A History of the American Bachelor: Part III — The 20th and 21st Century

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 18, 2012 · 90 comments

in A Man's Life

Welcome back to our series on the history of the American bachelor. In Part I of the series, we took a look at the bachelor during colonial and Revolutionary War America. In Part II, we discussed the emergence of a distinct bachelor culture at the turn of the 20th century. Today, we’ll jump ahead to describing the position of the bachelor at mid-century, as well as take a look at the state of the American bachelor today.

Post-WWII America: The Bachelor Settles Down

As we discussed in our last segment, the bachelor population swelled in America in the decades after the Civil War. In many large cities, more than 50% of the adult male population was single. Moreover, young men began putting off marriage. In 1890, the average marrying age for men peaked at 26.

After the bachelor boom of the late 19th century, the median marriage age for men and the proportion of all adult males who were unmarried began to decline slowly and eventually leveled out during the Great Depression. In 1930, the average marrying age for American men was 24; 41.7% of the male population was single.

During both World Wars, the United States used conscription and relied primarily on bachelors to quickly raise their troop levels. While both single and married men were required to register for the draft, married men with dependents were sometimes given deferments, while single men shipped out.

Before heading off to war, young GIs often decided to tie the knot with their girlfriends, ensuring they’d have love and support from the home front and someone to look forward to coming back to. Once the war was over, the men who returned still single had had their fill of violence, deprivation, and living in an all-male environment, and were more than ready to trade their ditches and cots for the tranquility and domestic comforts of hearth and home, along with the touch (and delicious meatloaf) of a woman.

And economic conditions after the war were ideal for fulfilling those desires. While the rest of the world recovered from the ravages of war, the United States entered a period of unprecedented prosperity and became an industrial powerhouse. Jobs were plentiful and paid well, and thanks to the GI Bill–which defrayed the costs of going to college, offered loans to those who wished to start a business or farm, and provided low mortgage rates to veterans–the dream of education, homeownership, and a comfortable life became accessible to millions of men.

This newfound prosperity made marriage and family life possible for post-WWII men much earlier in their adult lives than their 19th and even early 20th century counterparts. Thus the average marrying age and the population’s percentage of single men began a sharp decline in 1949. That year, the average marrying age dipped to 23–the lowest since the Census had begun tracking this statistic back in the 1880s.

During the 1950s, family life took center stage in America. Settling down, buying a house in the suburbs, and having kids was seen as the patriotic thing to do. Television shows and movies during the 1950s portrayed family life in an idyllic fashion–mom vacuuming and wearing pearls, dad coming home from work to piddle around in the yard or his workshop, and the kids getting into mischief.

Meanwhile, bachelors were often portrayed as social misfits who caused trouble–after all, many thought, if a comfortable family life was so much more accessible than ever before, if you still weren’t settling down, there was probably something wrong with you. Psychologists, social scientists, and clergymen during this period began a public relations campaign against, not only bachelors, but single women as well. In the 1949 book, Why Are You Single? several psychologists and sociologists submitted essays which labeled singledom “unnatural and socially dysfunctional.” Single people were portrayed as maladjusted and in need of fixing. In an essay called “The Marriage-Shyness of the Male,” a Freudian psychologist painted the bachelor as a sort of basket case, battling inner as well as outer demons that prevented him from taking a wife.

The social pressure to marry, along with the lower costs of living, continued to drive down the marriage age and the size of the bachelor population throughout the 1950s. By 1960, only 23% of American men remained single, and the average age men were getting married was about 22. The bachelor had become the family man.

But the state of the bachelor, ever in flux, would soon shift once again.

The Sexual Revolution: A New Bachelor Emerges

The decline of the American bachelor in the 1950s was short lived. Starting in the 1960s, the marriage age and the number of single men began to inch back up. As Baby Boomers came of age during the Sexual Revolution of the late 1960s, American Bachelorhood experienced a revival.

For much of American history, marriage was a prerequisite to sex. Yes, people have had sex out of wedlock since time immemorial. In fact, bachelors sowing their wild oats and corrupting young women was one of the biggest fears society had about single men in the 19th century.

But overall, sex outside of marriage was frowned upon if not privately, then culturally, and those guilty of it suffered a high social penalty, especially if their relations resulted in an out-of-wedlock child. For many men, giving up some of their freedom to get married was the price for regular, safer, and more socially acceptable sex. Thus when the birth control pill made its debut and the taboo of women having casual sex began to lift, many men started to put off marriage. “What’s the point of getting married if I can get sex without it?” bachelors began to ask themselves. A bachelorhood that extended not just through one’s 20s, but one’s 30s and beyond, began to be seen as a viable, and for some, a very desirable, option.

Joe Namath was a paragon of the 60s bachelor ideal: young, virile, rich, lots of girlfriends, and a sweet bachelor pad complete with fluffy carpet.

In addition to the loosening of sexual mores, young Baby Boomer men enjoyed high paying jobs and low-cost homes and apartments that made living alone a viable option for many of them.  In fact, living alone became a status symbol for men during the 60s and 70s. The era of the bachelor pad with its swanky and masculine decor began. The new bachelor could date many women, and he needed a swinging place in which to entertain them.

Overseeing (and in many ways directing) this Bachelor Renaissance was a young magazine publisher named Hugh Hefner. In 1953, Hefner started his iconic Playboy magazine (which was initially going to be called Stag Party) that became famous for its nude Playmates and ever-so-well-written articles. Within the pages of Playboy, Hefner created a new kind of bachelorhood. Instead of the sporting male with his blue collar tastes, Hefner promoted a bachelorhood that was more urbane and sophisticated. According to him, a Playboy man was different from the rugged, outdoors-y man promoted in other men’s magazines:

“We like to spend most of our time inside. We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, and sex.”

If the 1950s squashed the idea of the rebellious and independent bachelor that was forged in the 19th century, Hugh Hefner helped resurrect it. His campaign to remove feelings of shame about sex and his unabashed rebellion against societal norms not only earned him powerful enemies, like Richard Nixon and J.Edgar Hoover, but also fans in single men who saw Hef as a  hero for the American bachelor. Regardless of how you feel about old Hef yourself, his influence on our cultural conception of the American bachelor is undeniable.

The 21st Century: Marrying Age and Living Arrangements

Today, the average marrying age for American men continues to increase. In 2010, it was 28. Many social commentators wring their hands about this trend, feeling that it represents an unprecedented shift in American history and a cultural decline that began at some point in the shrouded mists of the past. This worry is typically rooted in a comparison (whether the commenter is aware of it or not) between today’s marrying age and what it was in the 1950s and 60s (22 years old).

But if you compare the modern marrying age to the marrying age for men in the 1890s (26 years old), modern men are putting off marriage just two years longer than their great-grandfather’s generation. And if you compare the modern marrying age to all average marrying ages since the beginning of the Republic, the low marrying age and low single population of the 1950s was actually a very short-lived anomaly, made possible by a booming economy and help from Uncle Sam. Now, in this current economic downturn, men are putting marriage off longer.

Of course, I’ve never understood why folks think that they must be financially well-off before marrying; it isn’t any harder to be poor and married than poor and single, and getting hitched when you’re young and broke allows you to grow together, and has much to recommend it in my opinion. But I guess that’s another discussion for another time.

Social commentators have also raised a lot of hubbub about the fact that more and more young, single adults are moving back in with mom and dad or aren’t even heading out on their own at age 18. Magazine articles lambast these young adults for “failing to launch” or pejoratively call them “boomerang kids.” Young, single men seem to get the brunt of this criticism because studies show that the proportion of single men living with their parents has increased much faster than the proportion of single women doing the same.

However, again, if you look at the historical record, the hand wringing and criticism appears to be overblown. In 1860, 60% of young, single men lived with their family. Today, that number is 18.7%. And the percentage of single men living with their parents has only increased 4% since 2007. So while more single men are living with their folks, it isn’t the unprecedented crisis in maturity that the media makes it out to be.

