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Do bachelors need to grow up? Giving up on commitment isn't always liberating

'Shallowness can be emancipating' (IMDB)


December 8, 2021   6 mins

“You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy.” The first of eight predictions for 2030, made in a video released by the World Economic Forum in 2017, has since become the source of endless Great Reset conspiracy theories.

But until recently, it seemed like we were all meant to aspire to the own-nothing-and-be-happy life. It’s a vision in which travel is easy, possessions are minimal (and delivered by drone), work happens remotely on a laptop, and different geographies aren’t homes so much as flavours to sample on a tasting menu.

Perhaps no voice expresses this more elegantly than the Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh, who this week wrote a plaintive defence of the frictionless life: “The myth of the man-child”.

The childless bachelor male, Ganesh claims, isn’t a perpetual adolescent. Far from it: this figure is cultivated, high-minded, “austere” and well-travelled, with “a decorum, almost a formality, born of aversion to the smells, stains and general boisterousness of a kid-filled home”. The most adult conversations, Ganesh reports, “are with the childless”.

This isn’t the first defence of the frictionless life he’s written. Shortly before the pandemic hit in earnest, he made “The climate case for childlessness”, in which he acknowledged that it’s not really about climate at all, but a desire to stay unencumbered. It’s about “a taste for leisure, a dread of sexual monotony”. He and others like him did not, he says, “hate to ‘bring a child into this world’ [
] so much as into our diaries”.

And this is driven, he claims, by a desire for “maximum control” over life: “I know with some precision the list of cities in which I want to pass the rest of this decade, and in what sequence” — a plan that, he acknowledges, wouldn’t be workable with a spouse and children in tow. Ganesh realises this makes him selfish. But he sees this as “a bid for a more, not a less serious life”.

There was a time I would have nodded energetically along with this idea. I wanted, I would say, joy rather than contentment. (I’m pretty sure I recall claiming that the latter emotion merely ‘bovine’.) I spent my twenties living light, travelling lots, and resisting the accumulation of permanent possessions or obligations.

I could have bought a flat in London back when it was affordable; but I didn’t, because I didn’t want to be tied down. Nor did I want a long-term relationship. I didn’t feel stable or coherent enough to tolerate the sheer consistency of commitment to just one other person.

As for the most serious such commitment there is — children — the prospect gave me recurring nightmares. In this I was an early adopter of a now-mainstream Western trend: to remain “child-free”. Many frame this in ecological terms, as in the recent COP26 protest by Population Matters aimed at encouraging people to breed less to save the earth. But a recent Pew poll reported the most common reason given by childless Americans for their decision is simply “I just don’t want to”.

I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on Ganesh, who is thoughtful and clearly aware of the inverse correlation between freedom and intimacy. “Our horizons widen as our commitments narrow,” he observes in his defence of the ‘man-child’. Or, as he puts it differently in a column mourning the decline of expat city-states: “shallowness can be emancipating”.

Even as he defends the atomised hyper-liberal lifestyle, Ganesh is not insensible to what can be lost. He comments, for example, on the way pets “fill a hole” for many millennials in a way allotments, or religion, or volunteering might once have done: “Their dog or cat is the only endothermic mammal that some outwardly successful peers can count on for affection, or don’t have to walk on eggshells around.”

And in any case, even he is uncomfortably aware that his preferred way of life as a “middle class world citizen” may be on borrowed time. Climate anxiety, political instability, middle-class wage stagnation and, more recently, pandemic restrictions all militate against the democratic opening-up of the world to mass frictionlessness.

But here’s the rub: swapping emancipation for shallowness is less enjoyable when you can’t afford the consumerist upside of minimal ties. One of the first columns I ever wrote here discussed the growing demographic who have embraced liberal atomisation, only to find changing economic conditions have denied them the disposable income that makes being unencumbered fun.

It’s all very well rejecting loyalties and obligations, if your earnings open the full range of upscale world-citizenship for your delectation. But Ganesh has little to offer those who lose this abundance. His best suggestion is that if you own nothing, having spent your twenties acquiring memories, you can always be happy by marrying into money in your thirties. It scarcely needs saying that while this might at a pinch be plausible advice for the kind of 20-something who reads the Financial Times, it’s unlikely to be of use more generally.

