Why are there lots of bridal magazines but no magazines for grooms? What does that imply?
— A Male
Consider men’s general lack of interest in wedding planning. Of course, if men did the organizing, there’d probably be a paintball duel to the altar, strippers serving nachos, and a minister who ends the ceremony with: “You may now have a threesome with the bride and her sister.”
However, what we could call the “wedding-industrial complex” — with $56 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2017 (per The Wedding Report) — is driven mainly by women (and, more recently — and to a lesser extent — very stylish gay men). So we often hear about “bridezillas” — human nightmares losing it over picky-wicky wedding details — but it’s the rare man who even comes close to caring enough to be called a “groomzilla.”
In fact, though many women start planning their weddings years before meeting a potential groom, there probably isn’t a guy out there who gave thought to, say, what the centerpieces would be until he absolutely had to: “Um … honey, am I crazy, or is that an electric cattle prod you’re holding?”
And frankly, for the average guy getting married, the ideal situation would be to propose, get clocked with a bowling trophy and wake up 10 months later to one of his bros shaking a tux in his face and saying, “Hose off and get dressed, man. You gotta be at the chapel in an hour!”
These sex differences in wedding micromanagement reflect evolved sex differences in what evolutionary psychologists David Buss and David Schmitt call “sexual strategies.” These refer to long-term versus short-term orientation in mating — committed sex versus casual sex.
Though there are times when casual sex is the optimal choice for a woman, in general, women tend to benefit more from a “long-term mating strategy” — holding out for men who are willing and able to stick around to protect and provide for their children. (Think handsome prince — and all that “happily ever after” stuff — versus handsome hookup.)
Men will suck it up and opt for a long-term relationship for a number of reasons, Buss and Schmitt explain: because being on the hunt is time-, energy-, and resource-sucking and because “highly desirable” women can hold out for commitment. But because a man can, let’s just say, sheet ‘em and street ‘em and still have a pretty good chance of passing on his genes, men often benefit more from a “short-term sexual strategy” — quantity over quality, or what I call the “I love a parade!” model.
Still, this isn’t all that’s driving the average man’s lack of interest in the color of the posies on the dessert table. There’s also the evolved sex difference in status competition — the differing ways men and women compete for status intrasexually (with others of their sex).
As I explained recently, a major way men compete for status with other men is by being accompanied by smoking-hot women. (Welcome to the Armcandylympics!) These hotties don’t have to be wives or girlfriends; they just shouldn’t look like they’re with a guy simply because his credit card cleared at the rent-a-“model” website.
Women, on the other hand, evolved to compete for status with other women by pairing up with the most high-status man they can get. Though we’re living in modern times, we’re still driven by Stone Age psychology. In ancestral times, a woman’s partner’s status would have been a life-or-death issue — affecting the level of “provisioning” (eats, housing) and protection she had for herself and her children.
In other words, so-called “princess culture” was created by evolution, not Disney. So little girls, to the great dismay of their progressive parents, are drawn to those stories of the scullery maid who ends up marrying the prince — the rich, high-status, hunky dude (good genes!) who could have any woman but finds our girl uniquely bewitching.
A man bewitched is a man less likely to stray — so the fairy tale is actually a commitment fantasy. The “fairy tale wedding” is a celebration of that — the successful completion of an evolutionary imperative, or, as the bride might put it: “Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah! You girls fight amongst yourselves for the toothless peasants!”
Getting back to the male point of view, a guy gets married because he has become “bewitched” (“fallen in love,” in contemporary terms) and wants a life partner and/or a family and realizes that sex with a string of strippers is not the path to suburban dad-hood. However, even when a man decides to commit to one particular woman, his evolved drive for sexual variety remains. So … to finally answer your question: No man wants to buy “Grooms!” magazine — because a wedding is, in a sense, a giant frothy funeral for his sex life.
(c)2018, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com. @amyalkon on Twitter. Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon
Order Amy Alkon’s new book, Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence, (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018)