Has Marriage Turned Into A Status Symbol For ... Men?

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Man who wants marriage as a bragging right but doesn't want to be married and stay committed. Woman not wanting any part of that, has the ICK. Packs her bags tosses the peace sign and heads out.

Editor's Note: This is a part of YourTango's Opinion section where individual authors can provide varying perspectives for wide-ranging political, social, and personal commentary on issues.

As a club kid, I tend to have a social scene that skews younger — way younger. At times, people have become pretty interested in my weird perspectives on things. I get interested in what others have to say too.

Recently, I noticed something kind of unusual. Lately, a lot more guys have been mentioning how much they envied my husband. I finally ended up biting the bullet.

"Do guys actually view marriage as a status symbol thing these days?" I asked.

My guyfriend Yuri* nodded, "Yep, absolutely."

Believe it or not, I genuinely did not believe men wanted marriage.

When I was single, all I wanted was to be married, sleep with my husband, and have a man to take care of me. I’d be willing to care for him, cook for him, and do whatever to make him happy.

Believe it or not, nothing I could say or do seemed to make guys even remotely interested in marriage. Rather, I kept being told by guys that "they don’t believe in marriage," often calling it a scam.

When I got hitched, a lot of my exes were doing that weird semi-remorseful thing where they were kinda just hoping to sleep with me, but pretending they cared. However, new guys — younger ones — started mentioning that they are low-key hurting for a wife.

Color me surprised, but I’m starting to think that this might be a sign of times changing.

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Lately, I've started to hear more women rethinking marriage and more men hurting for a partner.

In the early 2000s and 2010s, there were a lot of articles that pointed out a decline in men being willing to marry. Speaking as someone who dealt with that era of dating-meatgrinder culture, I can attest to it.

Most guys seemed happy alone, if not downright gleeful to reject women who wanted commitment. It felt like getting a date was an uphill battle.

What I don’t think they expected was to see women hit the pause button and wonder what they were doing with their lives. Women, rather than chase men, stopped and asked why they were trying so hard for a partner when marriage is usually a loss for women.

I mean, there are still a lot of guys out there who swore off relationships — and yes, that is their right to do so. There are also a bunch of women who are desperate for marriage. However, it really feels like the tides have changed.

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In a large portion of the population, women have stopped seeing marriage as a status symbol.

Maybe it’s just in my circles, but when people hear of a girl choosing to marry, it’s occasionally met with, "Are you sure?" from her friends. Sure, most people will congratulate you, but there’s definitely a change in tone.

In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more women say things along the lines of, "I’m open to a relationship, but not right now. I really don’t see anything worthwhile coming out of it."

Or, I’ll hear women straight up say that they will sleep with a guy, but a relationship is a "never again" type of thing. Dating, as a woman, is horrible. Most women don’t want to bother with it as a result.

I mean, I’ve written about this at length.

What I haven’t written about is the quiet (and sometimes not-so-quiet) desperation I see out of men. It’s not just the fact that so many of them are enrolling in "seduction programs" from guys like Andrew Tate.

The potential of being unmarried can become a very palpable panic among men. When I sit down with my husband and his guy friends, I often hear them say things like:

  • "I am really scared that I am going to end up alone."
  • "How did you do it? How did you meet your spouse?"
  • "What am I doing wrong? Why am I not enough for a date or a wife?"
  • "You got a house? Sweet. You should get a wife now. She’ll clean your place and everything."
  • "…I really want to have kids. It’s so hard finding a woman who wants a family."

In other words, while women stopped seeing the value in marriage, men have started to see the value in it more and more.

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Men are status-oriented people, and marriage is starting to turn into a rarer status symbol.

Not for nothing, but marriage was the default up until the early 2000s. I think a lot of men felt like a wife was guaranteed because so many women were socialized to chase marriage as part of being "complete."

When something is common, it’s the standard. It’s when something becomes rare that people really tend to value it as a status symbol. And marriage is now increasingly uncommon — to the point that financial advisors are telling the youth to plan to stay single.

These days, a relationship is not the default you see in society. Singledom is, followed by casual and superficial relationships that don’t really get serious. Seeing a devoted couple is not the norm, despite it having a lot of perks if done right by both people.

Since there’s no guarantee that you will get a girlfriend, marriage became more important to men. It’s now coveted. It’s a status symbol. And maybe that’s why I’m seeing so many guys under 27 talking about "wife-ing" a girl up.

What I’m starting to see is an awkward deadlock over relationships.

Despite marriage becoming an increasingly noted status symbol, most people can’t agree on what to do. Guys still don’t want to put in the effort to get a girl on a date — or often shoot way too high above their league. Girls don’t want to be bothered with a man they need to mother.

A status symbol is only attainable if you put in effort or have money to afford it. It’s a sign you’re a cut above the rest, right? Why are guys shocked, then, that the bare minimum isn’t enough to get most women interested in committing anymore?

It’s going to stay this way for a while — at least for a decent chunk of the population.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.