For the bottom tier of the new knowledge class is materially increasingly difficult to distinguish from gig-economy proles: both groups own nothing, and neither seems especially happy. Political unrest is rising and, as I’ve argued, the principal distinction between the Left-wing version of this discontent — antifa — and its alt-Right counterpart is cultural.

Some have belatedly realised they traded deep commitments for horizons that aren’t wide at all but shrinking rapidly. Happily not all of these disappointed would-be world citizens have responded by setting cities on fire. And it’s far from a foregone conclusion that the unlucky also-rans who got the atomisation but not the spending-money are all doomed to a future eating mealworm slurry in tiny one-person ‘pod’ homes.

Many are responding in far more constructive ways. For every doomer meme or creepy WEF video, subcultures are emerging in which people raised to be maximally individualist are trying to work out how to live together. In its most mundane form, this looks like a backlash against waiting till your thirties to have kids, or young parents writing about how to rebuild local community. In its more Bay Area-esque form, the social organiser Richard Bartlett is working on strategies for making ‘decentralised’ communities more capable of long-term interpersonal commitment, and thus less vulnerable to the well-documented tendency utopias have of imploding.

Or further out on the apocalyptic spectrum lie green land-based projects such as the Rizoma Field School, which is one of a growing network of families and groups attempting what adherents call ‘Doomer Optimism’: an approach to life based on the idea that things will probably get a lot worse, but that all is not lost if we can find ‘regenerative paths forward’. It seeks to develop sustainable forms of farming and community life, and also teach them to others. Many of these are a long way from the egalitarian ideals of the hippie commune era, and often explicitly opposed to the progressive and hyper-individualist ideas that drove such utopian ventures.

Will any of this work? ‘Doomer optimist’, smallholder and sustainability academic Jason Snyder is acutely aware of the difficulties likely to be faced by the first generations after Peak Frictionlessness. “An uprooted generation will suffer all sorts of embarrassing contradictions as they try to relocalise,” he observed earlier this year. “They should do it anyway”.

I won’t bore you with how I came to reconsider my commitment to the frictionless life, beyond saying I’m glad I did so just about young enough to form a family before I got too old for that option to be open. But Snyder is right: adjusting to a life organised around the commitments I always feared hasn’t always been easy. It’s not uncommon for family members to get exasperated with me when I do something that implies I still think of myself as a solitary atom-self rather than a member of the team.

I don’t think I’m the only voluntary adopter of a more encumbered life to wrestle with this. The Bay Area technologist Venkatesh Rao captured something of the resulting ambivalence recently. In an increasingly politically unstable world, Rao acknowledged, the frictionless life may be less prudent than stockpiling supplies and working for a durable, secure home. Even so, he doesn’t seem wholly thrilled, tweeting nostalgically: “Remember when the ideal was a backpack, phone, passport, credit card?”. In contrast: “Owning lots of shit and supplies is a PITA [pain in the arse]”.

But what else can we do? Ganesh is right that narrower commitments mean wider horizons. But that’s assuming you can afford to enjoy those wider horizons. And for the rest, when emancipation is unaffordable, all you get is the shallowness.

In response, growing numbers are struggling, however clumsily, to rebuild all those commitments we were raised to discard. It might not work, but I refuse to be cynical towards anyone who’s trying. After all, some loves are worth sacrificing a measure of freedom for. And as the world grows stranger and more unstable, perhaps these are all we’ll be able to rely on.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

These opinion pieces are very silly. Self evidently people, including bachelors, live individual lives by just getting on with it adjusting as they go and living with regrets or happiness at times. And? This constant introspection about identity, roles, the significance of everything is a very bad habit. Little wonder the nebulous phrases ‘mental health’ and ‘anxiety’ are so current.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

I’m a fan of Mary’s but I do agree. Most people don’t become public intellectuals, so her life experience fits a very narrow niche.

