The new Nassim Nicholas Taleb book Skin in the Game explains why men shouldn’t marry. Men have a lot of skin in the marriage game and women have none. But you should not trust many of Taleb’s specific claims; he likes calling so many other people charlatans that you begin to wonder about his own status.
Taleb gives many examples of asymmetric risk and situations where people have skin in the game. His knowledge of skin in the game comes from his own experiences. “In an option, one person (the buyer of the option), contractually has the upside (future gains), the other (the seller) has a liability for the downside (future losses), for a pre-agreed price. Just as in an insurance contract, where risk is transferred for a fee. Any meaningful disruption of such symmetry—with transfer of liabilities—invariably leads to an explosive situation, as we saw with the economic risis of 2008.”
You know where most women have no skin in the game, leading to an explosive situation?
When a woman gets and stays married for some period of time, she has access to half her husband’s financial resources (assuming that he makes more than her). If the couple buy property together, she will likely keep the property in a divorce. If they have children, in most states, she will get automatic custody, along with child support, possibly until the child is 22.
A woman who marries gets a ton of optionality.
What does the man get?
Sex? No. That’s at the woman’s discretion. And guys are much better off learning game than attempting to mate in captivity. Most women’s erotic attraction to a man declines rapidly with cohabitation.
Money? Maybe, if he marries a woman who is a substantially higher earner than him, but that is rare.
Fidelity? If he is lucky, maybe. He may not be so lucky. You cannot negotiate genuine desire.
Love? He doesn’t need a contract with the state to verify his love.
Now you know why older women may be eager to marry: she is financially incented to.
The man doesn’t get money, unless his wife makes more than he does. But if she quits or down-shifts her job, that will go away.
Taleb says, “asymmetry in risk bearing leads to imbalances and, potentially, to systemic ruin.” When a man marries, he is risking systemic ruin for… what? I have no idea and have never seen a good answer to this question.
Taleb says, “The notion of belief without sacrifice, which is tangible proof, is new in history.” Marriage is, for a woman, “belief without sacrifice.” She sacrifices nothing and asks the man to potentially sacrifice everything, up to and including his freedom. If the man cannot pay child support, he will likely be jailed, thus ensuring that he will lose his job and fall further behind. This is called “being a deadbeat dad.”
He may have children, but the woman and the medical system will resist DNA testing to make sure they are his (personal experience speaking here).
Marriage can only barely, kind of make sense for a man who marries a woman who makes substantially more money than he does. Most women, of course, do not want to marry a man who makes less than they do, so that is a rare situation.
Women wonder why guys aren’t eager to get married without asking themselves, “What does the guy get out of marriage?” When marriage was the only legitimate way to access sex, and when the entire social structure revolved around marriage, marriage made sense. That period ended with the Sexual Revolution, the baby boomers, and second-wave feminism. Smart men today do not marry, which is all asymmetric risk for them. The woman has no skin in the game and the man has a lot. Don’t fall for this trap. Read Taleb. Read more real books and less Internet.
Don’t trust me either. Go talk to your divorced friends, or your dad’s divorced friends. Their testimony is ten times more valuable than what I have to say. Follow the links to Real World Divorce. Today, men who are foolish enough to sign up for marriage without understanding the legal risk they are taking almost deserve what they get. They are being grifted by women and by the larger society. Don’t be a mark. Be Fat Tony (but not fat).