Why Do Men Put So Little Effort Into Serious Dating?
Lately, I’ve been seriously considering becoming a single mother by choice. Something that’s really pushing me in that direction is just how clueless a lot of the dudes are I go on dates with. I had a like, 3 year stint of dating basically only women in San Francisco, and not a lot of SF lesbians are super sold on the idea of kids (probably because SF is so expensive and because babies are not a byproduct of lesbian sex.)
So, I was like, ah-ha! I know how to solve this, I can date men! Straight men want kids, right?
And indeed they do. Apparently, more men want kids than women do nowadays. Something like 80% of men say they want kids vs 70% of women. So like, those are good odds for me, right?
Except like, maybe the memo hasn’t gotten around about this child-desiring imbalance? In a Guardian article, Laurie Penny concisely expressed some of my current frustrations:
I’m consistently taken aback by the number of men my age and older who speak offhandedly about their “future children”, without having planned in the slightest for the arrival of these notional sprogs — simply assuming that it’ll happen someday, when they’ve had time to dedicate themselves to their life’s work.
I’ll go on dates with guys, who are like “Yeah, I’d like my wife to take my last name, cook for me, and iron my underpants, but I’d never date someone who just wanted to be a stay at home wife. Financially that just doesn’t make sense.”
Or, I’d get messages from guys 20 years older than me who didn’t want to date women their own age because they looked “busted.”
Or, I’ll talk to male friends who think their romantic relationships are “the most important” factor in their personal happiness, but work 70 hour weeks and devote zero energy to learning the skills of making relationships work.
And… the end result of this is that a lot of men who want kids won’t be able to have kids. Because, despite more men wanting to have children than women, more women end up having children than men. I couldn’t find any statistics for the US, but in Norway about 25% of men never have kids while percentage of childless women is much lower. Historically, nearly always a higher percentage of women have kids than men do. Supposedly, throughout human history, 40% of men have reproduced while 80% of women have. And, while those numbers are surely much more equal in the US today, I’m still guessing fewer men have kids than women.
Which is why it’s so weird that the men I date are totally checked out on this front. I mean, ok I know men don’t have as sharp a biological clock as women do, but a) they do have one, and b) if you can’t get a hot 20 year old babe in your 20s or 30s, why do you think it’ll be easier in your 50s? Thing is, because of aforementioned male biological clock, while men can have kids when they are quite old, they can usually only do it with young women (aka, the most difficult female demographic to date.) Youth of one partner makes up for age of another, but we usually only witness it old man with young woman. However, they have found, older women get pregnant more easily with young men as well.
In fact, many fertility problems we ascribe to maternal age may actually be exaggerated. Because women usually date men older than them, the trouble they have conceiving is due to the combined age of both partners.
Anyhow. I’m getting a bit bored dating 35 year olds who want kids “one day.” Truthfully, more than anything else, it’s the complete lack of effort that’s really off-putting.
As far as I can tell, I have 2 options. Option 1 is “trapping” some guy into having kids with me because he lacks the self awareness to plan for it himself. This would also involve taking his last name, doing most of the housework while contributing 50% to the earnings, and faking my orgasms so he doesn’t have to feel emasculated by his lack of sexual prowess.
Option 2 is having kids by myself.
It would involve some sacrifices, like probably not living in San Francisco. However, every time I go on a date with some man-child, I become more and more convinced that those sacrifices are probably the less bad option.
However, one thing that bugs me about being a single mother, weirdly, is concern for these childish men. Sperm donors have *tons* of kids — this guy apparently had 800. Numbers like 12–45 are not uncommon. As more and more women choose single motherhood, fewer and fewer men will get to have children because these “super donors” are having so many. And… I’m not really down with that.
On the other hand, men make it so hard because they act like they have negotiating power they don’t have. For most men I date, they’re not actually competing with other men, they’re competing with how much I enjoy being single. So many men act like a girlfriend is just something they deserve, but have no concept of how they might improve the life of the women they’re with.
I remember, when I was breaking up with one of my exes years ago, he listed all the ways I made his life better when trying to convince me not to go. And I asked him, “but how do you think you make my life better?” and he was taken aback. “I don’t know,” he said. He’d never thought about it.
When I date people, I devote a lot of effort to making their lives better. When I’m with women, I read about health issues that effect lesbian demographics (higher rates of breast cancer, obesity, and depression.) When I’m with men, I read about health issues that effect straight men (coronary issues, blood pressure, and emotional issues esp. around anger.) When I date people of color, I research POC health/discrimination/etc. issues, especially issues around dating white people (mental/health effects of internalized racism, institutionalized racism, the types of micro-aggressions I may be likely to commit.) When I date people with less money, I pay for shit. When I date people who are messy, I organize their shit (even though I’m also really messy.) When I date people with physical limitations, I massage their shit (weird Emma past: I went to massage school.)
But, especially with men, this energy feels so unidirectional. Women are frequently more reciprocative, but men often seem completely uninterested in helping me improve my life in any way. They often care about impressing me, by having nice shit, or looking good, or pulling in bank. But, they almost never take a look at my life and ask themselves “what is Emma missing, and how could I fill that role?”
I *always* do that when dating people.
And, I dunno, maybe it’s like, co-dependent of me or something, but when I don’t do it my relationships don’t work. Which is why I’m single now.
Anyway. I’ve dated a few guys who want kids, so I’ve devoted some time pondering what men who want kids need. It’s probably all going to go to waste when I have a kid on my own, but maybe someone will find some of it useful:
- Get more in touch with your emotions. I gave this book to an ex (Nothing’s Wrong: A Man’s Guide to Managing His Emotions) which was kind of a bitch move, but he took it well. Thing is, if you spend your 30s checked out, having a vague notion that you might want kids “one day,” but never figure out exactly what you want and why, like… there’s a very good chance you’re not going to get what you want. If you don’t understand your own emotions and desires, you won’t know what steps to take to fulfill your desires.
- Freeze your sperm. Young professional women be freezing their eggs all over the place, but freezing sperm is cheaper, more reliable, and less painful than egg freezing. If it takes you 5–10 years to find a partner to have a baby with, and if she’s in her late 30s or beyond, having some young sperm might be a god-send if you end up having fertility problems.
But mostly, STOP BEING CHECKED OUT OF YOUR OWN HAPPINESS. Omg. Most of my frustrations around dating men center on their shear passivity. Like, I know I said some bleak shit about men ever getting to have kids, but I also feel like if you devote any conscious effort in this direction whatsoever, you’ll be ahead of 90% of men. Just don’t take the black pill.
That said, I’ve devoted a lot of time and energy to the problem of dating, and I’m still single, so you know. Results may vary.
Still, I’m pretty happy. That’s got to count for something.