How Men Get Married

A couple of years back I met, very briefly, a young Russian woman here in Paris. She was about 30 years old and was, in her words, “looking to settle down”. The method she used in going about this business was to meet men in any way possible, but mainly using dating sites, and ascertain whether they were suitable.

One of her criteria was that they were “serious”. The age range she was looking at was between 30 and 40, although between 33 and 43 was probably more realistic. She told me she’d not had much success since she quit living with an Irish guy who “wasn’t serious”. Before that she was seeing a Frenchman who needed to be ordered to take a shower. That was about as much as I could ascertain regarding her track record with men.

It didn’t take long to understand why she was struggling. She insisted that she would not sleep with any man who did not commit himself to her in a long-term relationship, by which she meant something not far short of promises to marry her. She wanted marriage and kids, she told me, and didn’t have time to waste on guys who just wanted sex. I asked her if she thought she was likely to find a man who would commit to her with such certainty before he’d even slept with her. She seemed the think she would. I asked what sort of man she expected to find in his mid to late thirties who was looking for marriage, she said:

“Somebody who wants to settle down but hasn’t met the right woman yet.”

I thought about it, weighed up the pros and cons, and then decided to break her heart. I did so by gently explaining how men actually get married, as follows.

A guy will spend his early to mid twenties in and out of relationships of varying levels of seriousness, shagging around a bit, basically enjoying himself with little interest in settling down. Then as he gradually moves between 25 and 30 he starts to take life a little more seriously: career, finances, etc. and he gets less and less interested in going to bars, clubs, and meeting random women. If for no other reason, he does this because the hangovers start to hurt. Around about 28 or 29 he notices his mates are all getting long-term girlfriends, then engaged, then married and for the past year or more the group of lads he used to go on the piss with has dwindled almost to nothing. Parties now consist of going to somebody’s house or a pub with partners in tow, not fourteen lads on the lash for a week in Faliraki.

At some point in this period he’ll have the following conversation with himself:

“I’m not sure if I want to settle down just yet, but everyone else seems to be. I’ve been with my current girlfriend for two years now, and she’s a great girl. Sure, there are probably others better looking but I can trust her and she doesn’t drive me fucking nuts. She’s also got a half-decent job, which helps. She’d probably make a good mother, and I’ll want kids at some point. And I really don’t fancy having to go out to clubs or go internet dating to find somebody else; firstly it’s a pain in the arse and I’ve not done that in years, and secondly am I likely to find somebody better? Probably not. Yeah, this one seems okay. I reckon I should think about asking her to marry me.”

By the time they’re in their late twenties or early thirties, they’re married. Sure, there are some hold-outs who keep up the single life into their mid-thirties before settling down. There are others who keep it going indefinitely and never settle down, and I’ll come back to them later. In my experience, almost all of my male friends of my generation got married in this fashion. Recently I was asked if I had any single male friends. I don’t, and not only that: none of my friends has been single for about 10 years! I’m almost 40, so basically nearly every guy I knew (with very few exceptions) was married by their early thirties. Which means in most cases they first met their partners in their mid to late twenties.

My Russian acquaintance really didn’t want to hear this, and nor did she want to hear what men don’t say to themselves:

“Hey, I had a fun time shagging around for 15 years, it was a blast. But I woke up one morning about a year ago and thought I ought to settle down. I was 35, after all. The only problem was, I hadn’t met the right woman yet. The cocktail waitress had great tits but was so thick she didn’t know to come in from the rain. That American girl was heaps of fun what with her tattoos and red hair and she was amazing in bed, but hell she’d done the Orgy Dome at Burning Man and I’m looking for the mother of my kids here! And Jane from college was a sweetheart, but she’s a bit…well, plain. No, I need to get out there and find the right woman for me! I’ll start looking tomorrow.”

I don’t know a single, solitary guy who did this. Well, perhaps one. But he was one of those guys who got women so easily that he didn’t feel the need to hang onto them because he could always pick up another five minutes later. He is now settled with a kid.

That’s not to say there are no single guys out there in their mid to late thirties looking to date. There are, and there is no shortage of them. But they fall into one of three categories:

1. The guys I mentioned earlier who will never settle down, at least not in the way women want them to. These are not going to be hanging around some Russian chick who isn’t putting out until promises of marriage are made. I’d say 30-40% of single guys in this age group in any given city fall into this category.