Rather, it is often a move that just makes good financial sense and is part of the reality of our current economic climate. Men in the 1950s could get a good paying job without even having to go to college. Today, young men are emerging from college saddled with huge student loan debt and must navigate an economy with fewer good job prospects. It simply takes longer for young men to get on their feet these days. Certainly some young men are using free accommodations with mom and dad to put off responsibilities and delay their adolescence, but many very much want to get out on their own as soon as possible and are working towards their goal…just like Great-Grandpappy did.

For men for whom moving back in with their parents is not a possibility or something they can stomach, sharing a house or apartment with a bunch of friends is a common option. The percentage of men living with same-sex roommates has been increasing since 2007. In Guyland, Michael Kimmel notes that more and more young, single men are pooling resources to rent fairly decent bachelor pads. They’ll equip their place with big screen TVs and video game consoles, and the atmosphere in these multi-person bachelor pads often feels like a continuation of college life.

Into the 21st Century: Bachelor Culture Morphs to Bro Culture

While bachelorhood has always been a period in a man’s life where he enjoyed the benefits of freedom and independence by taking part in vices and fun that might not be fitting for a family man, there was a general understanding among men that their bachelor years would eventually end and that they needed to use their single years to lay a foundation for the rest of their lives. Drinking and playing pool was balanced by membership in mutual improvement societies and fraternal lodges, and by a general code of behavior among men (see the third paragraph of this Manvotional). Moreover, while bachelorhood became more and more accepted in America, there was an expectation that young, single men still be useful and productive members of society. The bachelor worked hard and played hard.

Today’s young bachelor often doesn’t have that same understanding nor the societal expectations of his predecessors. He also rarely has a group of positive, older male mentors to help balance his masculine desires to act out with some wisdom on how to segue into approaching life more maturely. Diminished expectations towards young, single men, coupled with a more crude, and in many ways less mature notion of masculinity, has resulted in a new, lowest common denominator idea of the bachelor: The Bro.

Like parts of bachelor culture in previous decades, Bro culture encourages drinking, sports, and sex as ways a young man can display his masculinity. The difference is that Bro culture amps it up several notches. The dream of the Bro is that his adolescent-esque life never has to end. Books like Tucker Max’s I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell highlight the bawdy and raucous Bro lifestyle that many young men aspire to today. The internet has spread Bro culture and in many ways shaped it. There are about a dozen websites out there with the word “bro” in the URL: brobible.com, brosome.com, statusbro.com, broslikethissite.com, just to name a few. While many of the sites are tongue-in-cheek and self-aware, the young, male readers of these sites definitely can relate to and find identity with the type of masculinity they highlight.

The replacement of the oldtime bachelor culture with bro culture has a number of deficiencies of course, particularly, for the purposes of this series, as it concerns the effect of bro culture on male camaraderie.  While bro culture provides ample opportunities for posses of friends to bond over drinking and carousing, it leaves men who are less interested in such activities with a more difficult time finding a place in a social circle. And bro culture doesn’t travel well. During the “Golden Age of the Bachelor,” a young, single man could move to a new city, easily find the “bachelor district” in town, move into a boarding house or private club with a bunch of guys the same age, meet a bevy of peers at the local pool hall or lodge, and very soon have a new cadre of best buddies. For modern dudes, bro culture works great when they have a group of friends from high school or college to party with, but once they move to a new city where they don’t know a soul, it can be hard to make new friends and assemble a new posse. I believe the modern bachelor oftentimes experiences more loneliness than his turn-of-the-century predecessor did.

The Future of the Bachelor?

Trends indicate that both men and women are marrying less. Only 51% of the adult population today is married. Most experts expect single folks to outnumber marrieds in the next few years–the first time that has happened in America’s history. While co-habitation without marriage has increased over 1500% since the 1960s, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of people choosing the single life (people not forming long-term relationships) has been increasing in the past 10 years as well.

There’s also an interesting trend taking place once you parse the general numbers further. While the percentage of people marrying has fallen for all socioeconomic groups, the decline has been much steeper for the poor and working classes. For college-educated, white collar people, the marriage rate has only declined 11% since 1960; in that same period, the marriage rate for blue collar workers without a college education declined 36%. The divorce rate among the college-educated is much less than the general population as well–just 11%. Thus it is possible that marriage will come to be seen as sort of a privilege and status symbol for the upper classes, which might make endless bachelorhood less sexy–something associated with being lower class.

At any rate, with America’s shifting attitudes towards marriage and the sub-optimal economic conditions in the United States right now,  bachelorhood will probably extend further into a man’s adult life for the foreseeable future. Knowing that, perhaps young single men will take a more active role into shaping modern bachelor culture into a period of life that involves something more than drifting along and partying. Already, you see a few signs that this is occurring. Certainly there are some bachelors who have delayed marriage or don’t think they want to get hitched, who are still striving to be productive and well-rounded citizens. Fraternal lodges are seeing a little revival and some college fraternities are actively seeking to return to their roots in balancing having a good time with improving themselves as men. Hopefully the young, single chaps out there will continue this trend!

History of the American Bachelor Series:
Colonial and Revolutionary America
Post-Civil War America
The 20th and 21st Century


{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tan Yee Hou April 18, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Hi Brett,

Been reading your site since forever.

I’d love to read your article on financial stability with regards to marriage.

Also, if there are articles on upping our maturity levels in the preparation for marriage, that’ll be great.

Thanks for all the great write ups.

2 Greg K. April 18, 2012 at 11:53 pm

As a guy in my mid-20s, I’m not even thinking about a serious relationship right now much less marriage, but I did join an old German social club (around since the 1800s, but it’s more like a VFW anymore) a couple years ago, which has been an amazing experience. I really enjoy shooting pool, throwing darts, and playing poker with some people my age and a lot of older guys who have great stories and life experiences. I’d highly recommend other guys in their 20s get involved with local fraternal organizations.

3 J. Rad April 18, 2012 at 11:55 pm

I feel that the author may not fully understand bromance. All the problems you listed that cause men to move back home (student loans, poor job prospects) are the same things that keep men from moving from a college life to bachelorhood and short of moving back home with the parents, bro-life is the only way to financially survive. You need someone to split the costs of partying, cable, the roof over your head, and as many educated women are not willing to marry a man who is not financially stable, this leads to living with your bros. And even when a bro does finally find a steady job they are just then capable of living a comfortable (i.e. non-ramen noodles) lifestyle and want to use their new-found wealth to have fun with their friends. I have no problem staying single and partying with my boys until I’m 35 and every George Clooney movie says that’s ok.

4 Nate April 19, 2012 at 12:14 am

I second what Greg K. said. Single, 29 year old FreeMason here.

You did mention that part of the reason single guys are staying home more is the economic climate, and I hear that all over, but I mostly get a feeling that this reference is toward the idea that there are fewer jobs right now.

I don’t disagree at all. But I think this trend was going on even previous to 2008-2009 when things started to take a turn in that area.

I agree that the problem is economic, but I’m not sure it is completely related to fewer jobs. I don’t see much by way of the idea of inflation and a weaker dollar. (I know, boo, hiss, boring, Ron Paul, blah).

I was having a conversation with my grandparents recently who bought a home in the 50′s, then the 70′s, then the 90′s then in 2004. After reflecting a bit on those prices, and food, fuel etc., they said they definitely felt that decade after decade the essential commodities like those listed are definitely going up overall at a quicker pace than average salaries seem to be following. I think that idea plays a huge roll in the scope of this article.

5 Michael April 19, 2012 at 1:02 am

Another fantastic article. I particularly enjoyed this last segment – very well written, very tactful.

6 Martin April 19, 2012 at 1:09 am

I cant believe that websites like this even exist. I was terrified that guys even think in such a manner. but that’s why we are men.


7 Stoner With a Boner April 19, 2012 at 1:10 am


Interesting article…

My parents are divorced-when I was a little kid, I saw them slap each other around…

One of my friends lost everything in divorce court and she cheated on him.

