Men Who Choose To Remain Single
Years ago, the single man who chose to remain single as an adult was considered by many to be a a novelty but by no means an anomaly. He was a ‘playboy’ or ‘bachelor’ and envied by some who fantasized about multiple sexual encounters and self-determination. This single man was protected by a double standard that made him a icon for those who had the ‘looks’ and could afford the lifestyle.
If there were any fears of intimacy or worries about surviving a love commitment they stayed buried under the adventure of living as a single man. Drawing from my experience as a single man until the ripe old age of 40, there are a few important things I think you should consider if you are choosing to remain a single man in the 21st century.
You have the ‘right’ to be single. This means that being single is a choice not a default setting on your life. It means that being an ‘individual’ is a strong position in life. That you don’t have to be in a couple to be normal. In fact you can be in a relationship and not be as healthy emotionally as someone who is living well as a single person. Whether or not you are in a love relationship is not necessarily a sign of emotional health. Although a healthy love relationship can be a sign and expression of your healthy individuality.
Value your friendship network. Friends will help you be single. A group of really good friends becomes a social network that lends support and some of the resources you’ll need to be single in adulthood. With the advent of social media, meeting people online and offline has gotten easier. My belief is that true friendship is a form of love. This love can and will replenish you as a single person. Unfortunately, some people reserve love only for romance and family. Understanding the way friendship is a form of love is important to be a healthy single person. One way to understand the existence of love in true friendship is to think in terms of friendship values and how they can enhance the feeling of love in any relationship. More specifically, the true friendship values of honesty, equality, freedom, and trust enhance and replenish the experience of love wherever they show up.
Managing loneliness. The real cure for loneliness is to develop the ‘relationship’ you have with yourself. You might think of loneliness as a problem you have with other people. This is only a minor part of the problem. The real problem and solution lies in being better able to be “by yourself.” The implication here is that you can get better at being with yourself when no one else is around, get it? This could be as simple or as complicated as learning how to enjoy your own company. Basically, getting some practice being with yourself in productive and satisfying ways. This will go along way toward drawing people to you, and loneliness will be a thing of the past.
Dealing with family of origin & cultural pressures. Pressures to commit or marry often arise from the family of origin and the culture the family represents. It’s common to be given the message, indirectly or directly, that ‘you are not complete until you find a mate.’ Unfortunately, this message is responsible for a lot of premature marrying and low self-esteem. If you believe you are incomplete unless you have a mate, you will feel more misery about being single. You’ll think about finding a mate more for the ‘pass’ it provides away from pressures to couple up than the simple fact of finding love.
The deep dark reality is, it is possible for a person never to find his or her soul mate in his or her lifetime. If we are being honest with ourselves and each other, this is possible. None of us should be straddled with the additional problem of not being able to live with ourselves because of it. The bottom-line is, you are a unique individual and as such you are complete and whole just being yourself. Your task, and my task, and everybody’s task is to re-discover that reality in the course of your life. Hopefully sooner than later.
Managing your fears of aging. Get older is a reality for all of us whether you are single or coupled up. You might think, if you are single you’ll have a harder time fending off fears of getting old. Maybe. Maybe not. For example, a midlife crisis could be more easily dealt with by a single person who realizes that a major life change is needed. There are fewer people and their resistances to factor into a change, if you know what I mean.
Then there is the younger lover as a fountain of youth syndrome. It goes something like this, if I chase and go out with younger women I’ll distract myself from feeling my age. If you’ve got the money and energy this solution to aging is available to you. Of course there is the matter of compatibility. Different ages can mean different eras in life with less common ground, and the parent-child problem could be lurking. The latter occurs when you’re with someone who expects a little parenting mixed in with whatever love there is. This kind of unfinished business from the past reliably causes problems in a love relationship.
Managing personal and financial security. Of course, fears of aging are also easier to deal with when you have some financial security to fall back on. Money becomes a reliable inanimate source of support as we age. As a single person this source of support can take on even more meaning and importance. This is not to say money can substitute for love. A person choosing to remain single will have to find love in other places besides a committed partnership. The point is, when you’re single, money is a part of an overall plan to live securely when you have to depend mostly on yourself.
Problem of love. OK, let’s get back to this issue of love and it’s importance when you’ve chosen to remain single in adulthood. I’ve already suggested to you that you should value your friendship network as a source of love. Then of course you have your family. If they’ve accepted that you’ve chosen to stay single, at least for the foreseeable future, if not longer, they could be there as a source of healthy love in your life. If they’re love comes with messages like there is something wrong with you for wanting to stay single, it’s going to be harder.
Taking over your own life is essentially the job of childhood and adolescent development. Your family of origin is supposed to help you with that. If they didn’t or don’t, you’ll find it harder to keep healthy relationships going with them into your adulthood. Now don’t forget the love for yourself. And let me remind you again that’s no small thing. The love you have for yourself is real. If it’s not there or a little too short, you’ll feel it in the quality of your single life and relationships.
Developing your ability to take care of yourself. One thing to keep in mind is, excesses (alcohol, drugs, sex, work, spending) can kill you. Our mind and body can handle moderate amounts of what we do and consume a lot more easily. We recover better from the abuses we put ourselves through if we keep them in the moderate range. Too often people go to the extreme because they have a lot of unprocessed feelings to get out and over. Going overboard with something unrelated to what you are really stressed about is not a solution by any means.
Deal with your problems directly. I like to think of taking care of myself as having an adopted son for life. I got to get to know him and stop making assumptions that I already do. I also have to supervise him and stay close. If I see or hear or feel him doing something I don’t think is healthy, I step in and make the correction. I hear that after a while, you and your adopted self will work so well together it’s seamless.
Be sensible not homophobic. Nowadays we are all getting an education about gay and lesbian life. Ongoing discussions about equal rights are becoming commonplace. We’re all getting used to it. Stereotyped and discriminatory ways of thinking and feeling are moving over with reason and wisdom slowly taking their place. If you’ve decided to remain a single man that doesn’t mean you’re gay. On the same token, it doesn’t mean you’re not. Being gay has nothing to do with our right to choose to remain single in adulthood. Homophobia can show up while a single person is busy distracting himself from his insecurities and fears about being single. Now your focus is defensively on something else.
Make a few good friends who are women. Finally, as a single man who has chosen to remain single, you need a few good friends from the other gender. I think this is very useful since the tendency to ‘polarize’ yourself from women could take place. In other words, you want to avoid having a lifestyle that encompasses just everything male. The female touch is a necessary and healthy influence to have in your life whether it’s limited to suggestions about your living space, your dating life, or just a woman’s perspective when you need an ear or shoulder. I think having a few good female friends will help a man live healthier as a single man who has chosen to remain single. Remember, staying single should have nothing to do with staying away from women. Staying single is a personal choice to experience your life in a certain way. Whose life is it anyway? Dr. T. Jordan