People who leave school at 16, or do apprenticeships or even STEM degrees, just get on with life and relationships in much the same way human beings always have.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

A lot of it feels like intellectualisation of fairly common personality clashes. such as:
“It’s not uncommon for family members to get exasperated with me when I do something that implies I still think of myself as a solitary atom-self rather than a member of the team.”
Or maybe there have always been certain people in families that have personalities that tend towards being more self-absorbed – I can think of a few in my family going back 3 or 4 generations – who frustrate other members of the family. I mean almost everyone has heard stories of irresponsible men who selfishly pissed up the family’s money in a pub or at the bookies. Or stern fathers absored in their own autistic like interests neglecting their children and treating them in a fairly strict environment. In fact these different kind of personalities and the clashes between people within families are common to all of them (as Tolstoy once put pithily). People either end up working things out one way or another, or they don’t and it ends up a miserable dysfunctional family. But that’s just the human condition.
I would bet it has more to do with that than some intellectualised argument about the state of modern society. Some of us just need plenty solitude, some of us are desperate to be social all the time. Such is the rich tapestry of humanity, and I notice that most older people who have seen it all before just treat all these differences and kind of people with a wray smile that is of course the acceptance that comes with wisdom. I can’t help but feel the endless reflexive pseudo-intellectual posturing about self and identity is kind of missing the point of being alive.
As for my self I spent my 20s as a bachelor not by choice but because I never had the opportunity. I got on with things, worked hard, studied and by the time I was 29 the situation arised where I could “settle down”. I will not lie, I am a fairly self-centered person, but from a level of personal self-interest having someone frame and organise my life has been a net positive and actually helped me achieve more of what I wanted than not and is definitely preferable to the loneliness and disorganised chaos before it.
I would also notice that our cultural probably puts men off having children because more and more people are encouraged to treat them as these special and separate beings that have to be constantly trained and protected from everything rather than adults and members of society in training. In latin countries people don’t give up their social life when they have kids – kids are expected to form a part of the social life and mingle in with other peoples kids together in family gatherings, and what’s more the children are supposed to make themselves pleasant to adults in those social gatherings. There isn’t the great divide between the adult and the child world that adults have to separate themselves from. My parents would take us on holidays to Europe as a kid in their car and we actually travelled a fair amount – because my parents had the attitude that we would go in the back of the car and be quiet and if we weren’t we’d get a smack. We stayed in tents in some campsite during rain and thunderstorms and we were expected to put up with it and be grateful for the experiences our parents were offering. We were expected to go and visit cathedrals or museum and be quiet and respectful. Quiet unlike children I saw in an aquarium a while back in the UK who were running and screaming about without control and parents who seemed to think they needed a ‘conversation’ with them rather than a proper disciplining. I do think more people would want kids if we got away from these recent norms whereby disciplining kids and making sure they are expected to fit into family and social life without being disruptive are taboos and everything has to be adapted around their wants and desires.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

You’ve ignored a major point here – men have time on their side in a way that women simply don’t. Men can change their minds, they are actually able to ‘have it all’ in a sense, just not all at the same time.

You’re also assuming that there are lots of women who a) want to marry and have children (I’m not including the many who wait till they’re 38 and start panicking), and b) are thought marriageable by single men. It seems that, increasingly, this is not the case.

Last edited 2 years ago by Sharon Overy
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Hmmmmm. A lot of men think that any woman is marriageable who is willing to have sex on a regular basis, and who is not too picky to accept those who are willing. She might or might not be happy with the fellow afterwards, of course. I am really not convinced that it is women, rather than men, who have the biggest problem with finding a willing partner.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

With regard to casual sex versus marriage the key point to recognise is that women control access to sex but men control access to marriage.
Put more plainly, women control access to fun but men control access to commitment.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

….that’s the essential expression of yin and yang, no?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

That makes me think. ‘Control’ is not rooted in rights or property on either point. Could we reformulate it to say that women (generally) are less interested in sex and more in commitment, whereas men care less about commitment and more about sex? And that the rest follows from the ‘terms of trade’ as it were? That leads to a strategic problem that my previous post did indeed ignore. One side of marriage is an exchange, commitment in return for sex. But commitment is long-term, ideally permanent, whereas fun is short-term. Once you have given the commitment, there is no obligation nor mechanism of enforcement to motivate either party to keep providing the fun. Indeed there is considerable ideological pressure on the idea that it is immoral to expect anyone to provide fun unless they happen to be eager for it right then. Only naive bachelors would think that ‘married people have sex’ as a matter of course.
Men might be more willing to make those commitments and give up some freedom and opportunities, if they had more reason to think they would get some of what they wanted in return.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Luckily for men, feminism tells women that it is alright to have casual sex with as many men as they want. As a result there’s no longer any need for men to commit
 a problem for women about which they frequently complain.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

