Will American society head to a stage of extended adolescence past the school years? What could it mean for single men?

I recently talked to an older guy who told me how back in his day, at the age of 22 or so men were married with kids and already starting families. In my generation, it feels like that is not as common at all except for certain conservative cliques and groups.

There are studies out there saying that men are getting married at a much later age, how America is "bachelor nation" and how things like the traditional chase for a family life have died down compared to a few decades ago.

A handful of people have referred to the 20s as "extended adolescence" already and some have even said "30 is the new 20".

I think back to hundreds of years ago before "college" became a thing for most people, it seemed like by 18 or so a lot of people were already having families and life spans were shorter. College was not really a socializing hotspot meant for fun debauchery like it eventually became decades ago.

What if we are living in an age of social change, a big social change, that impacts younger people in their 20s and even 30s without even realizing it? Like something is happening before our very eyes and we don't see it yet but years later we look back and say how we were seeing it....

Now I don't mean adolescence as in still living at home but it seems like with older generations, if a man past the age of 25 was single, casually "getting around", having drinks with some friends, partying, traveling the world and not marrying and having kids then he was a social outcast or something was wrong with him. In most ways he was the odd one out while everyone else had settled into the married life.

These days, especially in big cities, it seems a lot less strange. What could it mean for single men?

Could it mean that the age old adage of college being the best period in life for making new friends starts to be less prominent and certain areas of big cities become socializing hotspots for people in their 20s?

More communities for single people in this phase of life who no longer have to worry about being targeted for not having kids and being married?

Or who knows, maybe it is just wishful thinking.....

Comments (32)

Jan 16, 2019

I think it mostly comes down to sexual liberation. If sex before marriage is looked down upon, you're racing to the finish line. Simple as that.

Jan 17, 2019

Ancient men conquered cities and put them to the sword and fire, meanwhile you go to WINE BAR with "gf" and enjoy tasteful banter... YOU ARE GAY!!

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Feb 21, 2019
famejranc:

Ancient men conquered cities and put them to the sword and fire, meanwhile you go to WINE BAR with "gf" and enjoy tasteful banter... YOU ARE GAY!!

Out of curiosity, what in particular is good about conquering cities and killing people? Maybe if ancient men had spent more time thinking and contemplating and educating themselves they would have found that everyone is better off with trade and investment than with theft and conquering.

Funniest
Jan 17, 2019

Sorry, I accidentally responded to your comment instead of the post. I'm not necessarily calling you gay

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Jan 17, 2019

.

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Jan 17, 2019

Calling not being married with kids at 22 "extended adolescence" makes it sound inherently negative. I couldn't image being married to or having kids with the girl I was dating at 22.

Jan 17, 2019

It is supposed to be negative in American society, a society founded by Puritans. Sex before marriage is a "sin" and you are a "sinner" for not being uptight and adhering to strict religious codes. In fact you talk to the older generation and most people in American society you are not going to get many that support the cool bachelor lifestyle, it seems to only be accepted in the major cities.

Jan 17, 2019
Postgradwonderer:

It is supposed to be negative in American society, a society founded by Puritans. Sex before marriage is a "sin" and you are a "sinner" for not being uptight and adhering to strict religious codes. In fact you talk to the older generation and most people in American society you are not going to get many that support the cool bachelor lifestyle, it seems to only be accepted in the major cities.

Ok? What is the point you're trying to make here?

Jan 17, 2019

All of this changed when women no longer dreamed of being married by 18-20. Women dream about college and careers, leaving men with no options for marriage.

Personally, it's becoming an outdated institution for this reason. Women become more and more barren around 30 and you can't expect kids when a woman is "crushing" it in a career. So marriage has become an exercise of utility to satisfy conspicuous consumption interests.

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Most Helpful
Jan 17, 2019

The whole life span thing is a bit of a misunderstanding. Its an average, and in the past infant mortality was far more common, so that really pulls the number down. Obviously people today have better longevity, but its not like people wed at 18 and were dead at 40.

I don't know what it means for single men in particular, but I know that having kids later in life can have a big impact. We can have all the tech we want, but we still have a biological clock. Though a consideration related relationships is that the longer you hold marriage off, the more chances you have of having baggage from several broken relationships.

In the past, people got married young and stuck through it for better or for worse. We tout "waiting" and "trying different people" in a hopeless search for a soul mate, only to accumulate a decades worth of bad break ups, moving in and moving out with people. Then when you finally do get married the learned solution to conflict you cary forward from that decade of relationships is breaking up.

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Jan 18, 2019

That last paragraph brings up a great point I never really thought about until now. There are loads of people I know that have been in lots of relationships and now have gotten divorced several times, to the point that it might just almost feel routine to them.

