Marriage And The Loneliness Epidemic

     There have been some articles and videos on “male loneliness” recently that have struck a chord with me. (Yes, I’m male; don’t let the androgynous first name fool you.) I sense that the problem is both real and extensive. I’ve known men of all ages who suffer from it. And while there are some exceptions, it seems that the great majority of the sufferers are unmated.

     Marriage, be it said at once, is not an infallible remedy for loneliness. Spouses often see less of one another, de facto, than they did before they married. But assuming the marriage to have been well founded – i.e., predicated on more than a shared love of ice hockey or pepperoni pizza – it is capable of assuaging loneliness to some degree.

     Now factor in the decline among men of any interest in the opposite sex. The portents are grave for many reasons, but protracted male loneliness is surely among them.

     For a long time, it was marriage, no other event, that signaled the entrance of a man into adult society. By marrying he’d accepted adult responsibilities: the care and feeding of a wife; the rearing of children; the maintenance of a family, its home, and its place in a larger community. Indeed, one of the reasons male homosexuals were so determined to have their liaisons recognized as marriages was the stigma of eternal adolescence and unspecified hazard attached to the unmarried state. Historically, while widows were embraced and protected by their communities, persistently single men were regarded as threats to community stability.

     A lot of factors were involved in the production of contemporary marital malaise. I need not enumerate them again. Most of them are still quite plainly “present and voting.” But there are a couple of newish developments that presage further deterioration in marriage rates, marital stability, and male loneliness.

     Feminism turned virulently toxic a couple of decades back. Feminist icons encouraged women to regard men as their adversaries, even their enemies. That’s not news. What is news is the further deterioration of women’s attitude toward men from suspicion all the way to contempt. There are quite a number of videos on YouTube that address this phenomenon. At least half of them indicate that men are reacting to it by becoming contemptuous and dismissive of women. In particular, they’re defecting from the marriage pool.

     Combine this trend with the increasing difficulty, in our workaholic society, adult men are having at making friends and cultivating friendships. Women, with their natural inclination toward community, consensus seeking, and support groups, are less seriously affected. Men, who are several ways discouraged from serious social activity through their workplaces, have few channels through which to seek the comradeship of other men.

     A return to the perception of marriage as a valued and valuable state could help everyone. Yet the trends are all in the opposite direction. And the sexes’ feelings for one another slide ever more in the direction of dismissal and contempt, as if we’d lost the knack for appreciating one another’s strengths.

     Today, Roger Simon adds some thoughts and some links to the subject. He perceives the current situation as an actual war on marriage. He also sees connections to other social phenomena, especially Leftist politics:

     …a war against the family that is being fought by the left—that apparently has not learned the lessons of the former Soviet Union to which I referred—on many fronts.
     Disbanding the family in favor of the state is their intention. It is also another step toward globalism.
     The tragedy is that it is also a road to serious human unhappiness.
     When Klaus Schwab said, “You will have nothing and you will be happy,” he was also, by inference, implying the dissolution of the family. You don’t need a spouse. You have the World Economic Forum (WEF), or what flows from it, to take care of you.

     It’s all of a piece…and closely coupled to the ongoing march of the death cults. That collection of essays, supplemented by further writings my Gentle Readers can find here, begins to look like a sketchbook for a totalitarian dystopia devoid of all forms of love: for a spouse, for parents and children, and for friends.

     What more can an essayist say about these things? They’re pernicious! Resist them! Build loving relationships, both with members of your own sex and with those of the opposite sex. Don’t fear them; seek opportunities to create, strengthen, and extend them.

     The Simon essay is behind a paywall, so I’ll reproduce here the most important of the links he provides:

     For a look at what we could have instead of the current Sturm und Drang, here’s a snippet from a recent novel of mine, in which an American couple visits with an extended family in the Piedmont province of Italy:

