Friday, June 12, 2009

Men Aren't Afraid of Commitment

Countless are the pop culture truisms that we accept as factual: white people can't dance, Asians are terrible drivers ("they can make 'em, but they can't drive 'em!"), black people are afraid of dogs, Mormons are colossal dorks, women ruin everything, etc. Statistically speaking, these sentiments are all true. But there is one truism I must reject, that men are afraid of commitment. In fact, with the least bit of analysis (the only kind I'm willing to do) we may see that the complete opposite is true.

From the time we're small children, men are constantly and ardently committing themselves ardently and vigorously. Sports loyalties are huge in the life of most American males, most often inherited from your father. Men and their loyalties to sports are frequently a reflection of their love for their fathers; my allegiance to the Spurs formed first in the '88-'89 season when Dad and I would listen to the games on the radio called by Jay Howard. It was virtually the only one on one time I got with my father in a family with six children, and for the rest of my life the Silver and Black will remind me of all the good things about Dad and the times that we shared. American men are so committed to sports, we live and die by our fantasy sports teams, rooting for players we hate on teams we despise for the success of our fictional teams. But even fantasy sports are so beloved because of the camaraderie you build with your friends as you compete and even talk trash.

Want more commitment from men? As Texans, boys must choose Ford or Chevy, with the occasional weirdo opting for Dodge (foreign cars don't count). Innumerable fistfights and illegal drag races spawn from the undying devotion of Texan males to their respesctive makes. We declare allegience in Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonald's vs. Burger King, and Jack Bauer vs. Chuck Norris. Men commit in every component of their lives.

Men don't just commit in matters like who gets their Maxim Hot 100 vote either. Hundreds of thousands of men are in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, working to uphold the principles and serve the country they swore to defend; hundreds of thousands more wait to replace them. They risk their lives and suspend family and romantic relationships, education, and career pursuits committed to a cause larger than themselves. Many thousands of Catholic priests have vowed to forsake all in service of God. Tens of thousands of young men serve as Mormon missionaries (you know, the dorks in suits), committing a tithe of their life and forswearing TV, music, movies, dating, most books, phone calls to friends, and free time to share the Gospel that has given them so much. If you look around you, you will see men who are devoted husbands and fathers, men who work terrible jobs to put food on the table and cover health care costs, men who eschew leisure to drive around their family to their various pursuits, and men who help out friends and strangers when occassion calls for it.

Women might rightfully ask, "Then why doesn't he commit to me?" The answer is he probably doesn't know if it's worth it yet. Males crave stability, which may be a way of saying they don't like change. Adding new elements to your life can be hard, and most men believe that women add a degree of variability like nothing else can (translation: chicks are crazy). Just like women, men need to feel secure, but our version of security emphasizes a comfort level in being able to have a degree of control over our circumstances. Men don't like being told what to do or how they can live, and if pop culture is any indication, it seems like today's woman likes to be in charge. Being an American male is asked to be bold and assertive, but only when you're wanted to be bold and assertive. When a man is evaluating a commitment, he needs to know that he can retain his identity, to do the things that he enjoys, that he can be himself. Most men want a woman who makes him want to be a better person, not one who tries to make him be their version of a better person.

It's not that he's just not that into you. While men aren't necessarily anxious to commit, they are more than willing once they know that the reward outweighs the risk.

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