How come all these articles talk about how awful men who aren’t married are?

How come the woman who goes after career or goes it alone as a single mom is “empowered” but a male opting out of an inequitable situation is a “bum”?

How come you hear “man up” but never “woman up”? 70% of divorces are initiated by women and the courts are on their side. Unless having children is the most important thing in your life marriage is a risky proposition….

8 Miguel April 19, 2012 at 1:12 am

I feel like a learned a ton with this series. Thanks.

9 Paul April 19, 2012 at 1:20 am

Fewer, lower-paying jobs and higher prices…yep, that’s why I haven’t been able to get out on my own like I want to. I’m 29, single, and working a minimum-wage job in a grocery store with a B.S. that I earned in 2008. I did rent a house with four other guys during my last year of college and survived with a credit card to cover what my loans didn’t. Big mistake! After I graduated I had no choice but to move back home and work at my old grocery job while I looked for something better, preferably in an academic setting. (I almost got a job with the local community college – one candidate beat me out…Dang it!) But rather than the stereotypical videogame addict in Mommy’s basement, I’m making efforts to improve myself and make myself useful (this site being one of many avenues…Thanks Brett!) I’m learning new skills, and the martial arts has provided an amazing circle of friends. All I’m trying to say is, if you are single and stuck at home with a stigma that society has placed on you, make the most of what you have.

10 Kwende K April 19, 2012 at 1:26 am

J. Red
George Clooney is a great actor, but. That is all he is, just an actor. Taking our queues from the silver screen and Hollywood actors today is in my opinion, not good. Most bachelors now days have little or no work ethic, are scarred of life long relationships with a young woman, and have a bad attitude toward one of there parents. I think that we (my self included) need to seek out wisdom from the older generation, like our grandparents or from some older man that can teach us marriage, finances, and the like. Now for me being a 23 year old saying this is rather unusual, but. that depends on what your world view is.

11 Hal April 19, 2012 at 1:33 am

Regardless of your income level, marriage is nothing more than a contract whereas if it is breached,( and the divorce rate tells us that 50 % of the time it is.) that you ( the man ) loses 50 % of every thing you have worked for. Why on earth would anyone even consider entering into a contract like that ?

12 Liam April 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

I wish I had some answers to your questions there, mate, but I can definitely feel your frustrations.

13 James April 19, 2012 at 9:25 am

I can certainly relate to the being in a new area as a younger bachelor in the era of the “bro” section.

At 25, it’s rather simple to slide into the clubs every night bro life-style, but it’s rather difficult to find and connect with other people my age on other, much more rewarding (in my eyes) levels.

I do believe the numbers of young men living at home ties directly to the current economic state of our nation. While you are correct in saying there are a number who do it for a free ride, I know plenty who would love to be on their own, however they just cannot swing it. Yet they still pull their weight while living at home, such as paying smaller rent, paying bills and providing groceries, which is a great way of learning and practicing responsible living habits, even when you are unable to make it totally on your own.

In the end, the bachelor of today has truly been brandished a negative image due to the bro, but it’s important for all to realize that plenty of young men with great potential are out there. It’s just time for us to come together and work on ways to improve the image that has been put on us, and to help others around us grow so that the future is better for us all.

14 Lalo April 19, 2012 at 9:26 am

That is why you make sure you know who your getting involved with, I married at 20 and have been married with my wife for 12 years now. The great thing about our relationship is that it is getting sweeter as time goes by. The rough edges we both had at the beginning are smoothing out. The problem is that most people in marriage do want to do something without getting anything in return. If you love someone you will do for them because you love them expecting nothing in return, and when you do it in this manner, love, and respect are poured out on you by your spouse in abundance.

15 TK99 April 19, 2012 at 9:28 am

@Kwende K

Im finding that most bachelors do not find marriage as a viable option, partially due to the risks involved as Stoner had outlined a few posts above, and partially also because most women today are stuck up, choosy, or just plain screwed up. Many men are single purely by circumstance and not by choice. The stereotypical picture you have painted is few and far in between. Then again at age 23, you have minimal experience in such matters…

16 Lalo April 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

@ James
I agree, being responsible at home and helping with the bills is a great way to learn responsibility. I started doing so at the age of 12 when I started working weekends and summers for my grandfather. He owned a construction company and expected all his sons and grandsons to learn what hard work and responsibility was. It was great being a teenager and buying my own car and never having to ask my parents for money like most of my friends did. I felt even better to help out my parents with some of the bills. I think that morals in the home have almost completely vanished, some young men can’t even be asked to take out the garbage with them making a stupid face or asking “why”. But props to you james for taking on responsibility and trying to make the most of yourself and the situation.

17 James April 19, 2012 at 9:40 am

Enjoyed the article.

Here’s the thing though, you say
“So while more single men are living with their folks, it isn’t the unprecedented crisis in maturity that the media makes it out to be.”

but then you don’t even realize how when you talk about bro culture, it is again the media over reacting and this time that media outlet is you. I can guarantee you that the “bro” sites you linked in the article are all tongue in cheek, and more mock bro culture than promote it really.

@ kwende k i really don’t think J Red’s main was we should all be like George Clooney, but great job focusing on one part of a much more comprehensive argument. also, most bachelors today are lazy? you’re really going to stand by the lives-in -the- basement-playing-video-games stereotype? I know young men who still live with their parents, for financial reasons, but haven’t even heard of anyone who actually fits that stereotype.

18 Jeff April 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

It’s amazing that the “50% of people get divorced” statistic still gets trotted out.

50% includes people who get divorced the second time. Among first time marriages just 37% get divorced and for college-educated folks as the article mentions, it’s just 11%.

It does seem like it’s the working class, non-college educated men who are always ranting about marriage, always using a bogus statistic, always trying to convince themselves that their irrational fear of marriage is smart and justified. Among my friends, all college educated, all have graduate degrees, they’re all happily married, I don’t know all these stuck up, terrible women all these bitter men complain about.

I guess they’re looking for women in the wrong places. Probably aren’t religious, Probably are looking for women at bars, and then are shocked that women at bars are skanks. Go to church and meet a woman. That’s where I met my wife. Lots of smart, beautiful women at church, who are feminine but sharp. And come down South. Don’t know, maybe things are different on the coasts, but the women here are smart and sweet and want to get married and have families.

19 Lalo April 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

One thing that I think plays a big factor in men being single up into their 30′s, is the way the media influences our culture. Most men are out looking for a hot babe to have sex with, not a life long partner that they can grow with. No one can deny the influence that television has on America’s young men. Most television commercials and show feature flawless, very desirable women; it teaches a young man to be shallow and to look to bag a sexy women instead of a smart and compatible one.

20 Dylan April 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

This was a great series of articles. It really gives strong historical context to the phenomenon of bachelorhood. It’s great to see an article that exposes post-WWII norms as not necessarily being the natural state of the world forever and always.

21 Curt April 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

Loved the articles. My 2 sons are both Bachelors, 21 and 23(still young). My oldest is in the navy and getting his finances in order, my youngest is in college and at home.
I feel as older males we have a responsibility to mentor these men. We need to teach them maturity, responsibility and ethics. Married or single every young man needs these to push through life. I do see return to past practises of bachelors as well, both my sons are Delta Chi Fratsmen and my youngest is a KofC member with me. I don`t think we have anything to fear from young bachelor’s today and think posters saying thing like George Clooney movies said it is ok, and immature posting names will look back in time as I do at things i did in my 20′s and see them for what they are.

22 Ian April 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

Enjoyed the series. What I will take away is that social ‘norms’ — marriage age and so forth– vary widely. Getting upset about moving averages shows a lack of understanding. And of course—here’s to being a bachelor!

23 Lalo April 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

Amen Jeff

24 Lalo April 19, 2012 at 9:49 am

This series was great. I had never really had much interest in the history of the young male bachelor. It was very informative and it painted a very clear picture of what it was to be a young man then and how the young man has evolved through cultural change and indifference.

