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Man Theory – Opportunity Cost and the Mythical Male “Fear” of Commitment


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Possibly one of the most important concepts that I walked out of Tydings Hall of the University of Maryland with was the understanding of “Opportunity Cost”. Little did I know at the time, “Opportunity Cost” could be applied to many situations outside of ECON200. I can wager that the original Economic theorist that thought of “Opportunity Cost” had nothing to do with any monetary relationship. The gentlemen was most likely a successful young player and waking up next to a beautiful young women one morning, before walking to teach his class at Yale thought to himself “Why give the life of bachelorhood up, when there is so much out there?”

Thus, “Opportunity Cost” was born.

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Most women love to list all the "benefits" of a relationship. Proceed with Caution when listening to female propaganda Gentlemen. This has seduced many powerful men in the past.

Although most people reading this blog are probably familiar with this concept already, “Opportunity Cost” is what you give up in order to pursue what is in your best interest. For instance, if you take a year off of working to pursue Graduate School, not only would your cost be tuition, room and board, and whatever additional expenses associated with the University, your Opportunity Cost would be the salary you WOULD have made while you took that year off. When making this decision, you decided that the cost of Graduate School plus the year of salary lost by attending, would pay off afterwards as your financial value would be noticeably greater.

So think about that for a second – In order for you to pursue a relationship with one woman, you are subsequently giving up the opportunity to pursue however many woman MIGHT have crossed your path in that year (or more). To make matters worse, not only has your value increased to many single women while you are no longer available (That which you can not have, appears more attractive) , your value does not necessarily increase after the relationship ends.  Although you have gained important “relationship” experience, if it does not end on a good note, you may come out of the relationship emotionally drained.

When this post originally went up it sparked some heated debate and some fueled personal e-mail messages. Could I possibly be suggesting that men have NOTHING to gain from a serious relationship? Am I saying that women do not give up anything if not more when entering a relationship?

Absolutely not.  For the record some of the best personal growth I have made has been when I was a part of a serious boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.  I suggest to all men that you have at the very least one long-term relationship. It’s important to realize on any date or any new girl that you meet that both of you are open to potentially having a serious relationship. Although I know many women out there think otherwise, The Unbreakable Man Laws are not about leading a ridiculously promiscuous lifestyle full of perpetual bachelorhood. It IS about having choices and not settling for less than you are worth.  It’s my understanding that many women feel the same way as many will not hesitate to axe a potential relationship if they come across something they don’t like or agree with.  The Laws are designed to give men understanding of why “She just didn’t feel the same way” as you.  How can a man be a better boyfriend if he’s only dated one girl in the past? Does the act of being able to lead a successful relationship not require work on his part? Any progress on the relationship front comes through trial and error, blood, sweat, and in many cases tears.

With response to the other question I also received frequently, “Don’t women give up a lot in relationships?” I’d say women give up the same if not more than the men do. In fact, her “opportunity cost” to enter a relationship is greater than the mans.  If she agrees to a monogamous relationship, she is (hopefully) turning down all potential suitors for however long the relationship last.  Never before have women had as many choices for men as now. It may be because of these endless choices that the divorce rate continues to grow. Perhaps she is realizing her own “opportunity cost” and what she is giving up to be with a man when she has so many other options at her disposal.  It is not unrealistic to think that she is going through the very same “thinking” process as the man is when determining whether to stop seeing other people.   It’s for that reason that until both individuals  “decide” to make things official, both parties have the right to see other people.  Or as many women have said to me in the past in one form or another “I don’t have a boyfriend, but I know someone who would be pretty pissed off if I said that…”

Back to the topic heading, most men are born with this innate understanding of “Opportunity Cost”. Most need only look at their fathers to understand they better know what they are getting themselves in to when settling down or choosing to enter a monogamous relationship.  Anyone who has been part of a long-term relationship will attest, its not all fun and games and there are many messy moments in between that can seemingly pop up out of nowhere from the man’s point of view.

So thus, in the hazardous “dating” world, we are forced to decide whether we should enter a monogamous relationship with one person or keep our options open.

To a man, a commitment is not necessarily a win/win situation. Yes, there are definite benefits to both genders becoming monogamous, however,  he has just entered a “contract” agreement that has basically sold his sex life to one woman. Although women love to throw statistics at men that married men are more “stable”, “live longer”, are “healthier”, most men are not thinking that far in advance. They are looking at their “Opportunity Cost” and all of those women they haven’t slept with YET. Keep in mind, that at no point is “Opportunity Cost” greater than at the very beginning of the dating sequence, so within the first month or two, this should be considered.

