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How Babies Destroy Your Fuckability: Male Edition

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Having children makes people less happy.

But more specifically, having a child reduces both a man’s expected frequency of intercourse and quality of his sexual partners. This is true both for a monogamously married man and for a man who does not have an exclusive sexual relationship with the mother of his child. Choosing to reproduce virtually guarantees a worse sex life for a man than he would have had if he had remained childless.

In our society, it is a little disingenuous to speak of a man “choosing” to have a baby. As I have previously discussed, men have zero reproductive rights in our legal system, beyond choosing to avoid sex altogether or to have a vasectomy. However, although the final say is not theirs, men often participate in the decision to procreate. I wish to present an argument from self-interest why men should use what little reproductive power they have to avoid reproducing.

You and Your Baby Mama

The fact that having a child destroys one’s sex life in the context of a marriage is a cultural axiom. In this case, it appears that stand-up comics are, in fact, in touch with empirical reality.

Having a child has disastrous consequences for married couples’ sex lives. 60% of females report decreased frequency of sexual intercourse six months after the birth of her first child than before pregnancy.[1] How much less frequent is intercourse? Half. Frequency of sex eight months after the birth of the first child is about half the (already pretty dismal) pre-pregnancy sexual frequency levels, as reported by both men and women.[2] Eight months after birth, 64% of women and 47% of men reported having sex five times or less per month, compared to (“only”) 29% of women and 15% of men pre-pregnancy. Id. Both men and women were much more likely to rate their sex lives as “not very good” or “poor” compared to pre-pregnancy. Id.

Is the decrease in sexual frequency a byproduct of fatigue? Not really. Levels of fatigue do not significantly predict frequency of intercourse after four months postpartum.[3] Being a great dad who changes diapers will not necessarily get you more sex. Breastfeeding massively reduces sexual frequency[3] – but it’s hardly responsible to avoid breastfeeding in order to have more sex.

Human Mate Selection: Effects of Reproduction

In all the research that has been done on mate selection in humans, two themes[4] recur:

  1. Men care mostly about physical beauty.
  2. Women care most about wealth and earning capacity.

Nature is perverse; having a child, while certainly a fitness-promoting act, comes with serious fitness consequences, most saliently:

  1. A woman’s physical appearance is damaged greatly by pregnancy.
  2. A man’s financial prospects are damaged greatly by having social responsibility for a child.

The most obvious effect of pregnancy on women is postpartum obesity. A Brazilian study found that 35% of each kilogram of weight gained during pregnancy was retained nine months postpartum – even after adjustment for age, pre-pregnancy BMI, body fat at baseline, and years since first parturition.[5] But even women who maintain their weight are affected; every year, thousands of women are rendered clinically unfuckable by pregnancy. Stretch marks, loose skin, horrific changes in body shape, varicose veins, scarring, vaginal muscle weakness, and the incredibly common pelvic floor disorder are all consequences of normal pregnancy.

These are certainly reasons for a woman to avoid pregnancy – but, realistically, a man considering bringing children into a monogamous partnership should be aware of these factors as well. Can you really promise to be faithful – forever! – to a woman who will suddenly become much less attractive, and most likely never really recover? Even if you’re married to Cindy Crawford, pregnancy will take its toll.

Impact on Standard of Living

Most people, of course, do not remain in monogamous partnerships for their entire lives – even those who have promised to do so, and brought children into the world based on that promise. How will your sex life be as a single dad?

First of all, you will have less money. A LOT less money. Methods used to calculate child support vary by state, but expect to pay one quarter to one third of your income – much more if you have sired more than one child. A California man who makes $3000 per month, whose former wife is not employed, will pay $559 for one child – $895 for two children – per month. (Join the fun – calculate your expected child support award in California!)

Not only is your actual earning capacity reduced, but the existence of your child advertises to your potential sex partner that you are less able to provide for her and her hypothetical future children.

It’s not just money, either. Your time and attention are valuable resources, and they are permanently affected by having a child. The above child support calculation assumes a visitation schedule where the visiting parent has the child 20% of the time. In practice, that means half your weekends, and then some. The fact that you have less time, money, and attention makes you a much less attractive potential sex partner to a woman – if you even have time to date.

All this is intended to appeal to self-interest. But being realistic about one’s future prospects helps one make responsible decisions about the future – and that’s not selfish at all. Fewer babies means more sex – and that’s good for everyone.

Your unborn children won’t thank you – but they would if they could.


1. Kumar, R., H.A. Brant, and K.M. Robson. Child-bearing and maternal sexuality; a prospective study of 119 primiparae. J. Psychosom. Res. 1981; 25(5): 373-383.

2. Dixon, M., N. Booth, and R. Powell. Sex and relationships following childbirth: a first report from general practice of 131 couples. British J. General Practice 2000; 50:223-224.

3. De Judicibus, M.A. and M.P. McCabe. Psychological factors and the sexuality of pregnant and postpartum women – Statistical Data Included. Journal of Sex Research, May 2002.

4. See, e.g., Fisman, R., S.S. Iyengar, E. Kamenica, and I. Simonson. Gender differences in mate selection: Evidence from a speed-dating experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 2006.

5. Gilberto Kac, Maria H.D.A. Benício, Gustavo Velásquez-Meléndez, Joaquim G. Valente, and Cláudio J. Struchiner. Gestational Weight Gain and Prepregnancy Weight Influence Postpartum Weight Retention in a Cohort of Brazilian Women. J. Nutr. 134:661-666, March 2004.

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Written by Sister Y

July 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Bold move. I hope Bryan Caplan tunes in.

    That Louis CK clip is hilarious!

    Chip

    July 9, 2010 at 5:41 am

  2. if men kept themselves pure fit and were like the warriors of old then women would want to fuck them all the time, pregnant or after giving birth. being a good provider doesn't make a man fuckable. Being fit and healthy and warrior like does. Most men can't keep up the act and turn into whimps after baby, even during pregnancy, wincing at the sight of blood and shit. Women want to fuck real men, not whimps. There is a tribe of people where it is a custom for the woman to take the man with her to the river to wash just after she has given birth. If he is unable to perform she dumps him and gets a new man. and also men invented marriage because most of them found it real hard to get laid. I wonder why women don't have the same problem?

    Anonymous

    September 29, 2010 at 9:04 am

  3. This is a good arguement against having ababies, becasue anyone who is affected by it should not have kids, at least not yet. When you can read it and laugh about it you are probably ready and the right kinda person to have a baby.

    Anonymous

    September 29, 2010 at 2:33 pm

  4. There is a tribe of people where it is a custom for the woman to take the man with her to the river to wash just after she has given birth. If he is unable to perform she dumps him and gets a new man.

    What tribe would that be?

    Sister Y

    September 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm

  5. this is the dumbest article ive seen in a while
    i am the mother of a two year old, i look better now then ever and have sex every day with the father of my child, never been cheated on and my babys father finds me sexier now then before

    you cant generalize such a topic since you clearly have had a bad experience or heard a story from some lame guy

    Anonymous

    March 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

  6. Glad you (and your husband) are among the lucky ones!

    Science and economics are all about generalizing. We try to predict ahead of time the results of certain actions. Do you understand that (a) your situation is unusual, and (b) it's the relative frequency of happiness, not the EXISTENCE of a few happy people, that matters in predicting future outcomes?

    Sister Y

    March 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm

  7. I mean “father of your child” – didn't mean to imply marriage.

    Sister Y

    March 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm


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