SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Bachelor Carl Weisman got fed up of being classified as a playboy, a loser or a commitment-phobe so he set out to find out exactly why he and a growing number of eligible men were steering clear of marriage.
Weisman, 49, conducted a survey of 1,533 heterosexual men to research a book aiming to give women an insight into why some smart, successful men opted to stay single -- and help lifelong bachelors understand why they are still the solo man at parties.
He concluded that most men were not afraid of marriage -- but they were afraid of a bad marriage.
"Men are 10 times more scared of marrying the wrong person than of never getting married at all," Weisman told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"This is the first generation of people who have grown up with bad divorces. People assume there is something wrong if you don't marry but these are men who have made a different choice and not given in to social pressures."
The release of his book "So Why Have You Never Been Married? - Ten Insights into Why He Hasn't Wed," comes amid a growing trend for more people to stay single, with less social or religious pressures on men -- and women -- to tie the knot.
Weisman said U.S. figures showed that in 1980 about 6 percent of men aged in their early 40s had never married but this number had now risen to 17 percent.
AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES
Weisman said his online survey found there are three groups of bachelors -- about 8 percent who never want to marry, 62 percent want to marry but of which half won't settle for anything less than perfection, and about 30 percent who are on the fence.
Four out of 10 bachelors did not want children compared to three out of 10 wanting to be a father. The rest were undecided.
But while 72 percent of respondents said they were not afraid of marriage, about half of them said the situation that scared them most was marrying the wrong person.
"It's so important to these men to get it right. My best advice to single women after bachelors is to be patient. If you're in a hurry to get married you'll be frustrated," he said.
Weisman also found that financial issues, both positive and negative, played a large part in men's fear of commitment.
"Those with little money said they would have nothing to offer a partner, with some suffering self-esteem issues and withdrawing from the dating pool," said Weisman, an engineer-turned-author with two books now published.
"While those who are financially sound were terrified what a bad divorce could do to them."
Weisman said his research blew away any idea that single men were unhappy.
"A compelling issue was how many of them had found contentment in a never-married life," he said. "They had created lives full of careers, friends and ambitions. It was not like they walk around all day worried about not being married."
For him, researching the book made him also look at himself -- and he ended up living with a girlfriend for the first time.
"Now we're looking at getting married. As I researched the book I found I was looking at men 10 years older than me and it was like looking into the future. If I didn't change, nothing would," he said.
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)