As many of you know I moonlight at night in a Bruce Wayne/Dark Knight sort of way as a dance instructor. And as I've aged from 23 to my present day 33 in those now approaching 10 years of dance instruction, I've seen the first wave of Gen X'ers age out of their youthful 20's as well as seen a wave of divorcees coming online and back into the "dating" marketplace.
Now for whatever reason it may be, dance tends to attract more women than men and over the years, I've of course befriended several female students. They vary in ages anywhere from 24 to 60, but the one common trait they have is they are typically (though not always) single. And while not always, most of them took dance class half incented to perhaps find a guy.
But what is becoming a more frequent phenomenon is a question these girls ask;
"Where are all the guys?"
I never paid much attention to this, as it has always been the case that men just eschew dance classes, but it wasn't until an older dance student of mine perhaps refined the question a bit and made it more pointed. It wasn't so much "Where are all the guys," as much as it was;
"I just get the feeling there aren't any men anymore. Not just in dance class, but where are all the men from all the various social activities? They make up half the population, but I can't find any single guys to date. They can't all be married, even my female friends are running into this mysterious disappearance of men. Do they like stop trying after a while and just stay home?"
And that's when I realized what she was asking.
"Do you mean, do men give up and don't bother trying to find women any more?" I clarified.
She said, "Yes. So do they?"
"Yes" I answered.
She was somewhat surprised at my response. She said, "so they just give up? They don't go out anymore? Don't they want to find somebody? Anybody?!"
"Yeah, more or less."
"That's crazy! How do they ever expect to find anybody?"
I replied, "Well...they don't."
Regardless, the point was her reaction surprised me in return to see this was that shocking of a revelation to her. I always thought it was kind of common knowledge, men do indeed give up after a while, but apparently it's not. So allow me to explain.
I don't know when precisely it is, nor is it the same for every guy, but inevitably guys in a sense "burn out." Consider it a staged rocket and as the last vestiges of fuel burn out of the booster, it slowly disengages and disintegrates as it plummets back to Earth. Many things can burn out the fuel;
Divorce and the loss of one's assets
Personal finances/loss of job
Or just plain bad dating experiences (your beloved captain has had suicide threats, gotten punched for refusing a girl sex and unknowingly dated a married woman for three months...you get the idea).
But what ultimately results in the decision to exit the market is more of an economic decision. It is the realization that as you have less and less remaining life you have to make surer and surer bets as to how to spend your time. It's no different than switching from equities to bonds as you approach retirement. Ergo, whereas when you were 18 you would stay at a party all night in the hopes of getting a girl's phone number, when you're 25 you start to think about working instead of partying, and by the time you're 30, you rarely go to clubs, dance halls, bars opting instead to play video games at home or read a book or put some more hours in at the office.
The reason is the expected rate of return of your precious, finite, and perpetually dwindling time. If you go out, hot as you may be when you're 18, you have little to no control over succeeding in getting a girl's number or a date. And as experience will tell you it's a 1/20 shot you will succeed, and that's assuming you have good game. All in all, I would estimate most 20 somethings waste an equivalent to 4 full years of full time work chasing girls to relatively little avail. A significant opportunity cost.
The X-Box 360 on the other hand is a guaranteed rate of return.
Working a couple more hours at work, is a guaranteed rate of return.
Even something as simple as lighting up a cigar with your friends and having a good scotch is a guaranteed rate of return.
And dare the Captain admit he enjoys writing for you honyakers and conversing with you as it is a guaranteed rate of return?
And this is what progressively more and more men turn to as they get older. Now I can certainly see the case where a man gets divorced multiple times, losing 50% of his assets each time as it would accelerate the burning the fuel, but this phenomenon goes beyond married and divorced men. This is merely anecdotal and I'd certainly be welcoming of any other guys out there who have noticed this, but whereas all of 10 years ago nearly 100% of my male friends were looking for a wife, now I think in my group of friends less than 25% of them are, none of which have ever been married all of which are under 45. The rationale is it was too burdensome to go out on the "prowl." The idea of paying a cover to go to a club to yell at some stranger over loud music while paying $10 for parking and having to hike 10 blocks in DT Minneapolis is not appealing.
Going to the local sports bar to feign interest in "Brandi" as she talks about the latest issue of People Magazine or American Idol pales in comparison to shooting Nazi's online with your video gaming buds.
And wasting the hour setting up a Match.com profile because your friend gifted you a free month subscription and swore you'd meet chicks is nowhere near as fun as talking politics over a cigar and scotch with intellectual friends (and I want that hour of my life back by the way Jeff!).
Ergo (and again, this is just what I've personally observed) there is a (dare I say) mass exodus of men out of the dating market and into their own little bachelor worlds and this may go a long way in explaining why you don't really see us out there.
Now again, this is just what I've observed and has been seemingly corroborated by the experiences of many different women I've ran into, but we could be wrong. But I would be very curious of any junior, deputy, official or otherwise bachelor economists out there have seen the same thing.