25 Alexander April 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

Definitely a very interesting post, Brett. Now, I’ll have to go back and catch up on your first two segments about bachelors.

Some of what I’m hearing in the comments reasonates quite readily with me. I’m only 25, but married young due to some unusual circumstances. Our relationship is great and I don’t regret my decision at all. However, and this is not to try and bash the US, I do feel that the majority of American women today have brought the “bro” to life with their behavior – I don’t think many of my friends who live like that are truly happy or satisfied, despite the fact that most media says they live the dream life. Yeah, sure, it’s great that there’s so much easy tail to chase, but whenever I have a serious conversation with them, they always lament the fact that they can’t find a serious, loyal girl like mine. This always shocks me, as some of them are litterally getting more action than Don Draper could dream of. I’ve seen them try to establish serious, faithful relationships, and in the end be dropped by girls who really just want to live like that horny chick in Sex in the City.

I’m not saying that marriage at a young age is the way to go. Definitely in this economic environment it can be very difficult. And I’m not saying that all my bros out there don’t choose this lifestyle for themselves…many do. BUT, I do think that feminine behavior in this country (and yes, I know for a fact that women in many other countries behave very differently) has enabled or even instigated many of these growing trends.

26 A6 April 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

The *Modern Man and Marriage* otherwise known as the three M’s of death(sarcasm here). Very insightful article.
Thank you for putting forth a visual description of what has been haunting me in personal life for the last three years.

27 JonathanL April 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

@Jeff, I don’t think religion is the foundation of every good marriage, but I do see the same type of people continue to fail in marriage. People seem willing to settle or treat marriage as a dream, instead of a reality, and when it doesn’t work out, it’s back to the drawing board again. It’s really unfortunate. When you find the right person, you’ve found a true partner, and you want to be married so that the state treats you as a partnership as well. It’s important that if something happens to me, my wife and child are taken care of, and being married is part of that. Also, while I generally consider myself a very liberal person politically, I think marriage is still a very good thing. When done for the right reasons, with two committed people, it creates a rock-solid foundation to build a family on.

28 Tom April 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

It would be interesting to see some statistics on how religion played a hand in all of this. It’s been my observation that religion (any) has seemed be less and less important to our young bachelors these days. I would make an assumption that the loss of religion in the bachelors life could contribute to the marriage issue. I’m not a bible thumper, but i think having faith in something should be an integral part in any bachelors life.

29 Bevan April 19, 2012 at 10:45 am

I would say that one could put the decline of maturity, philanthropy, and dedication in the Fraternities of the US colleges right next to the decline of the American bachelor. They are sharing the same fate. I helped Found a chapter at my college back a decade ago and absorbed the history and the intentions of the fraternity from reading the histories of our organization and then trying to establish a respectable organization. Over 10 years it succumbed to the Bro-cancer that is today’s young man. Bros want to be waited on hand and foot by a momlike figure, no commitment to anything, rather play video games, doesn’t want to grow personally, and drinking is paramount to any other activity. It really has colored my ideas of today’s young man.

30 32 & Married 8 Yrs April 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

Nice article, but I disagree that marriage will become a “privilege and status symbol for the upper classes”. Marriage is being cheapened by the rise of same-sex marriage. Why do they want it so badly? I thought people just wanted to have sex and split the rent nowadays. Next up: Interspecies marriage, if for nothing other than pride and a tax break. I mean, people have licensed personal therapy dogs for emotional and social support. We’re practically there.

I love my wife, but seeing what the institution of “marriage” has become, I’d rather be called a bachelor.

31 Michael April 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

I just wanted to thank you for noticing that post-WWII prosperity was a policy choice. We can have the same success again; we just need to remember how we did it the first time.

32 Greenham April 19, 2012 at 12:15 pm

@32 &Married 8 Yrs-

Why should same-sex partnerships cheapen the institution of marriage? A gay couple who love and respect each other, will surely act as a stable base to raise a family and contibute to society.

On a personal note, I’m 21 and live in a shared appartment with two other guys. I don’t think that “bro culture” is such a huge phenomenon- all of us, and many of our friends our in long-term relationships and are working hard to improve our lives much as our grandfathers did.

33 Hal April 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm

You hit the nail on the head,and that is true at any age. I am 50 years old and what I notice is if I date young women,they are only interested in what I can buy or do for them.If I date women of my age group,they have so many problems or baggage it just not worth it.

50 % is the divorce rate across the board.
You would have us believe that the educated individual is better off.
he is not.at least not concerning marriage.
You would also have us believe that church is the cure all to finding a suitable mate.
First of all if you are going to church to meet women then you are there for the wrong reason.
I know people that go to church ,educated,and affluent that screw around on their spouses.
It must be nice to stick your head in the clouds and say my marriage is perfect.
( is it really, I hope for you it is.)
Being single is a choice and I think it’s wrong for there to be a stigma attached to it.

34 Chris April 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

…”along with the touch (and delicious meatloaf) of a woman.” That is some good writing. Makes me hungry. Great series.

35 Chase April 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm

This has been a great series. I’m a bachelor (27 yrs old) who has absolutely no desire to get married. I don’t quite live the bachelor lifestyle of many – not the bars, clubs, etc. I live in a house in the country, have a couple of hounds, spend my evenings at a local eatery or Eagles Club in town with people 2 or 3 times my age. It’s really a pretty great life and I’m not sure that I’d change it for the best meatloaf in the world.

36 Hal April 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I am sorry,my numbers were off just a bit;
According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%
If you average the numbers,it comes to 58 % not 50 %
And actually since if I were to marry again, I have a 73% chance of losing 50% of MY stuff. NO THANKS

37 Tank April 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I have to agree with some of the comments above about todays woman being at least partially at fault for the lack of men being married. They prance about expeting men to be thier accessory. It is very easy to find women who want to have sex but to find a true partner to connect with on a social, spiritul, and sexual level is very difficult.

38 Hal April 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

You get better odds than that at Vegas.

39 Jeff April 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Hal, you seem to be missing the point. I don’t care about the much higher divorce rate of the lower classes, or those who didn’t have the sense to pick the right woman the first time around. What I care about is the stats for my own demographic group–the college educated. And that’s 11%. A 11% failure rate is incredible odds for any endeavor!

Here’s some more interesting stats I found:

The percentages of people who feel marriages have NOT worked out for the people they know are 53%/43%/17% — respectively Least Educated (HS dropouts)/ Moderately Educated (HS graduates to some college)/ Highly Educated (Bachelors or higher).

The reason working class folks have a negative view of marriage is that the people around them get divorced and they assume marriage is like that for everybody. They’re living in an echo chamber. But it’s not. Marriage isn’t the problem, it’s their circumstances that are the problem. Go to college, work your way into the middle class, go to church (religious people get divorced much less frequently), and marriage will work out for you just fine.

40 Old John April 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

55 y-o twice divorced “bachelor” here. Societal “pressure” pushed me into making the same mistake twice before I figured out that perhaps there was something about me besides economics that made me unsuitable to be married. Now I live alone, keep to myself, pursue a couple of expensive hobbies, volunteer, and definitely don’t live “The Playboy Life”. Am I bitter? Not any more. Got that all out of my system years ago. Never thought much of the idea of looking for female companionship in church, either. After all, they’d find out eventually that I’m an Atheist, and then what happens?
I’d like to see this series expand into a fourth part, something on the lifestyle of the middle-aged and older bachelor. Unmarried, but too old for “Bros”.

41 Hal April 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Sorry I didn’t realize we were just discussing your demograficI thought we were discussing divorce rates over all. I think we all can agree that it is far better to be educated than not. However education,religion, or wealth does not guarantee that anyone will not divorce. Jeff you and I will probably have to agree to disagree.
People are a product of their history and surroundings not just their education.
If you feel that you are in the 11%, then congratulations. Hope it works out for you.