We sort of keep saying the same things. You are quite right. But it is also part of the story that it is the most desirable men who get the benefits. Sticking to monogamous marriage meant not only that men had to commit, but also that women had to pick someone available, instead of all swarming around the top candidates.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Let’s not forget that commitment for the hard-working and successful man will mean losing half of the fruits of his labours when the marriage breaks up – as it will half of the time.

This, to the logical male, acts a powerful disincentive to marriage. And, whatever protestations feminists may make to the contrary, women tend to seek out higher earners for partners – and so the male has more to lose.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Working wherever we have an internet connection; readily available contraception; ridiculously low airfares: we think we’re a new kind of human being, but we’re not. We’re the beneficiaries of technology but the same old biological organisms underneath.
I know several people who postponed marriage and a settled life–some too late. The shine wore off the unattached existence of early adulthood, or maybe there’s something rather sad about a deliberately rootless fifty-year-old.
this figure is cultivated, high-minded, “austere” and well-travelled, with “a decorum, almost a formality, born of aversion to the smells, stains and general boisterousness of a kid-filled home”.
That passage immediately conjured up images of the recurring middle-aged bachelor in so many Somerset Maugham stories. Of course, in Maugham’s time many of those bachelors were, like Maugham, gay but daren’t admit it. Still, there was a certain type of man–upper-middle class, wealthy, professionally successful–who lived a cultured life of attending plays and dinner parties and seemed to enjoy it. But you rarely saw these figures appear as old men in fiction, unless they’d finally retired to the Med where they rented a small villa and had a discreet affair with a housemaid who understood the value of an older man. It was all a bit fantastical. In real life most people are ultimately attracted to the mundane, sometimes difficult business of monogamy.
Still, it probably wasn’t all bad being a Maugham character with a warm evening spent on the verandah sipping a whiskey stengah.

Last edited 2 years ago by J Bryant
Philip May
Philip May
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

So well put. TY J Bryant.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Better the whiskey stengah than the mealworm slurry. That’s progress for you.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

On the less cheery end of the spectrum there was also the lawyer in Dicken’s Bleak House who reached old age as a bachelor and ended up hanging himself. In the same book as I remember a (different) permanent bachelor gets his hopes up with one of the main characters but is beaten by a younger man and so faces the prospect of dying alone.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
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ÎœÎ±ÏÎłÎ±ÏÎŻÏ„Î± Î€ÎŹÎœÏ„ÏƒÎ·
2 years ago

Whatever the justification, living for your self is always the easy path and no easy path leads to a great view.

Last edited 2 years ago by ÎœÎ±ÏÎłÎ±ÏÎŻÏ„Î± Î€ÎŹÎœÏ„ÏƒÎ·
Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
2 years ago

“Remember when the ideal was a backpack, phone, passport, credit card?”. In contrast: “Owning lots of shit and supplies is a PITA [pain in the arse]”.
This just epitomises the cohort of people being discussed here. The building and maintenance of the infrastructure which allows all those things goes on all day every day by people who live and work in ordinary towns for ordinary money. The ideal only exists because of people who couldn’t just up and leave if they felt like it. It’s a holiday lifestyle, a chimera. The gap-year mindset with arrested development.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

“The ideal only exists because of people who couldn’t just up and leave if they felt like it. It’s a holiday lifestyle, a chimera. The gap-year mindset with arrested development. ”

Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ was a key book in this kind of thinking. Cf. all the ‘road’ movies of the 70s. More of an American thing than British, as in the UK you rapidly run out of road.

