Interesting piece I came across today on the “men.style.com” website, called, “The Stigma Of The Never-Married Man,” by Kate Hahn. In a way, it’s kind of a related follow-up to the posts I’ve made about open marriage.
Hahn claims that while the “confirmed bachelor” once used to be envied by many men, he is now looked down upon as “weird,” which is weird since the number of never-married men in their forties has doubled since 1980, according to U.S. Census Bureau.
So, what gives?
Playboy, loser, commitment-phobic, too fussy... latently gay? These are often the suggestions bandied about by the married among us. But Carl Weisman, author of the book, “So Why Have You Never Been Married?” suggests that maybe some men know themselves too well to ever commit to a strollers and “banana-pancake lifestyle.” "And," Weisman says, “maybe they don't deserve to be subjected to judgmental looks, because the kind of honesty that prevents them from entering a relationship just for the sake of it is the unmarried fortysomething's saving grace.”
Weisman believes that instead of looking askance at the perennially unmarried man, society should applaud him—even the cad. "The only thing worse than a playboy who refuses to commit is a playboy who gets married," he says.
Of course, as is so often the case in these kinds of phenomena, the answer is some mixture of both and neither... or all of the above, but with a third factor.
Yes, for sure, some men are unable/unwilling to engage in a long-term monogamous relationship because they have unresolved issues around intimacy and negative transferences to women. But just as surely, many men who get married have serious dependency issues and idealized transferences to women - just as bad as the negative ones in their effects, by the way. Both are recipes for the disaster of an unfulfilled life, but as a therapist and sociologist, if I had to choose the lesser of two evils, I'd say that at least the unmarried guy isn't screwing up any children by demonstrating what an unfortunate compromise "love" and married life can be.
On the flip side, a man might never get married because he wants to live outside of the institutional box, and avoid all the concomitant expectations of friends and family and corporations in that box. This radical man, however, will more than likely have experienced being deeply in-love and most likely, even cohabitation, even monogamy. He just rejects the contract part of it. Likewise, a man can be married in the legal, normative way, but still have vibrant love-Eros-and-sex and open, honest communication with his partner, without becoming deadeningly co-dependent.
But then there's the question raised by the fact that the number of never-married men has doubled in the last few decades. That fact goes along with other statistics that show that fewer people are getting married in general, and at later ages, and having less children. I've written about this before, with a definite sense of optimism about its meaning. This is the "third factor."
As we human beings are evolving mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as we are moving from younger soul ages to older soul ages, we are becoming less and less dependent on rigid social constructs and controls to rule our day-to-day lives, and more and more able to follow our own individual inner guidance for direction. FULL PERMISSION LIVING! To quote myself: "Full Permission Living rests on the foundation of truth that all people are entitled to live pleasure-filled, spontaneous, lives without guilt, shame or oppressive inner rules and prohibitions. Indeed, we are meant to live with full inner permission to follow our natural inner guidance and our inborn pleasure instinct to seek out gratification in all of our actions and endeavors, and that such a way of living always benefits those around us and those that we love."
So, don't judge those single guys approaching middle age. Get to know them, you married folks, lest they hit you back with Eric Clapton's old lyrics: "Fore you 'cuse me, take a look at yourself."