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Jan 17, 2019

Lol why would someone trash away their youth in their 20s by getting married and having kids

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Jan 17, 2019

because traditional society said so

Feb 21, 2019

https://media.newyorker.com/photos/590976eac14b3c606c108b26/master/w_727,c_limit/Brody-Neighbors-2.jpg

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

Jan 17, 2019

In starting to think that the sense of old timey grit never actually existed and was just a myth created by Hollywood and Anheuser Busch for the sake of marketing. Many men of the past were a bunch of pussies too but they didn't have social media to record that part of history so they just pretend that they were all tough guys

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Feb 21, 2019

I agree with you that its definitely a marketing ploy. And I think that ploy only showed one type of person, the square jawed, handsome male. Think, the malboro guy, client eastwood, WWII soldiers,

I heard a saying the other day "every generation thinks they were the first to fuck". Really, what we see going on today was probably going on in the past as well; but what got recorded was entirely one sided.

Feb 21, 2019
ironman32:

I agree with you that its definitely a marketing ploy. And I think that ploy only showed one type of person, the square jawed, handsome male. Think, the malboro guy, client eastwood, WWII soldiers,

I heard a saying the other day "every generation thinks they were the first to fuck". Really, what we see going on today was probably going on in the past as well; but what got recorded was entirely one sided.

Really? You think it's a marketing ploy? American settlers carved a nation out of a vast wilderness and fought countless wars to win the territory. I hardly think those past generations were comprised of a bunch of secret soyboys.

Feb 24, 2019

Yea man, all those 17-23yo volunteer enlisteds storming the beach at Normandy and taking Iwo Jima is just Soros funded propaganda.

The ones who made it back, like my grandfather, were hard as fuck and didn't think Twitter, porn, and vidya games were the pinnacle of life.

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Jan 17, 2019

And there aren't 17-23 year old men in the military now?

Feb 21, 2019

not my society

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

Feb 21, 2019

As with most problems, it's a couple of factors.

  1. There isn't a sigma if you don't get married in your early 20s.
  2. There is so much to do now as a single person, some don't need/want a family.
  3. We have different ideas now of what a relationship should be.
  4. Marriage is used more as a status symbol

I think a lot of the problem is that things are so structured for kids now that they don't have the time/ability to figure things out on their own. Technically, most live on their own for the first time in college, but in reality they are still relying on their parents/don't have any real life pressures. So when they get to 22 they are still figuring things out. Then, people graduate college and want to hold onto the college lifestyle as long as they can.

One thing that I think doesn't get brought up a lot, but is a theory I have, is what people grew up watching on TV. I'm 31, when I was growing up the most popular shows on TV were Seinfeld, Friends, Sex and the City, Entourage among other. All of these shows were mainly about single people in a city living lives sans marriage/kids. A lot of shows almost went to the extreme of having kids be what made someone uncool. For example, think about Full House. Bob Saget was the nerdy dad, and Uncle Jessie was the cool edgey one.

Additionally, and "@chrysosclancap highlighted this, I think a lot of people have messed up interpretations of what relationships should be based on what they see on TV. Which is, a lot of "perfect" relationships, ala Jim and Pam from the office. However, they don't show them getting into fight over what to watch on TV, or the other one tracked mud into the house. Most people think their relationship should be perfect, and are in continual search for that. It's also played for comedy in a lot of rom coms, but people take it to heart in real life. That's why in real life people break up with each other because they don't like each other's favorite band or movie.

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Feb 21, 2019

In SLC ATM and it's weird how many people here are married with kids at like....23.

Feb 21, 2019

Back in the days men waited until they had some money or a residence before they married. This would often result in men in their late 20s and mid 30s marrying young women. Of course a good amount of lower class men married when they were young but for a lot of men marriage was after making something of themselves.

Feb 22, 2019

I actually have a slightly different perspective about this one. I'm a high school senior who recently finished the college admissions process, and I've thought about this a little. I think that the "extended adolescence" you're referring to is really just a sign of the larger trend of people just focusing more on their own individual careers.

Over the last four years, I've been thinking about what I want to do with my life and churning out essays and extracurriculars targeted towards it. When you write you college essays, a lot of the time, colleges really want to see certainty and passion for a specific thing. So, I feel like we're being pushed to ponder and decide our career paths far earlier than most people have had to do it in the past.

I, as well as many people in my generation, probably see marriage/settling down as something to do when you get to a comfortable career position--you can't dedicate yourself fully to a career when you have a family to pay attention to. And honestly, getting to a stable, comfortable position in your career probably something you can only really do when you're at least past your 30s--hence the delayed marriages.

Feb 23, 2019
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Feb 26, 2019
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