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

Feminists attempt to portray young men who have no interest or desire to get married and be the breadwinner for a wife and family as perpetual responsibility-averse man-child failures. By contrast, young single women who delay or forgo marriage and children to focus on their careers are portrayed as as empowered, strong and independent.
The only people taken in by this narrative are the young women, who have adopted it with enthusiasm. It’s not surprising that so many of them end up panicking to find a suitable partner when they near the end of their fertile years in their late 30’s, only to discover that the limited number of men of a similar age who would even consider marriage are more interested in dating women in their 20’s. 
Most men on the other hand appear to care very little about the label that is applied to them. Once young men decide that they don’t want to be a workhorse for a woman the expensive university education and high paying job become optional. Travel, satellite TV, sports, video games, pornography, etc
 there’s plenty of entertainment available that appeals to young men. One night stands without obligation are readily available because feminism tells women that it is alright to have casual sex with as many men as they want. 
Nothing is more expensive than a girlfriend or wife and kids. It makes no sense for young men to take on responsibility when society continually tells them they are toxic and the family court system is ready to take away everything they own. For men the risk involved in a sexual relationship is just too great when if she doesn’t get her way she can have him arrested for assault simply on the basis of her word, no evidence required.
It’s ironic but feminism has produced some significant benefits for men and young men have woken up to this and are reaping the benefits. 

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

It is also interesting to think of the sentences: “a decorum, almost a formality, born of aversion to the smells, stains and general boisterousness of a kid-filled home”.
Can you imagine this being said two generations ago? Then married men with children were the ones with decorum. But then again at that point they were primarily expected to provide for the family and discipline. They weren’t changing nappies and someone was constantly on hand to ensure order and cleanliness were maintained throughout the day.
I am not saying these changes are good or bad, but one has to ask: given men were never really consulted about these changes have they changed the willingness of men to have children?

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Fredrick Urbanelli
Fredrick Urbanelli
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

As usual. Ms. Harrington writes fluently and capably. But she seems to assume that deciding between commitment (there’s that word again) and it’s opposite (freedom?) is a conscious, willful choice. That’s often not the case. There are plenty of people who would be willing and ready for a committed relationship, but simply don’t manage to find one. For men especially, it’s easy to gain a reputation as a resposability-averse lone wolf when in fact, you’d love to find a partner. She’s just not there.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago

….Well, no one told me about her, the way she lied
Well, no one told me about her, how many people cried
But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
How would I know, why should I care?
Please don’t bother tryin’ to find her
She’s not there: (Zombies,1964)

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Oddly, many “feminists” still seem to cling to the notion that successful men must all eventually want what women expect from them – a life time of commitment when, as you say, they will be saddled not only with great financial burden, but also be subject to constant berating because of their “male toxicity.”

And when divorce almost inevitably comes, they lose half the fruits of their labours, along with decades of child support without custody of children. What is astonishing is that any intelligent young man would now be gullible enough to even consider marriage.

Alastair Herd
Alastair Herd
2 years ago

Excellent article. As a millenial/zoomer crossover, I have to say that almost everyone I know wants to find somewhere to settle. Unfortunately, growing up in the South East of England means it will probably have to be somewhere else.
I genuinely think a large part of the modern “preference” for hyper-mobility is that people my age simple can’t imagine owning a home, and so pretend they don’t want to.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

My comment has gone directly into moderation
. The second time in a few days. I am getting fed up with Unherd and am writing (again) to tell them that their moderation tool is completely useless and this paying community deserves better.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

Yes, it does seem to have been programmed by a rather unintelligent clone of Mary Whitehouse.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

I have noticed from the YouTube videos that my wife and daughter watch that vlogs by young married couples with several kids seem to be very fashionable. The content is very wholesome, sometimes a bit saccharine. Often they are church-going Christians to boot. Maybe some hope for the next generation?

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago

Good article but there are two elephants are in the room
1 – We no longer need a family like before. Pre welfare state (and other support apparatus) your family was your pension and insurance in life. They would look after you in the event of any misfortune or ill health. That is no longer the case (in terms of pure need rather than what one might wish for).

2 – Why would men get married and settle down? The law heavily favours mothers and the lower income contributor to the marriage. Added to a decline in religion means that the contract is not what it used to be. Added to the above point, marriage is by no means the only way to secure yours and your children’s future, and the offer presents as many risks as rewards.