2. Guys who desperately want to settle down but no woman will touch them with a barge pole and they’ve been single for a decade, not counting the girl he met in a bar in Pattaya. These guys probably make up 60-70% of those on the market. One of the most difficult things in life for a woman in her thirties to accept, to the extent that very few of them do, is the fact that their dating pool is now made up almost exclusively of these men.

3. Decent, successful men who have recently come out of a long-term relationship and enough time has passed that they want to get back into another. There are about twelve of these guys around at any given time and they stay single for about five minutes. They will be looking for women ten years younger, and they’ll find them queuing up.

My Russian acquaintance took serious exception to this, to the point she told me to fuck off and never to speak to her again. I doubt she’d have reacted like this if what I had said wasn’t true.

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19 thoughts on “How Men Get Married

  1. ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ to quote our mutual tax expert friend….

    I like your analysis. I could, at my age and in my situation, only ever appear on the horizon as one of the 12 (need to divorce and be successful) but I am wonderfully good looking, charming, shower once a year whether I need it or not and have a couple of bob in my pocket.

    Gradually all this is coming together. The anecdotal touches on the political and psychological (here Jordan Peterson is interesting as he actually studies this and has some fascinating opinions) and crashes up against the third wavers on the feminist side.

    The crusade against men, masculinity and for women trying to be like men seems to be having interesting results, like a lot of unhappy women and quite a few unhappy men.

    It just seems (and I wonder what others think) that more (not all) of the men are able to find a way to deal with it.

  2. We have neighbours who were both single and in their late 30s when they got together. They’re both so set in their ways that its more like a war zone than marital bliss most of the time

    One of my old bosses was also like you’re friend, but probably a bit more demanding. Lovely girl who I occasionally take sailing. I don’t know if she puts it about but whenever she meets what she thinks is Mr Right she goes head over heels and is love struck like a teenager. I keep telling her she scares the living daylights out of them as they fear ending up in the situation above. The older you get the more compromises need to be made.

  3. Interesting stuff and in my experience accurate, though much of this for me is now a distant memory I am sad to say.

    I do think you hit a very important nail on its head with you comment on seeing one’s mates all ‘settle down’ or at least ‘going steady’ when it comes to forming relationships, especially for men. This peer pressure drives people to commit, sometimes with no great success, to people they might have been better avoiding. Being in the pub on one’s own when everyone around you has a regular or even a prospective wife drives many a young man to a desperate ‘I’ve shagged you and it was okay so let’s get married because the worst thing ever is going to my mate’s wedding with no one on my arm and every one there thinking I must be really useless with birds.’

    You might determine from this that my experience was pretty much working class. I am sure in more well-heeled circles forming relationships is entirely more of an event and involves rituals I have no knowledge of. (I do like to write but I avoid such matters as I have no idea what goes off at a soiree or at the interval at the opera. You tend not to get many females while watching third division football in the sleet, that’s for sure, and the ones at the off-licence are usually buying cigarettes and cheap cider. Even I have my limits.)

    We of the lower classes have our own ways of chatting up women because there is no subtle conversations required with some of them. I am reminded of the terrible old joke about Australian men chatting up women:
    “Do you fuck, sheila?”
    “I do now you smooth talking bastard.”

    But trust me, it is even more direct in parts of South Yorkshire.

  4. There’s also the blokes that have done pretty well, got a good lifestyle and job, like the idea of dating but are now reluctant to risk letting a woman fully into their life in case they get “divorce raped”. Maybe they’re a subset of 1 – not strictly players, but the legal system puts them off getting serious because they now have too much to lose.

    I’m married, so that isn’t me. If I wasn’t married but was otherwise in my current situation, I reckon it would be.

    I read of a subculture of blokes that just hire a hooker every now and then to scratch the itch, but otherwise happily stay clear of entanglements.

    The crusade against men has had some interesting unintended consequences.

  5. @Watcher

    Coming from that sort of place myself, I’ve noticed that they do get married and have kids much earlier. They then proceed to become obese together. Makes me glad I left!

    Never had much luck with the ladies back then. For some reason, my brand of bullshit worked (very much past tense) better on educated middle-class women from other lands. I’ve never worked out why.