42 Old John April 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Hey, “32&married 8″.
How does 2 people of the same sex getting married “cheapen” your marriage? Honestly, I’d love for you to explain that, because you could be the FIRST person in the world to explain how same-sex marriage “threatens traditional marriage” instead of spluttering and blustering and saying “Well, because it just *DOES*!”.

43 Kent Andrews April 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm

The last picture with the shirtless dudes playing beer pong. I bet almost every American male has pictures with very similar circumstances. I think we should embrace the idea that there are no real cultures and stereotypes are only for people who want to believe them. There are many reasons to remain single and still be a productive and positive member of society.

44 Livs April 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I had a feeling this last installment would rattle me a bit. I care a lot about marriage and hope that people will give it a go despite the huge amount of work that the maintenance of a good marriage always entails. The benefits are so huge, for individuals and society at large. Marriage and family teaches you to be selfless like nothing else can–that carries into everything.

I’m glad my husband showed me this site a few months back. Reading all this just makes me want to tell you all how lucky I am. I married a guy that was an Eagle Scout, worked hard to get a satisfying and stable career, and prepared himself for marriage even while skydiving and living it up while he was single. He saved himself for our wedding night, which is no small thing these days. He supported us as I finished my Masters degree and became my biggest cheerleader as I struggled to start my career. When relationship stuff reared its ugly head we worked hard together to find ways to make it work. After 8 years of being married we are more in sync than ever before, and are now anticipating our first child this fall. We’re both Mormon, and the church has been a great place for cultivating friendships with other friends (the men and women meet separately in Sunday meetings to discuss Gospel living in a gender specific group, and there are lots of social events for different groups at church). Anyway, I am so grateful that he was an honorable bachelor and will carry that into fatherhood.

45 Rich April 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

The way many young women behave nowadays I’d say any young man who chooses to get married better think twice.

46 Greg M April 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Great way to conclude an excellent series of articles.
I agree with the idea of starting out together with your significant other as you build your financial footing. My wife and I were recently married, near broke and living for the first time in a cramped two-room apartment when we sat down and wrote out our goals as a couple- continued education, career, family. That was eight years ago and we have successfully achieved all of those goals and more.

The transition from bachelor to married man is not something you undertake by yourself. The quality of your bachelorhood influences the transition greatly.

47 julian April 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I do not know where this myth is coming from that marriage in the church last longer. Divorce in the Catholic church and the Babtist church are both higher than the national average, and the most porn usage in the country is in Utah and Mississippi so idk what people are talking about. But I do think that the expectation has dropped for men coming out of college, so its not seen as such of a stigma to move back home or to live with friends for a few years. Men like ladies, no matter how they behave which is a double standard, but it still exsist and a lot of times when men go out they say see women behaving less than lady like, and women think that it is attractive, but all that behavior does is turn men off, and makes them want to make them “slam pieces” and not take them as serious ladies.

48 LG April 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm

julian, let’s just say that if you can’t bother to spell “Baptist” correctly, or spell out “I don’t know” instead of writing like you’re texting your buddies, your supposed statistics about the higher divorce rates of religious people don’t fill me with a ton of confidence.

Gentlemen, I am a single woman, and I find it more than a little surprising that the slanderous language being used to describe ladies in this thread has been allowed to stand unchallenged. Those of you who do call yourselves gentlemen (and there are many among the readers of AoM) would certainly never stand silent while a bitter fool claimed with absolute authority that all women were ill-behaved gold-diggers who just want to be shown off and coddled.

I once had a friend who was in counseling because of a bad breakup, and her therapist said to her, “The common denominator in all your failed relationships is you.” Perhaps some of the misogynistic slanderers in this thread would be wise to consider that.

49 julian April 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm

@LG You’re right that I should have spell checked my writing, being on the internet does not warrant the use of bad grammar. You can look up those stats if you dont believe me, I am Catholic by the way. I do respect women, even those who do not have the dignity to respect themselves. I was commenting on what I see in bars when I go into them. I do not think that the men on here are trying to slander women, they are commenting on the women that they are around. Men and women both have issues when it comes to relationships and we live in a culture where nothing is built to last or stand the the test of time including human relationships. When men comment on here, generally we are all speaking from a place of common understanding, even when we may not agree with each other, the vernacular may sound misogynistic to a lady like yourself. I agree with you that we as men should not disrespect any group of people(this case being women) and must challenge each other to get a well rounded discourse. I respect your comments though.

50 J April 19, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I would be interested in seeing your stats, Julian, because here’s what I found with a simple google search:

From the Pew Research Center:

“It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

“It’s a useful myth,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”

“Because if a pastor wants to preach about how Christians should take their marriages more seriously, he or she can trot out this statistic to get them to listen to him or her.”

The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42 percent. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50 percent.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38 percent of weekly attendees.”

“Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35 percent less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.”


Religious affiliation is correlated with a 14% decrease in divorce:


51 Annalisa April 20, 2012 at 12:56 am

What an interesting shift in the American male after contraception was introduced into society (and accepted socially). It appears both women and men placed much more of an emphasis on their own personal fulfillment , rather than their responsibilities, much to the detriment of their families. I wonder, perhaps the “rise” of the bachelor is a sad effect of a contraceptive mentality – that when sex is straight jacketed and becomes a sterile act, without the potentiality of life, marriage loses its value, because the potential person – the child – for whom the family exists – is out of the picture. And then, suddenly, man forgets others in pursuit of his own agenda, and angrily lashes out when his plan is not met. Yes, I believe contraception introduced to men and women a more sophisticated way of being selfish. Currently I’m reading the newly released book by author Mary Eberstadt, “Adam and Eve After the Pill”. I highly recommend this close look at contraception’s effect on people, families, society, and the value of the human person.

52 Kris stackhouse April 20, 2012 at 1:10 am

Could you do an article on how to ask a girl out? Thanks!

53 Victor April 20, 2012 at 2:10 am

A few thoughts…

And a pre-emptive retort to start. I am an AoM man through and through. I found this site a few years ago while looking for a new project, and when I did it felt like each article could have been written by me (or my father). My dad is a typical mans man, taught me to be a critical thinker, boy scouts and all the rest, loves my mom like you couldn’t believe (lucky for me, I know).

I’m 23 and a university grad. I appreciate virtues, values, sacrifice and self improvement; and most viewpoints of this site.

However I cannot understand marriage.
For me marriage is a socially constructed phenomenon. The only “naturally” compelling part (in my infinite wisdom) is to raise children. I see my friends getting married because they are “in love” yet I see them constantly argue, negotiate and control each other’s actions. I know each of them (man and woman) is giving up a significant portion of their life plan to get married. WHY? (ALL CAPS).

As I am in the “fresh out of school – back with my parents – working a job not a career” bachelor hood of life I simply have way too many plans to even consider the thought of settling now. I always analyze my options and I think I have too much to learn/see/do to sacrifice a significant portion of my life to start
“building/maintaining a relationship” with ONE person. I think I’ve got a cool 10 years to establish myself “as me” before I commit a serious amount of time to an “us”.

That’s my approach to marriage and maybe many others of my cohort. I’ve also met some great girls, but that hasn’t changed my opinion.

I’d love to hear from any of the old men out there in response (zing!)…

54 Victor April 20, 2012 at 2:24 am

Thoughts on the world of the bro…

A wise man once asked me… What does a baby a burned pizza and a frozen beer have in common? The wise man paused, as if to collect his thoughts and said, An idiot who didn’t pull out in time.

There is a strong argument that the stupidest people of the world procreate the most. I believe this is a significant cause of the rise of the ‘bro’. Along with this are the girls who flock to the ‘bro’.

I would love to participate in a respectable bachelor-type club but the truth is, I cant afford to. I cant afford to rent in the city and I cant afford to drive/train to spend money on beer and pool. And the one night a week I do afford myself to spend some cash on such affairs I’m not seeking random new guy friends, even if they have a common interest. Just a thought.