Now of course, there are lots of other factors as mentioned in the article as well as in the comments that play a part. But those two factors above have fundamentally changed the landscape in just a few generations and should be considered.
In the modern era, the wealth of comfort and entertainment is unparalleled in history, so I’m not sure Mary’s point about only being available to the rich is quite right. Alone and on moderate income you can live quite happily and quite comfortably in the West. Without needing a jetset playboy lifestyle

Last edited 2 years ago by A Spetzari
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Good points. Thomas Sowell has observed how the welfare state made single parenthood the norm among blacks and has had a similar but less drastic effect on whites. Why not become an eternal bachelor if the state takes on the task of raising your children and sex is free as a result of the pill enabling looser sexual morals.
in addition the high levels of taxation required to support the welfare state makes raising a traditional family harder. No fault divorce and an equal division of assets again undermines the traditional structure where men earned and women brought up the children.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I think the “why would men get married” question has an underlying assumption that sex is now easy to come by. Is that true?

Undoubtedly for some, but I’m not sure for a majority. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones, you still have to navigate the consent minefield.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Get a vasectomy and keep an audio recording of all your encounters.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I married a commitment-phobe self-professed eternal bachelor who went through women like a hot knife through butter. We married a couple of years ago at the ages of 60 and 61 when we were 14 years into the relationship, although he had tried to ‘escape’ a number of times early in the relationship.
At the beginning he lived on a farm and I lived in the city. He is an artist and I was a corporate. I managed this long distance, long term relationship initially by being very artful – never phoning, only ever writing. Writing can be amusing, challenging and captivating. Phone calls are so humdrum and mostly exhausting. But that of course is only the beginning of the story.
Maybe I should write a ‘how to’ book and make a pile of money.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Interesting. I have a friend in Jo’burg in a very similar situation.

At 65 she’s still hanging in there. Let me know when the book comes out, I’ll buy a copy for her.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

First bit of advice is that it has got to be meant to be. Then have the faith despite evidence to the contrary. She might need some help in ascertaining whether it is meant to be!

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I was looking forward to this article (as I have some experience here), until I read the opening:
“You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy.” The first of eight predictions for 2030, made in a video released by the World Economic Forum in 2017, has since become the source of endless Great Reset conspiracy theories.”
The WEF said it, we are witnessing the world lurching into ever greater authoritarianism as its citizens get poorer and poorer and yet it is called ‘conspiracy theory’, the lazy throwaway used by so many authors. Sloppy journalism.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

Yes, that leapt out at me too. When the WEF website has had this stuff available for years, Klaus Schwab released a book called “The Great Reset”, and this is the subject of the annual meetings in Davos, calling it a “conspiracy theory” marks the “journalist” out as a fool.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

I’ve seen that WEF video several times and shared it. I don’t know what theories it may have spawned, but the message it is still delivering is right there in the contraction of you will. You. Will. Not very different from the Leninist Who/Whom.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

The article is perhaps an unspoken plea for past traditional values. Fair enough. But those values have become unfashionable, pushed along by social changes including contraception and the idea that women can now have it all.
Perhaps there are some men who have decided that if a woman is going to defer (or abandon) her commitments they might as well abandon their commitments too?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Our recent “civilisation” just seems to have replaced the traditional “split of responsibilities” – honed over millennia of individual and group evolution – with pretty soleless androgynous meandering.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago

Hey. Some bachelors are cultivated. Some are drunks. Family law is discouraging cohabitation. Women have the government as breadwinner and increasingly daddy is the sperm bank or some random donor.

After all, males are too dangerous around children and mothers don’t need a man.That has been the message for 30 plus years.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

“Women have the government as breadwinner” really means that taxpayers’ ability to create families is curtailed by the requirement to subsidise others’ progeny outside of family. And those women are lionised as brave and heroic victims of male fecklessness, while the bl*b dispenses other people’s money to support them.

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas McNeish
David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

Demographic winter is coming.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Batlle
Jeffrey Chongsathien
Jeffrey Chongsathien
2 years ago

Maybe not having children is sometimes a rejection of making a major investment/sacrifice for a society that’s rotten and corrupt to the core, or an unwillingness to subject another human being to said society.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeffrey Chongsathien
John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Speaking as a childless mid-50s bachelor with no intention of ever getting hitched, I can say for my own part that it’s not the prospect of kids that I dislike so much as the relationship required to get started on making them.