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Did she just say "Commitment"?

Women came up with their own strategy to combat this “Opportunity Cost” theory – they called them “afraid” to commit. Nothing will get under a man’s fragile ego quicker than calling him “afraid” to do something. Don’t fall for this psychological reversal, gentlemen. You are not afraid.  You want to make sure you have an increased return on investment. And from your perspective, the only person benefiting from a monogamous relationship is her!

Ladies, I know many of you are furious that I have said such a thing – Am I suggesting that the only person benefiting from a serious relationship is the woman? No, there are plenty of benefits to a monogamous relationship.  This “theory” hopes to explain why a guy might not want anything “serious” right away.   He may get to know you and decide that regardless of entering an official relationship with you, he has decided NOT to pursue other women while he sees you. However, it is this “opportunity cost” that I hope women take away from this and why he might not be in as much of  a “rush” or ready to move in with you after going on three good dates.

During a man’s time single, in order to make sure he gets an adequate return on investment and finding the RIGHT one, he wishes to engage in mutual funds and diversify his portfolio. Why have your sex life dependent on one individual when spreading it out amongst many will pay off (hopefully) in the long run? Is it not better to partially invest in many women and hold off for the one “sure” hit? This does not mean sleeping with as many women as possible, it does mean that you are “dating” and “open” to finding the right one.

With that said, it is not “Fear” of commitment that affects most men, it is the “Fear” of loss of self, individualism, and all of those qualities that will take away from what he considers “freedom”. Thus, the woman who successfully “captures” this man is not the one who challenges his very existence as a man by challenging his “fragile” ego but the one who compliments his existence, helps him become a stronger individual and is genuinely considerate of his well – being. In return, he promises to support her goals and dreams which she has done her best not to sacrifice on his behalf.

Bottom Line – Invest Wisely!

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  1. Elle
    November 7, 2009 at 12:55 am

    GIANT DOUBLE STANDARD. Men want to keep their options open but they expect the girl they are seeing to be 100% committed to them. How is this fair?

  2. DJ Long
    November 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    To start: In response to Elle – I feel that “Society” over time has customarily associated “women” with “the need to be in a relationship.” In my life time, this often is self-fulfilling. How many of us have female friends who complain they aren’t in a relationship or will spend less than three (3) months where they are not in some kind/form of steady relationship? Where they associate their worth with having a “man” in their day-to-day. It’s akin to having a piggy bank on the shelf. Because they are secure in the form of “savings” and would rathe not “play the stock market” because of the inconsistencies. They know they can possibly come out really well if they find a good “sleeper” stock, but most aren’t willing to go out on a limb to make that happen.
    “Men” on the otherhand are told to “shop around.” Smokey Robinson even sang that “his mama told [him], you’d better shop around.” Again, “Society” forcing particular norms upon the masses. However, in the current state of being, this can and should be applied to more women as well. I am a supporter of people taking the time to see what alternate markets and exchanges have for them to invest in.

    Second: I personally feel that relationships work, regardless of length, because those involved wish to do so and that after some time they still need to add a lil extra fuel and oil to the mix to keep the gears running. You’re going to come across bumps in the road and the “check engine light” will come on where you’ll need to evaluate the value of maintenance on the “relationship.”
    I know many “women” who’ve been in and know nothing other than long term relationships and have never experienced the true essence of being single. For these, I tell some that just ended a long relationship to let their hair down a bit and try to learn more about themselves and what they what from life and a true relationship.
    Inversely, yes, “men” can gain a great deal from the experience of a relationship. However, I’ve personally had girls/women tell me that they weren’t/aren’t interested in dating a guy who’s never been in a long term relationship. To that I say “So what?” Obviously, the guy she was with wasn’t “the One” and perhaps the relationship inexperienced gentleman is. By her account, she is risk averse but then places all of her blame on the “commitment-phobic” man. And she may not have all the background information as to why he’s chosen to stay relationship free. I actually dated a girl who’d gone from an 8yr to a 2 yr relationship with about 3 months between those relationships with an additional 3, before we became more consistent but never were we “official.” Not long after I left the immediate picture, about 3 months – after listening to her fall asleep/pass out on the phone while crying – she started to date and create a Myspace sanctioned and publicized offical relationship. I’ll state that the situation hurt a good deal, but it hasn’t ever disuaded me from the prospect of a long term relationship. However, my career and future are important as well and I’m not going to go into something half-assed. So, for those “women” labeling men as “afraid” they may want to get the background story or check their own priorities. We’re all here for the same thing in the outcome.

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