55 AC April 20, 2012 at 4:33 am

“How come the woman who goes after career or goes it alone as a single mom is “empowered” but a male opting out of an inequitable situation is a “bum”?”

Fair point, but having a nickname like “Stoner with a Boner” hardly helps your case. No one cares about your drug-taking habits or the degree of erection of your penis.

On a side note, any non-Hawaiian who uses the term “bro” should be beaten up.

56 Dan April 20, 2012 at 6:01 am

So apparently, if you say there’s something wrong in the article and try to bring up something else than divorce statistics, your message will simply be deleted.

“The Art of Manliness” they said.

57 DP April 20, 2012 at 7:16 am

I don’t get the whole drive for marriage thing either. If being a working unmarried man makes me a “ bum” that’s fine. What does that make the single woman with a career?
Still curious to hear 32 married for 8’s answer on how gay marriage ruins his.
@ Dan, what was deleated?

58 JonathanL April 20, 2012 at 8:08 am

@Victor, I don’t disagree with what you’ve said. There is certainly value and integrity in figuring out your own life. For me, marriage is something that should come naturally. I don’t normally quote Dr. James C. Dobson, but he said something that my mother in turn told me, and I’ve never forgotten it: “Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.” That’s what marriage is to me. It’s finding a person that you don’t want to live without. If you haven’t found that person, it’s really not worth wringing your hands or worrying about. I was happy when I was single. If the unthinkable happened, and I lost my wife, I wouldn’t be jumping to replace her to stay married. It would have to be with the right person.

As some have said, marriage and the raising of a family teaches you how to be less selfish, to realize that the world isn’t about you. In some ways, being a bachelor is much easier, and while we shouldn’t stigmatize single men or women because of their choice, there’s a selflessness I never knew I could summon before marriage and fatherhood. You learn.

59 LG April 20, 2012 at 8:48 am

@J, thanks for citing an actual study. I’ve read that one as well.

Here’s an important thing for everyone to remember: you can call yourself anything you like. Having pleasant feelings about God doesn’t make you a Christian any more than having pleasant feelings about Buddha makes you a Buddhist or having pleasant feelings about McDonald’s makes you a Big Mac. So folks who call themselves Christians (or whatever) but who haven’t bothered to get out of bed on a Sunday morning for anything other than an early football kickoff in six months? Those people are hardly the same in how much their faith influences them than people who both genuinely believe *and practice* the tenets of their faith. Every study I’ve ever seen shows that the latter are far, far less likely to divorce according to any measure.

And to the marriage naysayers: what if marriage isn’t just a social construct? What if it’s not simply a contract obligating you to turn over half your stuff upon the dissolution of the contract? What if it’s something instituted by the creator of the universe to reflect a larger truth about the nature of that creator? What if it’s meant to be a beautiful picture of two people’s selflessness, sacrifice, and lifelong commitment, witnessed and protected by an entire community? Because that’s exactly what it is. No, marriage isn’t superior to singleness, but avoiding marriage when you don’t plan to avoid relationships especially sexual ones, avoiding marriage out of a sense of reluctance to grow up or out of fear, slandering marriage and those who enter it — those things are superior to neither singleness or marriage, and they’re unworthy attitudes for any man.

60 Victor April 20, 2012 at 11:47 am


Thanks for the quote. That one will stick with me for sure.


That is the old… you’re better off to believe in God because if it turns out to be true than when you die you will go to heaven. And if its not true than you die like everyone else. But if you don’t believe and it happens to be true you’re screwed.

The concept of marriage and its relationship to sex is built by religion (man). I cant believe God created marriage and just hoped we would pass it on forever into eternity because our elders told us to; lest we burn in hell. I think a Creator would understand us better than that.

I look at marriage as a significant commitment to build a relationship together for the rest of your lives. To commit to love as a verb, not a feeling (Stephen Covey). That is sacrifice, but to what end?

People understand it, I don’t, that’s not slander. Its an objective reaction.

But I wont marry out of a fear for God. And I wont marry until I can provide society with a sound man, of mind and soul. And then I will never waver. I will resolve, in absolute confidence, to put my family first. But first I need to conquer myself and find my limits.

61 Daniel April 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Hal, marriage may be a contract (I say that it is more than a contract), but the terms of the contract are LIFELONG! You never say wedding vows and include, ‘I vow to marry you unless…’ That is why, even if marriage is nothing more than a contract, you still can’t get out of it just because the other person doesn’t keep their end of the bargain!

62 Matthew W April 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I’ve enjoyed this series and the historical perspective it’s taken. A few thoughts to specific people:

@LG: I surely see your point of view. I do think though, that the original point was intended to be something akin to “it’s not all the guys; there’s plenty of blame to spread. ”

@Dan: not knowing the exact content, all I can say is that reading the comment policy might resolve some of your anger.

63 Black and Blue Man April 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Another great AoM series that this 40-year-old Australian bachelor found very interesting :)

I’m a bachelor by choice because I like privacy, solitude and living alone. It’s a lifestyle I enjoy very much, and one I’ll most likely live until the day I die.

Over the years, I’ve copped some criticism and questions (and in one instance, a half-serious slap from a married woman) about remaining single and child-free, but not a great deal. Many of my social and working peers, male and female, are the same, or didn’t start marrying and having children until their early 30s.

There are many ways to live a life, and bachelorhood and being married are just two of them. To each their own.

64 DP April 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Pascal’s wager much?

Considering the number of religions there are, has been, and will be. Your odds of picking the exactly right one are pretty slim. So unless you believe believers of any and all religious get rewarded (heaven, nirvana, Asphodel Meadow, paradise) its a fallacy of failing to consider all the options.
Ps. Which god are you preaching for?

65 LG April 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm

@Victor, oh please, what a straw man. You clearly have either badly misread or deliberately misunderstood me. People should marry out of a desire to enshrine their love and willingness to sacrifice with a permanent, public commitment. Marriage was instituted by God, but it’s not the only holy state, and that’s nothing like what I stated or implied. In fact, it’s absurd even to consider that singleness would condemned by God or punishable, given that no less than Jesus, the founder of Christianity, never married. What I am trying to speak out against is the sort of selfish, often misogynistic immaturity that sees marriage as bondage to be postponed as long as possible. Marriage is not that, but is rather a beautiful, divinely-created state with a greater purpose than the joining of two people.

66 Victor April 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm

@ LG

I responded to your comment as I saw your disagreement with marriage being a social construct, but rather something instituted by ‘a creator’. Also you suggested that…

“avoiding marriage when you don’t plan to avoid relationships especially sexual ones… (are)unworthy attitudes for any man.”

… and I disagreed. I also made a (possibly incorrect) assumption that you believed in its relationship with “heaven and hell” as per your discussion of what it means to be Christian/Buddhist.

I disagree that it is a divinely- created. And without that foundation I do not think that I am breaking some code/virtue by having sex pre-marriage. I don’t feel like I have to either marry or abstain from sex “because God wants it that way’. I don’t think God gives a f*** if we are married (pun).

And from that standpoint, I haven’t concluded on why I should feel obligated to get married as soon as possible. Other than to avoid being labeled an immature misogynist (your words).


Sure, Pascal. I just said old. I was led down that path as I read LG’s comment before that “and to the marriage naysayers:…”. Which I read as, “what if God made marriage and said don’t have sex first. Because that is exactly what it (marriage) is. So if you don’t get married, don’t have sex”.

I think it was the “what if” statements that brought me in that direction. Also I was attempting to suggest that that idea (Pascal’s wager) is a joke because how is that faith? So no preaching, I have no answers.

67 Emily April 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I find it fascinating that people still get married at all! It seems such an archaic and out-dated mode of living your life — and it certainly doesn’t mean that a couple has a better chance of staying together than if they’re just living together. If guys don’t want to be with a lady at all I think that’s their choice and good for them for not succumbing to social pressures. Our society is all about pairing off (whether you’re hetero or homosexual) and people tend to think that those who choose to remain single are weird or lacking in some way.

