It's Time to Talk About the Lazy, Jobless Men of America

Joe Duncan

The older I get, the more I look around and realize a lot of men haven’t grown up and it's killing our relationships

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Unpopular opinion: it’s time for us to stop pretending that finances aren’t a crucial factor in long-term relationships. They are. While wealth won’t make you happy, poverty will make you miserable.

Let me tell you about Christian. Christian hasn’t worked a job since 2012. He worked as a teller at a bank for a few dollars above minimum wage per hour.

Not exactly a high-paying gig where he could pack away cash for a rainy day. He and his girlfriend couldn’t afford much on his wages. They were poor all the time.

They were scraping by in their shared one-bedroom apartment. Until she finally said enough is enough. She dumped him and found someone new.

Part-time wages don’t equate to a full-time life.

If you’re comfortable working 10 hours a week, safe to say, you might not be ready for the responsibility of a relationship.

His refusal to work harder assured their relationship coasted slowly to the breaking point. He was pissed. He’s still pissed.

He said she was an ice queen — cold, evil, and uncaring.

He blamed her for everything.

“She abandoned me. She left me and it crushed my world. I’ll never be the same again…”

She was tired of waiting around for him to get his act together. It’s a familiar story with a familiar ending. A couple of years went by — she saw no progress. She abandoned a sinking ship and found a life raft where she could. It’s what any reasonable person would do.

Commitment is important in relationships — but blind loyalty is toxic.

And the concept of ownership in relationships is built on the idea that someone owes you blind loyalty. It requires an inflated ego. You’ve got to think really highly of yourself to believe that someone owes you love, time, dedication, and money no matter what you do or who you are.

The truth is, he’s immature.

He spends his time drinking with friends and jamming on the guitar. The guy’s a total loser. I hate to be so unkind. There’s just no other way to say it.

He’s so hung up on his own self-referential world that he can’t conceive of having responsibility for the well-being of anyone outside of himself.

No job since 2012…it’s 2021…

How does someone go that long without questioning whether it’s okay to be taken care of by others? How does he not try to do something about it?

If I had a dollar for every adult man I knew who thought life was nothing more than living like a teenager for sixty or seventy years, I’d be rich.

They think they were put on this earth to drink, play video games, and hang out with their friends until they die.

The breakup sunk him into a total depression that still hasn’t gone away. Being dumped sucks. But it’s hard to sympathize with him when he’s so angry.

He’s angry at the world, angry at women, angry at the system. It’s everyone else’s fault.

His expectations of himself and his expectations of everybody else don’t jive. There’s a massive, lopsided imbalance in what he gives versus what he expects.

He’s a taker, in other words. He’s a user.

He has a new girlfriend now. They’ve been together a couple of years. She supports him financially and it’s only a matter of time before she too leaves him. I can already see the writing on the wall, even if he’s intentionally blinding himself to it.

He sometimes tells me he wonders if she’s the right woman for him. I roll my eyes. Then came the real kicker — a few weeks back he told me he’s thinking he wants to have a baby.

A baby!

Astonished, I just said, “What?!?!”

“Well, I’m 36, I’m not getting any younger, so…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The guy can’t even handle his own life with a job and now he tells me he’s so detached from reality that he wants to bring a human being into this world?

What is going on?

There’s a crisis that’s been going on in America for some time, with men becoming increasingly jobless as time goes on.

  • Men who want to work can’t find work.
  • But more men don’t want to work than the men who can’t find work.

Already by 2016, the men who were unemployed and not looking for a job outnumbered the men who were unemployed and looking for a job by a ratio of three to one.

And it’s only gotten worse.

There’s the explanation for this that involves economic shifts toward service jobs and retail, away from manufacturing and construction. Stuff we traditionally consider a “man’s job” is being shipped overseas and replaced by jobs like food service, retail, and tech.

And then there’s the explanation that over the last few decades, a culture of men in America has evolved. It’s evolved to value guys who don’t work.

A lot of it has to do with our cultural shifts.

As men have perceptively lost ground, they seem to have invented a hypermasculine persona in our media ecosystem as a way to compensate for feelings of loneliness and insecurity.

Just look at the sudden abundance of Diet-Coke Militias like the Proud Boys and MRA movements. Or compare President Obama with President Trump.

If that seems a little too apples to oranges, try this: compare President Trump to George Bush or even Ronald Reagan. Policies aside, Trump is a completely different animal.

He was a President for angry people — especially angry men.

Want to take a guess who my friend voted for?

As Kirsten Weir says for the American Psychological Association:

For as long as America has been a country, the straight white American man has been king of the hill. But as society changes and culture evolves, the ground beneath that hill is growing shaky. Economically, physically and emotionally, many American men are fighting to maintain a foothold.

This reminds me of the quote from an anonymous person online:

When you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

Back in the day, people used to get by on their names alone. Names used to carry prestige. Prestige was a form of social capital that men could spend throughout their entire lives.

But now that men are asked to move into diverse types of work, they’re struggling. Now that men have to compete with women, they’re shunning work altogether.

And they’re angry.

Are a lot of guys just sitting around and doing nothing, banking on a possible Trump revolution to restore their status and prestige so they can avoid the hard labor they think everybody else should be doing? Is that part of what Trump meant when he said, “Make America Great Again?”

I wonder.

Make no mistake: there are some wonderful, sweet, kind, responsible, caring men out there who are really stand-up guys. There are and I love them to death. But they’re far too few. It’s time the rest of the guys wake up and learn how to adult.

I can’t imagine not having a job for 9 years straight, no income whatsoever, and then having the audacity to blame your ex-girlfriend because she dumped you because you couldn’t pay your bills.

The cherry on top is the vote for Trump under the pretense, “This country is going straight to Hell.”

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