau saw with alarm the seeds of the breakdown of the family in liberal society, and he dedicated much of his genius to trying to correct it. He found that the critical connection between man and woman was being broken by individualism, and focused his efforts, theoretical and practical, on encouraging passionate romantic love in them. He wanted to rebuild and reinforce that connection, previously encumbered by now discredited religious and civil regulation, on modern grounds of desire and consent.

“He retraced the picture of nature that had become a palimpsest under the abrasion of modem criticism, and he enticed men and women into admiring its teleological ordering, specifically the complementarity between the two sexes, which mesh and set the machine of life in motion, each differing from and needing the other, from the depths of the body to the heights of the soul. He set utter abandon to the sentiments and imaginations of idealized love against calculation of individual interest.

“Rousseau inspired a whole genre of novelistic and poetic literature that lived feverishly for over a century, coexisting with the writings of the Benthams and the Mills who were earnestly at work homogenizing the sexes. His undertaking had the heaviest significance because human community was at risk. In essence he was persuading women freely to be different from men and to take on the burden of entering a positive contract with the family, as opposed to a negative, individual, self-protective contract with the state.

“Tocqueville picked up this theme, described the absolute differentiation of husband’s and wife’s functions and ways of life in the American family, and attributed the success of American democracy to its women, who freely choose their lot. This he contrasted to the disorder, nay, chaos, of Europe, which he attributed to a misunderstanding or misapplication of the principle of equality — only an abstraction when not informed by nature’s imperatives.

“This whole effort failed and now arouses either women’s anger, as an attempt to take from them rights guaranteed to all human beings, or their indifference, as irrelevant in a time when women do exactly the same things as men and face the same difficulties in ensuring their independence. Rousseau, Tocqueville and all the others now have only historical significance and at most provide us with a serious alternative perspective for analyzing our situation. Romantic love is now as alien to us as knight errantry, and young men are no more likely to court a woman than to wear a suit of armor, not only because it is not fitting, but because it would be offensive to women.”

11 thoughts on “Why men are avoiding work and marriage”

  1. Fascinating article concerning this hidden trend.  Missing though was some thought about men reverting to homosexual sex as a subconscious political act in reaction to this underclass mess men find themselves in.  Currently considering the large population of men (and women) becoming increasingly visable and socially acceptable, homosexuality could also be partially a product of the economic situation people find themselves which affects their sexual choices. It’s possible the scenario this article addresses has been repeated through history as societies change or degenerate.

    Sent from my Verizon 4G LTE smartphone

      1. you would have to discount the “born that way” accepted argument and believe sexual attraction is malleable. This would legitimize conversion therapy since what is learned can be unlearned.

  2. Non-working link at end of this sentence – can you address?
    “The bottom line: many men are “going Galt”, but in a very different way than In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged— they are abandoning both work and marriage. See the details here.

  3. Wish I had time to help and provide examples. You are far better at that than me. This Post itself can lead one to look and read if so desired.
    There are Eight Links graciously provided at the end. Start there?

    But as an example notice that many commercials are featuring young women and promoting them as the future of STEM employment and promoting Things to girls and women. Equality? Certainly a lack of effort to engage and entice both boys and girls.

    I am sorry but once you start to look, to consider what anyone can see with their own eyes, the trends you list here are quite obvious.
    And alarming. And increasing.


  4. Hi,

    I know I’m late-to-the-party on this topic, so I’m putting this out for-the-record:

    What I see (as a 60-year-old bachelor, never married, and no children) is many of my single-male friends being angry and confused about the difference between what women say they want and what they actually choose. Most of them are good people, perhaps not the best eye-candy in the world, but solid, hard-working, dependable individuals.

    What I see from my younger single-female friends is a desire to have a Hallmark-movie lifestyle (saw a lot of this in Southern California), while my older single-female friends (some with, some without, children) are gun-shy to the point of cynicism.

    I couldn’t design a more screwed-up social situation if I tried.


    1. Charles,

      I have two college age sons in northern California, plus know a lot of boys who I worked with as a Scout leader. They’re reports are annec-data, but paint a consistent picture. As always, none of these traits are unique in history — but their magnitude is unusually high.

      (1) Girls often have two contrary scripts in their minds: playing “wonder woman” and “Cinderella” (aka a princess). They demand to be treated accordingly, but switch between them suddenly and unpredictably. Both scripts are somewhat difficult for guys to deal with. This cognitive dissonance makes them difficult to deal with.

      (2) Girls very often prefer bad boys, and are often quite cruel to betas (most of us are betas). This comedy video captures the feel of this. I’ve heard much discussion about what’s coming, when these girls hit their late 20s and decide to “settle”. A decade of this treatment might have conditioned the men of their generation to have unusually low interest in marriage.




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