68 Ghost April 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Awesome that you didn’t try to sit and blame it on video games. I’m tired of them being blamed for today’s issues, as if Life Option 1: Sit on butt, play video games & Life Option 2: Go Be Responsible Adult.

Taken from a different post on a different page, written by a woman,

“In any case, I think the knock on video games, poker and guy-only trips to the bar is simply another way of invalidating the “secret worlds” of men.”

69 Chris Fields April 21, 2012 at 5:51 am

@ Lalo

That’s lucky for you that your grandfather owned a construction company. Not everybody is that fortunate. I also had a job from a young age and saved every cent I earned. I was able to afford a car in my early twenties so that was nice too!

70 lady brett April 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

this has been a fantastic series.

however, i am a bit surprised that you can explain the drastic drop in the bachelor ranks post-wwii without mentioning the number of young men who died in that war. the policies and economics that supported family life were certainly important, but the sheer numbers and male/female ratio following the war had a big impact as well. and, in fact, were part of the reason the government promoted such pro-family policies.

and, while in some respects i agree with your commentary on “bro” culture, i can’t help but wonder if it rather lines up with the sort of anti-bachelor writings you referenced in part i of the series. which, i suppose, brings us full circle.

third, with regards to many of the comments – for those of you posting such anti-woman vitriol, i hope you don’t find it surprising that you have not found a relationship with a “nice girl.” i would hope that the nice girls about are smart enough not to associate with someone who thinks so little of her or of women in general.

71 Jason April 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

You’re right on about the “Bro” culture, and on the female side, we have the “Ho” culture.

Sadly much of the younger generation has a diminished work ethic, combined with increased expectations, that soon leads to dissolusionment. As a business owner, I see it every day. You hire a kid just out of high school, and they think they should be given a raise and executive position in 90 days, nevermind that they don’t yet know their a** from a hole in the ground…… which by the way, if all that many of them are qualified to create, if they’d only work hard enough to do so.

Great Article…. as usual.

72 Zander April 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Marriage isn’t entirely a social construct. It’s based on thousands of years of evolutionary programming. We’re programmed to fall in love and pair off so that the couple stays together at least to raise their offspring.

That’s why marriage is falling in popularity these days–people don’t want to have children anymore, and children are the big reason you want to make it official and get married, at least if you’re not selfish. You want to let your kids feel a sense of security that you’ll both always be around. But if you don’t want kids, then marriage becomes optional, and you can spend your whole life just hanging out and having sex. But let’s not pretend that such a lifestyle is somehow more “natural” than marriage. Remaining childless and wholly unattached has no precedent in thousands of years of human history. It couldn’t be less fundamentally human, nor more of a social construct.

73 Carter April 21, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Hey Brett,

I completely agree with what is stated in this article. It seems we have deviated from the gentlemanly standards which were commonplace in past generations. As a collegiate student and scholar, I am hoping the previous trend of cultivating a well rounded gentleman will soon be the prevailing norm.

74 Sticr April 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

This has been an interesting read. The diverse comments too is quite something. A perspective I think we should also consider is in Ecc 2:10-11 and Ecc 12:13-14.

And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

75 Patrick April 24, 2012 at 12:29 am

Yikes. Don’t be the guy who defends bromance in these comments. You clearlygot nothing out of this extremely well written article.

Keep them coming, Brett et al!

76 Sumgai April 24, 2012 at 9:12 am

“Of course, I’ve never understood why folks think that they must be financially well-off before marrying; it isn’t any harder to be poor and married than poor and single, and getting hitched when you’re young and broke allows you to grow together, and has much to recommend it in my opinion. ”

Hmm. Let’s say you stay single. You don’t have as much responsibilities, which means you have more time, which means you can improve more rapidly in a craft (like drawing). Which increases your chances of actually getting into the highly competitive art industry.

But let’s say you get married. What happens? Your personal time is reduced. Your spouse wants you to spend some time with her. You have to think about making ends meet (because it’s not nice for your spouse to handle more than 50% of household needs).

If you get married, what’s the odds of getting a child? I’ll say it’s drastically increased. And when you have a child, it means you have MORE responsibilities. Which means you have to earn more. Which means EVEN less time available for improvement in your craft.

And that’s if your spouse is understanding and a good person. If you’re not a good judge of character and you happen to marry a manipulative, lazy girl…good luck.

She’ll take all your time, take as much money as she can from you, leaving you with a self esteem that’s lower than a punch below the belt. And in my country, there’s an assload of manipulative girls (who want to marry into relative comfort).

77 Dane S. April 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Great series! Really enjoyed it. Being a 21 yr old single that loathes the bro culture, however, I must say that Tucker Max’s books are great reads. Apparently more self aware guy after the first one; you all should check them out as they are well-written and hilarious.

78 Ralmon April 25, 2012 at 9:11 am

Great article. Love reading it and the insights about modern bachelor culture is accurate.

Hmmm. There seems to be a marriage debate starting. I want to put my input.

Emily says marriage is archaic and some says is a social construct, which is somewhat false. Humans has the innate need/desire to pair off (or romantically: fall in love) with another person (pair bonding). There are a lot of studies about it and it is proven to exist. So marriage has this natural side. Pair bonding is necessary for a human being to achieve happiness. We are just naturally made to bond with another person… maybe for life.

The strange (and dangerous) thing is. This pair bonding mechanism could be hijacked… in the form called addiction. Addiction, love and pair bonding is highly related… essentially our pair bonding mechanism is the same mechanism that makes us fall in love and become addicts. Some researchers even says that pair bonded people are addicted to their partners. Its also found that pair bonded people does not get addicted easily, on the other side, addicted people loose their ability to pair bond. Creepy isn’t it?

Oops. Very big rambling about psychology stuff. Sorry about that.

And there is also some talks about men having hard time marrying because women now days are whores, but then (most of) these men go whoring, or hooking up, or womanizing – whatever they call it… hypocrites, they are no better than the women they talking of.

79 George Pascal April 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Great piece right up to the “bro culture” section. At that point the authors begins overgeneralizing and committing every offense they accuse the bachelor haters of from the very beginning. The bro culture does not have any main differences from the “Five Points” culture in the early 1900s except for less violence and more education. Moreover, this last section, unlike its predecessors is devoid of any statistical analyses. Equally important are the statistics of divorce, which are overlooked except for the educated. The divorce rates seen today may likely correspond with the exceptionally high rates of marriage and younger ages of marriage seen in earlier decades. Without the last passage this piece is a 10 of 10. With it, an 8 of 10.

80 Brett McKay April 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Lots of interesting comments. I planned to respond to a bunch of them individually, but have unfortunately not had time.

With the comments on my criticism of bro culture being just like the criticism of bachelors throughout time, I totally understand that point, and definitely see some validity in it. The criticism of bros and bachelors alike is and has always been rooted in the worry that young men won’t end up being creative, productive members of society, and society relies on the innovation of its men for its forward progress. So certainly you see the same anxiety with the bro culture today as the Puritans felt about their bachelors. However, having spent years reading history books and old books from the 19th and 20th centuries about men and manhood, the old bachelor culture and today’s bro culture do have significant, real differences. Also, while I agree that the size of the bro culture is overblown by the media, it does exist, and my point was not that all single men are bros these days, but that bro culture has replaced bachelor culture as the only distinct culture among modern young, single men. There are a lot of non-bro bachelors out there to be sure, but there aren’t a lot of institutions as there used to be to unite them. And I don’t think it can be contested that the cultural expectations of young men are different than they were a century ago.

As far as marriage goes, well, I’m a big fan and proponent of it, and as long as you have a good head on your shoulders, and marry a woman who does too, it’s a wonderful thing.

Finally, George, the first installment had no statistics, and this one had double the number of the last, so I disagree with you there!

Glad that many of you enjoyed the series. My research gave me a lot of ideas for other subjects branching out from this one that we’ll try to hit down the road.

