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Dinner Scooped Off the Floor - Why Men Won't Commit

By Yvette Dubel

"We strengthen a muscle by using it, and that is true of the heart and mind, too."
---Danielle Crittenden

"I just got an email from him and I need your help," was the first thing she said when I answered the phone.

The guy she was talking about had disappeared for six months following a series of disappointing dates and had recently re-emerged. He was attempting to get back into her life after having admitted to tossing her phone number twice.

"Tell me why you're in doubt about what to do," I responded.

"Well, I was going to email him back to rehash what I told him my first reply. I did what you suggested and put it all out on the table, exactly what about his behavior had bothered me and why I didn't see any point in getting together for lunch."

"So what's the problem?"

"His reply ignores everything I said like it was a non-issue and then goes on and on about what he wants. My first reaction was to backtrack, but then I thought about what you said about reactionary behavior."

If someone walks by you carrying a plate containing your favorite meal and then on the way to deliver it to someone else they drop it on the floor. You watch them scoop it back onto the plate and then turn in your direction. When they arrive to your table with that meal would you want it? Does it still seem appetizing?

That's essentially what the scenario I started out with illustrates. And it led me to re-think a question I hear all the time. “Why won't men commit?”

The simple answer is sex. Let me explain. Historically, why did men marry? Because the social norms (respectability) dictated that sex was tied to marriage and commitment and it also increased the chances of a family’s survival. However, as increasing numbers of children are raised in divorced and single parent homes they no longer see modeling for the behavior that created those social norms.

Today many men are afraid to take on the responsibility of family life, which at some point might require them to support the family if the woman wanted to stay home to raise their children. Yet, many men still want families, its just a lot of them want them much later in life and this decreases their compatibility with their female peers who may be leaving childbearing age behind them.

Now that's not to say that people weren't always having sex outside of marriage, but when someone got pregnant they married because it was shameful to produce children out of wedlock. And of course, there's always been prostitution and houses of ill repute. However, children can put quite a damper on the life of someone immersed in the single lifestyle.

But with the advances in contraceptives and the legalizing of abortion women have the freedom to acquire their own sexual exploits without the old deterrents. This became the overwhelming legacy of the feminist movement since many women were already in the workplace. It was their ability to advance that the feminist movement assisted, yet that has taken a backseat to the presumed sexual liberation.

It's not until women get older and are for the most part regarded as less sexually desirable that the reality of youthful behavior starts to become evident in their minds. For increasing numbers it is the reality of single parenthood that wakes them up and for others it’s the long stint between relationships or the deterioration in the quality of them. The deterioration is actually the result of attempting to impose standards that aren't received with compliance rather than an actual change in quality. At 35 a woman who has never been married is less likely to want to settle for a relationship that is primarily sexual. But let's put that aside for second to look more closely at how the single parent aspect of this is playing out.

In Steve Sailer's "Analysis: Unwed moms’ birth rate up" the University of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending told United Press International, "I don't think that high levels of fatherlessness are compatible with modern technological society for long."

Sailer's analysis continues: "The government data showed the proportion of children born to unmarried women is increasing in the overall population, according to the National Vital Statistics System. The U.S. percentage of new mothers who were unwed hit 33.8 percent in 2002, up from 33.5 percent in 2001. That compares to 18 percent in 1980 and 8 percent when Moynihan wrote his report.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray, author of the influential 1984 book "Losing Ground," said, "Illegitimacy is the single most important social problem of our time -- more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare or homelessness because it drives everything else.""

We have the power to choose, so why are so many choosing that? According to Sailer's inquiry noted Harpending: "Such families were shown to "yield sons with sharply reduced quantitative and spatial abilities, mildly increased verbal abilities, who had difficulty with pair bonding. They were much more likely to divorce, and relative to controls, they lacked drive or ambition."

Could this have an impact on the kind of men that women have to choose from?

Harpending's research was one of the first to focus attention on the impact on daughters. "Father-absent girls have higher rates of illegitimate pregnancy, earlier and more sex, higher divorce rates." He theorized that young women develop expectations about men from whether their father was a "dad or a cad." If their father was a faithful provider, they will tend to hold out for a man who lives up to that standard, he said. When they do, that encourages young men to behave in socially responsible ways. When young women fail to ask much of young men, Harpending argued, this in turn leads to antisocial behavior in not just their children, but in their kids' fathers as well."

Now this leads to questions about the impact of stepfamilies. In particular the trend of people leaving first families to upgrade or simply create ones that they deem more suitable. I was once an advocate for people to marry young because it seemed longer dating experiences just produced more emotional baggage. What I understand now is that most people have no idea who they are when they are young and it is truly a minority that have a clear enough idea of who they are to actually select appropriate loving relationships.

The required skills of a relationship valuation or management remain a mystery to many and the result is perpetuation of the same old dysfunctional relationship patterns that drive them to desperately, if silently, crave romantic partnership. This leaves broken hearts all the way around and demonstrates a fundamental lack of maturity in too many cases.


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