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It remains to be seen whether the findings hold up in further studies, using a broader mix of people, he said.

Afraid to Lose Control In open-ended interviews, the men were free to talk about their attitudes and perceptions, beliefs, experiences and intentions.

But, he said, the bachelors exhibit three defense mechanisms -- avoidance, isolation and distortion -- that keep other people at arm's length.

Twenty-six of them had considered it in at least one past relationship, but only six had ever proposed. Only one out of six never-married men over 40 will ever marry, he said.

Third, they tended to give unique interpretations in Rorschach tests, he said, and their perceptions were not very accurate, indicating strong individualism and unrealistic thinking.

For example, even though many of the men were not involved in a relationship, they said that they believed they would eventually marry.

Psychologists have long held that men tend to marry "down," choosing women who are less educated and socially privileged than they are, while women choose men who are higher on the socioeconomic ladder. Waehler said, unmarried men are the bottom of the barrel while unmarried women are the cream of the crop. Although alcoholism, poverty, extreme passivity and mental illness are stereotypes that describe some bachelors, Dr.

Waehler said, there are more complex reasons that many men do not get married.

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This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996.

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