Do Men Want to Get Married? Likely Not

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Rational Male" by Rollo Tomassi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do men want to get married? Why do men reject the idea of a long-term relationship?

According to Rollo Tomassi, the author of The Rational Male, men have a natural tendency to seek multiple partners throughout their life and thus have no urge to settle down. Women, however, are more likely to seek a committed relationship.

Here’s why men don’t want to settle down, according to Tomassi.

Men Don’t Need to Get Married

The feminine agenda upholds monogamous, committed relationships as the ultimate achievement in our culture. Men are led to believe that they have one true soulmate and it’s up to them to find that elusive “one” and settle down. But do men want to get married?

(Shortform note: Many areas of our culture promote belief in a soulmate, including films, books, magazines, and television shows. For example, the reality show The Bachelor showcases a single man who dates several women to find his true love. Many religious traditions also bolster the soulmate belief, downplaying the importance of economic or social compatibility in favor of a spiritual connection.) 

The fantasy that men want to get married, Tomassi asserts, has two effects. First, it undermines men’s natural tendencies to seek out multiple sexual partners without attachment. When they buy into the bogus notion that there is one perfect woman for them, they invest precious emotional and financial resources in pursuit of that one treasure. 

Second, it causes men to desperately hunt for their soulmate so they can fulfill the cultural expectation to get attached and settle down. Consequently, Tomassi says, a man often settles for a woman who is not a good match. And then he invests more into that relationship—trying to buy love, and fix himself or his partner—instead of cutting his losses and walking away.

(Shortform note: How prevalent is the belief in a soulmate, and how many people truly invest their emotional and financial resources into finding theirs? According to research, 73 percent of Americans believe their happiness depends on finding their predestined soulmate. As Tomassi says, this belief can have negative effects. People who believe they are fulfilling their destiny by committing to their assumed soulmate are more likely to lose interest in their partner and give up when any challenges surface in the relationship. To reduce your chances of suffering disillusionment that leads to painful breakups, stop trying to fulfill an unrealistic fantasy. Instead, focus on building an authentic, meaningful connection with a person with compatible interests.)

Men need to stop believing there is only one perfect match out there for them and that a committed, monogamous relationship is their duty or destiny: They can settle down if they want to, but it’s not a mandate. Tomassi cautions that the idea of men getting married forces a man to sacrifice his sexual strategy in favor of a woman’s. Thus, the man surrenders, to a large degree, his options and freedom. Men remain sexually desirable well into old age, and they can live happy, fulfilled lives without locking themselves into a committed relationship.

Are Married People Happier?

Let’s look at what research says about Tomassi’s assertion that single men who heed their “natural” instinct to eschew attachment can be just as happy as married people. Some research shows that married people tend to be happier, healthier, and live longer than single people. Breaking this finding down further, marriage seems to make women happier than men but provides more health benefits to men than women. Arguably, these benefits to health and happiness could outweigh the loss of options and freedom that Tomassi associates with marriage.

However, many complicating factors prevent us from making any direct causal connections between marriage and life outcomes. For example, a tumultuous, abusive marriage will not foster happiness. And given that married people are more likely to have health insurance, improved health outcomes may be linked with access to health care rather than support and nurturing from a partner.

Other research has found that single people are more likely than married people to have deep, rewarding relationships with their friends, family members, and colleagues. When singles proactively pursue those social connections, their happiness can exceed that of married people. So, a strong social network can outweigh the benefits of having a committed, long-term partner. 

That said, new research indicates that single women are generally more satisfied with their singlehood than men. Men who are older, more educated, and in worse health report the lowest levels of satisfaction with their single status. Hence, while Tomassi is right that men don’t need to get married to be fulfilled, they should carefully evaluate their priorities when choosing singlehood or marriage (an idea Tomassi would likely also agree with, as we’ll see next). 

Do Men Want to Get Married? Likely Not

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Rational Male summary:

  • How women use a feminine agenda to manipulate men
  • Why sex should never be a transactional arrangement
  • Why men don't need long-term relationships

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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