  6. We have neighbours who were both single and in their late 30s when they got together. They’re both so set in their ways that its more like a war zone than marital bliss most of the time

    Ah yes. I think it is Roissy at Chateau Heartiste that liked to make fun of the women who would turn up to dates with a clipboard and 374 bullet points of non-negotiable demands, and would lament to their friends about how difficult it is to find a man. And the women who would complain that the guy they’ve just met on a date “watches too much TV”.

    If you’ve not lived with somebody for more than six months by the time you’re 30 or 32, you’re better off not even trying.

  7. Just to add, of group number 3, many of these men may wish to have a stable long term relationship, but odds are they don’t want to get married (as per Cynic’s point), and they may already have children and not want any more – this may be less true of younger (e.g. mid thirties) men in this group, but then again that is an even smaller group still.

    I am happily (mostly) married with kids. If things were to end in say 5-10 years then I would probably look for a woman in a similar situation to myself. Young women are great but I wouldn’t want to do a repeat of the married and kids thing. Also, I would like for the woman to have similar earnings power and wealth to myself, as, frankly, it’s annoying being told I can’t buy stuff I want when I earn 3* as much as my other half. So bottom line is that things aren’t looking so great for the late-thirties-never-been-married-wants-to-have-kids female. Probably they need to settle for not having children and partnering up with/marrying somebody much (20 years) older than them.

  8. I began at 4 with a young lass of my acquaintance and it all went downhill a bit after that. Picked up at 8 a bit.

  9. I know plenty of single men in their 30s and above who don’t fit into any of those three categories. Mostly they work in the tech industry.

  10. She was 30? That’s not young – that’s the sound of the wall approaching extremely fast. Which is why she was on her “quest”.

    There’s another way that guys get married and it accounts for a lot of them – they marry the first chick who blows them as they will have spent years building up what that moment would finally be like in their heads. The woman will of course despise him for the rest of her life.

  11. Michael, they’re the blokes that 30 year old Russian women living in Paris are trying to meet through dating sites.

    Unfortunately, since these guys haven’t recognised those subtle signals that women have been throwing their way for the previous ten years, and since women tend not to resort to acting with the subtlety of a ton of house bricks to the head, until they’re suddenly 30+ and scanning dating sites, said sites are nothing more than a vaguely curious set of technical problems that can probably be solved on a wet Sunday afternoon.

  12. I have a mate who whose wife of 17 years has recently turned full born again God-botherer. They’ve not had sex for about two years because she loathes the fact that his beliefs haven’t followed hers.

    I suspect he might briefly be an available target for your Russian friend but the window of opportunity will be measured in nanoseconds.

    Her dilemma reminds me of one possible explanation of why we’ve yet to been contacted by intelligent life from other planets;

    – over the billions of years of the universe, there may be/have been squillions of planets capable of supporting life
    – life may have occurred on many of these
    – intelligent life may have occurred on many of those
    – the duration of the existence of intelligent life is probably finite; look at the life cycle of human empires, for example
    – the chances of two sets of intelligent life existing at the same time and contacting each other, therefore, is probably very very slight

  13. If for no other reason, he does this because the hangovers start to hurt.

    Just realised how true this is.

  14. Do you have a phone number for the American redhead?

    Ahahaha! Alas, I made her up. 🙁

  15. She was 30? That’s not young – that’s the sound of the wall approaching extremely fast. Which is why she was on her “quest”.

    Indeed.

    Rollo Tomassi has a post up today that mirrors your discussion.

    Yeah, it does. What you see a lot of, and this Russian might have been one of them, are women who have acted shamelessly for their entire twenties and now that the wall is approaching they think they ought to make blokes jump through hoops before sleeping with them in order to somehow repair their sense of self-worth.

  16. “I don’t know a single, solitary guy who did this. Well, perhaps one. But he was one of those guys who got women so easily that he didn’t feel the need to hang onto them because he could always pick up another five minutes later. He is now settled with a kid.”

    I was just about to say my mate did exactly this, then you described him! Archetypal player before it was a ‘thing’, juggled multiple women at the same time (often with them knowing he was shagging other women). Never was without female company when he wanted it. Then one day in his late 30s he met another woman and bang! had moved in with her inside a month or two (he NEVER moved in with them previously) and was married inside the year, this was 10 years ago, has been happily married ever since, 2 kids.

    So it can be done (ie a woman finding a single never married man ready to ‘settle down’ in his 30s) but its about as common as a man in his 30s finding a half attractive single never married woman in her 30s who hasn’t horrendous emotional/personality issues.

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