I am not a stranger to romance of course, having had plenty of girlfriends in my younger days, it’s just that none turned into what you’d call a basis for a lifetime commitment. These days I don’t date, don’t seek to, and believe that I am happier than I would otherwise be by this choice.

One thing sort of that put me off relationships, oddly, is that about 15 years back I went through quite a lot of group therapy for one reason or another which was hugely helpful to me, but which did expose me to the difficulties that many couples face trying to make a relationship work, and I ended up feeling sorry for every single man I witnessed trying to cope with it. Most of the women too, of course, but being a man I obviously cannot help putting myself in his shoes in each case, and in all cases I couldn’t work out why he bothered at all. I could never escape the impression that a relationship can be trench warfare just as easily as a joining together of two people to mutual advantage, and hated what I saw of that.

Anyway, clearly this is my problem as opposed to anyone else’s, but either way I see no political implications for my choice in any respect, as implied by the article. I’m not saving the planet, I think the depopulation concept is cretinous, I don’t see myself as involved in a frictionless or atomised lifestyle. Nor is it some odd trade-off in which soulless individuals sacrifice human intimacy for material gain (in fact you have a far better chance of ending up owning a decent chunk of property if you cohabit in the same house with two incomes etc).

My choice signifies one thing only: that not everyone is suited to a relationship: they are happier by themselves. This is not new, and doesn’t need explaining.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Martin Humphreys
Martin Humphreys
2 years ago

I’m interesting in hearing how you “reconsidered your commitment to the frictionless life,” Mary!

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

The breakdown of marriage and the ability of men to walk away from their children has shown that a greater proportion of women want children than do men. Previously men would marry and accept the role of father because this was necessary in order to have sex. Now they can have no strings attached sex without making any commitment to either a woman or to a child that might arise from the sex. Why then should men who do not want to be a father commit themselves ?

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

Men find it easy to have one night stands without obligation because feminism tells women that it is alright to have casual sex with as many men as they want. Plus it’s perfectly acceptable for a young woman to pay off student loans by signing up as a sugar baby, which means wealthy men can continue to engage with university age women almost indefinitely. The rationale for men to marry is quickly disappearing and those that still do are following tradition more than anything else. Many men have woken up to the huge benefits of staying single. 

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

True – but only part of the story. As you’ll know, 80% of the women on dating sites contact 20% of the men, who probably find it easy to get one night stands. The remaining 80% of men are left with 20% of the women. These men find it hard to get not only one-night-stands, but any kind of stands. At the extreme, this is where incels come from.
Men who cannot get any are frequently advised to reduce their expectations, resolve their issues, work on themselves, and generally make themselves more attractive. The ‘terms of trade’ may well be against it, but women who cannot find anybody for children and that life-long commitment could consider whether it might help to widen the pool of candidates, or whether their expectations might be scaring some candidates away.

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
2 years ago

It’s women who choose divorce, not men. Unmarried mothers are equally capable of dismissing their children’s fathers, because they have the social and economic support to do so. Unlike fathers, they don’t lose their children when they do end their relationship. But, sure, it’s still the man who’s at fault.
You go grrrl!

Leigh Dixon
Leigh Dixon
2 years ago

Without self-discipline and sacrifice, those with authority will impose it and take from you what you value – including your freedom. Creating great artworks and literature require these attributes – as does creating and nurturing offspring for you to pass on your knowledge and experience. The rest is just narcissistic noise.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

Many men who might prefer to focus on their careers are now more likely to meet women who have been sold the “having it all” utopia.
Often the sting in the tail for the man is that somewhere down the line he is likely to be asked to also “have it all” and do the career + homemaker thing as well.
Many men won’t want to take that risk.
Doing one important thing well is hard enough 
. let alone two.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Yes, one of the difficulties in any marriage (straight or gay) is that often one partner thinks the other isn’t pulling their weight because they simply aren’t interested in keeping things as spick and span as their partner wants. The neat one thinks this is the way things should be the other thinks they are being bullied to do stuff they don’t think necessary. On the whole women tend to be the neat freaks.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago

Oh what a surprise. A female UnHerd contributor has discovered something else she despises about men.
Have they ever considered turning their attention to their own sex, or is critical self-reflection still anathema to them?