Sunday, September 10, 2006

Eugene Volokh: Commitment Caution is Perfectly Rational

"Commitment-phobic" :

Commitment is scary, and should be scary. It indeed has all sorts of benefits, as well as risks — I should note that I'm happily married. But "phobia," which generally means irrational fear, is a generally unsound term to describe normal, reasonable fear of making what could be a very emotionally (and financially) costly mistake.
It seems to me that some people are perpetually never scared enough and other people are definitely phobic. The second group used to describe men, but today, I think it describes both men and women. So many divorces have made everyone gun-shy to the point that people don't recognize a life-long soulmate when they meet them. The others, who divorce over and over, go the other way--they give up on their ideals and marry the first person who asks or says "yes". Both extremes reveal pessimism.

To me, it is sad at both ends.


michael i said...

"Commitment-phobic" is a term invented by women to smear and shame men. The truth is that women have always flinched from real commitment far more than men ever have. Committing to a wedding comes easy to women but real commitment to a marriage is something else entirely, as illustrated by the fact that most homes are wrecked by divorce because the woman chose to torpedo the marriage and in the large majority of cases she did so for frivolous reasons.

Dr. Melissa said...

One man's "frivolous" is another woman's rationalality.

I agree that too many women have Barbi dreams and get married for the wedding. A man who chooses this superficial woman, though, gets what he deserves.

Do you have any evidence that "women have always flinched from real commitment far more than men ever have"?

With women in the workplace and access to the kind of temptation that 60% of men have given in to, with women as apt to find what seems like a "better" choice after years with the same old guy like men have traditionally found (speaking of shaming labels--ever heard of "trophy wife"?), with women working so they aren't forced to stay with a wayward man or can more easily leave a good man because they have economic stability--divorce has gone up.

What was bad for the goose is now bad for the gander and society is paying for it. The biggest losers, of course, aren't the selfish adults. The biggest losers are the kids.