I admit, I’m not the best person to write about this. I’m not a single male in his twenties. I’m a 40-year-old woman who’s been married for 17 years. But I read a fascinating article in the September 8 Newsweek which compels me to ask the following questions. Is Peter Pan Syndrome as pervasive as it seems and what is the appeal of spending years living like an adolescent?
When I graduated college, I couldn’t wait to get my own place. Apparently, that isn’t the case with many guys. The article quoted Michael Kimmel, a sociologist from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and author of the book, “Guyland”. According to Kimmel, in 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached adult milestones like leaving home, getting an education, getting married, starting work and becoming a parent, by age 30.
Today, less than a third of males that age can say the same. Kimmel interviewed almost 400 mainly white, college-educated twentysomething males and found that, instead of going out into the world and taking on responsibility, the men are drinking, sleeping around, and carousing with their buddies. I can understand the philosophy of living life to the fullest until one settles down. Shows such as Entourage and beer commercials make the bro life look appealing. But some men are living like shallow teenagers well into their thirties.
The article does mention a downside to living like a kidult. The General Social Survey, a survey conducted by the University of Chicago which tracks American culture trends says, twentysomething males are less likely to read a newspaper, attend church, vote for president or believe that people are basically trustworthy, helpful and fair. And in another survey done by economist Bob Schoeni with the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan, many twentysomething males have a burdensome average of $20,000 in student debt and are reared with a sense of entitlement that keeps them from taking just any old job. The percentage of 26-year-olds living with their parents has nearly doubled since 1970 rising from 11 to 20 percent.
Another interesting statistic in the article states that Kimmel found that college guys believe 80 percent of their friends are getting laid every weekend, but in a survey of 18 to 22 year-olds, the number is actually closer to 10 percent, and the numbers get worse after graduating college.
I do know a couple of guys who would fit those profiled in Newsweek. My brother, who is 30, is still living at home, and is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. My husband and I tease him and tell him he needs to move out. I also have a friend who is 40 (and spends about a $100 a week on video games) who told me, after living the single life all these years, “Okay, Lisa. I’m ready to settle down. You can introduce me to all your single friends, now.” The problem is I don’t have any single friends. I know one divorced woman and there is a reason why she’s divorced. “Trust me,” I told him. “You don’t want me to introduce you to her.”
The article ends with a quote from Scott Coltrane, the author of “Gender and Families” and dean of the University of Oregon College of Arts and Science, who says, “Men benefit from just being married, regardless of the quality of the relationship. It makes them healthier, wealthier, and more generous with their relatives. In general, those are the things that lead to happiness.”
I don’t believe that people should get married just because they think they have to. I’ve seen many divorces happen that way, and far too often, there are children involved. I feel the same way about people having children. I’ve seen kids treated more like accessories than children because their parents are too selfish to parent and thought they had to have a child to be happy. But I would think that living like gigolo would get old after a while. After all, eventually there comes a time people just need to grow up.
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