81 David April 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm

This website is quite interesting. I’m a 27 year old male and medical professional (not a medical doctor) living and working in the northeastern US.

I am single and have no desire to marry right now. I admit to having casual relations with women and we are fine with it. They are part of my social circle or friends of friends, etc. We see operas,etc.

Like I stated, this website is interesting. I came across it accidentally because I am a fan of dressing nicely (sport jackets, blazers, etc). This site provides an idealized version of being a man. It’s just that. The “lost art” is just a set of social constructs. Everything is in flux. There are ways of “being a man” that survived natural selection at a social level.

Marriage might just be an elaborate exchange for regular sex. It might be an established institution because it creates nuclear families which may be better for society and thus the institution lives on.
Think about it. No need for flowery attitudes and putting everything on a pedestal.

82 Ralmon April 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

@ David:

Marriage is more complex than that. Though marriage provides a healthy and stable environment to make a family and do provide an socially acceptable means of having sexual favors, many marriage primarily isn’t an exchange for sex of for familial reasons:

Many married for religious reasons, like the the marriages of Joseph Smith of early Mormons (though we have to question the real motive). Weather its because of the order of God, or the union of to souls, religion has strong influence on our decision to marry.

Or they are means of celebrating the couple’s union, just like how we celebrate debut or manhood rites. In this case, the reason is mainly cultural. It is a celebration of ones translation to one part of their life to another.

Marriage is also seen as a means to gain resources (wealth), power and status, especially in the field of politics, like Bill Clinton’s. Marriage is used to gain influence, power or just to have a helping hand in his/her political regime (political partner).

Still, some married for appearance, like Tiger Woods’. Essentially, Woods married to take the appearance of a family guy and garner support and sponsors.

Some do it plainly on impulse, some because of pressure, some because of ‘need’ to ‘settle’ and lot of other reasons.

Marriage is really a very important and complex subject. No one has to put it on a pedestal but certainly marriage or absence thereof is important and has great impact on our lives. No, we should not put everything on a pedestal but that doesn’t mean we don’t even put a thought about them. That would not be wise.

83 H April 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

The comments seem to have focused on the institution of marriage and gone off on a religious tangent. Meh. There is more to relationships and manliness than an invisible man in the sky and having his approval.
On that note, religion does not factor into the equation for the young men I know. The reason people I know get married is a desire to cement a relationship in the eyes of society with a bit of traditional ceremony to it. Many of those taking part in the ceremony are not even remotely religious. More and more I see people foregoing the ceremony for a civil union whereby they take on the same rights and responsibilities without the religious context and costly fanfare.
A more interesting topic is my opinion the Bachelor himself. What forms him, furthers his development into maturity or conversely retards it. For some it is the freedom from responsibility and the freedom to do as the wish that compels them to remain single, for others it could be more a matter of economic necessity or high mobility job requirements that keep him single.
Yet other element could be the spoiled-for-choice factor you have these days, there is practically a limitless number of relationships to explore, and this can cause people to fall into a changing up pattern instead of working with what they have. In that sense I don’t find arguments “of there not being women with similar values available” all that convincing. I also refuse to believe that the majority of bachelors are just slacking off avoiding responsibility.
The article itself was focused largely on the young man, which perhaps is the target demographic, but judging by some of the comments there are also quite a few older gentleman among the readers. It would be interesting to have some views on how the bachelor ages. As in my view a man can most certainly have redeeming manly qualities without being a family man.
I see the future bachelor being more modular to cope with a more modular society in general. People will continue to move through life at ever increasing speeds, changing things up, reinventing themselves and not spell checking their comments. Thank you for making it this far through mine.
For the ladies concerned about being tarred with the same brush as the “ho” I offer my sympathies. I would not want to be judged by the conduct of some of my “bros” either.

In conclusion, thank you Brett and everyone else who commented in an interesting read.

84 Chris April 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Brett and Kate,
Great article, as always, and by the comments it’s a controversial one. I willingly and gladly got married at 21 with (almost) no looking back. We’re going on 8 years now. My wife has made me a better man, there’s no doubt about that. I was never big into the free, party scene (I’ve always been told I’m mature for my age) but I realize that getting married that young isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. My big concern is seeing the “bros” out there who are determined to be 17 forever. They never want to grow up, never want to have any responsibility, and refuse to become a productive member of society. I bare no animosity toward the 20/30-something bachelor who owns a home, has a good job and a long-term girlfriend but just doesn’t see the point of marriage. I look toward the single man of the 60’s that you pointed out, for example. What frightens me is the 35 year old man-child who still spends his weekends getting hammered with his bros and sleeping with as many women as will let him and he has no plans to change. I foresee their illegitimate children without a father figure continue to take this irresponsible behavior to the next level, and the cycle continues and spirals out of control.

85 Kerfin April 30, 2012 at 1:04 am

Great article. Very interesting how the times shifted the percentage of bachelors within a time period as short as a decade. It makes me wonder where the bachelor will go in the coming years.

86 Joe April 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I stumbled across this website this morning as I was deeply strugging with navigating me way through this life as a 27 year old single male.

Articles, and websites for that matter, like this give me hope that our society is not turning into the ridiculous portrayal of “bros.”

Thank you for what you are doing here. Consider yourself one loyal reader richer!

87 Chris May 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I think in marriage or committed long term relationships, a man has to have a partner that wants to be a team mate rather than a queen. I still thin the man should be a strong leader in the relationship and by doing this create the stability for it to become long term. Many men fail at this by trying to hard to satisfy a womans need and many women will let you do that to the eventual demise of a team.

Respecting one another is so important. to me that is the biggest failuer of today’s marriages. I think a larger and larger group of women do not respect today’s men. That is by our own doing and by the general competitiveness between men and women now for jobs careers, etc.

A beautiful Marriage is the ultimate sacrifice of self. It show, when successful, the deepest level of bond two people can make. That sacrifice on both sides is something that…over years of respecting one another and truly caring for one another….can only be experienced through true commitment.

I’ve caught a glimpse of it within my own relationship and have seen it in others. It’s not a perfection. It’s an experience and if you do choose it, is worth pursuing.

If you don’t then there is nothing wrong with that and there is plenty of reason to wait on the person that would be as ready for it as you are when you decide to take that step.

Today young men and women are in a fight to find that it it is only more and more difficult the further away we go from respecting each other as men and women. You can see about all the experiences that people have that led them to where they are now. The lack of respect men and women have developed for one another is tragic but telling of our culture and future.

88 Chris May 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Pardon the grammatical errors above! I wish their was an edit feature.

89 Art Nesten May 8, 2012 at 11:33 am

Brett, I understand your aversion to declension narratives of culture. As long as older generations have decried changes in younger generations, the younger generations have been dismissing them as nostalgic. That said, things have obviously changed, and changes are meaningful.

For example, one might point out that while the average age of marriage of men in the 1890s and the 1990s is within two years, the reasons for the age being what it is today are different. It was economically much harder to be married and have a (larger, pre-Pill) family in 1890 than it is today, since present society is so much wealthier per capita (thanks to technological development), so men had to wait longer to generate the ability and wealth required to prove to the bride’s family he could take care of her and their kids.

In so far as modern culture emphasizes happiness on my preferential terms rather than though some objective good that is greater than oneself and independent of personal preference, a marriage age of 28 in a wealthy society reflects confusion about purpose, a fixation with being entertained, and a relative lack of responsibility beyond oneself and one’s arbitrary preferences. A marriage age of 26 in the culture of 1890 reflected none of these. There are limits to evaluations based on comparing numbers out of cultural context.

90 forangy March 4, 2013 at 5:09 am

I know a guy in Europe who is 40+ and has lived at home his entire life.. he lives in a large house on the top floor with only him and his mother… was never married, no kids… He does work full time everyday but never cared about getting his own place… lives in a very small town… I think it’s more common behavior for Europeans or overseas..

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