     The day was long and filled with delights. The Monti family embraced their American visitors as if they were old friends of long standing, parted from their Italian amici for an unspeakably long time. The Americans were overwhelmed by the warmth of their welcome.
     Larry fell in with Ottavio Monti’s brothers, sons, and nephews. They toured him through the fields and into the surrounding countryside, chattering bilingually and nonstop of the family, its business, their work with the grapes and the wine, the breadth and intricacy of local society, and much else. Larry was surprised to discover, after an hour in their company, that he could understand them acceptably well even when they spoke Italian, though he remained unable to reply in that tongue. It amused him to learn of their curiosity about American women. They were extravagant in their praise of Trish’s and Fountain’s beauty and asked whether American women generally reached the standard they set. And by the way, the youngest among them asked, did he know any young American single women—preferably as beautiful, impressively groomed, and confidently feminine as his devoted wife—who might be interested in importing a handsome young Italian for a loving husband?
     Trish was immediately englobed by the Villa Monti women: Ottavio’s sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters, and nieces. They dragged her into a kitchen the size of a baseball diamond, sat her down, clustered around her, and plied her with wine and delicacies until she was at the brink of personal embarrassment. They talked rapidly of villa life, the family business, the Monti menfolk, and local society, which was centered on the local parish. As with Larry, within an hour Trish got the gist of their speech even when they spoke Italian. They plied her with questions about her life, her personal beauty and fitness regimens, fashion trends in America, how the Church was viewed there, why so many American women found it necessary to work outside their homes, whether young American women were as loose of morals as American movies and television made them seem…and Fountain. Why, they wanted to know, had she permitted her husband to install this foundling in their home, when it was plain that her unearthly beauty and allure could only endanger his fidelity? And by the way, the youngest among them asked, did she know of any young, single American men—preferably as tall, handsome, and deliciously masculine as her devoted husband—who might be interested in marrying a beautiful, traditionally feminine Italian girl who knows how to keep a nice house, wants lots of bambini, and really loves to cook?

     Doesn’t that sound more appealing than the mess we have today?


  1. One aspect of increasing male loneliness – the population as a whole is aging. Men die considerably younger than women.

    My husband has lost MULTIPLE close friends far too early. The few that remain are often in impaired health, or beginning the process of losing their mental faculties. Several relatives are in this situation.

    Some of these men who are the long decline married younger women in a second marriage, leaving that woman caring for an old, increasingly difficult person. Many of their kids are not talking to them, busy with their own lives, or living far away (one of the down sides of moving to warmer climates or senior living).

    In fact, moving away from your hometown might be one of the factors that add to the loneliness. Once you do, the chances are that many, if not most, of your friendships are centered around work. Which makes retirement a very different thing – rather than changing to hanging around the cracker barrel, or picking up local civic activities, men are forced to try to break into established social circles.

    Women, increasingly have the same problem.

    I consider myself fortunate to have spent some of my prime younger years moving from place to place, and – without access to a car or often a telephone (in those days, it could take a few weeks or more to have a landline put in) – was forced to learn how to build friendships with nearby women.

    Even after returning to work, I was able to manage to make, and keep, connections more easily than my husband.

    There really is no easy solution. The men who are fit and sharp are the minority. And, their friendship circles are narrowing rapidly.

    Younger wives and girlfriends are often not eager to give up their life to look after a cranky old man.

    • OneGuy on September 18, 2023 at 10:22 AM

    I’m just not convinced any of this is true or more explicitly any different from how it has always been.  The freer transfer of information thanks to the internet has the tendency to amplify things that are simply normal and/or unchanged and the more they are discussed the more they are amplified.  I don’t doubt that there are lonely men or lonely women I doubt that it is a crisis or significant.  I suspect the male loneliness pejorative was intended to be just that.  Something invented by women who are angry with males and searched for something demeaning to say about them.

    • Scott on September 20, 2023 at 8:13 AM

    I suspect this phenomenon may be one of the most momentous in history, but sailing under the radar for most people.  While we are worrying about wars in Ukraine and/or Taiwan, China alone is expected to lose on the order of 600 million people over the next 20-30 years.  What kind of war compares to that?  And the same thing is happening across most of the world.  Immigration largely covers it up here in the US.

    If we were talking about any other species, it would be obvious that we are staring down the throat of a population bottleneck for a huge swath of the world.  And I think it is largely due to the dynamics talked about here — difficulties with marriage and relationship in modern circumstances.  And I think we probably have a long way to go before it rights itself.

    But as much as it is painful to watch and deal with in the present, I almost want to sing “ding dong the witch is dead.”  The nasty ideas and attitudes we spend so much energy fighting against have finally gotten so bad they are taking their practitioners right out of the gene pool.  Meanwhile, the Amish, just for example, are doing fine, so far as I know.  Future generations of humans will be very different, and I suspect they will marvel that we ever had this problem.

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